Can Bryce Young make the Colts go against everything Chris Ballard preaches about scouting?
Will the Indianapolis Colts change their scouting methods and move up to select Alabama’s quarterback Bryce Young in the 2023 NFL Draft?
The Indianapolis Colts really need a quarterback. With the fourth-overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Colts are in a great position to select a top quarterback in this draft, even if they have to move up three spots to No. 1. Bryce Young is probably the best quarterback in this draft class. Young was the No. 1 quarterback coming out of high school and met expectations during his three-year career at Alabama. It would make perfect sense for the quarterback-starved Colts to trade up to the No. 1 pick and draft Bryce Young. There’s one problem: Young is considered an undersized quarterback, and Indianapolis is all about size and traits.
During Chris Ballard’s tenure as general manager with the Indianapolis Colts, he has developed a reputation as a good drafter. However, the method of Indy’s scouting department is no secret. Ballard has publicly talked about how important “traits” are when evaluating draft prospects and his selections have made it really clear how crucial of a criterion that is for Indianapolis during the draft.
When Ballard speaks of traits, he’s referring to a prospect’s size and athleticism. No draft class embodies traits more than Indy’s 2022 Draft class. Indianapolis’ first pick in 2022 was Alec Pierce, a 6-foot-3 wide receiver that runs a 4.41 40-yard dash and has a 40.5-inch vertical. Then the team selected Jelani Woods, a 6-foot-7, 260-pound-tight end that ran a 4.61 40. The Colts followed those selections up with third-round pick Bernhard Raimann and sixth-round pick Andrew Ogletree.
Bernhard Raimann is a 6-foot-7, 290-pound left tackle that played tight end his first two years in college and Andrew Ogletree is a 6-foot-5, 260-pound tight end that ran a 4.71 40-yard dash and tested very explosively in other metrics as well.
Alabama listed Bryce Young as six feet tall and 194 pounds. Many people believe those numbers are generous. When he’s officially measured at the NFL Combine, the expectation is that he will be below six feet, maybe by a couple of inches. As far as weight, everyone knows there are plenty of methods to trick the scale, so it’s not necessarily the number that’s a point of criticism. Some scouts argue that Young just doesn’t have the frame to add a lot of weight.
As teams do get official numbers on Bryce Young’s height and weight, there will be plenty of debates about his size. The thing that isn’t debated is Young’s skill set as a quarterback, that’s easy to fall in love with. Will the Colts fall so deeply in love with Young’s ability that they’re willing to drop their standards and overlook his size?
Will the Colts overlook Bryce Young’s size?
If Young had the size of his fellow quarterback prospects, he would be the runaway top quarterback of this class. In his time at Alabama, he has shown elite processing, accuracy, arm strength, pre-snap command, mobility, and improvisation. Young was a great thrower of the football from the pocket and on the run. Additionally, he has the mindset that you’d want in any athlete but especially a quarterback. During his time at Alabama, Young played in a lot of big games where the score was tight, and he was the epitome of poise; he never blinked.
He rarely seemed to be rattled and never got too high or too low. Regardless of the circumstances, he was always prepared to lead the Crimson Tide offensively. Alabama’s offensive coordinator, Bill O’Brien, frequently talked about how smart and prepared Young always was and how Bryce pushed him to be better prepared as a coordinator. That’s why many who are familiar with Young believe that teams will love him even more after they get the opportunity to learn the human behind the skills.
If the Colts find all of this to be true and believe in Young as a prospect more than they do any other quarterback in the draft, then Indy needs to select him, regardless of his measurements at the combine. Size can only take you so far, eventually, you’re going to have to be a football player. Indianapolis needs to get the best football player and build around him so that he is protected and has weapons.