Anthony Richardson Draft Profile
Every year there is at least one quarterback prospect who is deemed as “the biggest project in the draft”. Last year it was Malik Willis, the year before it was Trey Lance, before that it was Justin Herbert, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes… the list goes on. This year, it is the University of Florida quarterback, Anthony Richardson. Being considered a project is not a bad thing, but it is the most polarizing. Being a project means having all of the intangibles: arm strength, athleticism, and size; but missing one key ingredient. For Richardson, that one key ingredient is experience. Richardson only started one full-season in college where he led the Florida Gators to a 6-7 record. What Richardson lacks in experience, he makes up for in upside. Richardson has the potential to be the best quarterback in the class, let’s take a look into why that is.
In an era where guys like Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Josh Allen are taking over the league, the criteria for being a top quarterback prospect has changed. A guy has to possess rare talent that can keep up with the Lamar Jackson’s and Joe Burrow’s of the world. I have no question in my mind that Richardson is one of those guys.
When watching film, the first thing I look for in a quarterback is natural arm talent. If I am building my roster around a first-round quarterback, he has to have the ability to make any throw on the football field. Richardson demonstrates that ability. Defensive coordinators need to be both discipline and creative when finding ways to slow Richardson down. Richardson is the fastest quarterback in the draft; his speed is game-changing. It is something that teams will build their offenses around and opposers will build their game plan around. Whether it’s an offense that utilizes the read-option or just uses a lot of movement; Richardson provides a realm of possibilities for offensive coordinators to be creative.
Usually with quarterbacks who are successful with their legs, they tend to break the pocket too earlier and rely on making most of their plays outside of its structure. That isn’t the case for Richardson; he has an innate feel for the pocket and can evade defenders when the pocket is closing in on him. When watching his feet; there is never a sense of panic, but they are quick when he needs to escape. Against pressure, he doesn’t fade away; he steps up- both literally and metaphorically. He knows how to move the pocket without breaking it; he is calm but capable of chaos.
From a pure throwing standpoint, Richardson inherently puts rotation on the ball and has demonstrated the ability to fit the ball into tight windows with good velocity and shoulder turn. He has a quick set-up and release which allows him to get the ball out in a milli-second. Richardson brings excitement to the game, and I anticipate him bringing that same excitement to an NFL team picking early on in the first round.
My biggest knock on Anthony Richardson has to do with his accuracy and anticipation. While he is capable of making a big play at any given moment, he still leaves a lot of meat on the bone. He sails passes over receivers heads way too frequently, and it has to do with his throwing motion. He dips his elbow which gives him a higher release point that forces his balls to fly out at a higher trajectory. This causes him to miss out on a lot of big plays and open receivers. He doesn’t just miss out on a lot of big plays; he also misses a lot of layups like slants and quick hitches due to his inaccuracy.
Florida’s offense utilized a lot of two and three man route concepts. When having to read the entire field with four or five man route concepts, he was slow to anticipate his receivers and didn’t throw with a ton of timing. In his pre-draft training, I would love to see him train with a well-respected quarterbacks coach like Quincy Avery or 3DQB to get his elbow higher and help him get quicker with his reads.
One thing that is undeniable when watching Anthony Richardson play is that he has that “it factor”. The combination of pure talent and rare athleticism that makes him a special player; it is hard to take your eyes off of him. He elevates his game on fourth down and late in the fourth quarter when his team needs him the most. He is a smart risk taker when taking shots down the field and he’s always capable of making something out of nothing.
On the field, he reminds me a lot of Deshaun Watson when it comes to immanent talent and the pace that he plays with. Richardson is fearless when throwing the ball deep, and isn’t afraid to take off as a runner. The fearlessness also shows when he has to stand in the pocket and deliver a 50 yard strike while getting absolutely crushed by defensive linemen. The word I keep wanting to use when describing Richardson is “rare”, and that’s because when he’s at quarterback, anything is possible. You don’t get that feeling when watching just anybody; he’s special.
Whether it’s a start-up tech company, a clay sculpture, or an NFL quarterback; the best projects take time to develop. When projects are rushed, that’s when disaster happens. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and nor should Anthony Richardson be. He is a guy who would benefit from sitting behind a veteran quarterback with an experienced coach. This way he can clean up his mechanics/accuracy, get the quick game down, and learn to anticipate his reads faster. A team like the Seahawks would be perfect for Richardson where he can sit behind a guy who was in a relatively similar situation as him. Coming out of West Virginia, Geno Smith was a project that ended up getting rushed on to the field prematurely. Smith is a guy who was patient after being ruled a “bust” and is now having a career year at 32 years old. I have a top five grade on Richardson, and I don’t see him falling out of the top ten. By the time April 27th comes, no prospect is going to be talked about more than Anthony Richardson.
Natural Arm Talent: 11.25/12
Natural Leadership: 9/10
Decision Making + Eyes + Anticipation: 7.5/10
Pocket Presence: 6.5/8
Athleticism + Mobility: 8/8
Deep Ball: 5/6
Feet + Base: 5.25/6
Throwing Motion: 4/6
Toughness + Fearlessness: 5.75/6
Final Rating: 84
Pro Comparison: Deshaun Watson
Draft Projection: Top 10 Pick
Draft Grade: Top 5 Pick
Team Fits: Seahawks, Ravens, Falcons