Anthony Richardson is now officially a pro. (Photo credit: Brad McClenny, Gainesville Sun)
Gainesville’s very own is off to Indy.
The Indianapolis Colts selected Anthony Richardson with the 4th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Richardson becomes the tenth Gator quarterback to be selected in the NFL Draft, and the second highest ever. Only Steve Spurrier went higher, at #3 overall to San Francisco in 1967.
Richardson also becomes Florida’s 368th all-time selection in the NFL Draft, and the 57th first round selection.
The statistics from Richardson’s year-plus as a starter don’t jump off the page, exactly. He completed 176 of 327 passes for a 53.8% completion percentage, there seventeen TD passes and nine interceptions in 2022. He also rushed for 654 yards and nine touchdowns last year. Not bad, certainly, but not tremendous.
With Richardson, though, there comes a unique blend of physical skills that just doesn’t come around often- and though he does need work as a pure passer, his incredible physical gifts made him too tempting for Indy to pass up. The Colts need a quarterback, and if all goes according to plan, they just found one for the next decade-plus.
From talking to representatives (and former representatives) of NFL teams- and from listening to enough analysts, the consensus on Richardson seems to be as such: grab the unique talents if you can, figure out the football part later. Richardson runs a 4.42 40 yard dash, was big enough to break a lot of tackles in the SEC (though this will slow considerably in the NFL), can fit a football into some really tight windows and can easily fling a ball 75-80 yards down the field. Everybody is always looking for the next Lamar Jackson or Michael Vick in a league that is shifting more and more toward mobility being a prerequisite for QBs, and while it’s unfair to compare Richardson to either, he’s certainly capable of making a difference in the NFL with both his arm and his legs.
Anthony Richardson is also a natural leader- on and off the field. He was always quick to support fellow QB Emory Jones in a frustrating QB situation in 2021, and when his time came, he stepped up and performed, most most notably against LSU and FSU. Off the field, he’s got all the qualities of a humble, grounded young man that the NFL loves, and with that should quickly ingratiate himself to the Hoosier State.
Now, of course, the issue with Richardson was his inconsistency at Florida. At times, he simply looked lost as a passer, and when it felt like things were getting to him, his accuracy dipped. At times, he would look like Aaron Rodgers as a passer, and at other times he would look like he didn’t even understand the offense. To his credit, the latter stopped happening by November, but it’s still something that NFL teams were undoubtedly conscious of. There is, to be clear, a surplus of eye-popping tape out there of Richardson; there’s also some not great tape, like his two interceptions against USF and his pick six against Kentucky.
But the upside easily makes him worth the risk, because any NFL team worth its salt is going to see a guy like Anthony Richardson and feel confident that they can wring production out of him. Though the Colts need a lot of help, they have to start somewhere, and Richardson is an excellent choice for a QB to build a franchise around.
All the best, Anthony.