Why the Anthony Richardson pick might be a turning point for the Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts entered the 2023 NFL Draft with rumors swirling and a league-wide expectation that Will Levis would be the fourth overall pick. Instead, the Colts wasted little time when they were on the clock before selecting quarterback Antony Richardson.

Richardson was viewed as having the highest upside of any 2023 draft prospect. While he entered the pre-draft process viewed as a fringe first-round pick, a record-breaking performance at the NFL Combine, strong interviews and impressive workouts catapulted his draft stock.

Related: Anthony Richardson excelled in S2 testing, praise for leadership

In a 2023 quarterback class that had a wide range of opinions, with different teams having a vast difference in their evaluations and quarterback rankings, Indianapolis viewed Richardson as the best option and landed him with the fourth overall pick.

Stephen Holder of ESPN wrote an in-depth piece detailing the Colts’ pursuit of Richardson and the front office’s mindset behind viewing him as the best quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft.

As highlighted by Mina Kimes, specific comments provided by Ballard on why the Colts specifically liked Richardson highlight a changing perspective in the Colts’ front office. Ballard admitted that every quarterback Indianapolis scouted had noteworthy flaws. With no clean prospect, the Colts liked the quarterback with the highest upside.

“So, why not take the one who could be a grand slam?

Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard on why they viewed Anthony Richardson as the best QB

As Holder’s story further detailed, Indianapolis put Richardson through the wringer when he met with the team. Shane Steichen worked one-on-one with him both on the practice field and in the film room, evaluating the top quarterback prospect from every angle and challenging him whenever possible.

The Colts came away from the meeting convinced of Richardson’s character and leadership. Ballard, Steichen and Jim Irsay also each saw visions of Richardson following the model that made Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts one of the highest-paid NFL players.

It left Indianapolis locked in on Richardson, just hoping he would be available with the fourth pick. They reportedly considered trading up to No. 3 overall, but the Colts’ information suggested Richardson would likely be available at the fourth pick.

Why the new approach is crucial for the Indianapolis Colts’ future

NFL: Combine

The decision to draft Richardson and the evaluation of him as the best quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft likely wouldn’t have happened in previous years. Under Ballard, Indianapolis took a more cautious approach following the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck.

Related: NFL QB rankings 2023

Ballard used his top picks on safe bets, including the likes of Quenton Nelson, Michael Pittman Jr, Jonathan Taylor and Kwity Paye. The mindset was also reflected in the quarterbacks Indianapolis acquired, including Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan.

The mindset didn’t get the Colts anywhere and maintaining that fairly conservative approach with football decisions likely would’ve extended the gap between the Colts and the best teams in the AFC. Instead, Indianapolis took a chance on Richardson.

It’s certainly possible that Richardson becomes one of the biggest NFL Draft busts ever, but many scouts agreed he is already one of the most physically-gifted quarterbacks in the NFL. There’s risk in taking a big swing on a quarterback, but there’s also a considerable upside.

The Buffalo Bills don’t become a Super Bowl contender if they don’t roll the dice on Josh Allen. Just a few years ago, the Kansas City Chiefs took a risk by drafting Patrick Mahomes and they now have two Super Bowl rings to show for it.

Indianapolis needed to swing for the fences if it ever wanted to become a top contender in the NFL. There’s an undeniable downside if Richardson doesn’t hit, but the front office’s new approach reflects what the best teams in football have done and it’s the Colts’ best path to eventually competing for a Super Bowl.

Mentioned in this article:

More About: