Brugler predicted the Colts to trade with the Chicago Bears to acquire the No. 1 pick and select Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. For compensation, the Bears would receive a slew of picks from the Colts, including the team’s No. 4 and No. 35 selections as well as a 2024 first-rounder.
Brugler said Indianapolis’ demand for a signal caller as well as front-office connections between the Colts and Bears could drive this move.
“The Colts have a clear need at quarterback, with an owner and general manager who are motivated to get it right,” Brugler wrote. “Colts GM Chris Ballard, who was previously a scout in Chicago, is very familiar with Bears GM Ryan Poles — the two worked together for four years in the Chiefs’ front office.”
Trading up for Young would guarantee Indianapolis a talented, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who has done enough to prove himself worthy of a top selection. Brugler cited that the last two times the Colts had a No. 1 pick, it “worked out well” as the franchise chose quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. Manning (1997) and Luck (2011) each finished second in Heisman Trophy voting during their college days at Tennessee and Stanford, respectively.
The Demand for Young
Regarded as one of the most talented college quarterbacks, Young put up over 3,300 yards with 32 touchdowns and five interceptions in 2022. He led Alabama to an 11-2 record and Allstate Sugar Bowl victory over Kansas State before declaring for the upcoming draft.
ESPN’s Todd McShay and Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner each cited Young as the top prospect in their 2023 draft rankings. Young is also the favorite to become the No. 1 selection with -130 odds, per DraftKings Sportsbook.
There are some questions about Young’s height, however. Listed at 6 feet tall, some GMs might be hesitant to select a quarterback who might have difficulty throwing above a tall offensive line.
Since 2018, the Colts haven’t begun a season with a starting quarterback who was shorter than 6-foot-4. Brugler said that Ballard’s preference is taller quarterbacks, but Young’s playmaking ability makes up for his lack of size.
“Bryce Young is a complete outlier from a size perspective and would be somewhat off-type for Ballard, but Young’s instincts, vision and accuracy as a passer are the traits worth betting on at the position,” Brugler said.
Young’s robust play style and capability to throw precise passes inside or outside of the pocket makes him stand out. He’s even been compared to a “young Drew Brees” by NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah.
Brugler Sees ‘Added Benefit’ to Move Up in Draft
On January 8, the Colts blew a last-minute lead to the Houston Texans in the last game of the regular season. The Texans’ win propelled the Bears to No. 1 overall in the draft while Houston fell to No. 2.
With the Colts and Texans being AFC South rivals, the Bears moving to No. 1 might give Indianapolis an advantage to jump ahead of Houston the top spot, according to Brugler.
“It won’t be a driving reason behind a trade up, but sniping Young ahead of division foe Houston would be an added benefit,” Brugler wrote.
Like the Colts, the Texans also appear to be quarterback-needy, as Davis Mills was tied for the league-lead in interceptions (15) in 2022.
The Texans could be satisfied with picking a top quarterback prospect at No. 2 without giving up any extra assets to trade up. In his mock draft, Brugler projected Kentucky quarterback Will Levis to land in Houston with the second pick.