Colts News: Rookie Anthony Richardson named starting quarterback for 2023

2RETDRP Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson throws at NFL team's football training camp in Westfield, Ind., Saturday, July 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Anthony Richardson will open his rookie season as the Indianapolis Colts’ starting quarterback.

The Colts announced the news on Tuesday morning, ending any debate on the subject with two preseason games remaining.

A lot was made of Richardson's poor throw that resulted in an interception in the preseason game against the Buffalo Bills, but the fourth overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft rebounded from that throw — a result of not getting his feet set as he tried to make something happen under pressure — to have some nice passes after.

His best throw in limited work against the Bills came on a corner route by Alec Pierce with 3:15 left in the first quarter, with Richardson putting the ball where he needed it to be before Siran Neal forced the incompletion as he and Pierce went to ground.


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Trevor Sikkema ranked Richardson’s debut as the second-best by a rookie quarterback from this past week:

Richardson’s day didn’t start great, as he threw an interception on his first drive. But the flashes of talent — why the Colts drafted him in the top five — were also evident, and that shouldn’t be ignored just because of the turnover.

Richardson’s interception came on a bit of a botched RPO play where he seemed to think the receiver was going to adjust quicker to a cornerback blitz. That didn’t happen. There was some hesitation, and then when the receiver did break in his route, Richardson just trusted his arm talent to fire it in there. Later in the game, though, he had a fantastic play where he avoided a tackle in the backfield to pick up yards with his legs and then recorded a big-time throw on a beautiful corner route, which was almost a touchdown.

He finished the day with a 63.6 passing grade and a 66.0 rushing grade.

Related: Ranking the preseason debuts of the top quarterbacks from the 2023 NFL Draft

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Not much has changed for Richardson’s projection since the draft. He’s still a high-ceiling player who can electrify Colts fans and elevate the team around him, but he’s also a player still developing, and the Colts will have to live with some throws like that interception as he grows as a player.

As a reminder, here’s what PFF said about Richardson in our draft profile:

STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES AND NFL ROLE

Where he wins: Tools

Richardson has one of the best combinations of arm strength, size and running abilty of any quarterback prospect in the PFF College era. Although he needs serious improvement as a passer, his rushing ability gives him a high floor.

What's his role? Offensive weapon

Richardson can expand a playbook in every way imaginable. You can draw up any run concept you want for him to tote the rock, and no downfield concept will be too deep for his arm to hit. If you're not getting him touches, even if he's a backup, you're missing out.

What he can improve: Consistent Fundamentals

Richardson flashes “it” — the ability to stand confidently in a tight pocket, put his cleats in the ground and deliver strikes down the field. That's difficult to coach into a quarterback if they've never shown it. But that too often all goes out the window when he's forced to adjust in the pocket and is left making his right arm do all the work.

Download the PFF draft guide for an in-depth look at the top players in the 2023 NFL Draft class.


PROS, CONS AND PLAYER COMP

Pros
  • Elite arm talent. Can really spin it.
  • Built like a tight end. Will get contacted in the pocket at times and it's like he doesn't even feel it.
  • Explosive in everything he does. A real threat to house it as a runner from anywhere on field.
Cons
  • Feet are all over the place. Adjusting at all in the pocket can cause him to miss wildly.
  • Such limited experience. Only took 455 dropbacks in his college career.
  • Only lasers. Hasn't quite mastered the art of when to take something off a throw.

Bottom line: High-end play wins Super Bowls, and no one has a higher end in this class than Richardson. Now, what are the chances he reaches that or even comes close?

Player comp: Josh Allen


Betting outlook

PFF’s Judah Fortgang recently had Richardson’s passing prop of 2,600 showing value on the under, but that was with the expectation that Gardner Minshew would be named the starting quarterback. While that is obviously not the case anymore, he also pointed to the struggles of rookie quarterbacks traditionally and how the Colts are likely to be a run-heavy team in 2023.

Expect that number to move up with this news, though, so if you agree with Judah’s assessment, there will likely be a higher number that you can bet the under on soon.

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