untung99.biz: Colts select Anthony Richardson with No 4 pick in NFL draft

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INDIANAPOLIS — Back in August, down in the sweltering Florida heat, the first step in the Indianapolis Colts finding their next quarterback was unfolding.

Chief personnel executive Morocco Brown had been dispatched to Gainesville, Florida, to scout Anthony Richardson in a Gators preseason practice, and he could hardly believe what he was seeing.

“I’m getting these text messages from Morocco,” general manager Chris Ballard said Thursday. “He’s at Florida practice [saying], ‘You should see the show that I’m watching on this practice field right now.’ So we had some awareness of who he was and what his talent level was a while ago.”

The process culminated in the Colts’ selection Thursday night of Richardson with the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft. It is the team’s latest effort to resolve its long-standing quarterback need that traces back to the unexpected and sudden retirement of Andrew Luck in 2019.

Richardson joins a Colts team that finished 4-12-1 in 2022 and saw three quarterbacks — Matt Ryan, Sam Ehlinger and Nick Foles — start at least one game. The 20-year-old Richardson arrives after starting just 13 games at Florida and posting underwhelming statistics with a 53.8% completion rate and 212.4 passing yards per game in 2022.

Now Richardson becomes central to the Colts’ future at a position that comes with significant pressure. But Richardson claimed to be unfazed by it all.

“I feel like I’ve been dealing with pressure my whole life, so pressure isn’t anything new for me,” Richardson said. “And playing at the University of Florida, I feel like it was a lot of pressure in that as well. So pressure doesn’t do anything but create legends. Pressure is only hard if you’re not prepared. So I’m going to make sure I’m prepared to the best of my ability.”

The Colts are banking heavily on Richardson’s massive upside and their ability to develop the quarterback with the most unique physical skill set in this draft. The 6-foot-4, 244-pound prospect dominated during on-field drills at the NFL scouting combine and had nine rushing touchdowns for Florida last season. Richardson also had nine runs of 45 yards or longer at Florida.

It’ll be a process for him, but the tools can help accelerate that process, the Colts say.

“Don’t crown him yet,” Ballard said. “He’s a young player. He’s got work to do. But we like his talent. We like what he can be. … What I can tell you is we drafted him for what we think he can really be in the future.”

The Colts plan to install a heavy passing attack under new coach Shane Steichen, one that he said will employ aggressive, downfield throws. Those throws have proved to be a strength of Richardson’s. The Colts were 29th in the NFL in yards per attempt last season (6.4) and threw a league-high 20 interceptions. But while Richardson is growing as an NFL passer, the Colts think his ability to create as a runner will help keep defenses honest.

“When a guy can run and add that element to your offense, I mean it is a big plus and puts stress on defenses,” Steichen said. “And obviously he has that capability. But I don’t want to sleep on his throwing ability either. I mean, that ball comes out pretty now. He can spin it. He’s got a huge arm, and he can make some huge plays in the pass game. So we’re excited.”

The Colts haven’t had a quarterback start consecutive season openers since Luck in 2015-16. Indianapolis also has free agent pickup Gardner Minshew, as well as Ehlinger and Foles, on its current roster. Richardson becomes the first quarterback drafted by the Colts in the first round since Luck in 2012.

Taking the reins for an organization that once drafted Peyton Manning and Luck comes with some expectations. And Richardson is ready for them.

“Great QBs, legends right there” Richardson said. “And for me to be picked as high as I was, it lets me know that Colts Nation believes in me. So I’m definitely going to put the work in [and] make sure I’m up there with those guys.”