Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Everyone is searching for the quarterback to place behind C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young. By the end of the 2023 NFL Draft cycle, will Florida QB Anthony Richardson be able to elevate his scouting report to that level? It’s a high bar to clear, but Richardson might just have the tools to make it there.

Anthony Richardson NFL draft profile

For the better part of two years, Richardson has been the QB in waiting for the Florida Gators. A consensus four-star recruit in the 2020 recruiting class and local Gainesville product, Richardson came to the Gators after accumulating 6,366 total yards and 88 total touchdowns in his four-year high school career.

Richardson sat most of the 2020 season behind a QB room that included eventual second-round pick Kyle Trask and 2021 starter Emory Jones. But through it all, it was hard to miss the 6’4″, 232-pound Richardson or forget the upside he presented. That upside started to generate pressure in 2021 when the Gators sought the path forward after losing Trask.

Florida committed to Jones early on in the 2021 campaign,and largely stuck with him through the season. But Jones’ volatile play paved the way for Richardson to rotate in more and more as the months progressed. By season’s end, Richardson had completed 38 of 64 passes for 529 yards, six touchdowns, and five interceptions while adding 51 carries, 401 yards, and three scores on the ground.

Richardson is heading into 2022 with just 66 career passing attempts. And yet, he’s the unquestioned starter for the Gators. By now, everyone at Florida knows it’s time to unleash Richardson and give him a chance to blossom with his natural talent.

  • Position: Quarterback
  • School: Florida
  • Current Year: Redshirt Sophomore
  • Height/Weight: 6’4″, 232 pounds

Anthony Richardson scouting report

With his inexperience, any current evaluation of Richardson is a major projection. But looking at what he’s put on tape so far, how much upside is there with Richardson? Can he become a first-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, and what does he need to improve to get there?

Richardson’s positives

Richardson emanates talent on the field. At 6’4″, 232 pounds, the Florida QB is an explosive athlete with a large, strong frame and good density. He has excellent short-area agility, change-of-direction, and twitch for his size. In fact, his creation capacity is one of his most exciting traits. Richardson has the corrective twitch to quickly divert course and adapt when faced with free rushers, and he also has the speed to get upfield on option plays.

Richardson is a freely-moving athlete at his size, which naturally draws excitement. But Richardson is just as talented of a thrower as he is an athlete. The Florida QB generates high-level velocity with ease, and his passes zip to their targets in the short and intermediate ranges. Richardson’s velocity carries easily through all thirds, and he also has the arm strength to push passes past defenders downfield, even when throwing across his body.

One could argue that Richardson’s arm strength is elite, but also impressive is his arm elasticity. Richardson has shown he can generate great velocity even when fading back or throwing from unstable platforms. He has a crisp release off-platform and has shown he can generate velocity from multiple arm angles. Moreover, he flashes the ability to be flexible with arm angles when his release is compact. When he keeps things compact on release, near-elite arm elasticity is visible, and he can use it to manipulate placement.

While Richardson is very much a work in progress from an operational standpoint, there are glimpses of promise in that department. The Florida QB has shown he can read across the field and go through simple lateral progressions. He flashes quick diagnosis upon moving to the next read but must be more consistent. He can also survey multiple vertical routes and use discretion when choosing risks to entertain. Discretion is something Richardson needs to show more often, but he has shown he can turn from covered screens, reset, and get his eyes upfield.

Anthony Richardson
Oct 30, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) throws the ball against the Georgia Bulldogs during the first half at TIAA Bank Field. Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Similarly, Richardson can continue to improve his accuracy and ball placement, but there are good qualities here as well. Richardson can effectively place the ball for run-after-catch yards in the short range, and he’s able to operate on timing and rhythm plays. The Florida QB has shown he can mix in touch and velocity to fit the ball into tight seams, all while leading his receivers. He can also adjust his ball placement situationally, lead receivers high with defenders undercutting, and effectively place passes downfield.

In the pocket, Richardson has shown he can sense pressure along the edges and step up into the pocket. He needs to be more consistently poised, but he can at least slide forward through narrow lanes and navigate through crowded areas. Going further, Richardson flashes the ability to sense an imbalance in the pocket and slide to safer ground, granting himself more time.

Mechanically, Richardson brings plenty of tantalizing tools to work with. His release is powerful, and he consistently gets good hip rotation. The Florida QB can get his hips around even when rolling off-platform and quickly gather himself to load up torque. Richardson also has loose hips, which allow him to quickly correct his alignment and recover congruence when displaced. This shows up as he properly resets his base after play fakes.

A fusing element of Richardson’s current appeal, as well as his ultimate potential, is his toughness. The Florida QB is willing to stand in and deliver throws while taking direct hits. Additionally, as a creator, he can withstand a degree of contact and finish forward with his strong frame. He’s able to shed arm tackles and recollect his feet after initial contact. He’s a tough runner who’s willing to lower his shoulder and drive defenders back.

Richardson’s areas for improvement

Richardson is a young QB without much experience, and it certainly shows. He can do a better job anticipating breaks and often needs to see open targets before triggering. His lack of anticipation causes him to hold onto the ball too long, and his internal clock needs to speed up as well. With delays in processing and reaction, Richardson allows DBs to key in and close quickly.

Going further, Richardson sometimes stares down targets off the snap. He doesn’t employ much eye manipulation, and his tendency to stare down targets can lead safeties in. Richardson has room to grow with full-field progression work, as he’ll sometimes zero in on one side of the field. His eyes get stuck in the deep third at times, which causes him to overlook routes in the short and intermediate ranges. Moreover, Florida QB needs to be more aware of his check-downs.

Looking elsewhere, Richardson’s release is often winding, and his long, concentric motion sometimes delays throws and locks open his hips, preventing full rotation. The winding release also causes launch point volatility and sometimes limits the amount of elasticity Richardson can employ. To that end, Richardson doesn’t quite have the elite arm elasticity to consistently offset mechanical instability.

Going further, Richardson sometimes tilts his front shoulder up too much, causing passes to sail high. He shows occasional scissor feet on the drop back, which can stagger his footwork and erode his mechanics. Overall, Richardson’s footwork can be faster, more efficient, and more composed. He’s shown he can stay in phase at times, but false steps when placing his front foot can delay throws, and he often becomes frantic at the top of his drop when sensing pressure.

Richardson can more consistently step into and drive his hips through throws. In a general sense, mechanical inconsistencies brought on by pressure can cause volatility with his accuracy. Under pressure, Richardson becomes more erratic with placement and becomes more turnover-prone as well. Pressure up the interior, which he can be late to sense, causes him to fade backward, and his front shoulder can be tugged upward as a result.

Richardson’s poor mechanics under pressure invite chaos, but his decision-making doesn’t help, either. The Florida QB tries to force passes into congested areas under pressure more often than desired. He can be spooked into making poor decisions prematurely, sometimes relying on his raw talent to a fault. Additionally, pressure sometimes causes Richardson to hesitate and then force late throws. Timing is a part of Richardson’s game that needs particular work.

Current draft projection for Florida QB Anthony Richardson

At this point, any draft projection for Richardson comes with an asterisk. We simply need to see more reps from him before we lock him into a specific range. But if we’re projecting what he can be, Richardson undoubtedly has first-round upside and could go early in Round 1 if everything breaks his way this year.

Richardson is a unique evaluation, in large part because of the discrepancy between the prestige and the experienced. Richardson is entering his first year as a full-time starter. He has just 66 career attempts, and yet, he’s already being included in first-round 2023 NFL Mock Drafts.

In a vacuum, Richardson has a long way to go before he’s a bonafide first-round prospect. His decision-making, mechanics, and pocket poise all need to improve. And he’s still early in the developmental stages as a processor. But for a QB as young as Richardson, these issues are expected.

It would be different for a 23-year-old QB with these issues. But Richardson is 21. The cure for these qualms is experience, and that’s exactly what Richardson is due to receive in 2022. If that experience catalyzes growth, Richardson has the arm strength, elasticity, and elite creation capacity to be a franchise-caliber prospect at his maximum projection.