It finally happened. After eschewing quarterbacks in the second and third round, the Indianapolis Colts selected Jacob Eason in the fourth at number 122 overall. Eason has been connected to the Colts for weeks. Months, even. He has the arm strength and size to be a quarterback in the NFL. His limiting factors are decision-making and turnovers. With Philip Rivers starting for the next year (or more), Eason can learn and grow with no pressure. Additionally, Chris Ballard snagged a quarterback whom many slotted for the second round in the middle of the fourth. This move makes all the sense in the world.
Looking the Part
Playing quarterback in the NFL is more than just being big and strong, but it is hard to succeed without requisite physical abilities. Fortunately for Eason, he is 6’6″ and 230 pounds, with a cannon hanging from his right shoulder. That combination puts him ahead of a smaller, less powerful prospect like Jake Fromm, who beat Eason for Georgia’s starting job in 2017. This isn’t Georgia. At the professional level, physical and mental traits must coalesce. Eason must learn everything he can from Rivers and Frank Reich in order to become the best player he can be. Otherwise, he will be the next Brock Osweiler.
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Ever since Rivers agreed to a deal, many have wondered what will become of Jacoby Brissett. The odds of him staying with the Colts were already slim, and Eason’s arrival does nothing to help them. Ballard and Reich now have a decision to make: do they let Eason sit behind both Rivers and Brissett, or do they cut their backup loose to move Eason higher on the depth chart? Keep in mind that third-string quarterbacks take no reps with the starting offense in practice. Will running scout offense against the starting defense be enough for Eason to develop? That seems unlikely. Who would trade for Brissett at this point, though? Organizations likely believe he will be cut at some point, so why trade anything now when they can simply wait the Colts out. Either way, Eason coming to town has effectively ended Brissett’s tenure with the team.
Long Term Outlook
In an ideal world, Rivers will win the next two Super Bowls with the Colts before riding off into the sunset and retiring. Then Eason would take over as the starter and win the following two Super Bowls. This is not an ideal world. Few athletes learn by watching. Most have to learn by doing. Sitting on the bench for two years seems like the only path ahead of Eason, but is it the best path? If and when he takes over as the Colts’ starter, he will still have growing pains. He will throw interceptions and lose fumbles and have to figure out how to win against superior competition. One can only hope that his supporting cast is good enough to carry him while he learns.
The Colts have three picks remaining: 149 in the fifth round, along with 182 and 193 in the sixth. Ballard could move back again and bring more picks to the table. He may also trade a player or two away (Brissett and/or Quincy Wilson are most logical). Eason has his work cut out for him, but this is the perfect situation for him to enter the league.