Indianapolis Colts 2023 NFL Mock Draft: C.J. Stroud Headlines Franchise-Defining Class

    This Indianapolis Colts 2023 NFL Mock Draft examines who their future QB might be and how they can support that signal-caller.

    This Indianapolis Colts 2023 NFL Mock Draft simulates how the team might move forward in one of their most crucial offseasons to date. Can Jim Irsay and Chris Ballard not only add their QB of the future in the NFL draft but also insulate him with the necessary talent? In these scenarios, trades were active among others via the Mock Draft Simulator, but the Colts held steady and did not make any moves.

    Latest Indianapolis Colts 2023 NFL Mock Draft

    C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State | Round 1, Pick 4

    There’s an incentive for the Colts to potentially trade up to the No. 1 overall pick, to leapfrog division rival Houston and get their pick at QB. But if Indianapolis stands pat and keeps their draft capital, they’ll still have quality options available at No. 4 overall.

    While Bryce Young is largely viewed as the 2023 NFL Draft class’ QB1, C.J. Stroud isn’t far behind, and he did a lot of good things for his stock with his standout CFB Playoff showing against Georgia. Stroud has talent, but his accuracy and processing ability truly elevate his game.

    Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina | Round 2, Pick 35

    Parris Campbell earned a lasting role in the NFL with his 2022 production, but that role might not be with the Colts. Assuming that Campbell hits free agency, Indianapolis will need a new slot weapon between Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce.

    MORE: Top 10 WRs in the 2023 NFL Draft

    Early in Round 2, Josh Downs could be an absolute steal in this role. Downs brings the same level of explosiveness that made Campbell such an exciting prospect. The difference is that Downs is a much more nuanced separator and creator, with high-end catching instincts downfield.

    Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa | Round 3, Pick 79

    There’s hope on the horizon with young players Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo in Indianapolis, but the Colts still have room to improve their edge-rushing rotation. The 2023 NFL Draft provides ample opportunity to do that, and Lukas Van Ness, in particular, could be a stellar addition.

    At 6’5″, 275 pounds, Van Ness offers the size and ability to rotate inside if needed. With his explosiveness and length, he’s very proficient in doing so. But he can also rush the edge and stress tackles with bend, and dominate at the point of attack in run defense.

    Wanya Morris, OT, Oklahoma | Round 4, Pick 103

    Bernhard Raimann progressed down the stretch for the Colts in 2022, potentially solidifying his future at the left tackle spot. But on the right side, Braden Smith regressed. The Colts won’t be able to cut ties with him in 2023, but moving Smith to right guard while adding a new right tackle might be the way to go.

    Early in Round 4, Wanya Morris has the upside to heavily outperform his draft billing. Morris is a bit light at 6’6″, 305 pounds, but he offers both elite explosive athleticism and length — a combination that grants him devastating power capacity. On the operational side, he’s trending up.

    DJ Turner, CB, Michigan | Round 5, Pick 135

    Change could be on the approach for Indianapolis at the cornerback spot. It’s not on the immediate timeline, but Stephon Gilmore, Kenny Moore, and Isaiah Rodgers are all scheduled to be free agents in 2023. The Colts should prepare by capitalizing on a strong CB class in 2023.

    DJ Turner has early-round ability, but the depth of the CB class could cause him to sneak down the board and become a value addition in Round 4 or 5. At 6’0″, 180 pounds, Turner’s a bit light. But he brings elite recovery speed and foot quickness and is an adept playmaker at the catch point.

    Elijah Higgins, WR/TE, Stanford | Round 6, Pick 193

    Downs and Stroud alone help revamp the Colts’ offensive attack, but there’s still a need for more weapons. One versatile player who could be a solid investment at this point is Stanford’s Elijah Higgins.

    Viewed as a hybrid WR/TE prospect by some, Higgins has tools worth investing in. He’s a dense, compact player at 6’3″, 230 pounds, with a size-speed mold that’s desirable in a run-after-catch role.

    Juice Scruggs, C, Penn State | Round 7, Pick 199

    The stakes are low in Round 7, so adding either depth or upside can be a valuable venture for a team like Indianapolis. In this Colts NFL Mock Draft, Juice Scruggs provides a bit of both on the offensive line.

    MORE: New York Jets 2023 NFL Mock Draft

    Scruggs is a 6’3″, 310-pound cinder block on the interior, with an abundance of starting experience at both center and guard. That versatility makes Scruggs a valuable backup, but he has enough athleticism and power to potentially grow into an increased role.

    Tyjae Spears, RB Tulane | Round 7, Pick 214

    Depth is a common theme across the board in the 2023 NFL Draft class. Many of the Colts’ positions of need have depth, but running back is another luxury spot that carries a great deal of talent. After trading away Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis could use another spark plug alongside Jonathan Taylor.

    Watch Tyjae Spears’ 2022 tape — which saw him put up 229 carries for 1,581 yards and 19 touchdowns — and you’ll fall in love with his skill set fairly quickly. At 5’10”, 195 pounds, Spears is an exceedingly explosive and twitchy back with an energetic play style, and he has enough contact balance to shake through solo tackles.

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