Pros and cons of Colts taking Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson 4th in NFL Draft

Kevin Brockway
The Gainesville Sun

Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Richardson was taken with the fourth overall pick. He's the first Florida quarterback to be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft since Tim Tebow, who went 25th overall to the Denver Broncos in 2010. Other former Florida quarterbacks to be taken in the first round include Rex Grossman (2003, 22nd overall to the Chicago Bears), John Reaves (1972, 14th overall to the Philadelphia Eagles) and Steve Spurrier (1967, 3rd overall to the San Francisco 49ers).

After playing at Eastside High School in Gainesville, Richardson stayed close to home and signed with the Gators, where he redshirted in 2020, backed up Emory Jones as a redshirt freshman in 2021 and earned the starting quarterback job in 2022. He finished his Florida career with 2,903 yards passing, 1,112 yards rushing, 24 passing TDs and 12 rushing TDs.

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Here's what Richardson brings to the NFL:

The positives: Look at record-setting NFL combine stats

Richardson's athletic potential at the quarterback position is unmatched by his predecessors. He set NFL combine records in the vertical jump (40.5 inches) and broad jump (10 feet, 9 inches), while running 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash, the fourth fastest time by a quarterback since 2000.

At 6-foot-4 and 244 pounds, Richardson has both the size to absorb blows and the speed to elude NFL pass rushers. In a league where athletic quarterbacks such as Michael Vick, Cam Newton and Lamar Jackson have thrived, Richardson possesses the combination of speed and arm strength to make opposing defenses nervous. At Florida, Richardson rushed for nine touchdowns last season, including an 81-yard touchdown run against LSU and a 45-yard TD run against Utah.

As a passer, Richardson improved during the course of 13 games as a starter at Florida while learning a new offense under head coach Billy Napier. Richardson began the year with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 0 to 4 in his first three games and finished the year with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 17 to 3 in his last 10 games. He threw for 400 or more yards twice against SEC opponents, throwing for a career-high 453 yards at Tennessee and 400 yards at Vanderbilt.

Concerns: Incompletions and experience

Richardson's completion percentage of 53.8 percent last season ranked 13th out of 14 SEC quarterbacks. There were drops at times, but also misfires in other critical moments.

With just 13 career starts, Richardson enters the NFL with minimal college experience. He posted a 6-7 record in those starts, and while he made several big plays with his arms and legs, consistently moving Florida on sustained drives was an issue. There are questions as to whether Richardson's tools have matched his production.

"A lot of people have their own take on about it," Richardson said at UF's Pro Day. "But things happen for a reason. That's just the way I see it. I can't control everything. I do feel like I'm a great player. I do feel like I'll end up in a great situation."

Final thoughts

Richardson can be successful in the NFL but would be best served going into a situation where he doesn't have to play right away as a rookie. He needs time to develop behind a veteran quarterback and learn an offense.