The Colts’ quarterback decision is going to reshape the NFL

The Colts will draft a quarterback. With 90-plus million dollars cap space, 9 draft picks, and a young core rivaled by few, the Colts are ready to return back to the Super Bowl.

Here’s the deal: Indianapolis is a small market. Outside of the team and their division, the team isn’t looked at as a game-changer in the league unless it’s winning Super Bowls. Case in point was the 2018 season. People doubted the Colts all year as illegitimate contenders, even in the midst of their incredible 10-1 stretch to end the season.

However, the league is changing. Small market teams are dominating the league. Take a look at both sides of the division. The AFC is led by Kansas City and Baltimore. Green Bay and New Orleans are at the head of the NFC.

These are small-market teams in the heart of the United States where the true love of the game lies. The heartland NFL teams are set up to dominate the next generation of the league. The Colts are one of these teams that are on the precipice of doing so, but they need a quarterback to do so.

Having a talented quarterback is a crucial one, but the last thing that the Colts need is a B-level quarterback. History shows that to truly become a super bowl contender, regardless of the team’s offensive scheme, a B-level quarterback isn’t going to get there.

The league is a passing-oriented game. A team needs a quarterback who can spread the field and throw for chunk plays if needed. As much as a team can try and convince themselves that their quarterback is good enough, chances are, they aren’t. Let’s look at that.

Here is a list of the starting quarterback for every NFL Team in each division. The names with 3 asterisks*** signify that the player can bring a team to a Super Bowl.

Two asterisks** on a name mean that the quarterback has the potential to do so but are too young or haven’t put together more than one solid campaign to make a for-sure decision.

Players with one asterisk* are certain to draft a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft.

AFC North:

Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson***

Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger

Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield**

Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton*

AFC South:
Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson***

Tennessee Titans: Ryan Tannehill

Indianapolis Colts: Jacoby Brissett*

Jacksonville Jaguars: Gardner Minshew

AFC East:

New England Patriots: Tom Brady***

Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen**

New York Jets: Sam Darnold**

Miami Dolphins: Ryan Fitzpatrick*

AFC West:

Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes***

Oakland Raiders: Derek Carr

Denver Broncos: Drew Lock**

Los Angeles Chargers: Phillip Rivers*

NFC North:

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers***

Minnesota Vikings: Kirk Cousins

Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford

Chicago Bears: Mitchell Trubisky

NFC South:

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees***

Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan***

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston

Carolina Panthers: Kyle Allen

NFC East:

Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz***

Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott

New York Giants: Daniel Jones**

Washington Redskins: Dwayne Haskins**

NFC West:

San Francisco 49ers: Jimmy Garoppolo***

Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson***

Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff**

Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray**

 

Only one quarterback from each division (apart from the NFC South and West) have made the cut as quarterbacks who can bring a team to the Super Bowl. 8 more are rookie or very young players that haven’t had the time in the league to show what they can do.

However, to focus on those top 10, all 10 of those players are A-Level quarterbacks. These ten QB’s can be separated further. Players like Mahomes and Wilson have shown that they can and will make it to the big game. Others like Jimmy Garappolo and Matt Ryan aren’t as talented but have shown that they can make the Super Bowl with a good team around them and a consistent year. Finally, there are players such as Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson. These are players that haven’t gotten to the Super Bowl yet but have clearly shown their potential to do so.

Notable names left off this list are Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, Matt Stafford, Ben Roethlisberger, and Ryan Tannehill. All of these players are ones earning A-Level quarterback money ($30 million or more) or about to. The front offices of these teams are trying to convince themselves that their B-Level players are A-Level and are franchise players that will bring them Super Bowl glory. However, it just isn’t true. Teams don’t need to settle for B-Level QB’s because they either drafted them, had them for a while, or paid them too much money to let go so soon.

For a few good examples of this, look at the top of the NFL. Kansas City had Alex Smith, who frequently led them to division titles, 10-plus win seasons, and playoff runs just short of the Super Bowl. The Chiefs knew he wasn’t the answer regardless of his Pro-Bowl production, so they drafted Patrick Mahomes, and the rest is history.

Baltimore won a Super Bowl with Joe Flacco, but they knew he wasn’t going to get them back, so in comes Lamar Jackson. They now have an NFL MVP at the position. Only the truly special players can bring a team to the top. This is why drafting a QB is crucial.

The Colts are going to draft a QB this year. 8 teams in the NFL have a young quarterback that has yet to prove whether or not they are the answer to this situation.

So why are the Colts in a position to reshape the league?

The Colts just made the divisional round of the playoffs with a roster, outside of Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton, was comprised almost fully of rookie and sophomore players. The team is incredibly young and will only improve with time. In such a small amount of time, the roster has proved it can produce in big moments.

The offensive line was turned around in one season to one of the league’s best after Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith joined the group. Darius Leonard lead a front seven next to 3rd-year player Anthony Walker to a top ten rushing defense in 2018, and with the addition of rookie Bobby Okereke,  moved up to the top seven in 2019.

Marlon Mack broke out in his 2018 sophomore season as a hard-nosed running back capable of taking over a game with his dynamic running abilities. No other team with a young quarterback has the roster like Indianapolis’, especially not rosters that have already proven it can play with the league’s best.

The Colts also hold 9 draft picks in 2020, including the 13th pick. This allows them to not only draft a franchise quarterback among the many talents in the first round but also to gain depth in key positions (wide receiver and defensive back).

GM Chris Ballard has an elite ability to find talented players. He’s done an incredible job completely gutting a team ruined by former GM Ryan Grigson and turning it into an elite roster in 3 years. It takes teams years to accomplish what Ballard has done. Head Coach Frank Reich is also an expert at coaching his players to become the best that they can be in his system.

To cap it all off, the Colts have over $86 million in cap space for 2020. The Ballard regime has hit on all of its big-name free agents, turning them into stars in the process. Eric Ebron was the NFL leader in touchdowns last season after joining the Colts. Justin Houston turned his career around and led the team in sacks in 2019. Ballard will find the right pieces that Reich can coach in free agency to complete the roster.

Next: Where is the Colts' cap money best spent?

This roster is set to do nothing but develop and grow. The addition of a franchise QB and more key pieces, as well as the necessary pieces from free agency will combine together into a formidable roster, one the AFC should begin to be worried about. Another addition to the small market dominance in the NFL is coming, and it’s the Indianapolis Colts.

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