I'm not as certain the Colts will trade down -- again -- in next week's NFL draft as many other observers seem to be.
Hear me out. Because I think the math here is complicated. (Of course, I think all math is complicated. It's why I became a writer.)
There are two competing forces at work in Chris Ballard's decision making process. He laid this out pretty clearly during his pre-draft press conference on Friday.
The first is compensation, and the price is likely to be high. Ballard loves to add picks -- and selections in the middle rounds (2, 3 and 4) can be of particular interest -- but he's not going to add to his arsenal of nine picks just for the sake of quantity.
A team hoping to move up to that sixth spot is going to have to pony up. It cost the Jets three second-round picks (two this year and one in 2019) to move up just three spots and grab Indianapolis' third overall pick in March.
New York is believed to be targeting a quarterback at No. 3, and the race not to be left out in this year's game of musical chairs could drive up the value of the sixth overall pick as well.
"When you want a guy and you have a belief in him, you’ll do about whatever it takes to go get him," Ballard said. "The price to get up is high."
The second part of the trade down decision is the number of "premium" players on the draft board.
When Ballard made the deal with the Jets, he believed there were four premium players -- stars who can make game-winning plays every Sunday -- available in this year's class. The math worked to drop to No. 6 because he also believes there's a good possibility at least two quarterbacks will be selected in the first five picks.
If that scenario plays out, the Colts will be assured of getting one of the premium players they had identified with the sixth pick.
But that also gets to the heart of the trade-down dilemma.
The two criteria in Ballard's mind have been firmly established: Adequate compensation and some high degree of assurance regarding the availability of a premium player.
The good news for those rooting for a trade down is Ballard now believes there are eight premium players (not including the QBs) in this class.
Here's where the complicated math comes into play.
If a high number of quarterbacks are selected in the top five (three or more), the number of premium players available obviously will increase.
If three QBs go before the Colts pick at No. 6, for instance, six of Ballard's preferred premium players would remain on the board when he goes on the clock.
That would make a trade back to the Bills' pick at No. 12, as an example, mathematically feasible. Assuming Buffalo's move up would be for a quarterback (and if not, Ballard isn't likely to pull the trigger) one of Indy's premium players would still be on the board at 12.
But three quarterbacks going in the top five also increases the chance the Bills' preferred QB already has been selected. That could drive down the price Buffalo is willing to pay and lessen Ballard's interest in a trade.
If fewer QBs go in the top five (two or less), the compensation a team is willing to pay could rise, but the pool of Ballard's premium players would decrease.
Any potential deal somehow needs to hit the sweet spot between the two criteria. And that could prove to be tricky.
Ballard isn't actively looking to move down. As it stands, he's assured of at least three of his premium players being on the board at No. 6 no matter what the teams in front of him do.
A suitor looking for that pick is going to have to make an offer that's both worth the risk of passing on the top guy available at No. 6 and includes a pick high enough to not fall out of the premium market all together.
It's possible all the moving pieces will come together.
I just don't think it's extremely likely.
Call it a 50-50 possibility, and be prepared for the Colts to stick and pick if a deal doesn't come together on April 26.