Colts’ Ballard, Steichen Give Initial Thoughts on Anthony Richardson

Chris Ballard

Getty Colts general manager gave his thoughts on No. 4 pick Anthony Richardson shortly after he was drafted by the team on April 27.

After months of off-season speculation, the Indianapolis Colts finally got their quarterback of the future during the first round of the NFL draft on April 28.

The Colts took Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson with the No. 4 overall pick on April 27, and general manager Chris Ballard spoke about the decision during a press conference shortly after the team made the selection.

“We’re excited to get him,” Ballard said. “Did a lot of work on Anthony, spent a lot of time with him over the last month.”

In March, Richardson put together one of the best NFL combine performances in recent history. He set new records in the vertical jump (40.5 inches) and broad jump (10 feet, nine inches) for quarterbacks.

Ballard said although Richardson is a top prospect with a large ceiling, he still has improvements to make.

“Let’s don’t crown him yet; he’s a young player and has work to do,” Ballard said. “What I can tell you is we drafted him for what we think he can really be in the future. He’s a very smart young man, good kid, he works, we think it’s all in front of him.”

A key thing to remember is that the Colts and Richardson had a virtual follow-up meeting after his official top 30 visit in mid-April. That marked the team’s first and only post-top-30 meeting this off-season.

Shane Steichen Ready to Develop Anthony Richardson

Drafting Richardson is a potential affirmation of the Colts’ faith in new head coach Shane Steichen’s quarterback development.

As an NFL offensive coordinator, he helped guide Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert to a record-breaking rookie season in 2020. More recently, he worked with 2022 MVP runner-up and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Now, Steichen gets his first shot at drafting and developing a potential future franchise star – this time, as a head coach.

“The tape was the first time I saw him (Richardson)… his physical skillset is impressive,” Steichen said. “There’s certain things he brings to the table that we’re so excited about as a football player and the future of this organization.”

Ballard noticed Richardson’s poise stands out when he’s under pressure in the pocket.

“He’s young, but he’s very poised. I think you see it when he plays,” Ballard said. “He’s going to have growing to do, like all of them do. But we’ll help him. We’ll help him, we’ll bring him along and he’s going to be a good player for us.”

Entering the draft, a primary concern of Richardson was his experience as a raw prospect (Richardson is only 20 years old). At Florida, he only started 13 games and completed just 54.7% of his passes – a potential red flag for Ballard and Steichen, who each value accuracy as a top quarterback trait

But Ballard noted that more game and practice experience will help Richardson’s accuracy – and development – in the long run.

“One thing we’re seeing in the league now is guys you can work on and get them more accurate,” Ballard said. “Footwork, fundamentals, there are certain things I think we can do and I think you’ve seen guys jump in our league. I think you’ll see him jump.”

What Led to the Colts Taking Anthony Richardson?

The Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans selected Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud with the No. 1 and No. 2 picks, respectively. Ballard said he was worried another team could have traded up to jump the Colts for Richardson at No. 3.

The Texans ultimately traded up to acquire No. 3 from the Arizona Cardinals, but took linebacker Will Anderson Jr. since they already picked up Stroud.

“You always wonder if there’s someone laying in the weeds [to trade up],” Ballard said. “Lucky for us, there wasn’t.”

Ballard also acknowledged the Colts did not necessarily zero in on Richardson as the team’s only first-round option, but they made their interest well-known. 

“We did like him a lot,” Ballard said.