The Cincinnati Bengals took QB Carson Palmer at No. 1 overall in the 2003 NFL Draft and sat him his entire rookie season. The Kansas City Chiefs traded up to select QB Patrick Mahomes at No. 10 overall in the 2017 draft and essentially sat him his entire rookie season. The #NFL is not like that any longer, however. If a QB is taken in the Top 10, he’s almost surely the immediate starter barring injury. Which brings us to Indianapolis Colts QB Anthony Richardson.
The #ColtsNation have been looking for a franchise quarterback since Andrew Luck retired on the eve of the 2019 season. They think they found one in Richardson, who was the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft out of Florida – the highest-drafted QB by Indy since Luck was No. 1 overall in 2012.
So is it shocking that first-year Indy coach Shane Steichen has already named Richardson his Week 1 starter against Jacksonville? Yes and no. Sept. 10 will mark the eighth consecutive season opener where the #ForTheShoe have had a different starting quarterback, tied for the second-longest such streak since QB starts were first tracked in 1950. Chicago had a nine-year run from 1998-2006.
Thing is, while Richardson is an athletic marvel – his measurables at the NFL Combine were breathtaking – who could be one of the best running QBs in the league immediately, the 21-year-old can’t throw very well. In his Gators career, Richardson had only 24 TD passes, a horrible completion percentage of 55 and a scant 13 starts (he played several more games).
The last QB to have only 13 college starts and be a first-round pick? Mitchell Trubisky by Chicago in 2017. He was a bust. The last QB to have a worse completion percentage and go in Round 1 was Jake Locker in 2011 and he was even more a bust than Trubisky was.
In his preseason debut, a loss at Buffalo this past Saturday, Richardson was outplayed by veteran Gardner Minshew. Richardson finished 7 of 12 for 67 yards and an interception and two carries for 7 yards. The Colts didn’t score on any of his three drives, albeit missing a short field goal on his second. Minshew, who seemed to have an advantage knowing Steichen’s offense from when both were in Philadelphia, was 6-for-6 for 72 with no picks and led one long scoring drive.
For some reason, Steichen didn’t want to wait until after this Saturday’s home preseason game against Chicago before making his final decision.
"Anthony's just been progressing," Steichen said. "The growth he's shown, then, obviously, going into Buffalo, playing against a lot of their starters, he showed great signs of improvement. I like the things he did, and it's an opportunity now for him to get a lot more with the [starters] moving forward, and we go from there."
To Minshew’s credit, he said he completely understood: "This is his franchise. That's the reason they picked him where he is. And he's going to be really special."
Richardson and the Colts are currently 3.5-point home dogs against the rising Jaguars. Over the past 15 seasons, the Colts are 1-13-1 ATS and 2-13 SU in Week 1, including 0-7-1 in both since 2015.
Generally, rookie quarterbacks (and their teams) do not fare well in Week 1. None started in Week 1 last year, though. In Luck's Colts debut on Sept. 9, 2012, in Chicago, he threw for 309 yards and a TD but also three picks in a 20-point loss. Luck was vastly superior to Richardson as a college player and NFL prospect.