Thursday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium was what many described a sterilized environment. While linebackers and defensive linemen were working their way through the drills and testing, the smattering of fans and assembled media barely made any noise over the hours of workouts.
Saturday was a much different story.
The combination of star power in quarterbacks C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson, and Will Levis throwing, combined with it being a weekend afternoon, made for a much different environment. The lower ring of the southeastern corner of Lucas Oil Stadium was filled with fans, and the anticipation was in the air for what we would see from Stroud, Richardson, Levis, and the rest of those working out:
Eventually, those fans would have reason to cheer.
The first highlight of the session came almost two hours into the afternoon. The first group of quarterback and wide receivers were working on routes versus air, and after a number of slants and speed outs, it was time for some deeper routes down the field. When the receivers turned to dig routes, you got a better sense of velocity, timing, and placement.
That is when Levis made a few throws that you could hear hit their target, even over the din of the crowd.
As that was happening, the second highlight was taking place. Richardson was partaking in the vertical leap.
And making some Combine history:
Another highlight reel moment came from Richardson during his broad jump, which provided yet more Combine history:
A second record for quarterbacks at the Combine.
Frankly, we should have expected it:
When it was time for the deep balls at the end of the first session, that certainly got the crowd energized. When Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett uncorked his three go routes, the crowd in the end zone to full voice.
But the star of that segment was again Levis, whose third deep ball carried from the ten-yard line to the opposite 30, carrying over 60 yards in the air, and Levis made the throw with ease.
Then it was time for the second group of quarterbacks to run and throw. Which meant it was time for Richardson to add his 40-yard dash to a growing — and impressive — Combine resume.
And he did, putting down an unofficial 4.44, which would stand as the third-fastest QB time in history. That performance brought the crowd, mostly Colts fans, to their feet.
It might be clear who Indianapolis fans want Chris Ballard to draft this spring.
It might also be clear who they want Richardson throwing to, and that is Purdue wide receiver Charlie Jones. The former Boilermaker posted two 4.44 40-yard dashes of his own, and each run brought the crowd to their feet:
Then it was time for routes versus air, and the Richardson show continued, with Stroud joining him as the costar. Both quarterbacks were confident and smooth, and while Stroud was the more polished and rhythmic of the two, the velocity edge went to Richardson. That showed up in particular on the dig routes, when Richardson’s throws came on more of a line, and you could hear them hit their target.
When it was time for the vertical routes, Richardson again put on a show, matching what Levis did in the first session. The Florida QB dropped three-straight throws of 60+ yards in the air with ease, with all three settling safely in the arms of the receiver.
Stroud’s first throw came up slightly short, but the crowd in the end zone — which had been behind him throughout the session — picked up their voice, and his next two throws were made with much better placement.
Still, even the Big Ten crowd could not sway the fan vote inside Lucas Oil Stadium:
(I might need a new phone, but that’s a discussion for another time).
It was that kind of afternoon. Expectations were high for Richardson, and he not only met them, he surpassed them. He was explosive throughout testing, and threw the ball not just with velocity, but with easy velocity. There was no wasted movement in his motion, and it was effortless for him.
Still, Stroud had a solid day as well, and put together a throwing session that caught the eye of NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah high above Lucas Oil Stadium:
The fact that Stroud had this kind of throwing session should not be a surprise. As he described himself earlier this week, accuracy and ball placement is his strength. Stroud called himself a ball-placement specialist, and Saturday was the perfect venue for that ability:
Now the big question regarding Richardson.
Where does he go in the draft? Does this week, and Saturday’s performance, move him not just up the board, but to the top?
Someone’s gonna do it
— BUM CHILLUPS AKA SPENCER HALL (@edsbs) March 4, 2023
Someone just might.
Source : SBNation