Colts GM on trading up to No. 1 pick: ‘There’s got to be a guy worthy of it’

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On Wednesday, Colts general manager Chris Ballard appeared to temper speculation that Indianapolis will try to trade the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

At the annual NFL Scouting Combine, Ballard said he doesn’t know if it’s “the right course of business” to trade the top pick to make it right. To make an aggressive move like that, he said, a player has to be “worthy.” There has to be a conviction among key decision-makers that “there’s no question” he will be the face of a franchise for more than a decade, he added.

The Colts, who have the No. 4 pick, have been one of the teams most linked to the Bears, who have the top overall pick, to take a quarterback. It would allow Indianapolis to jump one spot ahead of the AFC South rival Texans.

Chicago is reportedly open to trading the No. 1 pick.

“Everybody just auto-stamps what you have to go through [No.] 1 for getting it right,” Ballard said. “I don’t know if I agree with that. I do not. But that will be the narrative. And that’s okay. You have to write something. You have to keep the news flowing.

“When we come together as a staff and say, ‘OK, this is what we need to do, this is the guy for the next 10-15 years and we think he’s the right guy,’ sure, we’ll do it.” it continued. “But who’s to say we won’t have one at four?”

In the past, Ballard has been tight-lipped about physical measurables at the quarterback position, such as size. In his six seasons as general manager, the Colts’ top signal-caller every year has been at least 6-foot-4: Andrew Luck (6-4, 240 pounds), Jacoby Brissett (6-4, 235), Phillip Rivers . (6-5, 228), Carson Wentz (6-5, 237) and Matt Ryan (6-4, 217). And while those measurables are still held in high regard, Ballard said there is an “exception” for guys who may not be as big but have elite accuracy and make plays when the game is on the line. These days, signal callers, he explained, come in all shapes and sizes.

The prospects in this year’s draft class are: Alabama’s Bryce Young (listed at 6-0, 194 pounds by his school), Ohio State’s CJ Stroud (6-3, 218) Florida’s Anthony Richardson (6-4, 232) and Kentucky’s Will Levis (6-3, 232).

The best QB in the draft?

The best QB in the draft?

RJ Young and Rob Rang agree that Alabama’s Bryce Young is better than Ohio State’s CJ Stroud.

“We’ve had success with guys who are under six feet,” Ballard said of the NFL. “Some guys can be too tall, and now we’re going to say they’re too short. I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder: who do you believe in, who do you believe you can create an offense in. And I know this: it doesn’t fit the attack on the quarterback. Fits the offense to what the quarterback does well. I think that’s what [new coach Shane Steichen] and the staff will.

“You’re getting a lot more athletes playing the position,” he added. “The ability to move, navigate the pocket, escape the pocket, make plays with his feet. Those are all things that we’re seeing in our league. It’s not that we haven’t seen it before, but it’s become even more frequent..”

Steichen agreed with Ballard’s sentiment about considering accuracy a premium.

“When it’s third-and-8 and you’ve got to have it, you’ve got to be able to get in the pocket and make a hit with the guy coming down your chest,” he said. “I think that says a lot about a guy’s toughness. I look for that on tape. Obviously, the vetting process.”

What else is clear from Steichen’s comments? The former Eagles offensive coordinator values ​​perfectionism and the “it” factor at the position.

He pointed to his former signal caller, the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts, the 2022 MVP runner-up to Patrick Mahomes, as an example.

“A lot of these guys are going to have talent,” Steichen said. “They’ll be able to throw it. They’ll be able to run. They’ll be able to make plays. But what’s that edge? What’s that edge that separates them?”

“Partly, I think it’s the obsession,” he continued. “You have to love yourself. You have to be obsessed with him. You have to be the first and the last to leave. These Philly boys know that. I mean, Jalen was there within 6 years. right [in the morning]. He will be there until 9:30 [p.m.]. It seems so. You want to play in this league for a long time and be successful, you have to have that mindset every day that I’m going to give it everything I’ve got and be the best I can be.”

Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He previously worked for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, where he was the Titans beat writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for for three seasons (2018-20) before moving to Tennessee. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.

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