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Florida QB Anthony Richardson Made The 2023 NFL Draft Much More Interesting By Deciding To Turn Pro


You can see the highlight above where Anthony Richardson pulled off an insane two-point conversion en route to upsetting Utah to kick off his 2022 season, but the Florida Gators dual-threat dynamo had a largely uneven year thereafter. That didn't stop him from declaring for the 2023 NFL Draft — even with multiple years of eligibility remaining.

I'm a little stunned by Richardson's decision. I feel like there are at least three, maybe four quarterbacks who have a great chance of being drafted ahead of him. This dude is electrifying as a runner with a combination of power, speed and vision that's reminiscent of Cam Newton. He can also make throws like this that don't even make sense:

BUT Richardson completed only 53.8% of his passes this year. That's beyond awful. For some of the "wow" throws he inevitably puts on his tape, there are as many (er, more) baffling decisions and flat-out poorly thrown balls. Richardson is super raw not dissimilar to how Josh Allen was coming out of Wyoming. A big difference was Allen obviously played against lesser competition, yet the current Buffalo Bills superstar also had multiple full seasons of starting experience, whereas Richardson has only one.

Part of me feels like if Richardson goes to the right team, and has a chance to sit and learn behind a veteran, he could really pop at some point. On the other hand, there are projects and then there are capital "P" Projects. The latter category is where Richardson falls in my estimation.

Between how inconsistent he is as a passer and his limited live reps, Richardson's red flags are plain to see. Indulge my obscure cross-sports pollination for a second, but I swear, this guy feels like a Bruno Caboclo "two years away from being two years away" type of case:

Whichever team winds up with Richardson needs to be extraordinarily patient, or must work to build an offense around his unique set of skills, a la what the Ravens have done for Lamar Jackson.


So now that you're fairly well-acquainted with why Richardson is such a fascinating, polarizing figure, it's very possible he'll test off the charts leading up to the draft and inflate his stock because of his undeniable upside. Other notable QB prospects haven't exactly blown the doors off this year either, and some of the top young guns have other flaws GMs may balk at. Among the current consensus possible first-rounders:

  • Bryce Young: Undersized, durability concerns. 
  • CJ Stroud: Regressed down the stretch, played an easy schedule and came up small when it mattered most. 
  • Will Levis: Inconsistent accuracy. Had a largely disappointing 2022 season. 
  • Hendon Hooker: Turns 25 in January and recently suffered a torn ACL.

I would've thrown a couple other guys in that mix but will reserve judgment until later on. Point is, it's not out of the realm of possibility that some team falls in love with Richardson, decides to pick up that extra fifth-year option by using a first-round pick on him, and as a result he's selected ahead of some of these more polished players.

Richardson probably should've stuck it out for at least one more season with the Gators. The NFL is definitely an alluring opportunity. I get that. However, there's a real chance Richardson could've mounted a decent push for the Heisman Trophy if he had a big developmental offseason. Although it's way to early to look ahead to the 2024 draft, other than USC's Caleb Williams, there likely weren't going to be a lot of other blue-chip QBs going pro.

We could see Richardson fall as far as Day 3, or see his stock inflated to the point where some team takes a first-round gamble. Either way, he's among the most toolsy prospects in recent memory. With the right coaching, there's at least a decent chance Richardson becomes the next freaky athlete at the position to take the league by storm.

Twitter @MattFitz_gerald/TikTok