Nov 4, 2017; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive lineman Quenton Nelson (56) runs onto the field for the game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 4, 2017; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive lineman Quenton Nelson (56) runs onto the field for the game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
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After last weeks dismal loss to the Denver Broncos and Brock Osweiler, the Colts are almost locked for a top-five pick in the 2018 NFL draft. However, assuming Andrew Luck is healthy, the Colts may be tempted to trade their pick to a quarterback-needy team and stack up on all the talent that they can. If the Colts decided to take that route, what would a trade look like, and who would it likely be? To start let’s take a look at the Colts current draft position brought to us by Tankathon.com.

The current standings show the Colts hold the third overall pick, a pretty good spot to be in, and most likely they will stay in this place. The most feasible way they don’t jump up to the second spot would be if they beat Houston in week 17 at home, and the Giants don’t win another game and/or San Francisco doesn’t win another game as well. For this exercise, we will assume the Colts have the second overall pick, and the top ten draft order looks as such (predicted using Vegas odds on remaining three games for every team):
1. Cleveland Browns
2. New York Giants
3. Indianapolis Colts
4. San Francisco 49ers
5. Cleveland Browns (from HOU)
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
7. Chicago Bears
8. New York Jets
9. Denver Broncos
10. Cincinnati Bengals
Looking at this list above, the Colts are in a prime position to trade down, as at least two teams behind them will likely be looking for a quarterback come draft day: the Jets and Broncos. Some dark horses to trade up with the Colts for a quarterback are Cleveland, using their second pick for a quarterback instead of their first overall, and the Bengals if they move on from Andy Dalton and don’t entirely trust A.J. McCarron yet. Let’s say Chris Ballard gets a call from East Rutherford, New Jersey for the number three overall pick to ensure Denver doesn’t jump them to do the same, what would that trade look like?

Jimmy Johnson is famous for creating a draft value chart for each pick of the draft, making it easier to gauge what a pick would be worth in a trade. A new one was developed more recently if we use this list, the Colts third overall pick is worth 514 points, and the Jets pick worth 405 points. The Jets also hold two second-round picks, the 40th and 51st and, which in this case are worth 149 and 112 points respectively, and a third-round pick (67 points). Also, future picks are worth more than current picks in the same round, so a 2019 fourth-round pick is closer to a 2018 third round pick value. However, who is there makes all the difference in cost, for example, this year first overall pick is worth more than last years because a quarterback is worth more than edge rusher Myles Garrett

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Now let’s look at recent trades to see what could be the case this year, a similar scenario happened in 2016 between the Browns and Philadelphia for the second overall pick of the draft. The Eagles gave up their 2016 first (8th overall), third and fourth, 2017 first round pick, and 2018 second round pick for Cleveland’s 2016 first (2nd overall) and 2017 conditional fourth-round pick. Roughly the value of Cleveland’s package is 760 points, and Philadelphia’s a whopping 1100 points, a 340 point difference. Now, before Colts fans get excited, the consensus is that Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold are the top two quarterbacks and then Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, and Lamar Jackson are a tier lower, unlike Carson Wentz, who was in that first tier in 2016. However, that could change come draft day, and sometimes teams fall in love with a player and go for it, so if the Jets wanted to make a move of their own, it could look like this:

Colts give: 2018 third overall pick, 2019 fifth round pick
Jets give: 2018 eighth overall pick, second round pick (51st overall), and 2019 first round pick

This trade would be similar to trades in recent years, and would the colts a great haul of picks to build on for past years. Again this is all hypothetical; the Jets may choose just to hop the Broncos and trade up with Cleveland or San Francisco. However, with the possibility of generational running back talent Shaqoun Barkley hovering in that range, these teams may not want to give that opportunity up, forcing the Jets to go up farther than they may be comfortable.

Now just for fun, what could that mock draft work out for the Colts?

  1. Browns – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
  2. Giants – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
  3. Jets – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming OR Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
  4. Niners – Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama OR Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
  5. Browns (via Houston) – Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama OR Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
  6. Bucs – Bradley Chubb, EDGE, NC State
  7. Bears – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
  8. Colts – Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame OR Arden Key, EDGE, LSU
  9. Broncos – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma OR Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
  10. Bengals – Connor Williams, OT, Texas OR Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

Option 1:
I feel like the Colts would love to see this work out. With now two second round picks this year, a possible All-Pro guard in the fold, and two 2019 first round pick, Chris Ballard’s rebuild could take leaps and bounds in such a short period. I fully expect the Colts to add a top paid guard or tackle in free agency, which could give the Colts two more high-end quality starters on the OL with Anthony Castanzo and Ryan Kelly. We’ve seen what Andrew Luck has done with a subpar offensive line; imagine what he could do with this one?
Option 2:
This outcome would depend on Arden Key answering his off-field questions and killing the combine, but if he does, the Colts may have their own Jason Taylor to terrorize quarterbacks for a decade plus. The Colts currently have decent edge players with Jabaal Sheard and John Simon but lack a true alpha dog pass rusher, and Key could be that.
Again, this is all just for fun, but as the Colts are counting down the days for this season from horror story to end, it is interesting to see what Ballard and company could do with a top-five pick and a healthy Andrew Luck to fall back on.

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