The biggest singular week in the lead-up to the 2023 NFL Draft is almost here, with general managers, scouts, coaches and training staffs descending on downtown Indianapolis for the NFL Combine next week.
Most of the chatter around our city – at the Indianapolis Convention Center, at Lucas Oil Stadium, at Prime 47 and St. Elmo's and late-night downtown bars – will be about this year's class of quarterbacks. Specifically: Kentucky's Will Levis, Florida's Anthony Richardson, Ohio State's C.J. Stroud and Alabama's Bryce Young.
All four of those quarterbacks have been projected by various expects to be drafted by the Colts – either at No. 1 overall, No. 2 overall or No. 4 overall. Check out those expert picks in the latest installment of our Mock Draft Monday roundup here.
In 2022, the talk in Indianapolis was how few quarterbacks might go in the first round – and only one did (the Pittsburgh Steelers' Kenny Pickett, who was the No. 20 overall pick).
"Unlike last year, we've got some name brand quarterbacks that people are familiar with that people have seen, that people have very strong opinions on," NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said on a conference call this week. "I think the league is very split on those guys. ... I think this is a year where, again, you're going to see some players that are 12 or 13 on one team's board, and they might be 53 on another team's board, which is -- there's a lot of variance of opinion.
"... They all have concerns. There's not a – it's not one of those years where you have Trevor Lawrence. It's not Joe Burrow. It's not Andrew Luck. It's not that year where you say, okay, this is that one – I don't want to say can't miss – but it's going to be hard to miss."
With that in mind, here's how Jeremiah is evaluating those four quarterbacks heading into a critical week of evaluation in Indianapolis:
Daniel Jeremiah: "You start with the sacks and the turnovers (58 sacks, 23 interceptions in the last two seasons). I mean, that's the cause for concern. That's the flag. So you've got to navigate that, and you've got to dig into that if you are a team and talk to him and sit down and watch the tape and go through it and see if you can learn some things.
Not all that stuff is going to be on him. When you look at some of the turnovers, there's a good number of tip throws. When you look at the sacks, the offensive line wasn't very good in front of him this year, and there's some blown protection.
I would want to sit there and go through all the sacks and turnovers when you sit down with him, because it is a big number and it needs to be explained. I don't think that's all on him.
The injury thing is another one. I mean, I don't want to go through and try and excuse away some issues, but when I watched him, I did not like when he was working to the left side of the field. I thought he was closed off. I thought he threw against him.
Then I come to find out after I've watched the tape that he had a messed up toe, he has a messed up shoulder, and I think that impacted that to a degree. But the things that you can't refute, he has a strong arm. He is a really good athlete. Especially the year before when he is healthy. You can see him as a runner. You can use him on some design quarterback run stuff as well as him just organically making things happen. He is tough. He hangs in there and takes shots.
There are sometimes where I wish he would feel things better on the back side. Every time he gets hit, it's a surprise party. I wish he just had a little bit better feel to get up and get away from some of those things.
But toughness is not an issue at all. He can make every type of throw you want. It's digging in on some of the issues to figure out what the deal is with him and why some of those things happen in terms of the turnovers and the sacks."
Daniel Jeremiah: "Anthony Richardson is the second quarterback for several teams that I talked to. We can look at the numbers. It doesn't look great on paper. You look at the accuracy and this, that, and the other; and he has elite, elite arm strength. He is a rare athlete.
You don't see quarterbacks running away from LSU with 80-yard touchdown runs. Like, he has big-time, big-time ceiling, big-time ability.
You know, you can find the games. If you want to fall in love with Anthony Richardson, you pop on Utah and you think he is the first pick in the draft. Even Missouri he made some big-time plays in that game.
I know it's a little bit of a roller coaster. I know he hasn't played a ton, but teams are starting to look at some of these quarterbacks as lottery tickets, and this one has the biggest pay-out."
Daniel Jeremiah: "The big question with him, it's been talked about, was, okay, not a lot of off-schedule, not a lot of playmaking, but then all of a sudden you see the semifinal game and you are, like, dude, where has this been? He showed you he has that ability. The old scouting adage is if you can do it once, you can do it. So you know he does have that ability.
"... he is the purest thrower of the bunch. Just accurate. If you value decision-making, accuracy, as pretty much everybody does, CJ Stroud is really, really solid in that area."
Daniel Jeremiah: "(His size) still going to be a concern. I think you're always going to be a little bit nervous just about the durability because of the frame. As I was told as of yesterday, he was right around 200 pounds, so I think he is getting close to 200 pounds. I think he will probably show up to the combine and be 200 pounds.
So I know some of the rumors are out there that he was going to be 180 pounds. That's not -- he is not going to that. We'll see how tall he is.
But, you know, he has such good awareness and feel. I think he will be able to protect himself because of that. In terms of the ability, it's all there. I mean, every type of throw you want to make. He can drive it. He can layer the ball. He can make plays on schedule, off schedule. The talent is exceptional.
You talk to people that have been at Alabama for a long time, and they'll say, you know, we'll see how it translates, but this is the best football player that we've been around. Like, he is outstanding.
You are going to have to take a risk with any of these quarterbacks. It's just a different type of risk. Some might be it how they're going to continue to develop. The accuracy is going to improve or the instincts are going to get better.
With Bryce the gamble is just the durability. Is he going to be able to physically hold up? That's the gamble I would take when you stack all these guys up. When you talk to people there -- I'll give you one example. They said he'll show up on Monday. They'll give on Sunday after a game on Saturday, they'll have a game plan all ready for the next week.
Normally kids would come in, and you'll start on Monday, and you'll start digging into that. They said he would show up on Monday with a list of questions and suggestions of how to do this with this protection and how you can attack this coverage with this, and he said a lot of times they would incorporate his ideas. It's stuff he is doing on Sunday the day after a game. The wiring is pretty unique and pretty special."