NFL draft winners and losers: The Colts take a big hit on QB Anthony Richardson

Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson celebrates with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the fourth overall pick of the NFL draft.  (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

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The Indianapolis Colts may finally be cured of their Andrew Luck hangover.

When Luck retired, the Colts began recruiting late-career second-chance veterans in hopes of getting something out of them and then moving on to the next. The bottom fell out last season when Matt Ryan struggled hard, and the Colts found themselves picking the No. 4 in the 2023 NFL Draft. It was time to finally fix the quarterback position.

Say this about choosing the Colts: They didn’t play it safe.

Anthony Richardson’s range of results is as wide as that of just about any quarterback…maybe ever. If Richardson turned his all-world physical gifts into an MVP season or two, would it really surprise anyone? Or would it be a huge shock if Richardson, with his 13 collegiate starts and many questions about his NFL readiness, doesn’t develop those impressive skills and quickly disappears from the league?

Anything seems possible with this pairing. That is fun. If you’re investing in a quarterback, you might as well invest in one that has a truly elite cap. There’s no question that Richardson has.

Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson celebrates with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the fourth overall pick of the NFL draft.  (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson celebrates with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the fourth overall pick of the NFL draft. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The moment Richardson was drafted, he became arguably the most physically impressive quarterback in the NFL. He had perhaps the best combine training a quarterback has ever had. He ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at 6-foot-4, 244 pounds. He set a combine record with a vertical jump of 40 1/2 inches and equaled the combine record with a long jump of 10 ft 9. He has elite arm and rushed for 1,116 yards and 12 touchdowns on 161 attempts in college. Physically, there are no questions about Richardson. Colts GM Chris Ballard said the team decided a month ago that he was their target. It’s not hard to figure out why.

“He can turn it around,” new Colts coach Shane Steichen told the media after the selection. “He has a huge arm.”

If being a physical specimen was all it took to play quarterback, the Colts would be discontinued for a while. But that’s not the whole story. Richardson has problems with his mechanics that led to inaccuracies. Most inaccurate college quarterbacks don’t make huge leaps in this area in the NFL, but Josh Allen did, and now this will be the new template for wishcasting teams.

“I think the only thing we’re seeing in the league now is, guys, you can work on that and make it more accurate,” Ballard said. “Footwork, fundamentals and there are certain things that I think you can do. I think you’ve seen guys jump in this league. I think you’ll see him jump.”

Richardson may not have much time to sit down and develop. The Colts have Gardner Minshew II on the roster as a bridge QB, and Ballard tried to teach the raw rookie some patience — “Let’s not expect him to be Superman from day one,” Ballard said, while pointing out that some quarterbacks will take a season or more to develop — but fans won’t have much patience. Fourth overall winners don’t sit out for an entire season very often. It will be hard to resist including him in the line-up when he shows his talent in training and pre-season games. The Colts have more talent than most top-five teams, and when they start slowly this season with Minshew, it will be difficult to be patient.

Richardson is the rare top-five quarterback pick to serve a full season. The test for the Colts will be how long they can wait before making him a starter.

“He’s going to have to grow, like all of them,” Ballard said. “But we will help him. We will take him with us and he will be a good player.”

It’s a franchise-changing choice for the Colts. In a way.

Here are the rest of the winners and losers of the first round of the NFL Draft:


Philly Eagles: The Eagles were the best team in the 2022 NFL regular season, and they came very close to winning a Super Bowl. On Thursday they could have gotten the best player in the draft.

The Eagles advanced one spot from No. 10 to No. 9 to draft Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. The Eagles had their 10th overall pick from a trade with the New Orleans Saints in last year’s draft. Carter had troubles off the field — pleading no contest in a reckless driving and racing case after a car crash resulted in the deaths of Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock and recruiting associate Chandler LeCroy — and terrible per-day training. Some teams balked at him. He slipped a bit and the Eagles fell.

The Eagles then complemented the front seven by bringing in Nolan Smith, an athletic Georgia edgeback, with the 30th overall.

But Carter can make or break Philadelphia’s draft class. At times during the past season, Carter was touted as the top pick in this year’s draft class. It’s a massive tackle that can have dominant stretches. There are more questions about him now, but the Eagles could afford to play on his odds. He fits a need for them inside the line of defense. It could end up being a big step for Philadelphia.

Arizona Cardinals: The Night of the Cardinals did not start well. Before the draft began, it was revealed that they had illegally manipulated Jonathan Gannon when speaking to him to become their next head coach and they had to work out a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles to settle the matter.

Your night got better.

The Cardinals made a smart, potentially game-changing trade with the Houston Texans, who were clearly anxious to move up to third overall pick for Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. The trading return the Cardinals received included a first-round pick in 2024, which could very well be if the Texans don’t make a big leap this season. Any design value chart the cardinals had decisively won this bargain. You will enjoy this extra first (what was the choice of Texansnot the one acquired by the Cleveland Browns in a trade from Deshaun Watson), which could realistically be as high as first pick overall if Houston struggles again.

Then the Cardinals moved back up to 6th place and picked up Ohio State offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr., a tackle they had been linked with in the days leading up to the draft. The Cardinals need a lot of talent and new general manager Monti Ossenfort is responsible for rebuilding the roster. The first round of his first draft went well.

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens: News of Jackson’s extension came hours before the draft began, but it still made both sides draft-night winners.

Jackson landed a deal that made him the highest paid player in NFL history. The Ravens got their franchise quarterback back. Baltimore could go into the draft with a clear head about the direction the franchise is taking, rather than wondering how it might all play out. They had complete clarity as they took down Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers with the 22nd overall. It’s a solid pick for recent addition Odell Beckham Jr., and Jackson tweeted his excitement about the Flowers selection just before it was announced.

It was a good day for Jackson and the Ravens before the draft even started.


Will Levis: We remember the quarterbacks having to wait a while to get picked. Levis’ draft fall was a big one and one we will remember for a long time.

Levis caused quite a stir (mostly unfairly) as the draft’s first or second choice earlier this week. Then he fell. Teams in need of quarterback passed him on. Teams that could have fielded a developmental QB behind their veteran starter, like the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions, have passed multiple times.

Levis has his flaws but it was surprising to see him fall as far as he did.

Running back deniers: Every time someone on social media suggests drafting a running back in the first round, the same arguments are made about position value. Two teams ignored that outcry in the first 12 picks.

Bijan Robinson, the No. 8 transfer to the Atlanta Falcons, had been speculated for a while and it came as no surprise when the Falcons picked him. That pick has been mooted because the Falcons had a good rookie season from fifth-round Tyler Allgeier last year and have plenty of other needs. Robinson is a good prospect but it was a controversial choice.

Picking Jahmyr Gibbs 12th for the Detroit Lions came as a shock. The Lions just signed David Montgomery and have D’Andre Swift. The Lions need to fix defense and are relegated from 6th place when they could have picked a defensive player like Jalen Carter or Tyree Wilson. With the number 12 they acquired they took a 199lb return if that’s not a weakness on the squad. Gibbs is a fun playmaker but it was a surprising choice.

Both picks will get a lot of criticism. But at least the running backs are fighting back the idea that they’ve been totally devalued in the modern NFL.

Wide receivers for a while and tight ends: In the weeks leading up to the draft, it was said a few times that this year’s receiver draft class wasn’t nearly as good as the last few. The tight end class was said to be good.

It took a while on Thursday for a pass catcher to go off the board.

Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba was the consensus WR1 in the class, but he went later than most mock drafts projected. Some teams that could use a receiver passed it on. He had an injury-ridden 2022 and maybe that’s one reason he lasted through to the 20th pick where the Seattle Seahawks put him. That started a run. TCU receiver Quentin Johnston went to the Los Angeles Chargers with the next pick. Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers went to the Ravens in 22nd place. USC’s Jordan Addison went 23rd to the Minnesota Vikings. The recipients therefore gathered from the 20th pick.

Tight ends waited a little longer. When one finally took off, it found itself in a good place to land. Dalton Kincaid went to the Buffalo Bills with the 25th pick.

It wasn’t the worst night for receivers and tight ends. But it wasn’t the blessing we’ve seen in recent years.

#NFL #draft #winners #losers #Colts #big #hit #Anthony #Richardson

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