Colts Grab SEC Quarterback in 2023 NFL Mock Draft

Matt Ryan

Getty The Indianapolis Colts have struggled in quarterback Matt Ryan's first season with the team.

There’s still a long way to go until the 2023 NFL draft. But the college football season is nearly complete and draft positioning is becoming clearer for a few teams.

Draft needs are as well, particularly for teams that have struggled at quarterback this season.

Matt Ryan has been a terrific leader and clutch at times for the Indianapolis Colts this year. The Colts have as many wins as Ryan has game-winning drives, and the 37-year-old signal caller is tied for the NFL lead with 5 fourth-quarter comebacks.

But an early 2023 NFL mock draft from Sports Illustrated on November 21 still projected the Colts to select a quarterback — Florida signal caller Anthony Richardson.

“An adroit athlete with a small sample size, if Richardson can follow up his 2021 appearances with polish and precision, he may see the biggest rise of any draft prospect come 2023,” wrote the SI NFL draft staff.

SI predicted the Colts to draft Richardson at No. 14 overall, which is the current slot Indianapolis owns in the first round as of November 21.

In the latest mock draft from SI, Richardson was the fourth quarterback off the board.

Early Predictions Project Richardson as First-Round QB

Richardson is in just his first full year as a starting quarterback at Florida, but with the end of the college season approaching, his raw skills make him an intriguing option as a mid-first-round draft choice. Richardson has been a dual-threat with the Gators this season and can be classified as an “athletic” player who fits the bill of the modern NFL quarterbacks.

“Big and highly athletic arm talent specimen. Legitimately designed run game brilliance to his game,” CBS Sports NFL Draft analyst Chris Trapasso wrote on September 7. “Scrambling is good, too. Reads field well for being a young QB but not an ultra-quick processor yet. When he’s patient, he will move from read to read across the entire field. At times vacates the pocket too early when it’s unnecessary.

“Somewhat raw prospect but has All-Pro upside.”

Richardson has completed 55.7% of his passes for 2,351 yards, 14 touchdowns and 8 interceptions this season. He’s also run for 609 yards and 9 scores, averaging 6.5 yards per carry.

He will have to improve upon his accuracy to become an NFL franchise quarterback, but Richardson is appealing as both a runner and a passer.

Richardson the Polar Opposite of Matt Ryan

Indianapolis is on pace to allow 61 sacks this season with traditional pocket passer Matt Ryan starting a majority of the games in 2022. Barring huge improvement from youngsters Bernhard Raimann and Will Fries, the Colts will enter the offseason with huge question marks at left tackle and right guard.

Moving on from Ryan for a mobile quarterback could help. That’s one of the reasons why the Colts tried Sam Ehlinger as the team’s starter in Weeks 8 and 9.

But obviously many obstacles remain before Richardson becomes a draft pick for the Colts. While Indianapolis’ draft position will likely be in the mid-teen’s, with the team’s tough schedule down the stretch, it’s still possible the Colts have a top 10 pick next spring.

That could put other SEC quarterbacks such as Will Levis in play for Indianapolis.

It’s also important to note that with still 5 months until the draft, the big board of players is hardly set in stone. Quarterbacks will rise and fall on the rankings as the draft process ensues during the offseason.

On the other hand, if Ryan finds a bit of magic down the stretch, the Colts could lose draft position.

Of course, another question facing Indianapolis is what the team does with Ryan if it drafts a quarterback in the first round. Ryan has 1 year remaining on his contract and will count as $18 million in dead cap money if the Colts release him.

If Richardson arrives too raw to start immediately, though, having Ryan for one more season, to start and mentor the young quarterback, could be advantageous for Indianapolis.

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