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NFL: APR 27 2023 Draft

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INDIANAPOLIS.The NFL era for Anthony Richardson has begun.

Yes, there will be many more practices, and moments on far bigger stages, but Richardson’s first rookie minicamp practice took place on Friday.

Here are some takeaways from the Colts first rookie minicamp practice:

  • Yes, I did chart rookie minicamp practice. Why? Because when Tony Dungy and Shaquille Leonard decide to watch rookie minicamp practice (with most watching on Friday), they clearly have interest in a particular player out there. In two 7-on-7 sessions on Friday, Anthony Richardson went 8-of-12, with one drop. In one 11-on-11 session, Richardson went 3-of-4. Of the 11 total completions by Richardson, 6 of them went to third-round pick Josh Downs.


  • In summary, it was a nice first day on an NFL practice field Richardson. He didn’t hold onto the ball too long, had quick rhythm and was mostly on-target, with a couple of errant throws towards the end of practice. You can tell Richardson is trying to integrate new fundamentals into his throwing motion, as he’s always mimicking his delivery in between his turn for reps (the Colts have 2 tryout quarterbacks here this weekend). He’s always replicating that motion, with Shane Steichen even stepping in for some foot work advice early in practice. As far as Richardson’s accuracy, what we saw in college, was also there on Friday at times—Richardson is almost more on-target the deeper the ball is thrown down the field.


  • Josh Downs was the best/most consistent player on the field Friday by far. Downs caught everything thrown in his direction. My full expectation is Downs is the Day 1 starter out of the slot. Given Downs’ All-American type production in college, he should have been the best player on the field Friday. And he was.


  • The Colts drafted two offensive tackles in 2023—Blake Freeland with 41 career starts (15 at right tackle, 26 at left tackle) and Jake Witt with 13 tackle starts (11 at left tackle, 2 at right tackle). At Day 1 of rookie minicamp, it was Freeland getting work at right tackle and Witt at left tackle during the lone 11-on-11 session of the afternoon.


  • Very rough first practice for undrafted free agent WR-Braxton Westfield. He had several drops, including one that turned into an interception.


  • For just the 3rd time in the last decade, the Colts held their annual rookie minicamp with an actual drafted quarterback on the field. Besides Jacob Eason in 2020 and Sam Ehlinger in 2021, the Colts have had to go with undrafted QBs/tryout QBs during these initial on-field practices for the first-year players. Obviously, this level of excitement for Richardson is at a level the franchise hasn’t seen in more than a decade.


  • Indy native JuJu Brents did not participate in Friday’s practice (Brents is still recovering from a wrist injury and should be full-go for training camp). But Brents did meet the media and the thing that immediately stands out about him is his sheer size. He has “Gus Bradley, Seattle cornerback” written all over him, at 6-3 and 202 pounds.


  • With Brents not expected to fully compete this offseason, what great opportunities for fellow drafted corners Darius Rush (5th round-South Carolina) and Jaylon Jones (7th round-Texas A&M) to try and earn some more important/consistent reps come training camp. That can’t be overlooked at a wide open position group for playing time.


  • In case you missed it, the Colts announced their 15-man undrafted free agent class on Friday morning. Last year, the Colts had 3 of their undrafted free agents make the opening day roster: OL-Wesley French, LB-JoJo Domann, CB-Dallis Flowers.


  • Why did Alabama offensive guard Emil Ekiyor (Cathedral High School product) fall all the way to be undrafted despite 40 straight starts for college football gold standard of a program? Ekiyor did say he had a “medical concern, kind of a red flag” knee issue come up at the Combine (he had a 2021 knee scope) and that had teams concerned. It’s not often you see a player with 40 starts at Alabama, with no character concerns, go undrafted. But Ekiyor walks into a Colts building with the opportunity to not only make the team, but push for a starting job with Will Fries returning there.


  • For those caring about jersey numbers (which could change again before the start of the season), here’s a list of the 12 draft picks numbers with the Colts: QB-Anthony Richardson: 5, CB-JuJu Brents: 29, WR-Josh Downs: 1, OT-Blake Freeland: 73, DT-Adetomiwa Adebawore: 95, CB-Darius Rush: 30, S-Daniel Scott: 31, TE-Will Mallory: 86, RB-Evan Hulll: 26, DE-Titus Leo: 91, CB-Jaylon Jones: 40, OT-Jake Witt: 76.


  • A radio interview plug here from our conversation with Josh Downs on Friday morning. Downs and Anthony Richardson got some Thursday work in tossing the ball in the parking lot before taking the field. Like Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton in 2012, the Colts are pairing another quarterback and wide receiver in the same draft class, with the QB also going in Round 1 and the wide receiver in Round 3.


  • The Colts will have one more rookie minicamp practice again on Saturday.

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