With the 2023 NFL Draft quickly approaching high-profile underclassmen have begun announcing their declarations. One of the most recent to do so is Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson. After posting 3,105 passing yards and 24 touchdowns last season, he opted to forgo two more years of eligibility. While the stats themselves are not outlandish, it is the way he achieved them that has created a divide among evaluators.
First and foremost, Richardson fits the physical mold of what teams historically prefer at the position. At 6’4″ and 232 pounds, he has a perfect build to complement his athletic ability and incredible, natural arm talent.
However, the choices he makes when it comes time to use that arm talent can be questionable, to say the least. Simply, Richardson appears to be quite aware of the natural gifts he has and believes he can make any throw, at any time. Another likely possibility is that Richardson is so raw at the intricate parts of the position that he genuinely doesn’t know what he shouldn’t be doing.
How will the NFL handle Richardson?
Of course, a tall, athletic, big-armed quarterback is nothing new in the NFL Draft. While players like Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Josh Allen represent the high end of this scale, many of these players need work. Think back to Jordan Love and Malik Willis. Both were clearly gifted athletes with the ability to make any throw on the field, but they were nowhere near ready on day one.
This is where Richardson currently sits. With all of his otherworldly potential, he is much more of an idea at this point than a tangible player. Likely to be taken quite early in April’s draft, the team that selects him will have to be comfortable with giving him time. While the flashes of his greatness are there, adjusting to NFL speed will be a hurdle for the young passer.
Even still, this has worked in the past. Patrick Mahomes played just one game in his rookie year, Josh Allen was genuinely bad for almost two years while he acclimated to the league, and Jordan Love has barely played since being drafted in 2020. All of these players are either among the best at their position or, in Love’s case, have shown flashes when on the field.
Anthony Richardson is a risk. In order to take a player of his ilk, a general manager must be fully confident in his job security. He also likely needs to have a bridge quarterback in place so he can sit and watch for a season. For a team like the Giants or Raiders, he is a dream come true. Potentially acquirable with a mid-first-round selection, he has the ability to completely alter the trajectory of a franchise.
As the saying goes, no risk, no reward. That’s a motto Richardson loves to abide by while on the field, and it is one NFL teams will have to consider all off-season in their war room.