Trading up to one of the top two spots in the NFL draft is pretty much off the table for the Indianapolis Colts this year.
But there’s still one possible way the Colts could improve their draft stock in the first round — moving up from No. 4 to No. 3.
That’s exactly what ESPN’s Bill Barnwell proposed the Colts do in an article that suggested one draft trade for each team in the 2023 first round. He argued that although it’s just one spot, general manager Chris Ballard must be aggressive to avoid three quarterbacks coming off the board before Indianapolis has a chance to make its first pick.
“For the Colts to avoid being beaten to the punch for the third quarterback in this class, they’ll need to trade up themselves,” wrote Barnwell.
Colts to Trade Up to Prevent Other Team From Doing So?
The Arizona Cardinals hold the No. 3 pick in the 2023 NFL draft. Just a year removed from signing quarterback Kyler Murray to a mega contract, the Cardinals aren’t going to draft a signal caller.
That’s the good news for Indianapolis. The bad news is another team could still make a trade with the Cardinals for the third pick to move ahead of the Colts.
A quarterback-needy team jumping Indianapolis in the first round has already happened this offseason. The Carolina Panthers moved up from No. 9 to 1 doing a trade with the Chicago Bears.
With Justin Fields, the Bears weren’t expected to be in the quarterback market either. But by not trading up, the Colts allowed the Panthers to move into a better position to get a premiere prospect behind center.
The Colts have a lot of needs. Sacrificing draft capital to move up one spot isn’t a prudent move. But Barnwell argued it’s necessary for the Colts to land their next franchise quarterback.
“Colts GM Chris Ballard can’t love the idea of trading away three picks to move up one spot and get a player the Cardinals don’t have any intention of taking, but this would be about keeping Arizona from sending its pick to another team,” wrote Barnwell.
There’s Precedent for Trading Up 1 Spot
Moving up one spot early in the NFL draft is unusual, but it has happened previously.
In 2017, the Bears traded the No. 3 pick and three other selections to the San Francisco 49ers for the No. 2 selection. Then at No. 2, the Bears picked quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
That scenario is very similar to the potential trade between the Colts and Cardinals this year. The 49ers weren’t in the quarterback market that offseason, and they confirmed that by picking a defensive lineman at No. 3.
So, from an outsider’s perspective, it appeared as though the Bears gave up two third-round picks and a fourth-rounder for no reason.
But in all likelihood, the Bears made the trade to prevent another team from having the chance to trade up to No. 2 with the 49ers and then draft Trubisky.
If the Colts do move up one spot, Barnwell expects it will cost them about the same in compensation that it did the Bears six years ago.
“The price for the Colts would be in the same ballpark if Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort plays his cards right,” wrote Barnwell.