Grading all 12 picks from Colts’ 2023 draft class

The Indianapolis Colts walked away from the 2023 NFL draft with the biggest class of Chris Ballard’s tenure as general manager.

Throughout the weekend, they added a projectable franchise quarterback, starters and depth at the cornerback position and elite athletes all across the roster. The experts around the league graded the Colts’ draft with extreme optimism.

Before we get into it, we must acknowledge the ridiculousness of grading players before they even step on an NFL field. Of course, we have no idea how their careers will pan out, and a lot of times we’re wrong on how we view the outlooks of their developments. We won’t truly know how these picks have panned out until about three years after the fact.

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But we’re going to do them anyway because that’s just the way the world works. We’re making these grades based on the information we have at hand and the projections we’re making for these players as they enter the league.

So without further ado, here’s how we graded each pick the Colts made in the 2023 NFL draft:

QB Anthony Richardson

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

If you’ve been following our work throughout the offseason, you know how we feel about this pick. Richardson is a unicorn with the highest upside in the draft class. Of course, developing his game will be key, but he has the character, makeup, work ethic and elite physical tools to be a difference-maker at the game’s most important position. It may be a bumpy ride at first, but the Colts got their QB1 at No. 4 overall.


Grade: A

CB Julius Brents

Regardless of the fact that the cornerback position was the team’s biggest need after taking Richardson in the first round, Brents is a perfect fit for Gus Bradley’s scheme. He’s a physical, lengthy defender who is an elite athlete. It’s rare to see 6-foot-3 cornerbacks with the short-area quickness that Brents has. He could stand to get a little better at the catch point, but this was a fantastic pick, especially after trading back twice in the second round.

Grade: A-

WR Josh Downs

It was a bit shocking to see Chris Ballard go against his typical profile at wide receiver, but it was a refreshing change. Downs is a fantastic separator in the quick and intermediate passing game. He has reliable hands and an innate ability to win at the catch point. The only knock is that he’s 5-foot-9 and 171 pounds, but he should be the starting slot receiver right away.


Grade: B+

OT Blake Freeland

Freeland will be an interesting topic of discussion because there is clearly upside to his game. At 6-foot-8 and 302 pounds, Freeland is an easy mover who set the NFL combine record for offensive linemen with a 37-inch vertical jump. Freeland needs to add as much weight as he can to his frame. He has a narrow build and must continue to work on keeping his pad level low, something he will constantly struggle with given his height. But he has experience at both left and right tackle so he’s an ideal swing tackle for the Colts. It’s just going to take some time until he’s NFL ready, which is suitable for a Day 3 pick.


Grade: B-

DT Adetomiwa Adebawore

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A surprising pick not because Adebawore is a bad selection, but because it was a surprise to see him fall this far. The Northwestern product is a bit of positional tweener, but he can thrive as a three-technique considering his elite athleticism and explosiveness. He’s talented enough to be in a rotation behind DeForest Buckner from the start with upside to eventually become an impact pass rusher. This may be the steal of the draft for the Colts.

Grade: A

CB Darius Rush

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Getting Rush in the fifth round was a treat. An elite athlete with the size, physicality and a high motor, Rush shows off strong ball skills at the catch point and the ability to track deep throws. Rush has elite long speed and the desire to make plays against the run. He’s a fantastic fit for Gus Bradley’s defense and can contribute on special teams right away.


Grade: B+

S Daniel Scott

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Scott may not carry a big name, and the fact that he will be a 25-year-old rookie certainly hurt his draft stock. However, the Colts scored an elite athlete and a potential special teams ace in the fifth round here. That may not be the most exciting projection, but teams need players like Scott. He may not hold a massive role on defense, but his athleticism makes him a nice depth piece at safety.

Grade: B+

TE Will Mallory

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This will be an interesting development. The tight end room is pretty crowded, but a talent like Mallory can have an impact as a rotational pass-catcher. The competition between him and Andrew Ogletree for the final spot will be interesting, and it does put a bit of pressure on Mo Alie-Cox. Mallory is a speedy, athletic and productive move tight end who can make an impact as a receiving option over the middle.


Grade: B

RB Evan Hull

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Filling the Nyheim Hines/Kenneth Gainwell role as the receiver out of the backfield could wind up being Hull. He was an uber-productive pass-catching back at Northwestern while also showing the ability to contribute as a runner in a zone-blocking scheme. Getting Hull in the fifth round will be nice competition for Deon Jackson and Zack Moss for the RB2 role while he also has the chops to contribute on special teams.

Grade: B+

EDGE Titus Leo

AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

A freaky athlete with length, burst and speed, Leo is a project edge rusher who has upside because of his athleticism. He also brings some special teams value, but he may need more work as a pass rusher on the practice squad before he starts making an impact on Sundays. Leo will be 24 years old as a rookie and was a two-time team captain so he checks plenty of boxes. This is a fine dart throw in the sixth round.


Grade: B

CB Jaylon Jones

Rounding out the picks at the cornerback position was Jones. He fell a bit throughout the pre-draft process, but getting a player with his skill set and athleticism was intriguing in the seventh round. He brings physicality, explosiveness and versatility as a potential safety. Jones certainly is the right type of player to have at the back end of the cornerback room.

Grade: B+

OT Jake Witt

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Witt is a fun story and someone to keep an eye on as he develops, but we shouldn’t expect him to make the roster at least until 2024 at the earliest. He’s extremely raw and inexperienced at the competitive level, but he has elite athleticism. For a mid-seventh-round pick, it’s a solid dart throw to make because there’s no such thing as a wasted selection that late in drafts. We just won’t know anything about him for a while.


Grade: C+

Overall Grade

Whether we want to admit it or not, this entire draft class will land on the shoulders of the quarterback taken No. 4 overall. If he hits, it won’t matter what the rest of the class looks like.

With that said, the additions made at the cornerback position are fantastic. They each bring upside with elite athleticism and are viewed as perfect fits for Gus Bradley’s scheme. The selections of Downs and Hull add depth and immediate help for Richardson in the quick-passing game.

Meanwhile, the additions of the trench players all have unique traits with upside to be high-end rotational players if their development goes smoothly. The fact that the special teams unit received so many immediate contributors from this draft is an underrated aspect as well.


The 2023 season may still have plenty of question marks, but this draft set the foundation for the new era of Colts football in a similar manner to the 2018 class. Only this time, it’s highlighted with the addition of a potential franchise quarterback.

Grade: A

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire