Could The Colts Trade Back In The First Round — Again?

Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard has already traded back one time. But could he be enticed to execute another trade in Thursday’s first round of the NFL Draft?

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INDIANAPOLIS —The Indianapolis Colts surprised many on March 17, when they pulled the trigger on a trade with the New York Jets that ultimately resulted in Indy moving down three sports in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft and acquiring three second-round picks.

It wasn't particularly surprising that the Colts would trade down in the first round; many were caught off-guard by the timing of the move, however, given that it was made than a month before the start of the draft.

Second-year general manager Chris Ballard has since said that sticking with the No. 6-overall pick is his preference. After all, he still believes the Colts would have their pick of multiple blue chip prospects at that spot.

But now that just three days remain before the Cleveland Browns go on the clock to officially open up the 2018 NFL Draft, could Ballard and the Colts entertain the thought of trading down again?

The short answer to that question is 'Yes,' but…

"Are we open to it? Yes, we're open to it," Ballard said Friday at his pre-draft press conference. "Will we do it? I think it just depends on how far back we'd be willing to move."

The 2018 NFL Draft is unique in the fact that there are four quarterbacks each expected to be taken within the first few picks. With that position being such a hot commodity in the NFL, there are many teams sitting outside of the Top 10 who might be willing to give up multiple early-round draft picks just to move into position to pick one of those four guys: Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen.

The Colts are not one of those teams looking for a new quarterback, however. Satisfied in Andrew Luck's continued rehab work on his throwing shoulder, the team was comfortable moving down a few spots in the first round, Ballard said. The Colts also have a capable backup in Jacoby Brissett, who started 15 games for the team last season.

So, yes, the Colts could very likely be one of a few teams receiving calls from other GMs looking to move up a few spots to grab a quarterback. But Ballard said the Colts would only make such a move if they still felt they could get a "premium player" at their hypothetical new position in the first round.

Of the non-quarterbacks, Ballard said that the team has identified eight of those "premium players" that it would want in the first round. By simple math, that means the Colts could be willing to trade as far back as the No. 12 pick, which belongs to the Buffalo Bills — who just happen to be rumored to be in the market for a new quarterback.

But it's not that simple, of course, because it's very likely not all teams in the Top 12 have identified the same premium players as the Colts.

Sound confusing yet? It definitely can be, which is why Ballard said he recently tasked his personnel department with coming up with all the possible scenarios, including trades, that could pop up on draft night so that the Colts can be ready for anything when they go on the clock.

"I said, 'Everybody email me tonight what could happen in the top five picks in front of us and then what you would do. Who would you take? If we get a trade down opportunity, would you do it? What are the scenarios?'" Ballard said. "We go ad nauseam through every scenario that could happen. Let's say only one quarterback went. Let's say four went. What are we going to do? You can't work that out on the clock. You better in your mind know, 'If this happens, this is the direction that I'm going.'"

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