Colts GM Chris Ballard on drafting QB Anthony Richardson: 'I didn't want to look up and watch him be a superstar somewhere else'

In the end, Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson was just too talented for the Indianapolis Colts to pass on.

The Colts selected Richardson with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft after two other quarterbacks -- Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud -- were taken with the first two selections. There was some sweating in the Colts' draft room as the Arizona Cardinals used most of their allotted time on the clock at No. 3 prior to trading the pick to the Houston Texans, who selected pass rusher Will Anderson Jr. after taking Stroud at No. 2.

That was the moment of relief for the Colts' front office, led by general manager Chris Ballard. The on-the-clock drama can be seen playing out in the latest episode of the Colts' in-house draft video series, “With The Next Pick.”

As Ballard pulled down the magnet with Richardson's name on it from the Colts' draft board, he said: "Sometimes you just gotta take a shot at it."

After the choice was made, with more time to think about the pick, Ballard further explained in the episode why Richardson was their guy.

"I didn't want to look up and watch him be a superstar somewhere else," Ballard said. "If he's gonna be a superstar, he's gonna be a superstar for the Colts."

Richardson to the Colts was a pretty well-kept secret, with Ballard heard imploring his fellow scouts not to utter any QB names leading up to the draft. Some believed Will Levis might be the Colts' pick, but the Kentucky QB fell all the way to Round 2, where he was drafted by division-rival Tennessee.

Richardson appears to possess the highest ceiling of any of this year's QB prospects, with Colts director of college scouting Morocco Brown calling him "a purple-horned unicorn" for how rare Richardson's combination of athleticism, size and arm talent is.

"I'll give it to Chris," Brown said. "He's got a hard stomach to sit there and wait, and he didn't flinch."

Ballard downplayed the importance of the Colts' pick at No. 4 throughout the pre-draft process, but it undoubtedly could be tied to his own future in Indianapolis, along with the futures of the staff he's built there. The Colts fired head coach Frank Reich midseason last year and did not bring back interim head coach Jeff Saturday this season.

Now Richardson is in the hands of Shane Steichen and his staff, and it will be the rookie head coach's job to coax out of Richardson what he did with MVP runner-up Jalen Hurts when they were together in Philadelphia.

"There are certain things he brings to the table that we're so excited about," Steichen said.

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