Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Chris Ballard is a coward.
That’s been the narrative for the past two years. And you know what? It is earned. Chris Ballard is a poor man’s Howie Roseman. While he has built a team the right way, through the trenches, through the draft, his inability to take a risk has prevented the Colts from being a true contender for years. You will never win in this league going dumpster diving for Quarterbacks. Whether it is the ghost of Philip Rivers, the shell of Carson Wentz, or whatever Matt Ryan has become, the NFL is not won by those who risk nothing.
Nothing illustrates this point more than this past Super Bowl (sorry for bringing it up). Both the Birds and the Chiefs rose to prominence by taking huge risks on high-upside quarterbacks. Both teams also had serviceable (or so they thought) plus starters at the quarterback position when drafting these players. The Eagles had the self-proclaimed chosen child in Carson Wentz when they shockingly chose Jalen Hurts in the second round, and the Chiefs had Alex Smith when they selected a very raw Patrick Mahomes.
But these two franchises understood that unless you have “HIM” at quarterback, you will never summit the mountain. Heck, even if you have a guy, you’re never even promised a shot. Just look at Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, who have been to a singular Super Bowl together. Say what you will about Rodgers, there is certainly a lot to say, but the man is inarguably a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
So, Chris-y boy, it’s time to throw caution to the wind. You have built a generally good roster, with key pieces such as Jonathan Taylor, Darius Leonard, and Michael Pittman. But you will lose your job unless you are willing to put your money where your mouth is.
And the way the draft has gone, only one man can save you. (Cue Shrek 2’s version of Holding Out for A Hero https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_HjMIjzyMU). You need Anthony Richardson.
Listen, I know he’s a project: He has almost no experience and throws with the consistency of a Skip Bayless argument. And that is all fine and dandy.
But here is my counterpoint: Shut up, nerds. The man is a demi-god.
I mean, just look at this:
And while you’re at it, look at THIS:
[Highlight] Anthony Richardson put on a wild deep throw show at the combine pic.twitter.com/VLJ56sPjqH— hidden path ahead (@soulsarethebest) March 29, 2023
With just a flick of his wrist, the man can throw 60 yards. And that’s just his arm. As a runner, he has the potential to be the most explosive quarterback of all time, posting a record-breaking 40.5-inch vertical jump. The man can jump over Bryce Young. His incomplete Raw Athletic Score is literally a perfect 10/10:
This all means that Anthony Richardson has the potential to be exceptional. Yes, he is raw. But if you want to compete in this league, especially while Patrick Mahomes is at the peak of his powers, you need a quarterback who himself has the potential to change the game. And I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think Will Levis is that dude.
Before delving into specific stats, it is worth remembering two things. First, as The Ringers’ Ben Solak often reminds us: a GM’s first job is not to win a Super Bowl. It’s to keep his job. Second, as BLG says, the worst place to be in the NFL is the middle.
And why is this important? By signing a project like Anthony Richardson, Chris Ballard will have bought himself time. No one expects him to be good right away, and thus Ballard won’t truly be evaluated based on the team’s performance for the next couple of years. Remember, the model for Richardson is Josh Allen, who was atrocious at the beginning of his NFL career. This allows you to pile a few more premium assets and put together a championship-contending roster by hopefully the end of his rookie contract. And if Richardson doesn’t pan out, then great, you have accelerated your rebuild, and you will likely be able to take another bite at the apple in the apple-bobbing game that is “draft a franchise quarterback.”
Importantly, the Colts have the infrastructure to allow a gamble like Richardson to succeed. This starts with old-friend-turned-Colts-Head-Coach-Round-Two Shane Steichen, who did an admirable job constructing an offense around Jalen Hurts last year. His goal for year one will be simple, rebuild some lesser version of the 2022-2023 Eagles offense. Sure, Richardson is unlikely ever to reach the same heights that Jalen Hurts has, but he shares the same talents and potential that Steichen helped build the Eagles’ offense around. He is clearly a dangerous runner out of the backfield. If he can continue to find some accuracy and success on his deep ball at the NFL level… then defenses will be forced to open up the middle for those legs. These two tools would allow Steichen to build an offense around a similar philosophy: Build an excellent running game grounded in a solid offensive line while keeping defenses honest with the deep ball. I, for one, won’t envy the defenders who have to try to tackle Jonathan Taylor and/or Anthony Richardson for 60 straight minutes.
It is this infrastructure that gives you the confidence to draft Richardson. The NFL today has shown a new ability to develop raw quarterbacks. Think back to the Eagles discourse last year surrounding Jalen Hurts. Very very few people (fans, pundits, etc.) believed that Jalen Hurts could evolve into a franchise-changing quarterback. People scoffed when the Bills took a completely green Josh Allen seventh overall in the 2018 NFL draft. These two quarterbacks today, however, can serve as the roadmap for Anthony Richardson. Not only are they the case studies, the proof of concepts, and the blueprints, but you have someone in the building who made it work with Jalen Hurts.
Now I promised I would talk about the stats. I’ll be the first to admit they aren’t great. If Richardson puts up these numbers as a passer in 2 years, then this pick will undoubtedly be a bust. According to ESPN statistics, Richardson completed 53.4% of his passes. He threw 9 interceptions and only 17 touchdowns. The Florida Gators lost more games than they won last year, finishing with a 6-7 record. PFF has given him a grade of just 41.9 under pressure, and his offensive and passing grades are about 10 points and 20 points lower than the same scores for both Bryce Young and CJ Stroud. These are alarming numbers, especially in comparison to his peers.
And these numbers are going to make many people hate this pick. And there is nothing wrong with these people! These level-headed people would rather make intelligent and rational decisions with this premium pick. Why take a lottery ticket on Richardson when you can be promised a blue-chip talent like Jalen Carter? Is it worth passing up a safe asset like Tyree Wilson or whichever NPC-sounding Offensive Tackle prospect coming out of Northwestern?
But to me, you people all sound like Chris Ballard. And so, I will say to you the same thing I would say to the Ballard duck himself: Dig Deeper. Not just below that risk-averse elf-accountant demeanor that has made you beloved in NFL circles in the past. But also into the stats.
A closer look at these stats also shows that the potential is there. This was Richardson’s first season as a starter at the college level, and early on, it showed. Although his second and third games were a disaster, posting PFF grades in the 40s, as the season developed, and Richardson showed drastic improvement. He finished with a deep passer rating of over 93 and a player rating of above 70 in four of his last six games. Furthermore, he finished with a higher rating than Will Levis across the board.
In conclusion, it’s time for Chris Ballard to untether himself from the shackles of cowardice and take flight. While you may call me Icarus, saying I will get burned by the sun, to you, I say this: You can never summit the mountain if you are afraid of heights. While Richardson’s less-than-impressive stats may seem like a gamble, his incredible athleticism and potential to become a game-changer are undeniable. Furthermore, by hiring Shane Steichen as the leader of their team, the Colts have the right infrastructure in place to develop Richardson in the same manner that the Eagles developed Jalen Hurts, or the Bills developed Josh Allen. With the Colts’ current roster and the lessons learned from other teams’ successes, it’s time for Ballard to embrace the boldness required to take his team to new heights. It’s time for him to draft Anthony Richardson and redefine the Colts’ future. Because fortune favors the bold, and in a league dominated by those exceptional game-changing talents, it’s time to take that leap or risk being left behind.
Do you approve of this pick?
This poll is closed
2023 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Panthers (pheebthegoose): QB Bryce Young
2) Texans (Phoenix X Minimus): QB C.J. Stroud
3) Cardinals (alwaysaphillyfan): EDGE Will Anderson
4) Colts (eaglenomics): QB Anthony Richardson
5) Seahawks (The Player Formerly Known as Mousecop)
6) Lions (Sam2TheMaximum)
7) Raiders (joey2arms)
8) Falcons (Kephas)
9) Bears (chewy wellington)
10) Eagles (Philly21)
11) Titans (RachAttack)
12) Texans (Domonate)
13) Jets (JawnJam)
14) Patriots (Amish Eagle Lion)
15) Packers (bdawk4ever)
16) Commanders (the dog did it)
17) Steelers (Dr.MidnightGreen)
18) Lions (DreadPirateRocco)
19) Buccaneers (Neil Dutton)
20) Seahawks (wardbell92)
21) Chargers (Brendanekstrom)
22) Ravens (Rollinpin)
23) Vikings (FierceDisc65)
24) Jaguars (dkays)
25) Giants (roberticus01)
26) Cowboys (EHyungNim)
27) Bills (EHyungNim)
28) Bengals (mainmanham)
29) Saints (RiverCityEagle)
30) Eagles (ablesser88)
31) Chiefs (Hoosinole)
Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think should be selected in the 2023 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.
Who should the Colts draft at No. 4 overall?
This poll is closed
QB Anthony Richardson
QB Will Levis
QB Hendon Hooker
1) Panthers: QB C.J. Stroud
2) Texans: QB Bryce Young
3) Cardinals: EDGE Will Anderson