Anthony Richardson Is Fastest Rising Player On NFL Draft Boards, Might Be Biggest Gamble In First Round

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Las Vegas sportsbooks seem to know something about Anthony Richardson.

The former University of Florida quarterback a month ago was a bit of a longshot to be picked in the second round of the April 28-30 draft. Then someone heard things and his price changed drastically. Now he’s just behind Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Kentucky’s Will Levis among quarterbacks to be picked No. 1.

First overall.

We’re talking about a player in Richardson who threw a modest 24 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions in his career. and never reached a 60 percent completion rate.

And, yet, Richardson is easily the fastest riser on draft boards everywhere, including among some teams gathered here for this week’s NFL Scouting Combine.

“Anthony Richardson is the second quarterback for several teams that I talked to,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “We can look at the numbers. It doesn’t look great on paper. You look at the accuracy and this, that, and the other.”

2023 NFL Draft quarterback prospect Anthony Richardson. (Getty Images)

Anthony Richardson Ceiling ‘Way Up There’

Yes, there are a lot of questions. Yes, Richardson is a project who may not be ready to play for a couple of seasons.

That doesn’t bother some teams because, they say, he has the chance to be every bit as elite as Josh Allen given time and coaching.

One team told OutKick that Richardson is the most physically gifted quarterback in the entire draft. Young and Stroud are better players right now, but at 6-foot-4 and 232 pounds with the ability to throw the football 70 yards without much strain, Richardson’s ceiling is higher.

“It’s way up there,” one pro scout told OutKick.

“He has elite, elite arm strength,” Jeremiah said. “He is a rare athlete.”

Richardson will throw at this combine. Multiple teams said they expect Richardson to put on a show.

But there’s a catch: A throwing session at the combine is not a game. It can hide issues.

So Richardson has the ability to turn the general manager who picks him into a Hall of Famer because the player has the tools to be among the NFL’s best quarterbacks someday. But he also comes with a warning label that glows in neon.


Richardson. (Getty Images)

Richards Also A Huge Gamble

If Richardson doesn’t figure out how to improve his accuracy and how to read defenses and how to play with his head as well as arm and legs, he has the potential to flame out as a bust. And that’s a problem if he’s a second- or third-round pick.

It’s a disaster if he’s a first-round pick.

So why are some teams apparently willing to take that huge risk on all that potential, knowing Richardson never really put it all together in college?

“Have you seen what it takes to pay quarterbacks now?” one AFC front office man told OutKick.

The price of quarterbacks is very high and it’s about to go higher. Even the price of middling quarterbacks is high.

Russell Wilson, perhaps on the down side of his career, is making an average of $49 million per year. Kyler Murray, small and coming off a terrible injury-plagued year, is making $46.1 million per year. Matt Ryan, his best days behind him, is at $30 million per year.

And players such as Daniel Jones are expecting deals that pay north of $40 million per year and will cost the Giants $32.4 million in the form of a non-exclusive franchise tag barring a multi-year deal. Tua Tagovailoa, injury prone in college and again in the pros, is also going to be approaching the Dolphins about the possibility of an extension.

His price will be higher than Jones despite his questionable durability.

All these quarterbacks that come with significant questions all want to get paid like they’re elite.

Some of them have asked for, and gotten, bigger deals than Patrick Mahomes and Allen.

Young quarterbacks on their rookie contracts are much cheaper by comparison. And teams are willing to gamble on those players, including ones with inconsistent tape, to see if they can unearth one of those rather than overpay for veterans who come with issues.

That doesn’t mean Richardson will be a stud. Teams are confident enough in their evaluations to believe they can turn him into a star. But, obviously, that fails more times than it succeeds.

But the ability nonetheless tempts.

“You pop on the Utah tape and you think he is the first pick in the draft,” Jeremiah said who has Richardson going to the Lions with the No. 18 pick in his mock draft. “He is not at that level right now, but ceiling-wise with him and Jared Goff, his ceiling is immensely higher.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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