Despite trading for veteran Matt Ryan, the Indianapolis Colts have remained in the quarterback market. That has been made evident from the team’s scheduled meeting with Liberty quarterback prospect Malik Willis this week.
Without a first-round selection, it’s going to be difficult for the Colts to have the opportunity to draft Willis. But in a new mock draft from draft analyst Chad Reuter of NFL.com, the Colts grabbed a quarterback with a Day 2 selection — Nevada’s Carson Strong.
Reuter predicts Indianapolis to draft Strong with the No. 73 pick in the third round. Originally, that pick belonged to Washington, but the Commanders traded the selection to the Colts for Carson Wentz.
Carson Strong Compared to Drew Bledsoe
As is the case in just about every NFL mock draft this year, Reuter predicted five quarterbacks to go in the first two rounds. In fact, the NFL.com draft analyst has projected all five of the top handful of signal callers to be drafted in the first round.
Strong isn’t among the top five quarterbacks in the 2022 draft class, but Reuter predicts him to be the sixth signal caller off the board.
While the sixth quarterback taken in a draft doesn’t usually develop into a longterm starter, Strong possesses upside. NFL analyst Lance Zierlein of NFL.com compared the Nevada prospect to former No. 1 overall pick Drew Bledsoe.
“‘Touch-or-torch pocket passer with rare blend of power and finesse to turn low percentage throws into completions,” Zierlein wrote. “His surgically repaired right knee might hinder the sturdiness of his throwing base, but Strong still throws with velocity, accuracy and touch either on or off-platform.”
In three years as a starter at Nevada, Strong posted a 68.1% completion percentage with 9,368 passing yards and 74 touchdowns with 19 interceptions. As a junior this past season, he tossed for 4,175 passing yards and 36 touchdowns.
During each of his past two seasons, Strong recorded at least 8.0 yards per pass and a completion percentage more than 70%.
Questions Surround Carson Strong’s Knee
Even with Zierlein writing that turnovers could be a concern with Strong early in his NFL career, the NFL analyst mostly raved about the Nevada quarterback. Possessing a strong, accurate arm, a lot of college experience and a “killer instinct,” there’s a lot to like about Strong.
The biggest concern around his draft stock, though, could be a dealbreaker for some teams.
Strong suffered a knee injury in high school and missed his senior season after undergoing surgery. Strong had surgery performed on his right knee again last February.
The longterm health of Strong’s right knee is his biggest question mark.
This past season, Strong played with a brace on his knee. Obviously, he still played very well. Speaking to CBS Sports HQ during the NFL Combine, the Nevada quarterback was confident the knee won’t prevent him from playing at a high level in the NFL.
“I have so much untapped power in my arm strength just because I developed compensation from not driving off of it and so just getting all of that and the flow of it, I’m almost there and I’m definitely going to be ready for Week 1 in the NFL whenever that comes,” said Strong.
“My doctor has me cleared to go, I know I’m ready to go, and so whatever team takes a chance on me, I’m going to be able to play ball at a high level.”
If not for the knee concerns, Zierlein wrote Strong would be ranked among the top choices at quarterback in this draft class.
“He clearly has first-round talent, but long-term durability concerns surrounding his knee could force teams to take a more cautious approach with his projection and draft slotting.”
Colts Still Searching for Longterm Answer at Quarterback
It’s possible that the top five quarterbacks are all gone prior to the Colts picking for the first time in the 2022 NFL Draft at No. 42. And if one of the consensus top five signal callers is still there, the Colts could choose to address their depth issues at wide receiver or another position outside of quarterback.
If either is the case, but the team still wants to add another signal caller, Strong in the third round is a strong possibility.
In Week 1 the last five years, the Colts have started five different signal callers, and the team will start a sixth different quarterback in Ryan this fall.
Indianapolis could draft Strong with the hopes of ending that revolving door behind center.