Rookie Spotlight: Anthony Richardson
By Justin Herrera
Anthony Richardson is the biggest boom or bust player in this year's draft. Last year was his only full year as the QB for the Florida Gators, he threw for 2,549 yards, 17 TDs, and ran for 654 yards and 9 TDs. He’s got the potential to be the next big quarterback in the league but he’ll most likely need a year to refine his game. As of right now, he looks to be drafted within the top-15 and for Dynasty drafts should be considered top-5 in Superflex leagues and end of the first, and beginning of the second for single QB leagues.
-Goes into tackles low
As far as the positives go AR15 is a physical monster, he’s got one of, if not the biggest arm in the draft. He and Ricky Pearsall made it look easy at times with the speedy receiver hauling in multiple deep passes for touchdowns. Match that with his elite acceleration and his ability to lower himself into tacklers. A perfect example was an 81-run against LSU, he showed acceleration on the outside and when he was caught he bounced off the defender like he was a human pinball.
Richardson seems to have a short memory with interceptions, bouncing back from the first three weeks, which were miserable for the young QB. He threw four interceptions and zero touchdowns during that stretch, he then finished the last nine games with 17 TDs and five interceptions. His game against Florida State University was a tough one to watch on tape. The one thing that was positive about the abysmal second against the Seminoles was that Richardson kept going and keep throwing. He’s going to need this trait in the league because the NFL is usually rough on first-round QBs. The best learn their lessons and don’t let it affect your confidence. I think this guy has the ability to move on to the next drive if there’s a turnover. Overall Richardson’s upside is through the roof, the problem is his floor is never-ending.
-Overthrows deep receivers
-Tries to make the throw/Needs to throw it away more
-Makes routine throws look hard
-Can’t read defenses
-Can’t make tight-window throws
As I said at the end of the positives blurb, AR15’s floor is a never-ending free fall. He has some accuracy issues, to say the least. Richardson has issues with overthrowing his targets in the intermediate to the deep-ball range. He also has some touch issues when throwing short passes. Richardson seems to beam the football into his player's hands, making passes such as screens and dump-offs harder for players to catch and take off. This was a problem we’ve seen with Trey Lance in his first preseason games, he’d throw a fastball at receivers and it bounced off their hands more times than not.
This can probably be attributed to his lack of reps as the starter, with only one season as the guy in Florida. One last thing I wanted to address is he has trouble reading defenses. AR15 seems prone to want to go downfield before he checks it down, while it's not bad to look for the big play, he will have to develop a sense for what the defense is going to do and attack it patiently. I don’t know if it was playing from behind a lot this season or what, but overthrowing deep balls in double coverage will lead to turnovers in the NFL.
Comps: Jalen Hurts, Trey Lance
Richardson has the skillset teams are looking for in the modern game. If I were to compare him to anyone it would be Jalen Hurts. Hurts came into the NFL needing to work on his throwing mechanics but had enough arm and rushing ability to get by until this past season. Where he took his next step into the upper echelon of quarterbacks in the NFL. The narrative is kind of spun the same for Richardson, he's a big-armed QB with mobility for days. If he lands in the right situation with a coach that has the ability, patience, and desire to develop him then we could easily be looking at the next big superstar.
My Favorite AR15 game
Louisiana State University, this game showcased everything that makes Richardson a big-time prospect. He opened the game with a 51-yard touchdown throw and had an 81-yard touchdown run that showcased his speed and determination that will make him a problem at the next level. This game was a loss for the Gators but for AR15’s stock, it was a big-time bump. This game wasn’t the most statistically pleasing, but it was the little things like completing 60 percent of his passes.
AR15’s Worst Game(s)
Florida State, so I chose this game in particular because of the hype behind the rivalry. This game was important and it was at the end of the year so no excuses for your play, you were either good or you weren't. Richardson showed both sides of AR15 in this game. Richardson’s first half was great, he completed five of ten passes with three touchdowns, including a 52-yarder and a 43, both to Ricky Pearsall. AR15 looked good, but then the second half came around and that was a different story. Richardson completed four of seventeen passes with three of them coming on the very last drive. He made screen passes look difficult, was short on passes downfield, and lacked touch on underneath passes. He couldn’t run the ball effectively with the Seminoles' defense running contain on the outside. And everything he was throwing downfield was to either a well-covered receiver or well off its target. This is the game where you could’ve pulled all the positives and negatives for AR15 and had a pretty accurate list.
Kentucky was another game where AR15 struggled mightily with his accuracy, completing 40 percent of his passes with zero TDs, two interceptions, and only four rushing yards. The reason I have the Seminole game as his worst and not this one is that I wanted to give him the benefit of early-season mistakes. This was the second start of his first season as “the guy” in Florida. Richardson was all over the place with his throws, while his first interception was a big play from a defensive end. His second one on the other hand was due to a misread or miscommunication with the receiver. Richardson threw it early on a hitch route and got picked off by the opposing corner.
Seattle: The Seahawks have two first-round picks and are looking into retaining Pro Bowl QB Geno Smith. This would be a great situation for AR15, getting to learn from a QB that is mobile, and knows the feeling of critics doubting his talents. Smith can help guide him, and when Richardson is ready he’ll have talents such as Ken Walker and DK Metcalf to work with as well as a young offensive line.
Detroit: The Lions have all the same perks that the Seahawks do, but their pick is right after the Hawks. In Detroit, you get a mentor who was a first-round pick and two speedy game-breaking wide receivers. And a strong offensive line with an LT that's going into his third year.
Washington: This is an interesting spot, whether he slips to 16 or trade up to grab Richardson. Offensive Coordinator Eric Bienemy brings in a guy who has seen a young talented kid become the best QB in the league. Maybe this experience could help both AR15 and Bienemy’s careers. The only issue is they will need a vet to help him develop.
Las Vegas: The Raiders are in need of a QB at pick number seven. They’ll probably go with a more refined QB such as a Will Levis, but having AR15 throw to Davante Adams has some definite appeal to it.
NY Jets: The Jets much like the Raiders are looking for someone to come in and take this roster to the next level immediately. This means this could be a pick that's traded or someone like Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo could be there as the veteran presence. If that's the case then having Garrett Wilson for 5-10 years should be beneficial to Richardson’s game.
Tampa Bay: The Bucs feel like they're in full rebuild mode and could consider a young QB, but I feel like this is the worst spot for Richardson. The talent that made this team a champion has either retired or is on the wrong side of their prime years.