When you look at the Indianapolis Colts and their upcoming 2018 NFL Draft, they are primed for multiple trades down the board, provided that GM Chris Ballard is willing to miss blue-chip players and try to take advantage of a quarterback market that will push quality players down the board.
The Colts already made one move down from No. 3 to No. 6 in their pre-draft trade with the Jets. It netted them a bunch of extra picks, but also put them in a position to get one of the three top non-QBs in the draft. We have to assume at this point they're in ride-or-die mode with Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett. Trading down indicates as much.
Bradley Chubb or Saquon Barkley would be lovely in Indy, but if the Browns stand pat at No. 4 and the Broncos don't go QB at No. 5, the Colts are the driver's seat to move down into the teens and reap the rewards of multiple quarterbacks going early.
Indeed, they could even move down to 12 in a swap with the Bills -- which we have them doing in this mock draft -- and then move down AGAIN.
I don't have them doing that, because it would be a lot of editorial work here, but it's interesting to consider. No. 6 might be the prime position for the final top-tier quarterback if Cleveland/Denver don't trade/draft a quarterback. And No. 12 might be the other big pivot point, because several teams below them -- including the Cardinals, Ravens and Chargers -- are going to be interested in guys like Mason Rudolph and Lamar Jackson.
If Los Angeles wants the next guy behind Philip Rivers, it might need to move ahead of Arizona and Baltimore. The same goes for New England/Tom Brady and Pittsburgh/Ben Roethlisberger.
Ultimately a move up could be too costly for some of these teams, but there also might be too big of an urge to land a quarterback for some teams to resist. If that's the case, the Colts might end up being the team controlling the draft board when things kick off on April 26 in Dallas.
1. Cleveland Browns
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: Everything can be a smokescreen in the middle of April when it comes to the NFL, but the buzz around the Browns is that they will use the top pick on the big-armed QB from Wyoming.
2. New York Giants
Sam Darnold, QB, USC: And the buzz around the Giants is that they would like to take Darnold if he's on the board at No. 2. Dave Gettleman would have quite the predicament if that's true and the Browns yank on Allen.
3. New York Jets (via Indianapolis Colts)
4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans)
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State: What a first draft for John Dorsey if this is how it plays out. He lands a rookie quarterback with insane upside who he doesn't have to actually play in Year 1 and he lands the best player in the draft, a stud pass rusher he can line up across from Myles Garrett.
5. Denver Broncos
Quenton Nelson, OL, Notre Dame: The Broncos still need to improve their offensive line and Nelson would do that immediately. John Elway should be keenly aware of how much a good line and running game helps a quarterback.
6. Buffalo Bills (mock trade with Indianapolis Colts (via Jets))
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: If the board plays out this way, there is almost no chance the Colts don't move down in some kind of trade. They would either need to be infatuated with the player remaining (and maybe they would consider Saquon Barkley) or unwilling to get any haul. In this case the Bills give them multiple first-round picks and a second to come get the last top-tier quarterback.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: The Buccaneers need a piece to put them over the top on offense and Barkley could do just that, easing the burden on Jameis Winston while simultaneously providing the quarterback an outlet option.
8. Chicago Bears
9. San Francisco 49ers
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama: Another versatile defender the 49ers can plug into an increasingly impressive group on that side of the ball. Wouldn't be opposed to them getting more protection for Jimmy Garoppolo either.
10. Oakland Raiders
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia: Plug and play linebacker in a plug and play situation for my mock draft. Might not move off this one all offseason.
11. Miami Dolphins
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State: I think they would consider going QB here pretty long and hard but I also think the Dolphins are resigned to being out of the top-shelf QB race this season based on how much it's going to cost.
12. Indianapolis Colts (mock trade with Bills (via Bengals))
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech: Indianapolis could consider trading down AGAIN here and just piling and piling the picks up, but that's a lot of mock trades so we'll just have them stand pat and grab a high-end defensive player.
13. Washington Redskins
14. Green Bay Packers
15. Arizona Cardinals
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon give the Cardinals some freedom not to play Jackson right away, although it would hardly be surprising to see him on the field in 2017. Larry Fitzgerald might not mind too much.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State: A second quarterback run! It's entirely possible that if someone like the Cardinals, Ravens or Chargers want to get a quarterback, they're going to need to move up, even if it's just the secondary guys. They might not get this lucky.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
18. Seattle Seahawks
19. Dallas Cowboys
20. Detroit Lions
Vita Vea, DL, Washington: A lot of people think Vea might not fall this far, but look above him at all the quarterbacks. This draft is going to be wild and Matt Patricia could reap the rewards with a defensive line anchor for his defense.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (via Buffalo Bills)
Mike McGlinchey, OL, Notre Dame: John Breech and I talked about the Bengals on the latest edition of the Pick Six Podcast (it's daily, 30 minutes, perfect for your commute!) but the Bengals are in pretty good shape to get a quality player who can help right away, provided Marvin Lewis is on board with improving the protection for Andy Dalton.
22. Indianapolis Colts (mock trade with Bills (via Chiefs))
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA: This is why the Colts have to trade down out of No. 6. They're in a great spot to land multiple quality defenders because of the quarterback approach across the board. Chris Ballard needs to embrace moving down and trying to land as much talent as possible inside the top 25.
23. New England Patriots (via Los Angeles Rams)
Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa: What if the Patriots aren't taking a quarterback and simply want to get two really good players in a draft where, again, talent is going to fall as a result of the quarterbacks up top.
24. Carolina Panthers
Will Hernandez, OL, UTEP: Carolina needs to get better on its offensive line both in terms of helping Cam Newton and improving the quality of the rushing attack. Grabbing Hernandez here would do both immediately.
25. Tennessee Titans
26. Atlanta Falcons
27. New Orleans Saints
Taven Bryan, DL, Florida: The Saints have a really good roster top to bottom right now and should/could contend for the Super Bowl. Throw another defensive line talent in there to see if they can help the depth.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Raashan Evans, LB, Alabama: The continued attempt to replace what was lost when Ryan Shazier suffered an injury moves into the draft. He can't be completely replaced but depth and talent certainly help.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
30. Minnesota Vikings
Connor Williams, OL, Texas: The Vikings have a three-year window to win the Super Bowl with Kirk Cousins and would benefit greatly from some talent and depth on the offensive line. Williams wouldn't need to play right away.
31. New England Patriots
Arden Key, EDGE, LSU: Maybe the Patriots don't have to draft a quarterback in the first round at all (although I suspect they like the idea of having the fifth-year option on someone next time, as Jimmy G could still be on the roster this coming year) and maybe they just want to reload on defense.
32. Philadelphia Eagles
Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina: The Eagles have a ton of options here and can certainly go best player available, but it wouldn't be a terrible idea to grab a tight end as a replacement for Trey Burton.