The Indianapolis Colts are one of several teams that could possibly negotiate a trade with the Chicago Bears for the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. But Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon expressed some concern that the Colts could end up paying too much to move up three spots to the top of the draft board.
Gagnon argued that not much of Indianapolis’ roster shouldn’t be on the table in a trade for the No. 1 selection. The one Colts player who shouldn’t be, though, according to the Bleacher Report writer, is defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.
“The Indianapolis Colts would only be moving up three spots, so it’s really hard to justify giving up a player as awesome as the 28-year-old Buckner, who was a first-team All-Pro in 2020, a Pro Bowler in 2021 and an inside force with eight sacks and 22 quarterback hits despite Indy’s immense struggles in 2022.” wrote Gagnon.
“The rest of a rebuilding roster should be tradeable, but the clear-cut talent deficit associated with giving up Buckner is too much to move up three spots with several other quarterbacks likely on the board.”
Gagnon also wrote that the Colts shouldn’t offer future first-round picks in a potential trade for the No. 1 selection either.
Colts to Build Future Around Buckner?
Buckner will turn 29 in March. He also failed to make either All-Pro team or the Pro Bowl during 2022 for the first time since his second season in 2017.
But anyone who watched Colts games this past season saw how great Buckner still is. The player grades from Pro Football Focus ranked Buckner the eighth-best interior defender during the 2022 season. PFF also rated Buckner fourth-best among interior defensive linemen who played at least 80% of his team’s defensive snaps last year.
Despite not making the Pro Bowl as he did in 2021, Buckner posted more sacks, tackles, tackles for loss, quarterback hits and forced fumbles during 2022 than he did in 2021. The 2022 season was the fifth consecutive campaign he had at least 7 sacks and 14 quarterback hits.
Buckner is also under contract in Indianapolis for two more seasons.
If the Colts have any chance of quickly rebuilding and becoming competitive in 2023, Buckner must be part of their defense. And even at his age, Buckner figures to be one of the pillars of the Colts defense for the next few years.
What Colts Could Offer for No. 1 Pick
The Colts could certainly pull off a deal for the top choice in the 2023 NFL Draft without giving up Buckner. But it doesn’t seem likely they can make a deal for the No. 1 pick happen without giving up an additional first-round selection.
That was Gagnon’s other stipulation.
Deputy sports editor Nat Newell of The Indianapolis Star researched into draft trades for the top pick in recent years in January. Based on his findings, Newell argued the asking price for the Colts to move up from No. 4 to 1 this year would begin with an additional first and second-round pick.
It could be much more. The Bears have reportedly approached multiple teams about trading the No. 1 pick likely in an effort to create a bidding war. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported anywhere from eight to 12 teams could be interested in making a change at quarterback.
In addition to the Colts, the Las Vegas Raiders, Atlanta Falcons, and Carolina Panthers have Top 10 picks who may want to draft a quarterback this year. Although they have veterans in place, the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions could be interested too.
It’s very unlikely the Colts will be able to keep all their future first-round picks with a move up to No. 1. But retaining Buckner appears more likely.