Biggest Upside – Analyzing Anthony Richardson

Anthony Richardson graduated from Eastdale High School as a consensus four-star recruit by ESPN and 247Sports.

After finishing his high school career with 4,633 yards and 37 touchdowns, as well as 1,633 rushing yards with 41 rushing touchdowns, he opted to stay home in Gainesville and committed to the Florida Gators.

In 2020, Richardson redshirted and saw very limited action, finishing the season with 27 yards on two attempts in two games for the Gators.

As a redshirt Freshman in 2021, Richardson played in seven games (with no starts), and passed for 527 yards on 63 attempts (58.7% completion rate) and six touchdowns, and a total QBR of 84.6. He also finished with 50 runs for 415 yards, and as a result was named to the All-SEC Freshman Team. Flashes of brilliance had Gators fans clamoring for more playing time.

As a Sophomore in 2022, Richardson was named the starter and played in a total of 12 games. He finished with 2,553 yards on 330 attempts (53% completion rate) with 17 TDs, and a total QBR of 84.3. As a runner, he racked up 713 yards on 97 attempts.

To many’s shock (and arguably horror), Richardson declared for the 2023 NFL Draft.

Richardson is a polarizing prospect. Declaring for the draft as a one-year starter is quite a risk, let alone when you’ve only attempted 66 passes before your first year as a starter.

He is difficult to evaluate for the next level. He has the size of your prototypical professional quarterback, being listed at 6 foot 4, 232 pounds.

As a passer, Richardson’s arm strength and ability to launch the ball downfield with ease is immediately evident. He also has the ability to put velocity on his passes to fit in narrow windows. In my opinion, there is not a single throw that Richardson doesn’t have the strength to make.

On occasion, Richardson has shown that he is capable of changing tempo and trajectory on his passes, and he has shown flashes of being able to read defenses high and/or low and is disciplined enough to take a checkdown throw when necessary.

Perhaps the most notable strength Richardson possesses is his athleticism. He’s able to use it both as a passer and a runner, and has shown multiple times that he is able to make all of his progressions, escape the pocket if necessary, and use his legs to extend the play. On designed QB rollouts and bootlegs, he can make accurate throws and properly read layered route concepts and deliver the ball accurately on the run.

Richardson profiles as a powerful runner. On designed QB runs, he can become a one-cut runner that can rip off big plays into the open field. He can also make the decision (and has the confidence) to run through people if necessary to pick up yardage in short-yardage situations. He also is intelligent as a runner, who is able to call for blocks and make the correct reads to maximize gains.

As a player with just one year as a starter under their belt, Richardson has a lot to improve on. The majority, if not all, of the improvements he needs to make are centered around his accuracy. While he does have arguably the strongest arm of any QB in this year’s draft, he is inconsistent with placement and location of his throws. When he can operate correctly mechanically, everything looks great. When he doesn’t execute his mechanics properly, it leads to missed throws, incompletions, tipped passes, or interceptions.

Richardson’s greatest and most visible weakness is his accuracy, especially in the short to medium parts of the field. He has a habit of overthrowing passes or tossing balls too high, as well as adding way too much velocity on shorter passes, leading to drops and incompletions.

Additionally, Richardson lacks confidence as a passer. When he starts out well, he gets into a rhythm, but if he struggles early, he can get rattled by the defense and struggle to break out of the funk. Steady pressure and pass-rushes often lead Richardson to make bad decisions.

There is no doubt that Richardson boasts the physical skill set to succeed in the NFL. His best fit would come in a downfield pro-style offense that lets him throw the ball vertically and to the sideline. When paired with a strong running game, he would be able to run play action as well.

Richardson struggles with decision-making and pre-snap recognition.  He doesn’t decipher information quickly but does show flashes of understanding coverage and has relatively good field vision. He also has a bad habit of fading back in the pocket and throwing off of his back foot, and uses too much of his arm for throwing, which attributes to some of his accuracy woes.

He also struggles with holding on to the ball too long, instead of just throwing it away or accepting the check down. Often times you see Richardson wanting the big play or first down, and in turn he sacrifices possessions and turnovers.

Overall, Richardson is a very raw prospect who has all the physical tools that are coveted in a modern dual-threat quarterback. His ability to properly (and consistently) execute the details of reading coverages and mechanics will determine how high his ceiling truly is. I believe he just needs additional reps and coaching to reach his full potential.

Richardson has the highest upside of any quarterback in this year’s class. He’s just raw, and after only starting for one year, it’s unknown what his potential truly is, or how good he can be with more experience and training. He has an equal chance of being the best steal in the draft, just as much as the worst bust.

NFL Comparisons: Cam Newton, Lamar Jackson