Coming off a disappointing 4-12-1 season in 2022, the Indianapolis Colts are firmly in rebuilding territory. As such, the Colts’ 2023 NFL Draft class marks a new era for the team. Here’s the run down of the 12 draft picks the Colts hope can form the backbone for the team’s bright future.
Round 1: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida (4th overall)
With their first round pick, the Colts nabbed their quarterback of the future, or at least they hope so. Although Richardson struggled immensely with his accuracy in college (53.8 percent completion rate) and started just 13 games, he has the potential to grow into an elite quarterback. At the NFL Draft Combine in February, Richardson tested as the most athletic quarterback ever, thanks to a 4.43 second 40-yard dash and breaking the quarterback positional records in both the vertical leap (40.5 inches) and broad jump (10-feet, 9-inches). Boutique NFL analytics consulting firm Evoluxion Analytics ranked Richardson as the top quarterback and overall prospect in the draft.
Round 2: Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State (44th)
Just as Richardson is a huge, massively athletic quarterback, Brents is a huge, massively athletic cornerback. From a physical perspective, Brents is built like a star shooting guard, standing 6’3 with a nearly seven-foot wingspan. Similarly, he crushed the combine, placing above the 90th percentile in vertical jump, broad jump and three-cone drill, while ranking in the 83rd percentile for the 20 yard shuttle run. At Kansas State, Brents registered 45 tackles last year, grabbed four interceptions and forced on fumble. According to Evoluxion, he’s the third best corner and 20th best overall prospect, making him a steal in the second round.
Round 3: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina (79th)
Despite falling to the third round, Downs might have been the most productive receiver in this year’s draft class. Over his last two seasons at UNC, Downs racked up 195 catches for 2,346 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns, making the All-ACC First Team in both 2021 and 2022. At a smidge under 5’10, Downs lacks ideal size for an NFL wide receiver and ran a pedestrian 4.48 second 40 yard dash, causing him to slide in the draft. Still, his track record of elite play makes him a bargain in the third round and his explosiveness (92nd percentile in the broad jump) and elusiveness should allow him to immediately contribute in some capacity. Evoluxion ranks him as the 13th best receiver and 41st overall player.
Round 4: Blake Freeland, OT, Brigham Young (106th)
Freeland wasn’t an offensive lineman until he arrived at BYU in 2019, originally playing quarterback, tight end and defense end in high school, but his physical gifts more than compensate for his lack of experience. Physically, Freeland is a monster—he’s 6’8, 305 pounds with a 37-inch vertical leap, an all-time record for an offensive lineman. His broad jump and 40 yard dash time are similarly elite, ranking above the 90th percentile amongst offensive linemen. While his rawness and relative lightness might make his transition to the NFL take some time, his potential is obvious; Evoluxion has him as the seventh best offensive tackle and the 70th best prospect overall.
Round 4: Adetomiwa Adebawore, DT, Northwestern (110th)
Adding to the Colts list of outlier draft picks, Adebawore carries the distinction of being the fastest defensive tackle in Combine history, running a blazing 4.49 second 40 yard dash. On the whole, his 9.72 Relative Athletic Scores is the 46th best of the 1623 defensive tackles to participate in the Combine since 1987. While his athletic bona fides are undeniable, they didn’t quite translate to the field. His stats certainly aren’t bad, but five sacks and nine tackles for loss still qualifies as a slight disappointment for a guy this talented.
Round 5: Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina (138th)
After picking Brents in the second round, the Colts made another addition to their secondary by picking South Carolina cornerback Darius Rush in the fifth. Like Brents, Rush is another big, fast cornerback, measuring 6’2 and running a 4.36 40 yard dash. To wit, he’s another corner with the physical tools and mentalities to thrive in press coverage, where he can use his size to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and then lean on his quickness to stay stride for stride with them. At South Carolina, Rush racked up three interceptions, 15 pass break-ups, four tackles for a loss and one forced fumble in 23 games.
Round 5: Daniel Scott, S, California (158th)
Scott is yet another athletic playmaker in the secondary. If you haven’t noticed, the Colts certainly had a type in the 2023 draft. Although Scott’s age (he’s already 25) and iffy play recognition skills put a cap on his ceiling, his combination of athleticism and production is rare. His 9.94 Relative Athletic Score is one of the best marks ever, placing him seventh among 976 free safeties at the Combine since 1987. To wit, his 85 tackles, four passes defensed, three interceptions and 2.5 tackles for loss are also eye-catching, signifying that he might contribute right away, whether on defense or on special teams.
Round 5: Will Mallory, TE, Miami (FL) (162nd)
A former three star recruit, Mallory represents a kind of choose-your-own adventure tight end option for the Colts. At Miami, Mallory was equally adept as both a pass catcher and a blocker, giving him multiple ways to make his mark in the NFL. Still, while he was good in both facets, he was great at neither and will need to make significant improvements in both areas to have a major impact in the NFL. With the Hurricanes, Mallory caught 42 passes for 538 yards and three touchdowns last season.
Round 5: Evan Hull, RB, Northwestern (176th)
The second Northwestern player that the Colts picked in the 2023 draft, Hull is a solid if unspectacular running back. Last year, Hull demonstrated some versatility, rushing for 913 yards (4.1 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns while also catching 55 passes for 546 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Round 7: Titus Leo, LB, Wagner (211th)
Just the fourth player ever drafted out of Wagner, Leo was one of the best defensive players in FCS last year. Registering 13 sacks and 40 tackles for loss during his time at Wagner, Leo was an All-American in 2021 and made the All-NEC First-Team in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
Round 7: Jaylon Jones, CB, Texas A&M (221st)
A three year starter at Texas A&M, Jones put up impressive stats in College Station. In 32 games with the Aggies, the 6’2 Jones garnered 14 pass break-ups, three interceptions, two tackles for a loss and 98 total tackles while playing both cornerback and safety.
Round 7: Jake Witt, OT, Northern Michigan (236th)
The Colts’ 12th and final pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, Witt took a circuitous route to the Draft, not playing college football until 2021. Originally a tight end, Witt switched to offensive tackle in the middle of a game in 2021 when his Northern Michigan ran out of usable tackles after all the conventional options got injured. Evidently, Witt acquitted himself well and became a starting tackle on a full-time basis. Same as all the other Colts draft picks, Witt demonstrated enviable physical traits, posting 4.89 40-yard dash, 37-inch vertical leap, and 10-foot, 3-inch broad jump his at his pro day and measured in at 6-foot-7 and 302 pounds.
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