Anthony Richardson was the star of the show at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. Which other offensive players joined him on the list of potential risers?
Everyone knew Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson would test well. However, I am not sure anyone expected Richardson to be the most athletic quarterback to test at the Scouting Combine for his size.
At 6’4″ and 244 lbs., most expected the redshirt sophomore to lose weight to run faster or test better. During his three seasons as a Gator, the school lists him as the same height, but he mostly played at 232 lbs. To gain ten extra pounds to run the third fastest 40-yard dash time at the Scouting Combine ever (since 2003) is ridiculous, not to mention setting records at the broad jump (10’9″) and the vertical jump (40.5″). With a 1.53 10-yard split as well, it is safe to say Richardson destroyed the Scouting Combine, possibly elevating himself as a lock in the top five or ten with the amount of quarterback-needy teams.
Now, whether or not these tests matter for quarterbacks is a different story. The tape and production from Richardson starting one year for the Gators is underwhelming compared to the other top quarterbacks. With a 53 percent completion percentage, the 21-year-old threw for about 2,549 yards and 17 touchdowns to 9 interceptions in 12 games. In terms of rushing, Richardson rushed for 654 yards on 103 attempts and 9 touchdowns on the ground in 2022.
With the prototypical size and a cannon for an arm, along with his uber athleticism, it is easy to see why teams are intrigued to take him early in the 2023 NFL Draft. He is portrayed as a boom-bust prospect. However, I think Richardson has a lower ceiling and a higher floor due to his rushing upside.
Ideally, you would want to sit him his rookie year, like Trey Lance or Patrick Mahomes, or teams like the Seattle Seahawks (5th selection) or Detroit Lions (6th selection) might be better fitting since he wouldn’t play anytime soon behind the likes of Geno Smith (who just got paid before the franchise tag deadline) and Jared Goff.
However, if he did have to start early, I can’t see how an offensive coordinator couldn’t utilize Richardson like Justin Fields in his second year. Sure, he will have to take his lumps as a raw prospect in terms of accuracy and reading defenses, like Josh Allen, but he does possess the highest upside among all the quarterbacks in this draft with his athletic traits alone. Its easier said than done for him to improve some of his weaknesses as a quarterback, but Richardson showed some signs of progression during his collegiate season as a starter so if he can follow that up into the NFL, it will make the team, whoever drafts him, very happy as it will pay dividends for that franchise.
Evan Bruner, of NFL Mocks, scouted Anthony Richardson and agrees that he offers “an upside that few others in the 2023 NFL Draft can match.”
Bryce Young of Alabama helped himself with his measurables, as it was at least close to what Kyler Murray weighed in at during the Scouting Combine (both listed at 5’10” and Young is only three pounds lighter at 204). Perhaps throwing with that gained weight to get over 200 lbs. would’ve not been great as his playing weight at college was most likely between 190-195 lbs. The 21-year-old passer should be at throwing at his pro day, along with potentially doing other athletic tests. He likely will be the first or second quarterback taken in this year’s draft with the production and intangibles Young possesses.
Jacob Schyvinck, of NFL Mocks, scouted Bryce Young and sees his best fit being the Houston Texans (with the 2nd selection) or a team later that trades up to number one, being either the Las Vegas Raiders (with the 7th selection) or the Carolina Panthers (with the 9th selection).
Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud can be seen as a “top ten player in this draft class,” as Hunter Haas of NFL Mocks scouted Stroud with his scouting report.
In terms of collegiate production, both Young and C.J. Stroud are at the top of the class, but some say Stroud dispelled any on-the-field concerns during the CFP Semi-Final against Georgia this past year. Although it is a one-game sample of Stroud with his statement performance, there is still a ton to like about him.
Possessing enough size (6’3″ and 213 lbs. at 21 years old) and arm strength, Stroud isn’t the best under pressure and improvising in comparison to Young. At the Scouting Combine, Stroud didn’t test but he did throw and show why many see him as the most accurate passer in the class.
In my opinion, the same can’t be said for Will Levis. The Kentucky quarterback also has great size and arm strength (at 6’4″ and 229 lbs.) but has inaccuracies that his tape and production suggest.
Levis had a good but not great throwing session and the main thing is that he didn’t stand out or separate himself from the other top two quarterbacks throwing. With the other three quarterbacks Young, Stroud, and now Richardson seemingly ahead of him, an NFL team might gamble on a younger but more athletic guy that needs development like Richardson over an older prospect like Levis at the age of 23.
Still, Levis will likely be taken in the top ten by a team that covets more size and athletic upside, as he did deal with injuries and many changing environments (and circumstances) in the two seasons starting at Kentucky (spent two years at Penn State to then transfer).
Unlike the quarterback position in this year’s draft, there is less talent at the top regarding wide receiver. However, there might be more depth for receivers in the middle of the draft, as there is a huge drop-off at quarterback. There are too many to name but I highlighted a few that stood out at the Scouting Combine, as I mostly tried to focus on mostly consensus Day 1 and 2 prospects.