For Anthony Richardson, the connection with the Indianapolis Colts never seemed to stop growing leading into the 2023 NFL Draft.
In recent weeks, the uber-athletic quarterback out of the University of Florida made a clear connection with Colts head coach Shane Steichen, general manager Chris Ballard and others during a visit and workout at the team's facility.
Richardson left that visit with a feeling that the Colts, who had the fourth-overall pick heading into the 2023 NFL Draft, would come calling again at some point.
Turns out he was right — twice, in fact. The team gave Richardson a heads up prior to the start of the draft on Thursday night that if the first few picks went generally as expected, that they'd be dialing his number again real soon. And, like clockwork, with two quarterbacks and an edge rusher being selected in the first three picks, Richardson received that fateful call from Ballard with the Colts on the clock at No. 4 overall.
Richardson, he would later explain to Indianapolis-area media in a post-draft conference call, was left "extremely emotional," knowing he was officially going to become the newest member of the Colts.
"Once I seen the fourth pick was up, I kind of had that feeling that they were going to give me the call," Richardson said. "They gave me the call and I celebrated with my family and tears just started rolling down."
Simply put, Richardson isn't your "average" quarterback — a fact he acknowledges with pride.
Other quarterbacks in the league have a similar frame to Richardson, who stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs 244 pounds. But that's where most comparisons end. Two months ago, Richardson simply put on a show at the NFL Scouting Combine on his future home field at Lucas Oil Stadium, where he:
• Logged the fourth-fastest 40-yard dash time (4.43 seconds) among quarterbacks at the NFL Combine since 2000
• Recorded a 40.5-inch vertical leap and a 129-inch (10 3/4 feet) broad jump
Throw those three metrics together, and you get the most athletic quarterback prospect to ever test at the NFL Combine.
But, as Richardson explained it on Thursday night, his physical abilities are only part of what he brings to the table as he embarks on his rookie season with the Colts.
"You know, for one, I'm a hard worker. I truly believe that, and I'm willing to work hard and work harder than anybody," Richardson said. "Two, God blessed me with physical abilities that not every quarterback has. People see me, they don't think I'm a quarterback. You know, I'm not an average quarterback, and I can do things other QBs can't do. So I definitely take pride in that. And then I'm also willing to learn. I'm willing to be just as good or, if not, better than all these quarterbacks in the draft or all the quarterbacks in the league."
That certainly sounds like a formula for success — but now it's time to prove it. Richardson only played in 20 games across three seasons at Florida, but it was last year that he showed several glimpses of what he can provide at the next level, as he completed 176-of-327 pass attempts for 2,549 yards with 17 touchdowns to nine interceptions, as well as 103 rushing attempts for 654 yards (6.3 average) and nine scores on the ground for the Gators.
Asked on Thursday when he thinks he'll be ready to play for the Colts, Richardson said, "I'm going to try to be ready as fast as I can."
"(I'll) try to be ready before preseason, try to be ready before the first game," he continued. "You know, they picked me this high for a reason, so I'm gonna put the work in and make sure I'm ready for the franchise."
View photos from Kansas City of QB Anthony Richardson selected 4th overall by the Colts in the 2023 NFL Draft.
What will help is a new head coach in Steichen who has plenty of experience molding young, athletic quarterbacks. As the offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles the last two seasons, Steichen helped develop Jalen Hurts into an MVP candidate in 2022, as he earned Second Team All-Pro honors after throwing for 3,700 yards and 22 touchdowns to just six interceptions, and running for 760 yards and 13 more scores on the ground.
The stats are great, but even better is the fact that Hurts also helped lead his team to a Super Bowl appearance in just his third NFL season.
"I was watching all last year," Richardson said of the Eagles' offense in 2022. "I love Jalen Hurts. I was watching mainly because of him. I'm pretty much familiar (with) what they're running, and I'm excited to get in it."
Richardson, a Gainesville, Fla., native, is now eager to get back to Indianapolis so he can officially dig in to the Steichen playbook and show Colts fans why the team was so excited to add his elite set of traits at the quarterback position.
"I kind of had a feeling that they were going to select me, because I fell in love with the people in the building when I was there on my visit," Richardson said. "Then, just talking to Coach (Steichen), talking to Chris Ballard — just talking to those guys and getting familiar with them, it felt like home. And now they picked me up, and I'm ready to come home."