Todd McShay breaks down favorite Colts’ draft pick

The Indianapolis Colts had 12 selections in the 2023 NFL draft, each of them budding with optimism and anticipation. Chiefly among them is wide receiver Josh Downs.

A third-round pick out of North Carolina, Downs should be able to compete for a starting role right away as the slot receiver thanks to his shifty route running, explosiveness and reliable hands.

ESPN’s Todd McShay broke down why that’s his favorite pick from the Colts’ draft haul.

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This one was tough to choose. I love so many of these prospects, including Kansas State cornerback Julius Brents, Northwestern defensive lineman Adetomiwa Adebawore and South Carolina cornerback Darius Rush, and I’m intrigued by Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson’s sky-high potential. But if Richardson and an offense that bottomed out in the NFL in offensive points per game last season (15.8) are to find success, the Colts needed to locate some solid offensive skill players in this draft. Downs, who combined for 2,364 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns over the past two seasons, will be an immediate boost out of the slot, despite being undersized at 5-foot-9 and 171 pounds.

If the offensive line can turn things around, this Colts offense could be a lot of fun to watch. Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman Jr., Alec Pierce and now Downs form a solid supporting cast for Richardson and/or Gardner Minshew. Downs has explosive traits and can change directions in an instant. His instincts in the open field lead him to big-play opportunities, though he lacks the second gear to routinely impact the vertical pass game. And yeah, his size will limit him against press coverage. But I’m excited about what Downs can do in this offense as a quick-game target out of the slot.

With Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce on the outside, Downs has the opportunity to work immediately as a quick-winning option out of the slot. Where Downs will work mostly is where rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson needs to improve the most so it will help having a reliable option in that area of the field.

The run-pass splits for the Colts may hinder Downs’ overall production and year-end stats, but there’s a good chance he’s going to be an impact player quickly in 2023.

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Story originally appeared on Colts Wire