Anthony Richardson Just Changed the 2023 NFL Draft

James Gilbert/Getty Images

Anthony Richardson Just Changed the 2023 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft

Anthony Richardson Just Changed the 2023 NFL Draft


James Gilbert/Getty Images

Think you had the 2023 NFL Draft figured out? Think again because Anthony Richardson changed the dynamic of the draft after his combine performance. The 6-foot-4 Florida Gator electrified scouts, analysts, and fans. In doing so, the raw 21-year-old is now the headline name post-Indianapolis. 

A Generational Athlete

Some quarterback prospects get labeled ‘generational quarterbacks’ by draft analysts. Trevor Lawrence and Andrew Luck both received that tag before their respective drafts. Richardson is not yet a generational quarterback. He is an entirely different species, weighing in at 244 pounds; Richardson’s combine weight was only four pounds fewer than former MVP Cam Newton. He is roughly the same height as tight end George Kittle. Yet, despite that weight and height, Richardson posted a blazing 40-yard time of 4.44. By comparison, Newton’s 40-yard time was 4.60. Richardson dominated the physical tests as he notched records in the broad and vertical jumps and displayed his effortless arm strength and velocity in the passing drills. Courtesy of Next Gen Stats, Richardson’s top speed maxed out at 23.4mph. He is a Formula 1 engine built like a NASCAR. Richardson’s Relative Athletic Score came in at a perfect 10. 

In every component, Richardson recorded a green score. Richardson’s RAS matched Newton’s score and was better than Josh Allen’s RAS of 9.67. It is undeniable that Richardson is the best athlete available in this year’s draft. Not since Newton in 2011 or Daunte Culpepper in the late 1990s have we seen an athlete this gifted. And in the modern NFL, where teams value athletic tools as highly as mental traits, Richardson flew up draft boards all over the NFL. Teams covet athletic quarterbacks that are strong, mobile, and explosive. Richardson ticks those boxes. However, despite the jaw-dropping athleticism, one question remains. 


Can Richardson become an NFL quarterback?

It is the question on everyone’s lips. Is Anthony Richardson ready to be an NFL quarterback? Being a quarterback in the NFL is more than just throwing the ball. Quarterbacks must decipher defensive formations and coverages, call plays, communicate with teammates, and lead a team. Richardson is still very inexperienced as a starting quarterback. He started just one entire season at “The Swamp”, compared to the experience of Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud. Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton often said that the little details separate the average quarterbacks from the great quarterbacks. All of that comes with game time and experience. 

Richardson does not own a bank of experience to rely upon in challenging moments. And there are concerns about his overall college performance. Richardson’s temperamental arm rewarded him with a completion percentage of 53.8 percent. That ranked him 13th out of 14 SEC quarterbacks. Stroud’s completion percentage in 2022 was 66.3. The four-star recruit was 86th out of 123 quarterbacks in passing EPA. He was 111th in on-target rate. Richardson is an erratic thrower of the football. He is capable of sensational throws and ugly throws. Richardson is not a day-one starter. But, if he lands in the right spot, Richardson could flourish.


The Landing Spot

Richardson’s combine performance, allied with his incredible athleticism, will surely elevate the Florida quarterback into the top 10, maybe the top five. NFL franchises are looking for athletic players with no ceiling. The New York Jets drafted Zach Wilson and his live wire arm because they loved the upside. The San Francisco 49ers did the same with Trey Lance. And the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs hit home runs with Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes. Both players were not polished passers, but their raw tools enticed those respective teams to take a shot. Richardson is a better athlete than all of those quarterbacks. Those tantalizing traits could help Richardson go higher than projected. Teams like the Detroit Lions, Las Vegas Raiders, and Carolina Panthers could take a punt on Richardson. Detroit, in particular, feels like an optimal fit. Richardson could sit and develop behind Jared Goff and learn from coordinator Ben Johnson. 

A month ago, it felt impossible that Richardson would be picked in the top ten. Now, it feels like a certainty. This once-in-a-decade athlete has changed the quarterback dynamics of the 2023 NFL Draft. 

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