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Josh Downs already making an impression in Indianapolis

First round pick quarterback Anthony Richardson now knows what every UNC fan already knew.

NFL: Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Downs and Tar Heel fans probably had similar thoughts when the 2023 NFL Draft went deep into the third round, “Are there really 11 wide receivers better than me?” Time will tell if that gallery of wideouts is more productive than Downs, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Downs has obvious talent, but his sure hands, ability to find space, and deceptive speed (especially when going from second to third gear) make him elite. Look at the way his last two quarterbacks Sam Howell and Drake Maye fixated on him. In 2021, Downs caught 101 passes (42.6% of Howell’s completions) and the next season, he caught 94 (27.3% of Maye’s completions, despite missing three games).

You wouldn’t expect that kind of heavy usage during his rookie season in Indianapolis, but Downs is already developing chemistry with #4 overall pick Anthony Richardson.

Getting work in the hotel parking lot is certainly a good sign that the vibes are immaculate between the new franchise quarterback and his new ace wideout. The Colts were lucky that Downs fell as far as he did, despite trying (and failing) to trade up in the third round to grab him.

Richardson and the Colts will see in due course that Josh Downs gives them a myriad of ways to attack defenses. If Richardson can improve on the accuracy he showed at Florida, Downs could become the next T.Y. Hilton, another sub six-footer that Indianapolis drafted in the third round... before becoming a multi-Pro Bowler with the Colts.