Did Panthers-Bears draft trade ruin Bryce Young-Colts speculation from Todd McShay NFL Mock Draft?

NFL Combine
NFL Combine / Michael Hickey/GettyImages

With the NFL Combine coming and going, the excitement for the 2023 draft is only getting higher for Indianapolis Colts fans. Who will general manager Chris Ballard end up going with? As things stand, Indy holds the No. 4 overall pick for late April's first round.

The connection between Indy and Alabama quarterback and former Heisman winner Bryce Young has been laid out clearly in recent days, though, and before the Bears and Panthers managed to wreck everything and grant Carolina the No. 1 overall pick, it seemed like Indianapolis could have been the team cutting the line.

If you asked ESPN's Todd McShay prior to the Bears' blockbuster, that's exactly what he would've told you.

"Three of the top QBs worked out at the combine, but Young wasn't one of them. No matter. He's still not only the top quarterback on my board but also the top overall prospect. Young has elite pocket presence and poise, delivering strikes to every level of the field. If the Colts can figure out their offensive line issues, I think this could be a really good fit with first-year coach Shane Steichen. "

Todd McShay

Todd McShay predicts the Colts to take Bryce Young No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft

If first-year head coach Shane Steichen is somehow still able to work with Young in Indy, then this really could turn out to be a match made in heaven. For the Colts, someone like Young could immediately provide an offensive spark this team needs. Him working with Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman would be enough to get even more butts in the seats at the stadium.

Of course, the ball is now in the Panthers' court, and if Indy wants Young, they have to cross their fingers and dream of Carolina going with the high-upside project in Anthony Richardson of Florida,

There've been rumblings that Richardson could be the first player to hear his name called, with CJ Stroud to follow for the Houston Texans, but Young feels like a safer bet at the moment to be off the board when Indy takes to the podium.

The Panthers have hamstrung whichever QB they ultimately select by including No. 1 wideout DJ Moore in the deal to Chicago, meaning the player they choose could be set up for failure initially (you know, like Justin Fields, the guy the Bears are sticking with).

That would seem to indicate that the "safer" option in Young might be preferable to rolling the dice with Richardson and/or sitting him next season behind Sam Darnold.

In essence, the Young-Colts dream isn't dead, but it would require a risky stumble from the Panthers to make it happen.