Colts: ESPN predicts very realistic first-round trade with Saints

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Chris Ballard general manager of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Chris Ballard general manager of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The Indianapolis Colts are in a precarious position with their first-round pick in the NFL Draft, which is somehow just three days away.

After all, they might end up having to settle for the third- or fourth-best prospect at whichever position they target at No. 21 overall, assuming it’s a left tackle or edge rusher.

That would fly in the face of GM Chris Ballard’s philosophy of being fully sold on a player before drafting him.

With that in mind, trading back to accumulate as many picks as possible — they only have six, which is the fewest of Ballard’s four-year tenure — might be in the Colts’ best interest.

That’s obviously easier said than done, as finding the right trade partner is never cut and dried.

However, ESPN analyst Bill Barnwell seems to have found an ideal partner for Indy. In his latest mock draft simulator, which included trades for all 32 first-round picks, Barnwell proposed an enticing trade between the Colts and Saints, who own the No. 28 overall pick.

This first-round trade between the Colts and Saints could actually work.

In this proposed trade, the Colts would receive the Saints’ first-round pick as well as two third-round selections, including the No. 98 and No. 105 overall picks. Here’s what Barnwell had to say in terms of why this deal makes so much sense for Indianapolis:

"“The Colts need a left tackle to replace Anthony Castonzo. After trading their first-round pick last year for DeForest Buckner and then sending their third-rounder with either a first- or second-round pick to the Eagles to acquire Carson Wentz, though, they also need to replenish their draft capital.“Colts general manager Chris Ballard typically prefers to grab extra picks, and moving down here would net his team two compensatory selections in the third round. The Saints are in the market for help at cornerback and receiver, two positions the Titans (No. 22) and Jets (No. 23) could also target before them.”"

Thanks to losing some impact players to free agency this offseason, the Colts have already initiated the process of recouping the draft capital they lost when they acquired quarterback Wentz from the Eagles, and this trade would seemingly complete that process.

The only thing Ballard has to consider is whether he’d be alright with the Titans, who pick right after the Colts at No. 22 overall, potentially snagging the top offensive tackle prospect remaining on the board. Previous reports linked both teams to Oklahoma State standout Teven Jenkins, and Indy moving back several picks would open the door for Tennessee to draft him if he’s available.

On the flip side, however, this year’s offensive line class is as deep as we can remember. Taking that into account, Ballard — as long as he rates other prospects similarly, of course — could undoubtedly justify trading back and drafting one at No. 28 overall or in the second round.

Whatever the case, this seems as close to an ideal trade-down scenario for the Colts as humanly possible. Not only would they still be positioned to draft a player they feel is a first-round talent, but they’d acquire an extra pair of third-rounders to work with.

Given Ballard’s track record of drafting in the middle rounds, it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s already had discussions with the Saints about swapping picks.