The Indianapolis Colts followed their plan, selecting Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson with the fourth pick in the NFL draft Thursday night.
While the move had been expected even before the Colts finished last season with seven straight losses and a 4-12-1 mark, the bigger debate was over to take.
Team owner Jim Irsay repeatedly spoke publicly about the need to find stability at the sport’s most important position and even once hinted he preferred Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner.
When the Carolina Panthers took Young with the top overall pick and C.J. Stroud went second to Houston, general manager Chris Ballard stood pat at No. 4 and chose Richardson, one-year starter for the Gators.
The athletic Richardson could help the Colts re-emerge as a playoff contender perhaps sooner rather than expected. He also could become the long-term replacement the franchise has sought since Andrew Luck’s surprise retirement announcement in August 2019.
Luck’s departure has created a revolving door on Indy’s depth chart.
This will be the seventh straight season the Colts have used a different opening day starter, and last season they went through three starters in 17 games. It’s unclear whether Richardson will start immediately after completing only 53.8% of his throws in 2022.
Predictably, Indy used its earliest pick since selecting Luck No. 1 overall in 2012 on a quarterback.
Richardson joins a roster that already has three other quarterbacks — Sam Ehlinger, a sixth-round draft pick in 2021, Nick Foles, the Super Bowl 52 MVP, and the recently added Garnder Minshew, who followed new Colts coach Shane Steichen from Philadelphia to Indy this offseason.