The Indianapolis Colts need a franchise quarterback. Andrew Luck’s early retirement led to multiple attempts to find short-term solutions that did not pan out. Chris Ballard feels pressure to pull a rabbit out of his hat. The short-term failures cost Frank Reich his job.
Anthony Richardson is as close to a rabbit in this class as any NFL GM magician could hope to find.
It could be really bad. He has very little starting experience at Florida and will likely need time to adjust to the NFL game and the complexity of NFL schemes. His accuracy has been discussed consistently. Those reviewing the tape often conclude that those issues are overstated, but perhaps that’s easy to do with such an impressive athlete.
There is no question Anthony Richardson is the best athlete to ever test at the NFL Combine at the quarterback position. Being an athlete alone isn’t enough in the NFL. This is a passing league, so if you can’t spin it, you need not apply.
Can he spin it?
His ceiling? Lamar Jackson joined Tom Brady as a unanimous NFL MVP in his second season. Richardson is unlikely to get to that level so fast, but he is bigger and stronger than Jackson, has the same kind of athleticism, has a bigger arm than Jackson, and could become a better player than Jackson. If Jackson won an MVP, it’s not outlandish to suggest that if Richardson reaches his ceiling, he could be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL for a long time.
Or maybe his faults are a truer depiction of his future. Maybe the accuracy issues are real and not fixable. If that’s the case, Richardson could have a short career. If transitioning from one season as a starter to a full-time starting quarterback in the NFL is too big a leap, choosing him will be a waste of draft capital.
The safest quarterback in the draft is C.J. Stroud. If your job depended on it and you had the choice, it’d be hard to pass on him. But the highest ceiling at the position in the draft is Richardson. At pick No. 4, with Shane Steichen as the head coach, it’s hard not to feel good about taking a big swing.
Jalen Hurts looked great in 2022, with Steichen helping get the most out of him. Justin Herbert made an incredibly smooth transition with some questions of his own coming out of college. If Steichen can get anything out of Richardson that resembles either of his previous two quarterbacks, the Colts will reap long-term rewards.
As of this writing, DraftKings has Richardson as +900 to be selected first overall. Only C.J. Stroud -330 and Bryce Young +240 are more likely to be picked ahead of him. Chatter is heavy ahead of the draft that teams are trying to move ahead of the Colts to get to the third pick. Could it be to steal Richardson? Will Indianapolis need to move up to get their target?
We’ll find out soon enough.