2023 NFL Draft Grades: Indianapolis Colts
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
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
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-
PFF - Grade: A+
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 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+
The Ringer - Grade: A+
Sporting News - Grade: A+
Touchdown Wire - Grade: A
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.
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