INDIANAPOLIS – When a franchise selects more players in a draft than they’ve done in 30 years that brings plenty of anxious moments for players on the roster.
The Colts selected 12 players in the 2023 Draft, but they also didn’t select anybody at a couple of positions of need.
So who are the Colts’ winners and losers following the 2023 Draft?
-Colts Fans: Yes, I’m starting here. Colts fans, and really the organization as a whole, deserved to see Chris Ballard finally commit to a chance at the quarterback position. And this chance comes from the insanely gifted Anthony Richardson. If you are a fan, there’s nothing better than going through a 8-10 year run where you know you have an annual chance to get on a playoff run. Well, if you get quarterback right in the NFL, with a young answer, you’ve got a great opportunity to do that. For the first time in a long time, the Colts no longer have a depreciating asset at quarterback. They’ve got an exciting, young option with a head coach who has a strong background in developing QBs.
-Jonathan Taylor: Outside of the offensive line, arguably the best friend to a running back is a quarterback who can do his own damage on the ground. And that’s the case with the Colts, whenever they hand the ball to Anthony Richardson. Since Taylor has joined the Colts, they’ve had really no serious run threat at the quarterback position. That’ll change in a big way with Richardson. While Taylor’s sheer carry/yardage number might dip a bit, his yards per carry should climb with defenders having to freeze a bit in acknowledging for Richardson. This duo of Taylor/Richardson is one of the most dynamic QB/RB running threats in the entire league.
-Will Fries: What a sigh of relief that must have been for Will Fries to see the Colts draft 12 players and not a single one of them being an interior offensive lineman. So, it looks like Fries (a 7th round pick from 2021) will enter OTAs as the definite starter at right guard. Now, Chris Ballard has said the Colts will continue to try and offensive line depth in free agency this spring, but it remains to be seen how much of a competition that battle becomes. Is Fries a locked-in starter for 2023? Based off the Colts actions so far this offseason, he (and the rest of last year’s offensive line to close ‘22 season) will be the starters this fall, too.
-Isaiah Rodgers Sr./Dallis Flowers: On the opposite of Fries at right guard, this corner duo was the biggest starting question mark entering the draft, and after 3 cornerbacks got chosen, they fall into the ‘loser’ category. Rodgers Sr. has certainly shown flashes, but Gus Bradley clearly has a type at corner, so those 6-0-plus guys just drafted in JuJu Brents, Darius Rush and Jaylon Jones all fit more of what the defensive coordinator wants in an outside corner. Still though, Rodgers has the most experience of this 5-man group (putting Kenny Moore into the slot role) and deserves a legit chance. It’s quite possible the Colts start at least 1 corner this year. Brents would be the obvious name, but don’t forget about Rush, who played in the SEC and will get a head start on the Indy native in Brents by being able to fully participate this spring.
-Isaiah McKenzie: Some were assuming the departure of Parris Campbell and the arrival of Isaiah McKenzie led to a ‘one out, one in’ move at the slot receiver. But that was giving the inconsistent McKenzie too much of a locked-in role. Rookie Josh Downs should be viewed as more of the present/future at the slot position. Keep McKenzie in that gadget weapon role, while the main 3-receiver grouping should be Michael Pittman, Alec Pierce and Downs. Also, McKenzie’s potential as a punt returner in Indy received some competition with Downs having history there, too.
-In-House Tight Ends: Many are wondering about the future of Mo Alie-Cox after the Colts drafted Will Mallory out of Miami in Round 5. Isn’t Mallory more in the mold of Kylen Granson though? Granson has two years left on his rookie deal. Cutting/trading Alie-Cox would save the Colts a little more than $5 million as he has two years left on his contract. But isn’t Alie-Cox the most accomplished in-line blocker of the group, which was something this team lacked last year? Nonetheless, the draft pick of Mallory is going to lead to some interesting roster cut downs. Will it be 6 guys—Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson, Jelani Woods, Drew Ogletree, Pharaoh Brown and Will Mallory—for 4 spots?
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Trackside with Curt Cavin & Kevin Lee