On Thursday, the Indianapolis Colts announced that the No. 4 overall pick in the draft, Anthony Richardson, would be starting in the team's first preseason game. His start, however, won't mean that he's automatically earned the starting quarterback job for the regular season just yet. It's just to “see where he's at,” Colts head coach Shane Steichen said, per ESPN. So what should we all be looking for when Richardson takes his first steps on an NFL field on Saturday against the Buffalo Bills?
Can Anthony Richardson protect the ball?
The Colts took a bit of a risk when they drafted Richardson. He was selected for his raw athleticism. He put up amazing numbers at the NFL Combine, which typically does garner a lot of attention from NFL scouts. Well, you could say Richardson won at least one event at the combine, but he'll still have to prove he has what it takes when he takes his first reps in an NFL uniform.
Richardson only played in 12 total games in his entire college career while with the Florida Gators. In that time, he accounted for 15 interceptions. Nine of those happened in only one season, last year, when he became the Gators' starter.
Steichen said his starter will see roughly a quarter of play on Saturday. We'll see if Richardson can protect the ball, keeping it away from defenders.
Will the Colts let him use his athleticism?
Richardson rushed for 654 yards on 103 attempts. He had over 1,000 yards of rushing in his career as a Gator, per Sports-Reference. If the Colts were so impressed with his athleticism, then Richardson is bound to use his legs at some point during his career. What we'll see on Saturday will obviously be very limited, though, as Richardson will just hope to become acclimated to the speed and size of the game. But maybe Steichen will give us at least one designed run. And if not that, Richardson might innovate, making a play of his own out of the pocket, extending the play with his legs downfield.
Will Anthony Richardson have a short leash in the first game?
As mentioned, Steichen has said that his starters will only be getting about a quarter of playing time on Saturday. This is preseason, where it's the time to see what you've got in your team, but the quarterback position is one that's a little different from the others. Especially one that you're hoping will be the future franchise quarterback of your team.
Let's say Richardson throws a pick and fumbles right out of the gate—does Steichen pull him immediately? Or does he let him get a few more drives under his belt? Richardson needs all the experience he can get, but if Steichen and the staff believe it could be detrimental to his growth, they could pull him early, even if it is just the first preseason game for the Colts.
How has Anthony Richardson developed so far?
Remember, this is just Week 1 of the preseason, so no one should overreact—even though everyone will, as we'll undoubtedly see on Twitter. How Richardson has progressed and developed as a quarterback since being drafted by the Colts will be interesting to see. We've heard ad nauseam about how athletic he is—his speed, quickness, jumping abilities, and his big arm. But has he begun to gather enough information and coaching to start making the transformation into an NFL quarterback? It's a huge jump from college to the NFL, and now he's being asked to eventually take the keys to this vehicle that's had all their investment put into him.
With that being said, it will be intriguing to see how the Colts use him and what they'll feel comfortable allowing him to do in his first NFL game. Will he prove to be only one-dimensional? Or has he started to grasp the offense enough to make some plays?