Even having missed half of the season already, Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson is the biggest star in Indianapolis and the main reason fans are hopeful for a return trip to the playoffs in 2023. The Colts are expecting Richardson to return in Week 4 against the Los Angeles Rams after winning their last two games, both on the road, head coach Shane Steichen likely won’t slow down the success that Indianapolis has had on the ground with his rookie quarterback leading the charge in the red zone.
The questions that Rams head coach Sean McVay could be pondering on Sunday are not just how to stop Anthony Richardson, but also whether or not he needs to go find a player like that of his own in the 2024 NFL Draft.
For the second straight day, the Colts listed QB Anthony Richardson as a full participant in practice, putting him on track to play Sunday vs. the Rams.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 28, 2023
There is, of course, no quarterback quite like Richardson. There wasn’t one like him ever before when he went into the combine and shattered most athletic testing numbers for quarterbacks. But that success in the pre-draft process is like the polar opposite of how his career went as a college quarterback: Richardson sat for most of his two seasons at Florida and then barely completed 50% of his passes as a junior in 2022.
Richardson threw 14 interceptions in only 391 attempts over his final two years with the Gators.
However, during his two appearances in the NFL with Steichen, Richardson has completed almost 64% of his 47 attempts to go with one touchdown, one interception, and three rushing touchdowns. He is averaging 5.8 yards per carry on 13 attempts. The fact that teams will have to account for Richardson as a runner, similar to how Steichen helped Jalen Hurts reach the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2022, should continue to help receivers get open downfield and to increase that completion percentage.
And even when teams do account for Richardson as a runner, it doesn’t mean that they will be able to stop a 6’4, 232 lb player who runs a 4.43.
There may not be a player like this in the NFL Draft next year or the year after that and so on, but should the Rams target a dual threat quarterback?
The top quarterback in the draft is USC’s Caleb Williams. The 2022 Heisman winner has easily the best passer rating in college football this season at 223.1 (15 TD, 0 INT) and he is mobile, drawing comparisons to Patrick Mahomes. That doesn’t make him a dual threat necessarily, but with Williams it doesn’t matter. The question is a stupid one. You draft Williams because he’s the best prospect period, you don’t question if he runs enough.
If you feel Williams is overrated, so be it, but it’s not because he’s not “athletic” enough. He’s the best player in college football year over year, so I trust he’s athletic enough to play the game.
Almost every draft class has one “prototype” at quarterback and one “dual threat” at quarterback, a trend that goes back decades, and for 2024 that other guy to Williams has been UNC’s Drake Maye. Though he’s thrown four interceptions already this season, Maye shouldn’t see his stock fall because of that. Teams covet the size, arm strength, and fact that he did rush for 700 yards as a sophomore to go with 38 touchdown passes.
For the Rams to be in on Williams or Maye, they would need to lose to the Colts on Sunday...and then pretty much every other game after that too.
If we are talking about a “discount” dual threat quarterback, the Rams may instead look to Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, Oregon’s Bo Nix, LSU’s Jayden Daniels, Washington State’s Cam Ward, Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders, or Arkansas’ K.J. Jefferson. These players could be available later in the draft, although not with the fanfare depending on there seasons go and the pre-draft process.
Cam Ward may not run a 4.43, but could end up touching the first round and making one coach very happy. Maybe even a coach like Sean McVay?