The Colts endured yet another dismal season with veteran quarterback Matt Ryan leading their squad, until finally, this offseason they decided to break with tradition by selecting Anthony Richardson third overall and giving him an opportunity to lead them forward. Our season preview will help determine whether going young at quarterback can revive an otherwise dormant franchise.
Going into this offseason, it was clear that the Colts would be searching again for a quarterback. With the four overall pick, Indianapolis had enough assets to nab their desired drafting Anthony Richardson, which can only be described as a project quarterback with high potential but limited likelihood. More on him will follow below.
On Day Two of the draft, Indianapolis managed to save its grade. Corner Julius Brents is an exceptional 6’3” corner who can play press coverage as well as tackle like a safety. Although he still needs work on his game, Brents has star potential. Additionally, Josh Downs slipped to Indianapolis late in Round Three but should become an immediate contributor, playing inside and outside despite his smaller frame and providing valuable complementary pieces.
On Day Three, the Colts added considerable defensive depth. Fourth-round edge Adetomiwa Adebawore has the raw measurables to become an impact player over time; he ran an astonishing 4.49 time at the combine when weighing 280 pounds! In reality, this draft will ultimately come down to Richardson and what he accomplishes or doesn’t accomplish in his career.
Quarterback Anthony Richardson may be one of the most athletically gifted quarterbacks to come out of college football. Boasting extraordinary arm talent, size, and speed, Richardson also has an exceptional history of getting dinged up while turning over the ball frequently in college games. Unfortunately for Richardson, though, he’s far from polished when it comes to passing skills, although one reason for optimism lies within Richardson’s athletic ability, we have seen in the pass that athletic ability is not a guarantee of success in the NFL.
Richardson will likely start off in 2023, backing up Gardner Minshew until there is enough demand to play him. With such an easy AFC South schedule, there may be opportunities for wins with Richardson. Still, anything less than impressive may cause Indianapolis to look ahead at next year’s quarterback class. Ricardson will have a long second half of the season.
On Offense Last season, Indianapolis featured one of the league’s finest running games behind one of its finest offensive lines. To regain that identity and become competitive again, Quenton Nelson must return to All-Pro form; same for Ryan Kelly (who had an off-year last season). If these two can improve, Jonathan Taylor should regain his elite production from 2021 – it appeared when healthy last season but often felt like he was doing all of the work alone, with more open space along his line and Taylor remaining healthy throughout this campaign; once more! The running game may get back underway again.
On the perimeter, the Colts remain without an effective passing game threat with either Michael Pittman or Josh Downs to create an efficient passing attack. Both seem more suitable as secondary targets than primary options. Furthermore, their depth behind them is limited, and Indianapolis boasts one of the worst tight end stables in the league with nobody notable besides Jelani Woods making an impression. Regardless, Shane Steichen will face an uphill task replicating what he achieved with Justin Herbert in LA and, indirectly, with Jalen Hurts in Philly because there are not as many weapons on his arsenal to utilize against them in Indianapolis.
The Colts defense has relied heavily on Shaq Leonard’s health in recent seasons for success on defense. Leonard is an elite off-ball linebacker who can singlehandedly make any bad defense above average or an average defense great, transforming an average unit into something special. On their front seven, DeForest Buckner and Kwity Paye return as reliable run/pass defenders, while Zaire Franklin remains as a complementary strongside linebacker alongside Leonard. If Leonard can remain healthy throughout this campaign, their front seven should remain successful enough to keep this defense intact.
The secondary, on the other hand, lacks star power. Kenny Moore has been reliable on one side, but the Colts have placed great hope in Brents to make an instant impact immediately. Julian Blackmon and Rodney Thomas II’s safety play leave much to be desired, and Leonard must hope his front seven can compensate for any holes left by these players in the secondary.
Post Schedule Release Prediction: I see the Colts going 6-11, Anthony Richardson will likely start playing by Week 6. The Colts will struggle to score points and the secondary looks to be an issue. The Richardson draft pick will haunt them for years to come.
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