Colts Predicted to Draft QB in ‘Similar Mold’ to MVP Candidate

Indianapolis Colts

Getty Wide receiver Michael Pittman and the Indianapolis Colts have been predicted to select a quarterback who shares characteristics with a former MVP candidate.

With about 24 hours remaining until the start of the 2023 NFL draft, two quarterbacks appear to be the most likely choices for the Indianapolis Colts — Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Kentucky’s Will Levis.

Both were still on the board when the Colts made their first pick at No. 4 overall in a mock draft from Heavy senior reporter Matt Lombardo on April 26.

Lombardo predicted the Colts to draft Stroud.

“Indianapolis lands a potential franchise quarterback, in a similar mold to the quarterback new head coach Shane Steichen helped develop into an MVP candidate last season in Philadelphia, Jalen Hurts,” Lombardo wrote. “Stroud, 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds passed for 3,688 yards with 41 touchdowns to 6 interceptions last season in Columbus.”

Furthermore, an NFL offensive coordinator told Lombardo that he likes Stroud’s “effortless ability to rip it. The coordinator also said that Stroud’s “a good athlete, but can make all the throws.”

QB C.J. Stroud’s Draft Stock Falling?

For much of the spring, mock drafts had Stroud going to the Houston Texans at No. 2 overall.

But on April 17, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the new expectation around the league was Houston would pass on quarterback. With Bryce Young expected to be the top choice to the Carolina Panthers, Schefter’s report meant Stroud could fall out of the top three.

Since then, mock drafts have shifted to the Texans drafting defensive players at No. 2 overall. Lombardo slotted Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson to the Texans in his mock draft.

Meanwhile, Stroud has continued to see his draft stock fall in part because of his reported score on the S2 Cognition Test.

NFL reporter Bob McGinn of Go Long released a report that indicated Stroud had, by far, the lowest score on the S2 Cognition Test of the consensus top five signal callers in the class.

With Stroud likely to still be on the board at No. 4, it will be interesting to see if the test plays a role in Indianapolis’ draft decision. Clearly, Lombardo doesn’t anticipate it being much of a factor.

Stroud shrugged off the test in front of reporters on April 26.

“At the end of the day, I don’t got nothing to prove to nobody,” Stroud said according to sports columnist Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer. “I’m not about to sit here and explain to somebody how I process football. The people who are making the picks know what I can do. That’s all that matters to me.”

Colts Predicted to Draft QB C.J. Stroud

While there’s no consensus, Lombardo’s projection that the Colts will select Stroud differs from other mock drafts like the one from Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, who predicted the Colts to draft Levis.

ESPN’s Matt Miller also wrote that he thinks the Colts will take Levis. But Miller reported that Indianapolis’ decision is more complicated if Stroud is available too.

One NFL scout told Miller that, “the Colts would probably love for someone to jump them and select Stroud, so they can take Levis.”

Levis may have performed better on the S2 Cognition Test, but Stroud was clearly the better college quarterback.

At Ohio State, Stroud averaged 9.8 yards per pass with a 69.3% completion percentage in 26 games. He also had 85 passing touchdowns versus just 12 interceptions.

Levis threw for 8.0 yards per attempt while recording a 64.9% completion percentage in 38 games. After transferring from Penn State to Kentucky, he averaged 8.2 yards per pass with a 65.7% completion percentage, 43 touchdowns and 23 interceptions in two seasons.

If Stroud and Levis are both available at No. 4, the Colts will face a difficult decision. But Lombardo predicted general manager Chris Ballard to value game film over the offseason testing.

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