The Colts are very much in the running for a top quarterback in the draft. Here are the top prospects for Indianapolis at the 13th overall pick.
The Combine is in the past and the 2020 NFL Draft is just over one month away. Despite the coronavirus pandemic severely hitting many of the major sports (including the suspension of the NBA season and the cancellation of NCAA March Madness), the NFL is set to remain on schedule with both Free Agency and the upcoming draft.
The Colts is still rumored to be in the running for free agent QB Philip Rivers; the front office has yet to go public on anything related to the draft and their strategy. After finally completing the Anthony Costanzo deal yesterday, the direction for the team heading into the 2020 season will be known very soon, as the biggest need for the team moving forward now is their decision at quarterback. With Rivers linked to at least 3-4 different teams, the future of the position for the team will be confirmed shortly, whether or not it’s Rivers.
Because the draft strategy hasn’t been confirmed in any which direction, selecting a quarterback with the 13th overall pick is still very much on the table. With that said, let’s look at the top QBs on the board and the likelihood of each in a Colts uniform next season.
1. Joe Burrow – LSU
It’s technically possible that Burrow can come to Indianapolis next season, but the same can be said about any team. Any team can logically trade up for Joe Burrow in some oddly specific scenario. For the Colts, that scenario isn’t going to happen. Burrow is a lock for the first overall pick to the Bengals. Even amidst all of the QB’s talk of “leverage”, no leverage is going to allow the Colts to somehow land Burrow.
Burrow isn’t an incredible athlete like other prospects in the draft, however, his accuracy is 100% NFL-ready. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in the top-15 in completion percentage next season. In terms of how he fits with the Colts, he’d be a great fit. Burrow (like current Colts QB Jacoby Brissett) isn’t the fastest or the strongest at the position, but he still has a well above average ability to move around the pocket and escape oncoming pass rushers. Throwing for 60 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions, he has the ability to accurately throw down the field, which is a key element of the offense that Brissett struggled with last season.
Even if the Colts have been starstruck by Burrow’s play, he’s a lock for the #1 pick. It’s safe to say the Bengals have their guy and won’t be willing to give him up unless the Colts overpay.
2. Tua Tagovailoa – Alabama
Let’s make this clear: Tua Tagovailoa will a better player than Burrow. Burrow is still the best prospect at QB in the draft this year.
It shouldn’t exactly come as a shock. Injuries aside, Tagovailoa’s upside far outweighs that of Burrow, even if it is only slightly. Rumored to go anywhere as high as 3rd to the Lions all the way to 7th for the Panthers, he’s a clear candidate for the Colts if willing to trade up into the top-5.
What sets him apart from Burrow and many other young talents is his accuracy and his mental strength on the field. His accuracy has been often compared to Drew Brees, going as far as to say that Tagovailoa himself is “a left-handed Drew Brees“.
That’s entirely possible, given his unmatched talent throwing the football. His mental strength has been on display since his freshman season. Everyone knows the story: after a scoreless first half by Jalen Hurts, Tagovailoa (a true freshman) led Alabama to an overtime win over Georgia while throwing for 3 touchdowns. the last being a game-winner in overtime.
It’s clear that his mental abilities on the field are off the charts. He gets rid of the ball quickly and is adept at both pre-snap and post-snap reads. Tagovailoa has been a pro for a few years now, on and off the field.
Injury concerns? Of course. Upside? Better than the downside. A surefire Pro Bowler waiting to happen, Tagovailoa is worthy of a trade-up for the Colts.
3. Jordan Love – Utah State
There were a lot of questions heading into the Combine surrounding Jordan Love, given his rocky junior season. All things considered, he had a solid campaign given the opponents he faced and the talent he had around him.
Both Burrow and Tagovailoa had multiple NFL-ready talents on the outside last season, so of course, in comparison, Love’s statistics (20TD, 17INT) don’t fare well against the other two. Looking closer at his college career as a whole, his sophomore season of 32 TDs and 6 interceptions are still very impressive. His Combine performance was a solid one overall and puts his draft stock into the back end of the top-10 and into the mid-teens.
Love would fit well in Indianapolis, but would definitely be a long-term process in getting him to a starting caliber. His raw talent is incredible. His arm talent is extremely impressive in both short and deep throws. He has dual-threat ability and can throw accurately in the pocket and out.
I myself was not too high on Love after the 2019 college season finished up; his 17 interceptions are a case of worry, even if his receiver talent wasn’t there. The current NFL requires quarterbacks to have an accurate ball in all levels of the field. Love showed both sides of that coin this past season.
Love is the most likely selection for the Colts without having to make any major moves up. If he can sit for a year, Love can be a talented NFL quarterback with star potential.
4. Justin Herbert – Oregon
As it’s been since the beginning of the offseason, Justin Herbert and Love has been neck-and-neck as the best QB prospect behind Burrow and Tagovailoa. Love is higher on this list due to his fit with the Colts, which would believably be better compared to Herbert.
Herbert’s arm talent is spectacular and could possibly be the best arm talent in the draft this year. His deep balls are pro-level and will have no problem translating to the NFL from college. At his Oregon Pro Day on March 13th, Herbert launched a 62-yard throw while standing flat-footed. That isn’t a common thing, folks.
One thing to note about Herbert is his consistency. Especially when comparing him to the players above him, he had trouble in college on a week-to-week basis. Often times, Herbert’s ball looked flat and out of character. Other weeks, he was laser-sharp and one of the best passers in college football. If Herbert is able to find his groove heading into the pros, he has the potential to be one of the better young QBs in the league.
Herbert is likely a top-10 pick, so if the Colts feel that Herbert is better than Love, then a trade is imminent and would prove to be a worthy one.
We will know shortly whether or not any of these are viable picks for the Colts now that free agency is pretty much upon us.