The Josh Allen Blueprint: Can Colts QB Anthony Richardson Follow in Allen's footsteps?

2RH6JJ0 Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson (5) warms up before an NFL pre-season football game against the Buffalo Bills, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

• Richardson's first game as the “official” starter: Anthony Richardson will start for the Indianapolis Colts in his team's preseason finale against the Philadelphia Eagles tonight, a little over a week since he was named the team's starter for the 2023 campaign.

• Familiar concerns? Of all the quarterbacks selected in the 2023 NFL Draft, Richardson has the highest ceiling. He comes with some accuracy concerns and has never graded above 60.0 under pressure over a season in college, but he has a big-time arm and a game-changing ability as a runner.

• Difficult but not impossible: Most quarterbacks — Allen being the exception — do not improve their accuracy dramatically within the first four years.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes


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Anthony Richardson will start for the Indianapolis Colts in his team's preseason finale against the Philadelphia Eagles tonight, a little over a week since he was named the team's starter for the 2023 campaign.

Richardson was given Week 2 off — likely due to his promotion to QB1 — but he flashed promise the week prior, going 7-of-12 for 67 yards as a passer while adding 7 yards and one forced missed tackle as a runner.

As PFF's Trevor Sikkema noted after the game:

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.

Of all the quarterbacks selected in the 2023 NFL Draft, Richardson has the highest ceiling. He comes with some accuracy concerns and has never graded above 60.0 under pressure over a season in college, but he has a big-time arm and a game-changing ability as a runner.

He started one season — and dropped back just 455 times in total — during his college career at Florida, but he flashed “it” in his last six games, racking up 12 touchdowns and 10 big-time throws.

Oddly enough, the concerns around Richardson are very similar to the ones around Josh Allen when the Bills' star quarterback was coming out of Wyoming.

The biggest concern surrounding these two — albeit to relatively different extremes — is the accuracy they showed in college.

Josh Allen and Anthony Richardson: Percentile ranks among quarterbacks with at least 200 aimed pass attempts in college (since 2016)
Accuracy category Josh Allen Anthony Richardson
Accurate 28th 4th
Accurate-plus 83rd 88th
Catchable but inaccurate 43rd 79th
Uncatchable 79th 92nd

PFF's Judah Fortgang recently examined components of quarterback play to see what they can teach us about development at the position, and he found that most quarterbacks — Allen being the exception — do not improve their accuracy dramatically within the first four years. But while it may be rare, it is not impossible for a signal-caller to overcome.

Allen’s accuracy increased by about 10% between his second and third seasons. The Buffalo Bills took a chance on Allen, and he’s led the Bills to four consecutive playoff appearances.

Courtesy: Components of QB play and what they teach us about development at the position via Judah Fortgang

The Colts have not made it to the playoffs since 2020. Could Richardson, once he develops, be similar to Allen? Could he be the catalyst that sends them to the playoffs?

There is no denying that Richardson has the physical tools to make it happen. After all, he has one of the best combinations of arm strength, size and running ability of any quarterback prospect in the PFF College era. Colts head coach Shane Steichen can draw up any run concept he wants for the first-round quarterback to run the ball, and no downfield concept will be too deep for his arm to hit. Remember, he is the single most impressive athlete at the quarterback position in scouting combine history.

Allen showed drastic improvement from his rookie season to now. The graphic below shows how Allen’s expected points added (EPA) per pass figure went from negative to positive from Year 2 to Year 3. His wins above replacement (WAR) figure also dramatically increased from a 30th-ranked 0.67 in Year 2 to a fifth-ranked 3.44 in Year 3.

The blueprint is there for Richardson to follow, and there is no denying that he has the talent to take off on a similar trajectory.

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