National Football League
Colts take biggest but best risk of draft selecting Anthony Richardson at No. 4
National Football League

Colts take biggest but best risk of draft selecting Anthony Richardson at No. 4

Published Apr. 27, 2023 9:30 p.m. ET

The Indianapolis Colts either made the best decision of this draft — or the worst.

That's the way it was bound to feel when Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson went off the board during the 2023 NFL Draft. The Colts picked him at No. 4 overall. They've taken the biggest risk of the draft. But from my perspective, it was also the best risk of the draft.

There is no draft prospect with a greater boom-or-bust projection. There is no draft prospect like him.

Against Utah to open the 2022 season, he went 17-of-24 (70.8%) for 168 passing yards with 11 carries for 106 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Against Kentucky, the following weekend, he finished 14-of-35 (40%) for 143 yards and two interceptions with six carries for four yards.


He threw for more than 400 yards in two different games (Tennessee, Vanderbilt), but he also completed fewer than 50% of his passes in three different games.

Highs and lows. That's what defined his 2022 season.

But since he left Florida, the quarterback has done nothing but increase his draft stock. At the NFL Combine, he demonstrated staggering athleticism. During his performance in Indy, the hyperbolic comps started to come out: Josh Allen, Cam Newton, Lamar Jackson

The truth of the matter? Richardson was unlike anyone we'd seen before. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound quarterback ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash. He had a broad jump of 10-feet-9-inches. He's a rare athlete at quarterback.

And the Colts will have an absolutely terrifying combination for run defenses with Jonathan Taylor and Richardson. Because even if Richardson's passing prowess takes a little while to develop in the NFL, he will instantly be a threat as a runner.

Florida QB Anthony Richardson Highlights

Watch quarterback Anthony Richardson dazzle under center at Florida.

As a passing prospect, the question is consistency and accuracy with Richardson. Because he has incredible high-end tools when he's firing. His deep ball can be a thing of beauty, and his arm strength is outstanding. But there is plenty room for improvement when it comes to using his tools. Richardson needs to know when to back off his fastball and use touch. He also needs to do a better job of making anticipation and timing throws. And then he could improve his footwork and, in turn, increase his accuracy. That development is worth the risk for Indy, which saw a unique opportunity to bring in Richardson.

It's not a terrible landing spot for the young QB, even though the Colts are picking at the top of the draft. Richardson will work with new head coach Shane Steichen, who served as the Eagles' offensive coordinator in 2021 and 2022 and helped to develop Jalen Hurts into the top dual-threat quarterback in the NFL last year. Steichen found ways to get the most out of Hurts' mobility. That coaching skill set will come in handy as Steichen builds his playbook for Richardson.

Maybe the Colts haven't yet made any additions to their offensive line, which allowed 60 sacks last season, the second-most in the league. But Steichen will get Richardson on the move and throwing to possession receivers Michael Pittman and Alec Pierce and tight end Mo Alie-Cox. It's not an amazing unit. But much like we saw Justin Fields change Chicago in quick time (with a rough supporting cast), Richardson should quickly elevate the roster in Indy. And he'll leave the comparisons behind.

On the stage at the NFL Draft in Kansas City, Richardson faced a question about being "Cam Jackson" — a combination of Cam Newton and Lamar Jackson.

"It's time to make my own legacy. No more Cam Jackson," he said Thursday night. "Time for Anthony Richardson."

Prior to joining FOX Sports as the AFC East reporter, Henry McKenna spent seven years covering the Patriots for USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Follow him on Twitter at @McKennAnalysis.

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