2023 NFL Draft: Anthony Richardson becomes highest-selected Florida QB going No. 4 to Colts

By OnlyGators.com Staff
April 27, 2023
2023 NFL Draft: Anthony Richardson becomes highest-selected Florida QB going No. 4 to Colts

Florida Gators sophomore quarterback Anthony Richardson was selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the No. 4 overall pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft on Thursday. The most debated prospect in the pre-draft process has become the highest-selected Florida signal caller in modern draft history, going 10 spots higher than John Reaves (No. 14, 1972).

Richardson, a Gainesville, Florida, native playing for his hometown Gators, completed 53.8% of his passes for 2,549 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2022 — his first season as a full-time starter — adding 654 yards rushing on 103 attempts with nine more scores on the ground in the campaign. He completed 59.4% of his passes for 529 yards, six touchdowns and five picks with 401 yards rushing and three scores as a spot starter and backup in 2021.

Drawing early Heisman Trophy murmurs after leading Florida to a shocking upset of then-No. 7 Utah in Week 1, Richardson saw his stock steadily decline immediately thereafter as he struggled in consecutive games against Kentucky and South Florida the next two weeks. The rest of the season was a mixed bag due to AR’s uneven play. When Richardson chose to run more frequently, the Gators offense and his ability as a passer clearly thrived; when he did not, both were notably less successful.

What has been clear from the start is that Richardson has talent in spades with a cannon arm and powerful legs. He wow’d evaluators with his athleticism and has been tagged as the highest-ceiling prospect in perhaps the entire draft, though he does have legitimate boom-or-bust potential. On the other side of Richardson’s athleticism is the fact that he’s an unpolished thrower who struggles with short and intermediate routes, possesses inconsistent footwork, frequently gets off rhythm and showed tremendous inconsistency during his one full year as a starter.

Still, Richardson set speed records at the NFL Combine, supposedly passed the mental-based tests with flying colors and flashed his signature personality during interviews. He was perhaps the MVP of the pre-draft process, though his future was somewhat uncertain entering Thursday night.

Richardson is the fourth Florida quarterback to be selected in the first round of a modern draft joining Reaves, Rex Grossman (No. 22, 2003) and Tim Tebow (No. 25, 2010). Steve Spurrier was selected No. 3 overall in the 1967 NFL/AFL Draft, three years prior to the start of the modern draft.

AR is tied as the seventh-highest drafted player in program history (Kyle Pitts), fifth-highest in the common draft era (since 1967) and fourth-highest in the modern era (since 1970). Only Gerard Warren and Dante Fowler Jr. (No. 3 overall) have been selected ahead of Richardson since the turn of the century; Richardson and Pitts are also the highest-drafted offensive playmakers since 1997 (Ike Hilliard, No. 7 overall).

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