2023 NFL Draft Grades: Indianapolis Colts

The 2023 NFL Draft is now in the rearview mirror, and we have compiled a consensus ranking using NFL draft grades from a variety of sites.

What draft grades have the media given to the Indianapolis Colts? What are they saying about the Colts' 2023 draft haul?

NFL.com - Grade: A

Richardson can play behind Gardner Minshew in 2023 and will eventually thrive as he gains experience under new head coach Shane Steichen, thanks to his physical skill set. After two trades down in Round 2, the Colts still found Brents, a long athlete who just needs to stick to receivers more consistently. Downs is the productive slot receiver needed to replace Parris Campbell.

Freeland and Witt are similar to 2022 third-round choice Bernhard Raimann, tall and full of athleticism and promise. Adebawore will grow into an excellent value as a fourth-rounder; he's not just a workout warrior. The Colts got great value in the fifth round by taking Rush and in the seventh round by taking Jones. Mallory and Hull (drafted with the choice obtained from Dallas in exchange for Stephon Gilmore) were smart picks to add depth on offense.

ESPN - Grade: B

We have to give Indianapolis credit for not panicking and trading up for a quarterback. General manager Chris Ballard stuck at No. 4 and still got Anthony Richardson. While I would have gone with Will Levis over Richardson, there's no denying the talent and traits the former Florida passer possesses. At 6-foot-4 and 244 pounds, there aren't many quarterbacks in the history of the league with Richardson's size, speed and arm strength. The problem? He really struggled with accuracy in his lone season as the full-time starter, and he needs a lot of improvement on his footwork and mechanics. The upside is tremendous -- and the Colts have a solid offense around him to help -- but I'd be worried to throw him into the fire in Week 1, as the team seems eager to do.

Josh Downs (79) is a quarterback-friendly slot receiver, and he is a great addition to help Richardson. I mentioned after Day 2 I would have preferred other corners over Julius Brents (44), but he does fill an immediate hole. The Colts must think he can start as a rookie.

On Day 3, the Colts hit on some nice prospects. Offensive tackle Blake Freeland (106) has excellent traits in a 6-foot-8 frame, while defensive lineman Adetomiwa Adebawore (110) is a top-50 prospect on my board. I thought Adebawore had a chance to go in the top 40 picks. I actually have Darius Rush (138) as my 11th-best corner in the class, one spot below Brents. At 6-foot-2, he ran a 4.36-second 40-yard dash at the combine. I picked tight end Will Mallory (162) as one of my combine risers in March. Jake Witt (236) is an intriguing dart throw in Round 7; he is my 17th-ranked offensive tackle.

Look, new Indy coach Shane Steichen worked magic with Jalen Hurts when he was the Eagles' offensive coordinator, but he has a long ways to go to build up Richardson's passing mechanics. I love what Ballard did on Day 3 -- and grabbing Downs in the third round -- but this class will be defined by Richardson and how the quarterback's career goes.

SI - Grade: A-

The Colts had a deep draft, starting with a potential franchise quarterback in Richardson, who has elite traits but can he and first-year coach Shane Steichen pair to mitigate his rawness as a rookie starter? Downs should help him, giving the youngster a nice target opposite Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce. The secondary also got a pair of high-end talents at corner in Brents and Rush, and both could have a significant role in 2023 and beyond. General manager Chris Ballard needed to nail this draft, and the early snapshot is a hopeful one.

PFF - Grade: A+

Day 1: The Colts stay at Pick 4 and swing for the high ceiling of Anthony Richardson. While Richardson was inconsistent as a passer, he is arguably the most incredible athlete at the quarterback position we have ever seen. He forced 39 missed tackles in 2022.

Day 2: Brents is in the group of long, athletic prospects that the Colts have gravitated to on defense over the past several years. There aren't too many cornerbacks out there at 6-foot-3 with 34-inch arms and a 42-inch vertical. Brents' production and grading profile don't overly impress, but he has traits worth betting on here for Indianapolis.

Downs was WR5 on both the PFF Big Board and the consensus big board but comes off the board here to Indianapolis as WR12. He is undersized, even for the slot, but he is one of the better underneath separators in this class and wins in contested situations over the middle of the field. Downs hauled in 13-of-18 contested targets for UNC in 2022.

Day 3: The Colts need reinforcements along the offensive line and land the 6-foot-8 Freeland, who tested off the charts with 95th percentile or better scores in the vertical jump, broad jump, short shuttle and three-cone. Freeland's athleticism will be best utilized as a run blocker in space, earning a 90.2 zone blocking grade in 2022, but he will need to improve as a pass protector at the NFL level.

One of the more puzzling fallers of the draft after a ton of buzz following a ridiculous combine performance that was truly one of the best we've seen, Adebawore needs refinement at the NFL level and can now develop behind a crop of good defensive linemen with the Colts. Adebawore earned an 80.3 pass-rush grade in 2022 but a lot of that production came from pure athletic advantages. He needs to improve his hand usage and counter moves beyond just speed to power.

Rush, a former high school quarterback and college wide receiver at the start, is an incredible athlete still learning the nuances of the cornerback position. At 6-foot-2 and 198 pounds, Rush ran a 4.36-second 40-yard dash and earned an 80.3 coverage grade in 2022. When he is in position, he has a knack for making plays on the ball, as well. This is the developmental type prospect you look for on Day 3.

Scott graded better in 2021 (81.8) than in 2022 (66.8) but finished strong in his last three games. He's a versatile and intelligent safety who is capable enough in the slot as well. He'll add depth to the Colts' secondary as well as a surefire contributor on special teams.

Mallory offers legitimate receiving ability and not much as a blocker. He'll give C.J. Stroud a threat up the seam and brings legitimate versatility in the slot. He just needs to become passable in the run game.

Jones is big, strong and young — a good combination of adjectives for a late-round cornerback. He fits best in a Cover 3 scheme and, fortunately, he lands with Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who runs more Cover 3 than any other defensive play-caller.

Witt is one of the rare prospects who PFF doesn't have data or grades on, but he came in at 211th overall on our final big board. He's an athletic tackle — shocking, given Indianapolis' strategy in this draft — who will be another developmental project for the Colts.

Fox Sports - Grade: A-

The Colts entered the draft needing to address quarterback (duh), receiver, cornerback and offensive line, and they did so. But what stands out the most is the athleticism of Indianapolis' draft class.

The Relative Athletic Score (RAS) metric takes a player's NFL combine measurables and breaks it down into one number, on a scale of 0 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Each of Indianapolis' 12 draft picks scored at least 8.48. Anthony Richardson had a perfect score.

USA Today - Grade: B+

It appears GM Chris Ballard was on his game, consistently finding value in the likes of second-round CB Julius Brents, third-round WR Josh Downs, fourth-round DT Adetomiwa Adebawore and fifth-round CB Darius Rush. But this draft will be defined by Anthony Richardson, the No. 4 overall pick but the third quarterback selected. No passer has a higher ceiling, but new HC Shane Steichen will have to mold the inexperienced former Gator — much as he did Hurts in Philadelphia and even Justin Herbert in LA. But if Richardson can finally stabilize this position, while coming close to the Cam Newton and/or Jackson comparisons, then this will be a landmark haul.

The Ringer - Grade: A+

Colts GM Chris Ballard spent the weekend taking a bunch of players with elite physical traits. And I've got to be honest, I love almost everything Indy did in this draft, starting with their selection of the highest-upside player in this class, Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson. The former Gators star lacks experience but has all the tools to develop into a high-level starter. Ballard also added a pair of long-levered, athletic corners in Julius Brents (Kansas State) and Darius Rush (South Carolina), a shifty and explosive slot receiver in Josh Downs (North Carolina), and one of my favorite interior defensive lineman in this draft in Adetomiwa Adebawore (Northwestern). Add in Miami tight end Will Mallory and Northwestern running back Evan Hull, and this Colts team has got a stew going.

Sporting News - Grade: A+

GM Chris Ballard stuck to his guns with the big-arm and super-athletic upside of Richardson, the highest-ceiling QB in the class. Brents and Adebawore were exceptional values to improve defensive weaknesses. Downs is a needed extra big playmaker for Richardson, while Freeland has a chance to start at either tackle soon. Mallory and Hull were good depth for that side, too. Rush, Scott further increase secondary depth well behind Brents and Jones was another steal there.

Touchdown Wire - Grade: A

Colts general manager Chris Ballard, who has been feeling some heat in recent years, nailed this draft, and he did it by focusing in traits-based players, which can get some GMs in trouble. Richardson could nuke the NFL in the kind of QB run game new head coach Shane Steichen just ran with Jalen Hurts in Philly, and that's an easy like-as-like transition. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has three new big, athletic cornerbacks in Julius Brents, Darius Rush, and Jaylon Jones, who should thrive in Bradley's single-high, island-based coverages. Josh Downs will be a great target for Richardson, and he has some aspects of his game that are similar to former Colts star T.Y. Hilton. Blake Freeland needs to add about 20 pounds to his frame to deal with NFL defenders, but he may be the best pure athlete at his position in this class. Combine star Adetomiwa Adebawore is a guy that Bradley can move around in his fronts to great effect.

Getting their franchise quarterback was the big, obvious move, but Ballard and his staff had a draft here that could open things up for a good, long time.

More: 2023 NFL Draft Grade Roundups