The NFL Draft is one week away, and smokescreen rumors have been placed in the media. Never believe anything you hear from now until the pick is being announced on the podium. All GMs will tell you one thing and do another. It’s all part of the game this time of year. At this point most fans are tired of all the mock drafts and repetitive content and they are ready to find out who will be drafted.
For the Colts, it is no different. It appears that Bryce Young will be going #1 to Carolina (if you believe the new movement in betting lines). After that, nothing seems to be a sure thing, and this remains true with the Indianapolis Colts. As it is rumored that Kentucky quarterback Will Levis will be the selection at #4 no matter who is available when they are on the clock.
Interest In Lamar Jackson
Before we dive into the Will Levis rumors, let’s first clear the air on Lamar Jackson and the Indianapolis Colts. I do believe GM Chris Ballard and HC Shane Steichen did their homework on Lamar and what it would take to not only acquire him but how they integrate an offense around him. Steichen has proven (more than once) that he can build an offense around any quarterback you put in front of him. Lamar has shown at times to be a generational talent and at times he struggles to stay on the field because of injuries. He has taken a lot of hits and with that has come the injuries.
With Lamar comes large salary demands and wish lists for players he wants to play with. His salary demands are completely understandable for a player of his talent, without question. However, with such large demands we see the teams that would take on the salary is small. Baltimore has signed Odell Beckham Jr to a large 1-year contract and it’s believed that Lamar was the ringleader of getting OBJ to Baltimore and that was a "peace offering" to get him back to the negotiation table.
"Focused On The Draft and Players That Are In The Building Right Now"
The quote above this sentence was what Steichen said when asked about the Colts interest in Lamar Jackson by the media. It doesn’t get much more definitive than that from the new head coach. Steichen and staff have backed those words up with action, especially when it comes to the QB position for the upcoming draft. They have had some type of workout with the four surefire first round picks and one meeting with fringe first rounder, Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker.
I personally believe Hooker is a first-round talent and wouldn’t be against Indianapolis trading down to get him in the middle of the first round if it could work out. If Indianapolis truly cannot see a large separation between the four quarterbacks (which is being reported) then staying at 4 and getting either any of those top four QBs would be acceptable. This team had many weaknesses that need attention on the roster, but you have to make it all work out.
Signals Pointing To Will Levis
As mentioned in the opening, you cannot believe anything that you hear this time of year. While I believe Levis is the prospect that Indianapolis has in their sights, we truly have no idea. What Ballard has proven in the past is that likes prospects with size, toughness, overall character, and leadership. Levis checks every one of these boxes. Levis is 6’4 and 231 lbs with an elite arm talent. Some NFL people say he is the "next Josh Allen" and some say the "next Jay Cutler."
He had 3 different OCs in 3 seasons. He did not have a great last season with Kentucky due to a shoulder injury and a turf toe injury that lingered all year. He also sat out the bowl game against Iowa to get healthy and prepare for the draft. One major influence on him was his junior year OC Liam Coen, who ran a pro-style offense with Levis. Coen will be returning to Kentucky this upcoming season (after last season with LA Rams) but raved about his talent and competitiveness while coaching him. Indianapolis took a large cavalry to workout Will Levis privately in Lexington awhile back and were reportedly left the workout encouraged by what they saw.
The franchise will also want a quarterback this draft that is ready to go Week 1 and with Bryce Young and CJ Stroud most likely off the board by pick #4, Levis is more likely to be ready to start immediately than Anthony Richardson.
All Eyes On GM Chris Ballard
With Colts GM Chris Ballard under contract through 2026, I wouldn’t say he is on the proverbial "hot seat" just yet, but it is getting warm. His record as Colts GM is a measly 45-52-1 with one playoff appearance. Sure, Ballard had to deal with the retirement of a generational franchise quarterback (in his prime) with Andrew Luck.
They have since decided not to draft a young quarterback but instead they played the never ending (or productive) Rent-A-QB game. They have started 6 different quarterbacks since Luck retired in 2019. It’s a strategy that has not worked and will not work. Ballard must finally take the risk and draft a quarterback. Even if the one he chooses is a bust, he will be fired. But continuing to do the same process now will surely end his tenure. The risk outweighs what you currently have and with a new head coach that has a successful history of developing QBs, the time is now in Indianapolis.
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