My title here at DK Nation is “college sports editor.” So while I’ll pitch in on NFL Draft coverage, and I will live and die with my beloved Philadelphia Eagles every Sunday, I don’t really do too much with the greater NFL.
But as someone that focuses far more on the college game than the pro version, I have always been of the opinion of “ask college football fans” when scouting talent for the next level. Because those fans don’t just watch the game tape; they know the greater context of each play and game of a season.
You know which guy on your team you wanted to get the ball in a big situation. You know which highly-touted defender was a true menace, and which was just a dude that looked good in shorts and practice, but can’t make a difference when it matters. And which player just has too many holes in his game that will be exposed at the next level.
And this is why teams absolutely, positively, 1000% cannot pick Anthony Richardson in the first round of the NFL Draft.
By all accounts, Richardson is a great kid and someone that won’t give anyone trouble away from the field. He’ll work hard and be a good teammate, just as he did in a difficult QB situation with the Florida Gators. But we’ll start with the stats, and then actually watch him to make it worse.
Richardson was 176-327 as a passer last season, his only one as a starter. That’s a 53.8% completion rate with 2,549 total yards for 7.8 yards per pass rating. He had 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions, and truthfully he got lucky to have the INTs only in single digits.
His 654 yards rushing and nine scores on the ground does add to his overall value, and he’s certainly built like a tank. It’s his size and athleticism that makes him appealing to scouts in the first place! The fact he’s 244 lbs and runs a 4.43 40-time is intriguing!
But Richardson was down 13 points to Vanderbilt with four minutes left, and lost. If not for a muffed snap on the last play of regulation, he’d of been in overtime at home against the South Florida Bulls. South Florida has won exactly one (ONE) FBS football game since October 26, 2019.
In that game against the worst defense in major college football, Richardson was 10-18 for 112 yards with no scores and two interceptions. At home.
If not for a crazy mistake by Cam Rising, he loses to Utah. At home.
He was 8-14 for 66 yards with a touchdown and an interception against Missouri. At home.
This isn’t some kid that needs the edges smoothed out in his game. He’s just wildly, unforgivably inaccurate. Watch this tape against literally the worst defense in FBS football.
Or this late in the season against Vanderbilt, who as the 12th-worst defense in college football is light years ahead of the Bulls.
What in there makes you think this is anything close to a first-round pick??
Could his receivers have helped him sometimes? Sure. But when a quarterback is so blatantly inconsistent from play-to-play, it’s hard to find anything resembling a rhythm or connection. And what’s on this tape is far beyond something that can be fixed by better coaching or improved skill position talent.
But just ask Gator fans what they think and saw during Richardson’s seasons in Gainesville. He clearly didn’t rate very highly on the eye test or confidence scales, and that should matter to NFL scouts who are looking at taking him in a part of the draft where he’s expected to perform at a high-level immediately.
The tape just isn’t there, and neither is the confidence of those that watched him most closely.
Should someone take a flyer on this type of high-ceiling in a later round? Absolutely. But Richardson is likely many years away from being able to contribute with NFL defenses in his face on every snap, and his status as a franchise player is highly questionable at best.
I hope I’m wrong because Richardson seems like a great human, and he’s handled plenty of adversity in college. But let someone else make the mistake, NFL teams. Don’t reach on Quarterback Mike Mamula.