3 reasons the 2023 Draft class can immediately make Colts competitive
The Indianapolis Colts may surprise the NFL as a team that is competitive this season despite having a rookie quarterback.
The Indianapolis Colts are stuck in an awkward position right now. Are they rebuilding? Are they retooling? Are they "all chips in" and competing for a Super Bowl? Hopefully, this question or questions will get answered once we actually see the product on the field. Until then, why not shoot for the fences?
The Colts made several moves in the 2023 NFL Draft that could set them up to be competitive this season. While I think this would be high aspirations for Indy the pieces are there. The team finally broke the cycle of used quarterbacks and selected their own in Anthony Richardson with the fourth overall selection.
His development and production will set the bar for what Indianapolis can achieve this season. That being said, new head coach Shane Steichen was able to transform Jalen Hurts into the quarterback we saw last season and had his team competing for a Super Bowl. While Richardson was the marquee name the Colts drafted some other playmakers that could make a big difference in year one. Here is how the Colts' 2023 draft class can make this team competitive in 2023.
3. What is Anthony Richardson?
There has been a lot of back and forth on Richardson prior to him being selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the fourth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. He put on a show at the NFL Combine, setting records in almost every trial he faced. The work ethic is there as well. Stories have recently come out about how great of a guy he is and speak to his superb character traits. His biggest knock? His accuracy and lack of playing time in college.
How much does his college stats really tell us? In his three years in college, all at Florida, Richardson played in 22 games but only started 13 of them. Outside of his true freshman year when he appeared in three games and had only one completition, Richardson posted a 59.4% (38 of 64) and 53.8% (176 of 327) compleition percentage. What may be more alarming to some is his interception numbers. He had one in his true freshman year, five the next season, and then nine in his final season. That being said, he threw one, six, and then 17 touchdowns in those seasons respectively.
Essentially, Richardson had his first premier season in his final year at Florida before being drafted by the Colts. I think what is also important to point out here is what weapons Richardson had to work with in this past season. Only one receiver he was throwing to got drafted, Justin Shorter, who went to the Buffalo Bills in the fifth round. Shorter wasn't even Richardson's favorite target. He had two receivers get more receptions. What stands out about their air attack is that, out of the receivers who caught at least 10 passes, averaged double-digit yard averages. In fact, out of the 11 receivers who caught at least one pass from Richardson, only two averaged less than 10 yards a reception.
So what all of this conveys to me is that we really don't know what Anthony Richardson is. Ultimately he will be what Shane Stechein makes him out to be. If he can replicate what he was able to do with Hurts with Richardson then the Colts could be in store for something spectacular. Also working in their favor is that opposing teams don't know what they are going to get from Richardson either. Is he going to bull you over with his size and speed or is he going to air it out and beat you in the long game? Also working to his advantage is the superior weapons and offensive line he will have in Indianapolis.
Richardson figuratively, and potentially literally, holds the key to the city for the Indianapolis Colts this season, and their success, or lack thereof, will largely fall on his back. However, I am on the optimistic side hoping his mystic and athletic superiority will help Indy be competitive in 2023.