We’ve made it to our fourth of five Prospect Profiles: Quarterback Edition. We have the final quarterback most considered to be in the top 4 of the quarterback prospects: Anthony Richardson. Richardson has a wide range of outcomes compared to other quarterbacks entering the Draft.
We all saw the NFL Combine where he re-wrote what it meant for an athletic quarterback to perform as an alpha athlete. The problem is that he has questionable throwing habits. Additionally, there is only one full year of tape that can be used in his evaluation. So, let’s see if we can come to any conclusions about this superathlete!
High School Career
Anthony Richardson played high school football at Eastside High School in Gainesville, FL where he racked up 4,633 passing yards and 37 passing touchdowns, combined with 1,633 rushing yards and 41 rushing touchdowns. Unfortunately, he would not be able to add to those numbers his senior year due to an early injury. Richardson then enrolled at the University of Florida. Richardson ranked as a 4-star QB and the No. 9 ranked dual-threat QB per 247Sports.com
Richardson redshirted in his first season with the Gators. In his second season, he served as the backup quarterback but only threw 64 passes. This was also the final season for head coach Dan Mullen, and Mullen was replaced by Billy Napier.
Anthony Richardson couldn’t have handed it off to Ricky Pearsall better than how he delivered this throw in stride for a touchdown pic.twitter.com/ilCd8t30W8
— PlayerProfiler College (@Profiler_CFB) November 26, 2022
In his only season as the starting quarterback for the Florida Gators, he delivered an uneven season with exhilarating highlights and the lowest of lows. Richardson put some wow moments on tape. However, he also put some questionable throws on tape. The big plays, when they were made, were simply awe-inspiring. He declared for the draft, but the national love affair would spark at the NFL Combine.
What Scouts Love
Richardson completely dominated the NFL Combine and set the following records: Broad Jump (10’9”- No. 1 among all QBs) and Vertical Jump (40.5 inches – No. 1 among all QBs). His 4.43 40 time was the second fastest 40 since 2003. Additionally, Richardson showcased his ability to throw deep. At the NFL Combine, he casually launched passes up to 60 yards while hitting his receiver in stride.
Hypothetically speaking, even if one isn’t a fan of Richardsons’ talent, one has to admire the results. His metrics are legit! It was a historical performance. How historical? According to Player Profiler, he’s the most athletic QB in the entire database of quarterbacks and the No. 102 most athletic player overall in the database!
I mentioned his blazing 40 time above of 4.43 seconds. To put that in context, only Michael Vick and Robert Griffin III ran faster 40 times. The more one digs into the metrics of Richardson’s athletic profile, and his physical talents, one can begin to understand that he’s not directly comparable to any other mobile QB that has come into the draft.
The player that has the most similar stature to Richardson is Cam Newton, and Richardson is faster than Newton. The coaching staff that drafts Richardson must carefully craft an offensive approach that allows zone reads, QB sweeps, and run/pass options while Richardson continues to develop in the passing game.
What Scouts Don’t Love
So, how raw of a prospect is Richardson? Well, he missed part of his senior high school career due to injury. His freshman year at Florida was a complete redshirt season. He had one year with COVID restrictions in place so only limited practices were put in place. Oh, and he had a different offensive coordinator each year at Florida. NFL teams about to use a top-10 draft pick would prefer to see more reps. However, we can only go with what we have from his sophomore season.
There are only three quarterbacks with experience as a starting quarterback in @rotounderworld's database that weighed heavier than the 244 pounds Anthony Richardson was listed as at the combine:
Cam Newton, Josh Freeman, and Ryan Mallett pic.twitter.com/KRRMu7kNfC
— PlayerProfiler College (@Profiler_CFB) March 6, 2023
Richardson appeared in seven games during his redshirt freshman season accounting for only 64 pass attempts and 51 rushing attempts. This doesn’t make him a bad prospect. This does mean he likely needs time to learn and develop behind a veteran NFL quarterback. So, while Will Levis, Bryce Young, and C.J. Stroud are all ready to start Day 1, Richardson is likely not ready to start Day 1 in the NFL. Even if Richardson has to sit a year, it’s still not crazy to imagine that he can become the most talented quarterback of this class. Another quarterback did that once, and he turned out okay.
There are times in each of Richardsons’ games where he makes a throw, and I’m not sure what happened. Did a receiver run to the wrong spot? Did Richardson make the wrong read? This happens often. He can make nearly any throw. Richardson doesn’t lack arm strength or talent. He needs to work on hitting his receivers in stride and putting the ball where it needs to be.
While some blame has to go to his receivers, it’s hard to imagine a quarterback with a 53-percent completion rate is ready to make the jump to the NFL. Since 2010, there have been only two quarterbacks to post a 53-percent completion rate in their final collegiate seasons before being drafted: Trace McSorley (sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft) and Christian Hackenberg (second round of the 2016 NFL Draft). Yikes!
The upside of Anthony Richardson is tremendous because we’ve never seen a quarterback so big, so fast, and with elite arm strength. We’re in uncharted territory with such a special player, and even with his downside of missing throws or making the wrong read, his upside as a scrambler and a deep passer can be enough to cover up those mistakes. My comparison for Anthony Richardson is Michael Vick. Vick came into the NFL with questions about his accuracy, but his speed and athleticism were unmatched. That’s what we have with Richardson.
Two teams who can provide Richardson with a coaching staff that can coach him up to make better throws would be Carolina and Indianapolis. Not only would those coaching staffs help him along, but both teams have quarterbacks in place with Andy Dalton in Carolina and Gardner Minshew in Indianapolis. This will allow Richardson to sit back and absorb as much of the game before stepping onto the field.
Code Sample: Follow @4thandLange