Colts General Manager Chris Ballard hosted a recent conference call to discuss the upcoming draft.
The biggest takeaway is that Ballard will seek to grow his cache of 8 remaining draft picks.
He already used the team´s 13th overall pick to acquire DeForest Buckner.
Prior to that deal, much of the buzz around the Indianapolis Colts draft centered on quarterback Jordan Love.
Ballard is reportedly sold on Love´s NFL potential.
Jordan Love to the #Colts makes a lot of sense. Rivers signed for 1 year and Indy has the ammo to trade into the back end of the first round. Books seem to agree, Love to Indy is just +400 on @DKSportsbook #NFLDraft
— Ryan Noonan (@RyNoonan) April 15, 2020
But would the Colts have drafted Love as high as 13th overall?
Would he even be available by then?
One could argue Ballard didn´t think so.
#Colts fans want Jordan Love. #Colts fans think Ballard is in "Love" with Love!
Question, if he was, why would he trade pick #13?
Because he was in attendance at a College game does not mean he wants him! Just sayin!
— Jeffrey Patten (@patten1962) April 14, 2020
While Buckner is an excellent addition to the Colts defense, there were other defensive lineman options available.
And a franchise quarterback is worth more than even the best defensive player.
But if Ballard can still land his man, the Buckner deal could go down as a coup for the Colts´ GM.
Has Jordan Love´s Stock Fallen?
Ballard reportedly had his eye on Love for quite a while.
That includes his junior season at Utah State when Love was drawing comparisons to Patrick Mahomes.
Unfortunately, 17 interceptions as a senior lowered expectations to more of a Jameis Winston level.
That is not terrible, but as Winston´s continuing free agent status attests, it does not make one a top-13 pick.
— Locked On Colts Podcast (@LockedOnColts) April 13, 2020
Love´s promoters cite the loss of most of his offensive linemen as the factor that impacted Love´s 2019 statistics.
But he is still a 6´4″, 230-pound quarterback with a gun and above-average athleticism.
In recent weeks, mock drafts seem to have settled on Joe Burrow landing in Cincinnati.
Washington, Detroit, and New York are not expected to draft quarterbacks.
But one or two of those picks could be traded to quarterback-needy teams.
Miami seemed like a lock to pick Tua Tagovailoa, at least until recently.
Three NFL franchises have completely taken Tua Tagovailoa off their draft board, per The Athletic.
Injury and durability issues continue to rise around Tagovailoa as we near Thursday’s draft.
— LeadingNFL (@LeadingNFL) April 17, 2020
The Chargers seem to like Justin Herbert more than Love.
Unless Miami shares the recent concerns about Tagovailoa, Love could fall past 13 after all.
Sports Illustrated cited oddsmakers at William Hill U.S. who have Love drafted at position 20 or lower.
Betting expert RJ White, according to a CBS Sports story, thinks Love could be gone by the 6th pick.
He goes further to say if Love falls out of the upper echelon, someone will trade up to grab him.
Ironically, White calls the Niners´ 13th slot, the one Ballard gave up for Buckner, as the best trade-up target.
Who Else Is In The Running?
There are no teams other than the Bengals, Dolphins, and Chargers openly searching for an instant quarterback.
But Jacksonville could be blowing smoke about their faith in Gardner Minshew.
And New England is fooling nobody about Jarrett Stidham.
Could any of them pass up Jordan Love if he fell to them?
— Dylan Murphy (@Murphys_law85) April 16, 2020
Washington is unlikely to use their second overall pick on a quarterback.
The Colts own the Redskins´second-round pick, so Ballard needn´t worry about them.
Jacksonville is leary of their upset fan base and Gardner Minshew´s popularity.
With so many needs, they are not likely to use a high pick on a quarterback this early in their rebuild.
I really hope you all find a way to draft jordan love and let him set behind Rivers for a full year. After that I don’t care who the Colts draft.
— Matt T (@mrturn24) April 13, 2020
That leaves New England and two or three teams in a similar situation as the Colts.
That is, they enter 2020 with an aging veteran and big questions for 2021 or 2022.
Green Bay pundits believe the Packers are in the market for Aaron Rodgers´ replacement, too.
Rodgers´ backup is more likely to come along later in the draft.
But Chris Ballard should still try to jump ahead of the Saints, Buccaneers, and Patriots if Love is still on the board.
Most Likely Scenarios
Tua Tagovailoa´s injury history remains a popular topic this week.
But no rumors of a change in draft plans have slipped out of Miami.
Even if they pass, Tagovailoa becomes the favorite to be selected by the Chargers at number 6.
That would let Love fall down the draft board.
Ballard´s first threat is Tampa Bay at 14.
It would be ironic if Ballard renegotiated the Buckner trade with San Francisco to take back the 13th pick.
Also, it would be unnecessary.
Love = +500
Higgins = +600
Shenault = +750
Reagor +900 pic.twitter.com/DfDbyThPXa
— Locked On Colts Podcast (@LockedOnColts) April 16, 2020
Tampa Bay has other priorities, including to keep Tom Brady from getting killed behind their offensive line.
It is a safe bet Jordan Love will skip past the Buccaneers at 14.
Jacksonville has a second pick at number 20, which will likely be used on defense or another offensive lineman.
That lets Love slip to Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
If Belichick has any weaknesses, it is his draft prowess.
But he would not let Jordan Love pass by with Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer in his quarterback room.
That is Ballard´s target spot.
Trade Partners Ahead of New England
Minnesota has the pick just ahead of the Patriots.
They are in search of a top-level wide receiver and offensive lineman.
If someone they like is available, they might not be the willing trade partner Ballard needs.
But they also own the 25th pick after New Orleans.
If the Vikings believe their target is unlikely to be drafted by the Colts, Patriots, or Saints, they might deal the 22nd.
Colts have 3rd-highest odds to draft QB Jordan Love https://t.co/i7aUiTTirk
— TheColtsWire (@TheColtsWire) April 12, 2020
Jacksonville´s second pick at 20 might cost a little more, but a rebuilding team should value extra picks.
Likewise, Miami might be willing to accrue more selections in exchange for the number 18.
Miami already owns two other first-rounders.
It would be good work by Ballard to snag Love and still retain one of the Colts second-round picks.
What About the Patriots?
As mentioned before, Bill Belichick is not a draft maven.
This writer always suspected Belichick prefers watching pro game films much more than college film.
He might be looking for a quarterback he can trust more than a rookie.
And the Colts own someone he knows exactly what he can expect from.
If Jordan Love is there at #22, and a team hasn't jumped ahead of that slot to take him, Colts and Chargers will be bidding HIGH for #22. I could easily see the Colts giving up 2-2 and 2-12 for #22 as the winning bid. 1000% possibility for next Thursday "IF" Love makes it to 22
— alohatickets (@alohatickets1) April 17, 2020
That is not to say Bill Belichick would trade a first-round pick for Jacoby Brissett.
But, what if Chris Ballard dangled the 34th and 75th (3rd round) pick for the Patriots slot at 23?
Then Belichick could send a couple of his third-round picks to the Colts for Brissett.
After all, Brissett put up similar numbers to Tom Brady last season.
And that guy worked out pretty well for the Patriots over the years.
Bro #Colts fans CANT stop with Jordan Love it’s so annoying lol
— Anthony (@Celtiic_mF) April 14, 2020
Okay! Maybe I am caught up in an NFL Draft Week Fever dream.
It is more likely that Belichick sends a horde of his 12 draft picks to Detroit to steal his quarterback early.
But thankfully, there are other scenarios where Chris Ballard gets his man, too.
And we wouldn´t put it past him.