Each NFL off-season brings floods of mock drafts as analysts predict what teams will do during the upcoming draft. With the No. 4 overall pick, the Indianapolis Colts have been no stranger to speculation.
On April 18, NFL Network’s Peter Schrager released a mock draft on a segment of “Good Morning Football” that projects the Indianapolis Colts to do something most don’t envision. He predicts the Colts will exchange first-round picks with division rival Houston Texans (trading up from No. 4 to No. 2).
With that pick, Schrager thinks the Colts will select Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud.
“I’ve got the Colts loving Stroud — that’s what I’ve heard,” Schrager said. “I was more intrigued by the Colts’ love for C.J. Stroud and also the potential trade partner, a division rival.”
Schrager clarified that his mock draft isn’t based on his personal emotions in mind; rather, he said it’s made with consideration of what he’s heard from teams this off-season.
The Texans will then, according to Schrager, select Texas Tech defensive end Tyree Wilson with pick No. 4 and Kentucky signal caller Will Levis at No. 12. Although the Texans need a quarterback, Schrager believes they’re not as sold on Stroud.
“Texans have not been outright on quarterback and it’s not just Stroud, it’s (Florida quarterback Anthony) Richardson included and even Levis, who I’ve got them taking later on in the 12th overall pick,” Schrager said. “The Stroud to Houston thing specifically: very quiet.”
Schrager also mentioned in his segment that the Texans could end up regretting trading down with the Colts if Stroud pans out as a top quarterback. An added negative would be that Houston plays Indianapolis twice a year.
Most mock drafts this off-season have not projected the Colts to draft Stroud this off-season — let alone trading spots with the Texans in the draft. Richardson and Levis have been most commonly linked to the Colts throughout 2023.
What Would the Colts Need to Give Up?
Schrager noted that in order to move up to No. 2, the Colts would need to give up No. 4 and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner or No. 4 and a Day 2 draft selection.
Buckner played four seasons in San Francisco from 2016 to 2019. For three of those years, now-Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans split time handling defensive quality control responsibilities and coaching inside linebackers.
Ryans having a defensive coaching emphasis could weigh into why Houston might move down in the draft to not only acquire more capital but also take an early first-round defender like Wilson.
Another factor is that the Texans also already own pick No. 12. They could take Levis with that pick, as Schrager noted; however, if Houston waited until then to do so, they could risk another team drafting him beforehand.
The 33rd Team’s Ari Meirov tweeted on April 17 that the Texans are officially listening to offers for the No. 2 pick and that it isn’t known which direction they’ll go in the draft.
“#Texans GM Nick Caserio says they’ve received a “few calls” on the No. 2 overall pick and are open to listening to offers,” Meirov tweeted. “Houston has been a tough team to gauge with which direction they’ll go in the draft since Caserio got there. But there hasn’t been any indication they love a specific player in this draft (besides Bryce Young).”
‘Visit Season’ Wraps Up 8 Days Before Draft
April 19 is the official deadline for NFL teams to “time, test, visit, interview or conduct a physical examination with draft-eligible players at club facilities,” NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero wrote in a tweet.
“Visit season” ending means teams will now put more emphasis on their respective draft boards, draft strategies and communicating with other organizations to make pre-draft deals.
The last-reported Colts visit with a draft prospect was Richardson on April 17, as officially noted in a tweet by CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson.
While it remains unclear exactly what the Colts will do in the draft, team owner Jim Irsay has expressed interest on numerous occasions this off-season that he wants a rookie franchise quarterback.
Irsay even became cryptic about his plans in the draft on social media in mid-April.