The Indianapolis Colts go into the 2023 NFL Draft with the No. 4 overall pick and some known issues to address. However, the team is going nowhere — no matter how solid the roster — until they get a quarterback. With that in mind, here are the three best Colts NFL draft targets: Anthony Richardson, Will Levis, and Jalen Carter.
The Colts need a quarterback. That isn’t a secret. After two decades of an incredible run with Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, the team’s “luck” ran out when the franchise QB decided to retire before his 30th birthday.
Since then, Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz, and Matt Ryan haven’t been able to equal the success of Manning and Luck.
After a horrendous 4-12-1 season in 2022, the Colts have the highest NFL draft pick (No. 4) they’ve had since taking Luck No. 1 overall in 2012. And using this opportunity to take a new franchise QB is too big to pass up.
With the Carolina Panthers trading up to No. 1 and the Houston Texans sitting at No. 2, it means that the top two prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft class — C.J. Stroud from Ohio State and Bryce Young from Alabama — will likely be gone. That’s when the Colts will have to make a choice between Anthony Richardson of Florida or Will Levis of Kentucky.
Or will they?
There is one more scenario where the Colts NFL draft wouldn’t include a quarterback in the first round.
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson has requested a trade, and Indy could be in on him. With the mess that the Jackson situation is now, maybe they could even get the QB without giving up pick No. 4. If that happens, there is a potentially game-changing defensive player the Colts could consider.
QB Anthony Richardson, Florida
Anthony Richardson is the high-risk, high-reward choice for the first-round Colts draft pick. The Gators signal-caller is an absolutely stellar athlete, posting NFL combine testing numbers the league hasn’t seen in a quarterback in two decades.
He also has great arm strength, and in pre-draft workouts throwing against air, he looks accurate. The only problem is that Richardson is an incredibly raw prospect who doesn’t truly know how to play the position yet.
With Shane Steichen now in charge of the Colts, the coach who developed Jalen Hurts into a Pro Bowl player could make magic with Richardson. With his physical skills, if he ever puts it all together, he can be an amalgamation of Cam Newton, Josh Allen, and Michael Vick.
However, he likely won’t help the team at all in 2023, and by the time he is ready to become a star — if he ever is — Steichen and general manager Chris Ballard could be long gone.
QB Will Levis, Kentucky
If Anthony Richardson is too big a risk for the Colts, the safer option is taking Kentucky QB Will Levis. The former Wildcat is big and strong and has a rocket arm. And while his ceiling is slightly lower than Richardson’s the chances he gets to that ceiling quicker is more likely.
Levis gets the Josh Allen comparison as well for a lot of reasons. His size, mobility, and arm strength all compare favorably to the Bills’ Superman-like signal-caller. Like Allen, Levis also had a much better penultimate than his final year at college as most of his high-end targets and protection left after 2021.
Levis hasn’t been getting the buzz Richardson, Young, and Stround have been the last few weeks, but that’s OK. He may fly under the radar a bit, but Will Levis could easily become the best quarterback in this class, which is why the Colts need to consider him at No. 4 in the 2023 NFL Draft.
DT Jalen Carter, Georgia
Whether the Colts NFL draft plans involve trading for Lamar Jackson at some point to maybe making a move like taking a position player at No. 4 and then trading up into the late first or early second for a QB prospect like Hendon Hooker from Tennessee, there is a small chance Indianapolis doesn’t take a signal-caller at No. 4.
In this case, the Colts would have to really roll the dice and take a chance on the best interior defensive lineman since Aaron Donald, Jalen Carter of Georgia.
Carter was in the conversation to be the No. 1 pick a few months ago until his involvement in a car accident that killed two members of the Georgia football program sidetracked that.
The DT’s legal issues are now behind him, though, and if QBs go 1-2 and Alabama pass-rusher Will Anderson Jr. goes No. 3, Carter is the last elite prospect left, and the Colts should take a chance on him if they don’t take a QB for some reason.