Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson enters the offseason as a polarizing prospect. Is the talent worth the risk on day one of the 2023 NFL Draft?
Name: Anthony Richardson
Weight: 232 pounds
2023 NFL Draft Background
A four-star prospect out of Gainesville, Florida, Anthony Richardson seemed destined to be a Gator. Though he decommitted from Florida in early 2019, he recommitted only months later, turning down offers from Georgia and Michigan to stay home.
Richardson saw little playing time in 2020, only attempting two passes and seven rushes. Unfortunately 2021 told a similar story, but Richardson did get substantially more playing time, completing 38 passes on 64 attempts for 529 yards, six touchdowns, and five interceptions. He also ran for 401 yards and three touchdowns.
After starting quarterback Emory Jones transferred to Arizona State, Richardson finally got the keys to Florida’s offense. The 2022 season was filled with ups and downs for both Richardson and the Gators. He finished the year with 2,549 passing yards, 26 total touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Following his third year at Florida, Richardson declared for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Few players in the 2023 NFL Draft offer the intrigue that Richardson does. He was only the starter for one season in Gainesville and had a career completion percentage of 54.7, yet with the draft three months away, the dual-threat signal-caller appears to be well on track to be selected in the first round.
As far as physical traits go, it doesn’t get much better than Richardson. At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, he has the prototypical build and is more than capable of absorbing contact. The Florida alum also moves incredibly well for his size, forcing missed tackles with strength and speed. He put no shortage of explosive runs on tape with a healthy balance of designed rushes and scrambles. This all-around ability as a rusher hasn’t been seen in such a built quarterback since possibly Cam Newton.
With the possible exception of Will Levis, there isn’t a quarterback in this year’s NFL Draft that possesses the arm talent Richardson does. He has elite distance and velocity on his throws and has made them from various platforms and arm angles. Simply put, Richardson is physically capable of making any throw at the NFL level.
Typically quarterbacks of his stature, even relatively athletic ones, can be clunky and stiff inside the pocket. Richardson, however, is quite fluid and nimble. This shows that he is capable of playing inside of structure and gives him potential to grow as a pocket passer.
As previously mentioned, Richardson had not been the full-time starter at Florida until 2022, and at times, it was evident. His pre-snap processing was inconsistent, often failing to diagnose blitzes and coverages ahead of time.
Richardson has a howitzer of an arm and a very quick release. However, his mechanics tend to be hit or miss. The length and direction of his stride when stepping into his throw vary, leading to erratic accuracy. There were also times when he wouldn’t set his feet at all and instead faded off his back foot while falling back.
As a pure passer, the young quarterback still has a ways to go. While he had flashes of high-level throws, they were nowhere near consistent enough. There were several occasions when he didn’t look comfortable throwing the football. While this can improve with time, this is unlikely to be an overnight fix. Whoever drafts Richardson will be drafting him for the long haul and will need to be patient.
While he was far from the best college player, Richardson offers an upside that few others in the 2023 NFL Draft can match. He has plenty of room to grow as a passer, but his rushing ability and arm talent should give him a higher floor than many realize. In a league that is dominated by big, strong-armed quarterbacks, it is hard to imagine there won’t be a spot for the Florida superstar in the first round.