While there seemed to be a consensus around the NFL that Alabama's Bryce Young and Ohio State's C.J. Stroud, the quarterbacks who were selected with the 2023 NFL Draft's first two picks by the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans, were in fact the two best signal-callers available, the Indianapolis Colts say otherwise. Team owner Jim Irsay maintains that the draft's third quarterback selected, Florida's Anthony Richardson (the Colts' pick at No. 4), was always going to be their guy.
"If we had the first pick in the draft, we'd probably take Anthony," Irsay said Saturday, per Colts.com. "I always felt like Richardson was going to be the guy we went with, early on."
Measuring at 6-4, 244 pounds while running a 4.43 40-yard dash and jumping a 40.5" vertical plus a 10'9" broad, Richardson was far and away the most physically overwhelming quarterback prospect in this year's class, far and away.
Anthony Richardson's ranks among QBs at the 2023 NFL Combine:— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) March 4, 2023
Height: 6' 4 1/4" (1st)
Weight: 244 (1st)
40-Yd: 4.43 (1st)
Vertical: 40.5" (1st)
Broad: 10'9" (1st)
However, Irsay didn't have any declarative proclamations about Richardson immediately becoming the Colts' starter or if veteran free-agent signee quarterback Gardner Minshew would act as a mentor and early-season fill-in in 2023. The owner did emphasize the importance of those in-game reps for his new, shiny quarterback.
"You get better by playing," Irsay said. "I mean, practice and preseason games and watching in a quarterback room, that's great. But, man, I'll tell you, he'd get better by playing, and it's something that it is really important. Because, again, his development [is] so much of a key to the franchise's future. It is the critical key."
New Colts head coach Shane Steichen, hired from the NFC Champion Eagles where was their offensive coordinator, has full belief in Richardson's potential after working with other strong-armed passer like the Chargers' Justin Herbert and 2022 NFL MVP runner-up Jalen Hurts.
"Shane was convinced," Irsay said. "He said, 'I've seen his mechanics. I've seen him make passes. I know he can make him. I've seen enough to really feel he can develop into an outstanding passer, not just with his feet.' That went a long way with me."
Chris Ballard, the Colts' general manager, made it crystal clear the franchise isn't putting any pressure on Richardson for immediate results just as they aren't guaranteeing him immediate playtime.
"He's got to come in and earn his way like every player we bring in," Ballard said Thursday. "Let's not expect him to be Superman from day one. I think history has shown there's not many of them that are Superman from day one. Some of them it takes two, three years for them to become a really good player. I think you all know well enough, we're excited, we're excited to get Anthony. Now we've got to go play. Now you've got to go prove it. Damn right I'm excited. Then you sober up and say, 'OK, now we've got to go play and make it work.'"