The Indianapolis Colts’ front office and coaching staff got a firsthand look at top quarterback draft prospects from the comfort of their own home stadium on March 4.
Florida’s Anthony Richardson, Kentucky’s Will Levis and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud each participated in throwing drills during the NFL combine. Another top prospect, Alabama’s Bryce Young, had his measurements taken and spoke during media sessions but will wait to throw until his pro day.
Richardson was the only top QB prospect to take part in the 40-yard dash. Using his athleticism, he put up a 4.43-second performance.
Levis’ arm strength and size stood out while Stroud’s accuracy was on display during combine throwing drills.
As we’ve seen with the Colts’ recent three-year trend of veteran quarterbacks, each of those starters had similar traits: size, accuracy and leadership strengths.
Whether or not the Colts move up from No. 4 overall in the draft, it seems clear the team will draft a rookie quarterback. General manager Chris Ballard has not yet done so in the first round during his Colts’ tenure, which began in 2017.
Through the draft, Ballard could either stick to the trend of picking up a sizeable signal caller (like Richardson or Levis) or even take a smaller, playmaking QB (like Young).
The Athletic’s Zak Keefer wrote a March 4 story detailing the Colts’ impressions of each top QB who worked out at the combine.
“Saturday’s workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium won’t carry much weight when it’s time for the Colts to come to a decision with the fourth pick in this spring’s draft,” Keefer wrote.”
That’s because Ballard thinks game film has more weight than watching QBs throw to unblanketed wide receivers.
“Look, we want every kid to work out and throw but they’re throwing on air, let’s be real,” Ballard told Keefer. “And then they’re throwing on air to wideouts they’ve never really thrown to. So let’s be realistic here. They’ve all got plenty of tape to watch. That’s where we’re going to get something from it.”
Steichen, Cooter At Combine Evaluating
Keefer noted that Steichen may have some more interest in the combine than Ballard since he and new Colts offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter were 15 rows up the stands at Lucas Oil Stadium to watch.
What makes the hire of head coach Shane Steichen interesting is that he’s experienced success with Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts — two different-sized QBs with varying attributes. Steichen guided Herbert to rookie-record passing numbers in 2020 and won the NFC with Hurts in 2022.
According to Keefer, what matters to Steichen regarding quarterbacks is fundamentals, including fluid throwing motions and releases.
“He (Steichen) spoke of studying their ‘functional movement,’ of keying in on their fundamentals and footwork,” Keefer wrote. “In a sense, it’s why Steichen is here — the Colts want him to replicate the success he’s had with various types of quarterbacks over the course of his career.”
Keefer did note that Steichen ultimately “won’t put too much stock into Saturday’s workouts,” but the combine will be a factor in how he views each QB prospect in full perspective.
The week-long combine gives all 32 NFL teams the chance to speak to draft prospects and evaluate their talent.
Colts Add Offensive Assistant
According to Irish Sports Daily, Notre Dame graduate assistant offensive line coach Chris Watt has left the program to join the Indianapolis Colts coaching staff. While Irish Sports Daily’s Matt Freeman did not detail Watt’s role on the Colts, the thought is that he will become an offensive line assistant coach.
Horseshoe Huddle’s Destin Adams touted Watt’s experience learning from a longtime offensive line coach.
“While at ND he worked heavily with Former ND Offensive line coach Harry Hiestand in 2022,” Adams tweeted. “Could be a solid assistant to work with #Colts 1st time Offensive Line coach Tony Sparano Jr.”
Colts head coach Shane Steichen continues to build his offensive coaching staff, even after Sparano Jr.’s February 27 hire. On March 4, Indianapolis also brought in Notre Dame’s Brian Mason to become special teams coordinator.