INDIANAPOLIS —Clearly, the Indianapolis Colts have a variety of attractive options available to them when the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft begins on April 26.
With the No. 3-overall pick, the team could grab a game-changer on either side of the ball, or they face the likelihood that another quarterback-hungry team could very well offer them a load of picks in exchange for that coveted first-round slot.
And this is what makes the NFL Draft great each and every year: experts and pundits can speculate and guess all they want in the months, weeks and days leading up to the event, but until a team is actually on the clock, you just never can really know (in most cases) how things are going to shape up.
Mike Mayock is one of those pundits who has a pretty good idea what the Colts and general manager Chris Ballard are facing this year. The NFL Media draft expert held a conference call with the media on Monday, and fielded a couple Colts-specific questions in the nearly two hours he was on the phone with reporters.
Here are those questions in their entirety:
Q (from Bob Kravitz, WTHR): If you're the Colts at No. 3, is Bradley Chubb kind of a plug and play no-brainer at that spot? Or is Saquon Barkley the transformational back that might merit selection at that spot? Or is there somebody else I'm not thinking of?
Mayock: "Well, I think there are at least four difference makers at the top end that are also clean off the field that would all fit Indianapolis. If you discount the idea of trading down, which I think they have to be aware of, especially given the quarterback rush this year. A, you have to be aware of trading down. Then, B, after that, Chubb is definitely worth it. Saquon Barkley is a transformational back. I would put him in the same category as Fournette, Gurley, and Zeke Elliott, all of whom have been Top 10 picks and made their teams better immediately. I would throw Quenton Nelson, the guard from Notre Dame, in there, and Minkah Fitzpatrick, the safety/corner from Alabama, and for some teams Vita Vea for defensive tackle. So, to me, they're kind of like the five guys where you go, wow, you can plug and play. But I'd be aware of Indianapolis and the potential trade now."
——————————Q (from Mike Chappell, CBS4): If you could put yourself in Chris Ballard's seat, and you're sitting at 3, this is a roster that needs a lot of help at all positions. Very few playmakers. Do you get more bang for your buck staying at 3 and getting one of those guys with Chubb or Barkley, or is there more value in moving back and trying to get more players but maybe not the difference-making players? What is your option on that?
Mayock: "I think he has to be open for business, number one. They've got a -- as you mentioned, they've got a variety of needs. I think the NFL is all about filling needs in free agency and the draft. That's what it's all about. That's why the Eagles turned it around in two years. So it's about filling needs. They've got a bunch of them. So I think the day before the draft or even the day of the draft you're hoping they're getting an awful lot of people that want to come up ahead of Cleveland at 4, ahead of Denver at 5, and get a quarterback. And depending on who has the draft capital to move up, I think you have to listen, you have to be open for business, and I think that's the best of all worlds. If you can move down from 3 to somewhere else in the Top 10, that's the best of all worlds. And I'm not sure that's happening because, quite frankly, 7 through 10 don't even have quarterback needs. You're listening to what's being offered and you have to weigh that against Barkley, Chubb or Quenton Nelson, and they're really, really good football players. So it's kind of like you want one really good football player who has a chance to be an All-Pro quickly, or do you want to try to satisfy three or four needs with a trade down? And I don't think you can have that answer until you know what's in front of you on the day of the draft."
——————————Q:You wouldn't go much further than like 10 if you're trading back, though, would you?
Mayock: "I would rather stay in the Top 10 if possible. But, again, if you were able to get multiple ones and twos and all of that, that's a whole different conversation. Then you've got to trust your draft board."
NFL Network provides exclusive live coverage of the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine on-field drills Friday, March 2 - Monday, March 5 beginning each day at 9:00 AM Eastern.