Anthony Richardson was picked 4th by the Colts, why? I understand that the kid has a bulk oil freighter’s worth of talent, but he seemed rather erratic in his throws. Is there something I missed in watching this kid from afar last season?
Richardson, like Tebow, is an impressive athlete. He does have better footwork and throwing mechanics than Tebow had. Richardson does have a scatter arm problem. Accuracy has been a big problem. Reading the post draft comments, some believe the Colts believe they can work with him to lock down the mechanics that will improve his accuracy. The Colts liked the fact Richardson had to be accounted for in the running game, too.
Will he do the work to become a franchise QB? Who knows.
Quarterback Anthony Richardson agreed to terms on a four-year, $33.99 million fully guaranteed deal with Indianapolis, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported on Monday. The contract includes a $21.72 million signing bonus paid entirely up front, per Rapoport and Pelissero. As with all first-round pick contracts, Richardson’s deal includes a fifth-year option.
I can explain it to you. I did a lot of research on this topic leading up to the draft. IMO this is what an NFL GM sees in Richardson:
Richardson is the most athletic QB ever drafted when you consider his size and speed. He’s as big as Tebow, and he’s as fast as Justin Fields.
I heard an interview from a coach at the Manning Camp. He said he goes to the Manning Camp every year, and he said that he’s watched people in the NFL Hall of Fame throw the football, and he would put Richardson’s arm strength above all of them.
Anthony Richardson had the best deep ball in the NFL draft. Richardson’s ability to throw the deep ball got WR Justin Shorter drafted to the Bills. And the Bills saw enough on film to take Justin Shorter in the 5th round as a long term successor to deep threat WR Gabe Davis.
When you dig into the analytics Richardson is unsackable. And it wasn’t just because he took off every time the pocket broke down. Richardson was unsackable because of his size and elusiveness within the pocket. He would often avoid rushers, move up in the pocket, and then find a WR down the field. There are good examples on film of him doing this.
And it is important to state he was unsackable with a less than elite OL. That translates up to the NFL, and it means he can be unsackable with a less than elite OL there as well. When you study the effect of a sack on the success of a drive it is a pretty big deal. The chances of a drive having success when the defense gets a sack is significantly less than a drive without a sack.
Anthony Richardson is an elite level learner. Film guys who dug through Richardson’s film would say that Richardson would make a mistake in the 1st half of a game, and then the DC would come back to the same exact look later in the game and Richardson would not repeat the same mistake twice in the same game. He is a good self evaluator, and he’s good at correcting the mistakes he has made. Coaches have also commented on how quickly he can pick things up when they try to teach him things.
The WR talent at Florida was down last year because of a combination of recruiting and injuries. There was one game where pretty much every starter at WR was injured. And Richardson was playing against SEC defenses. So when Richardson was completing passes there was often not much separation between the corner and the receiver at all. Richardson was throwing in tight windows all year. So, many of Richardson’s completions were NFL style throws in smaller windows like NFL QBs have to throw into.
All of that is true, but Richardson struggled with his completion percentage on short to intermediate routes. I think his completion % on throws less than 5 yards from scrimmage was below 60%. The intermediate routes similarly were a problem.
There is film evidence that shows Richardson can read defenses and throw with anticipation. I don’t think he’s elite in this regard, but he’s capable.
Richardson also seems to have psychological ups and downs. He can get really down really fast and then he can almost psych himself out of the game. So there are some questions about his psychological makeup. Can he mature in that regard?
So…put all of that together. What you have is a guy who can do things with his arm and his legs most other players cannot do, but he also hasn’t mastered the easy stuff like completing passes less than 5 yards and throwing completions on intermediate routes. The question is if you can teach him to throw short and intermediate routes, and he can learn to do the easy stuff in his 2nd and 3rd year as a starting QB post-high school, what will that look like given his elite long ball, elite athletic profile, and his virtual unsackability behind an average OL? And what happens when Richardson gets the chance to throw to a 1st round draft pick?