Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Supposedly. But in Friday’s pre-draft press conference, General Manager Chris Ballard did his best to extinguish the fire. “There’s a misconception out there that we’ve targeted one player. I’m not sure that’s accurate,” said Ballard on the reports about the Indianapolis Colts' infatuation with Will Levis. “I always love to read the reports that the Colts love this guy, or this guy ... well, that didn’t come from me. They don’t know.”
So who do the Colts favor, and which direction will Ballard and company pivot to on draft night?
Anthony Richardson Is The Likely Favorite
Traits. Traits. Traits. Ballard has preached traits since his first-ever press conference in Indianapolis to the latest episodes of With The Next Pick. And which quarterback has the most traits? Anthony Richardson by a landslide.
Richardson’s arm strength, athleticism, and upside have been hammered home again and again by all of the national media. But what has not been discussed enough is the high-end quarterback play that Richardson actually shows.
Today on The Play Sheet is Anthony Richardson, a top-tier pocket manager with flashes of great processing and deep accuracy...that just happens to also run a 4.4 at 240 pounds.— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) April 20, 2023
Full video on the project who isn't really that project-y: https://t.co/lEyJeejTRk pic.twitter.com/0GozHvWgGX
In the video above, Benjamin Solak of the Ringer shows just how refined Richardson is. The former Gator routinely looks off the safeties, he understands pre and post-snap coverages, and he maneuvers the pocket better than any quarterback in this class. Out of the top four quarterbacks, Richardson has the lowest percentage of pressures turned to sacks.
In terms of fit with Steichen’s scheme, it is uncertain exactly what type of offense he will run, but he was hired because of his work with Jalen Hurts and the Eagles. If he wants to build on his Eagles’ scheme, Richardson fits like a glove. Steichen pushes the ball down the field more than most offenses in the league, and Richardson’s arm strength will certainly come into play. Then you take into account his 4.44 speed, and you see how he could easily mimic Hurts’s production as a runner.
When you really start to deduce everything the Colts have done this offseason and who they’ve hired, Richardson makes the most sense and I believe that is what will happen next Thursday night.
Anthony Richardson 60 yard rushing touchdown— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 5, 2022
C.J. Stroud vs Richardson
Now, there are more and more reports speculating that Houston would pass on C.J. Stroud and maybe even quarterback in general. If Indianapolis ends up with its choice of Stroud and Richardson, their decision becomes much harder.
Stroud’s stock has taken a hit over the past few days, at least on social media. But in the end, the film is what matters most. We know that Stroud diced up most defenses during his career at Ohio State.
While Ballard and Steichen have mentioned accuracy several times this offseason, Stroud’s athleticism leaves a little to be desired. You want to see more off-platform throws, especially behind this leaky offensive line. There’s just something missing for Stroud.
I think Indianapolis would be ecstatic to get either Stroud or Richardson. But with everything lining up, I’m decently confident that Anthony Richardson will be the pick on April 27th.
In his first 3 games, Anthony Richardson threw for a combined 420 yards & 0 touchdowns.— Full-Time Dame (@DP_NFL) October 7, 2022
Versus Tennessee, he threw for 453 yards & 2 tds. Paired with Sunday’s performance, it provides new confidence.
I saw some positive growth for ARich! Patience is !pic.twitter.com/18s3NJFRQN