Is C.J. Stroud to Colts in NFL Draft possible? Or is it Will Levis, Anthony Richardson?

The 2023 NFL Draft landscape is a little different in the last week for the Indianapolis Colts − and the whole league in general.

When the QB-needy Carolina Panthers traded up to the Chicago Bears' No . 1 spot on March 10, things became even more interesting for the Colts. Should Indianapolis trade for the third pick or just wait to see who falls to them?

One thing is certain, at least according to several mock drafts: The Colts still want a quarterback in the first round. At this point, it just comes down to which one.

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Insider:If the Panthers (or Colts) pick the right QB, it doesn't matter what they traded

Natalie Miller, Draft Wire: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

Colts trade up to No. 3

The Colts take zero chances in anyone leap frogging them for a quarterback and move up one spot with the Cardinals to secure their next franchise quarterback. New head coach Shane Steichen has experience with getting the most out of athletic quarterbacks and he gets his hands on the most athletic quarterback we have seen come out since Cam Newton. It will be on him to design the offense around and develop the young dynamo quarterback from Florida.


Todd McShay, ESPN: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

It's time for a long-term solution at QB for the Colts, considering no team scored fewer points than Indianapolis (15.8 per game) last season, the team's fifth straight season with a new Week 1 starter under center. And the Richardson hype train is just hitting full steam, plowing through Indianapolis last week. Looking at combine results since 2006, he posted the best quarterback vertical (40.5 inches) and broad jump (10-foot-9) and then rolled out a scorching 4.43-second 40, which tied for the fourth-fastest time at the position over that span. Richardson capped off his big day by showcasing his huge arm in the throwing portions of the workout.

His physical traits are exciting, and if coach Shane Steichen can work with him on his footwork and accuracy, the sky's the ceiling. On one hand, Richardson threw 17 touchdown passes -- including three of 40-plus air yards -- and rushed for an FBS QB-high 6.4 yards per carry in 2022. On the other, he completed 54.7% of his throws over 13 career starts. The upside comes with risk, and I do think he might need more time to develop before taking over as an NFL starter -- which means the Colts could be active in the QB free agent market, too. But if the 6-4, 244-pound signal-caller can put it all together, sign me up for big-time throws to Michael Pittman Jr. and highlight-reel runs on Sundays in Indy.

Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA TODAY: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

If Stroud and Young are the first two picks in whatever order, where does that leave Indianapolis? Colts GM Chris Ballard – and, really, owner Jim Irsay – seemed desperate to make a long-awaited investment in a young passer. Now, it seems probable that the team will have to take on an unproven project in Richardson or Kentucky's Will Levis rather than grabbing a more established signal-caller, leaving the risk-averse Ballard with more boom-or-bust potential than he's likely comfortable with coming off a 4-12-1 campaign.


At 6-4, 244 pounds with 4.43-second speed in the 40-yard dash and arm strength to marvel at, Richardson is a singular physical talent – so much so that he can't be ruled out of the running for the No. 1 overall selection at this point. With only 393 career pass attempts at Florida, however, he's still tinkering with his footwork and touch. New coach Shane Steichen might be the perfect person to take on the role of Richardson's mentor, with his tutelage of Jalen Hurts serving as a potential roadmap for another dual-threat quarterback. But taking Richardson might necessitate the addition of a veteran who can be a bridge starter in the early going.

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Trevor Sikkema, Pro Football Focus: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

The Colts will face plenty of pressure to land their quarterback of the future in this draft. We know it won’t be at No. 1, and we figure it won’t be at No. 2, either. It will be a big win if they can stay at No. 4 and still get a top-tier talent like Richardson.


David Helman, Carmen Vitali, FOX Sports: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

I'd send a chunk of my signing bonus to Josh Allen if I were Will Levis or his agents. Allen also produced mixed results despite incredible talent during his college career, but he's gone on to become one of the NFL's most dynamic quarterbacks. Long desperate for a franchise quarterback, I don't think Jim Irsay will be able to resist trying to replicate that success with Levis' cannon arm and sturdy frame.

Insider:Why the Colts didn't trade up to No. 1 — and the dangerous spot it puts them in

Ben Standig, The Athletic: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

Whether or not the Colts would be landing on their fourth QB choice, Levis represents Indianapolis’ first young building-block QB since Andrew Luck retired, and without parting with trade assets. The two-year starter at Kentucky with a self-described “cannon” for a right arm is the more immediate fit over the athletically stunning but raw Richardson. Should the Colts’ increasingly impatient owner Jim Irsay or general manager Chris Ballard disagree, perhaps they pursue a trade-up with the Cardinals — or call the Ravens about Lamar Jackson.


Danny Kelly, The Ringer: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Stroud’s not as flashy as the other quarterbacks in this class, but he’s supremely confident, poised, and accurate when throwing to all three levels of the field. He’s a day-one starter who should benefit from a solid supporting cast headlined by Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr.

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

The Colts are ecstatic that they land Stroud without having to move any extra selections.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Indianapolis Colts target quarterbacks in Round 1