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Is Anthony Richardson Worth The Draft Hype?

Anthony Richardson is rocketing up the board in several mock drafts that are doing the rounds.

This is after an impressive combine performance from Richardson, where he ran a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash, as well as a 40.5-inch vertical jump. Some people are even suggesting he has played himself into number one overall pick contention.

But is he worth the draft hype?

Is The NFL Combine A Fair Reflection?

The NFL Combine gives all 32 teams the chance to look at college prospects. However, it has many flaws and is often misleading. This is the case with quarterbacks more than any other position.

At the end of the day, quarterbacks are doing drills without any pressure put on them by NFL defenses and are throwing to open receivers that are not battling in coverage with a defensive back. Running a quick 40-yard dash does not impact their ability at throwing the ball and there is never a scenario in the league where they will need to replicate the vertical jump.

We have also seen many quarterbacks excel in the combine and struggle in the league and some great players to have played the position have struggled.

Tom Brady, struggled in the combine and as a result was taken 199th overall. He went on to become the greatest of all time. On the other hand, everyone was waxing lyrical about Zach Wilson after he impressed with some throws in his NFL combine performance. So far, in his two seasons as a pro, he has struggled immensely and his time as a starter appears to already be over.

Tim Tebow also impressed in his combine and despite becoming a media darling, helped by his fourth quarter heroics, the joys did not last long and he was soon a backup and then out of the league shortly after that. Moving away from the quarterback position and the quickest 40-yard dash in NFL Combine history is recorded by wide receiver John Ross.

Drafted in 2017, Ross has just 957 career receiving yards and 11 touchdowns to his name. Apart from one season with seven touchdowns, he has failed to have more than three in a season and his best season yardage total is 506.

In a 2014 article from Bleacher Report, they named the 10 most impressive NFL combine performances of all time. All selected in the first round, which shows the impact of the combine, only one of these players made the Hall of Fame (Deion Sanders) and four failed to earn a single Pro Bowl selection.

Some of these combine disappointments include wide receiver Matt Jones, who only lasted four seasons due to substance abuse issues. Vernon Gholston only lasted three years and started just five times, with zero career sacks. In ten NFL seasons, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey had just 16 career receiving touchdowns, achieving more than 606 yards in only one season, failing to record any 1,000-yard campaign.

NFL front offices never seem to learn that the combine is not everything. After all, San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle was a fifth-round selection and fellow tight end Travis Kelce was taken by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round. Richardson may be the next victim of the combine hype.

Richardson’s College Inconsistencies

As a Florida Gators fan, no player has excited me more than Richardson, with raw athleticism and some brilliant individual highlight plays. However, his inconsistency passing the ball should not be ignored.

In his one full season as a starter in 2022, Richardson threw for 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. To put this in comparison, Justin Herbert’s best total was 32 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2019 and three of his four college seasons had more touchdowns than Richardson did in any campaign. Joe Burrow threw for 60 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2019. Patrick Mahomes had 36 touchdowns in 2015 and 41 in 2016.

Richardson’s biggest comparison is Cam Newton or Josh Allen. In Newton’s one season as a starter in 2010 for Auburn, he had 30 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Allen also had inconsistent play in his college days as well as early on in the NFL. His best season was 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, which should give Richardson confidence he can succeed in the league.

Richardson is more known for his feet, but his passing will need to improve if he wants to be a success at the professional level. This is why drafting him early would be a mistake unless you have someone in mind to start for a year or two to allow him to learn.

The Carolina Panthers, Las Vegas Raiders, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, and Atlanta Falcons are all teams in the top 10 that will want a QB and start them straight away. However, the one anomaly is the Seattle Seahawks. Head coach Pete Carroll has come out and spoken of how the team is looking at the position. Richardson has also spoken of his positive meeting with the team.

Under Carroll, they enjoy a run-first offense. No quarterback in this year’s draft represents that more than Richardson. They may have given Geno Smith a three-year $75 million deal, but the long-time backup is 32 and has only enjoyed one successful season.

After all, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Steve Young Tom Brady all had at least one year to sit. Most of them had at least two or more years. This would align nicely with Richardson’s NFL development.

The Green Bay Packers have given Jordan Love three years to sit and look to now be ready to use him and see what he’s got. Seattle may use the same method for Richardson, who is in no way ready to start in Week One. If Smith struggles or gets injured, he can come in and showcase his raw talent. If he is on the bench for three straight years, he will learn from a seasoned pro in Smith and the team can remain competitive with Smith under center. It is a win for everyone involved.

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