INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Anthony Richardson dazzled scouts in his first, brief action at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Indianapolis Colts believe it was a preview of coming attractions.
General manager Chris Ballard bet big on the athletic, one-year starting quarterback from Florida by selecting Richardson with the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night. The Colts believe he can finally provide some long-term stabiltiy at the sport’s most important position.
“We liked him a lot,” Ballard said. “After we spent time working him out, we just felt really good about who he was as a person. I think when we went and worked him out, we saw a lot because we put him through drills with just ourselves and then we brought him in and spent another day with him.”
Clearly, he made enough of an impression they drafted him ahead of Kentucky star Will Levis, who was supposed to be Indy bound according to the pre-draft speculation.
After seeing 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young get selected first overall by the Carolina Panthers and C.J. Stroud go second overall to Houston, Ballard phoned Richardson to say he’d be the Colts’ new franchise quarterback.
What is Indy getting?
A 6-foot-4, 232-pound, 20-year-old who posted the fastest 40-yard dash time (4.43 seconds) along with the best vertical jump (40 1/2 inches) and broad jump (10 feet, 9 inches) of the 15 quarterbacks at the NFL combine. He was every bit as impressive during his on-field workouts.
All of it confirmed what the Colts already had seen.
“Back in August, I’m getting these text messages from Morocco Brown,” Ballard said, referring to one of the team’s top scouts. “He’s at a Florida practice and he’s saying, ‘You should see the show that I’m watching at practice.’”
Everyone expected the Colts to pick a quarterback after so many revolving-door seasons, including last year’s dismal 4-12-1 mark with three different starters. This will be Indy’s seventh straight season with a different opening-day starter.
The debate focused almost entirely on who the Colts would take. Team owner Jim Irsay once hinted he preferred Young.
The Colts are convinced Richardson can help them re-emerge as a playoff contender perhaps sooner rather than many expect. They’re also hoping he can become the long-term solution the franchise has sought since Andrew Luck’s surprise retirement in August 2019.
But after starting just 13 college games and completing only 53.8% of his passes last year, many wonder whether Richardson is ready to start in the NFL next season.
Richardson insists he can.
“I’m going to try to get ready as soon as I can. I’ll be ready for the preseason, I’ll be ready for the first game,” Richardson said. “They picked me this high for a reason.”
One element working in Richardson’s favor is his running ability. He averaged 6.9 yards per carry during his college career and rushed for nine touchdowns last season.
And now he’ll be working with new Indy coach Shane Steichen, who helped Jalen Hurts become an MVP candidate in Philadelphia last season, as well as 2021 NFL rushing champion Jonathan Taylor.
The possibility of Richardson and Taylor running zone reads together could be the kind of pairing that makes opposing defenses wince.
Richardson becomes the fourth quarterback on a roster that already has Sam Ehlinger (a sixth-round draft pick in 2021), Nick Foles (a former Super Bowl MVP) and Garnder Minshew, who followed Steichen from Philadelphia to Indy this offseason.
Still, it appears Steichen wants to get Richardson behind center early.
“I think the development of players comes with more experience,” Steichen said. “Thirteen starts, right? I think you develop with playing. When you watch him against the pressure in the pocket, feeling the rush and not feeling it, I think it’s pretty dynamic.”
Ballard also wants to see what Richardson can do when he’s ready to start.
And when that happens, Ballard insists the results could replicate what Brown saw in Gainesville and what he saw on the Colts home field in March.
“We like his talent, we like what he can be,” Ballard said. “What I can tell you is we drafted him for what we think he can really be in the future.”
Richardson is the highest draft pick Indy has had since selecting Luck with the top overall pick in 2012. The Colts are scheduled to make two picks on Friday, Nos. 35 and 79 overall, and six selections on Saturday.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.