Anthony Richardson is our top QB for rookie drafts and checks in as QB12 in our overall dynasty ranks. He has the ceiling to be a top fantasy QB for many years, given his elite athletic profile and likely high-end draft capital. His accuracy has been a major issue, which has been noted by the scouts and is apparent in the data. However, after Josh Allen‘s impressive rise to success, there is more hope for players like Richardson than we have seen in the past given proper coaching.
The potential for a Cam Newton-like athlete with Allen’s passing stats is something that cannot be ignored. The QB position lacks great depth, and it has a few players at the top who really stand out. We are leaning more into what the upside is worth than what the downside may cost you. As we have seen with Trey Lance, sometimes these “project” QBs — even with requisite draft capital — don’t manage to make it happen.
Richardson has an incredibly wide range of outcomes as a prospect. It’s impossible to not see the ceiling of a QB who runs in the 4.4s at 244 pounds. This is visible in the data but has also been noted by the scouts. His passing numbers were not terribly impressive, but he is also considered to be further along in his development than Allen was at this time. That is promising. Lack of experience is another difficult factor with Richardson. It is likely that he plays minimally as a rookie, unless he is forced to play due to injury — or perhaps his team is just out of playoff contention and wants to see him. What has continually become more and more clear is that some team is likely willing to pay a top-five draft pick to find out exactly what Richardson can be.
Age (as of 12/31/22) — 20.6
Experience — 3 years
By the Numbers
Richardson does not have a lot of experience for his career. He entered Florida as a Dan Mullen recruit, playing behind Kyle Trask as a freshman and Emory Jones as a sophomore. In 2022, Mullen was replaced by Billy Napier, and Jones transferred to Arizona State. In 12 contests against elite competition, Richardson averaged 7.8 yards per attempt and threw 17 TDs to nine interceptions.
What really separates Richardson is what he can do on the ground. Even with sacks included in college rushing production, he managed to run for 654 yards and another nine scores on 103 carries. He has, by far, the most rushing production of the top QBs in this class and tested as the most athletic QB of all time at the Combine.
While he only completed 53.8% of his passes in 2022, it is worth noting that it came with an aDOT of 11.5. That was inside the top 10 for all passers with at least 200 dropbacks.
What the Scouts are Saying
Lance Zierlein believes Richardson has an elite physical profile, but he has serious concerns in terms of accuracy:
Dual-threat quarterback with an elite physical profile and a lot of work that needs to be done to reach a potentially high ceiling. Richardson’s frame, arm talent, and mobility will demand respect as a potential first-round option. He has the ability to make plays on the move that very few of his NFL peers will be able to make. However, his accuracy on short and simple throws left much to be desired due, in part, to shoddy footwork and inconsistent rhythm. The footwork issues can be corrected, but the challenge will be determining whether he can be at least a functionally accurate passer at the next level. Richardson’s potential to strike with the deep ball, attack the secondary from sideline to sideline, and gash teams with his legs creates greater leeway in his projection as a developmental prospect. Ultimately, he will succeed or fail based on his ability to play with better post-snap recognition and deliver the football with consistency.
Daniel Jeremiah thinks Richardson has the most upside of any QB in this class:
Richardson packs elite arm strength and athleticism into a big/physical frame for the position, but he is incredibly raw on tape. He has urgency and explosiveness in his setup, and the ball jumps out of his hand from his three-quarters arm slot. His arm strength is special; he doesn’t even need to engage his lower body to make power throws deep down the field. On the flip side, his decision-making and accuracy are a roller-coaster ride. He yanks his arm at times, leading to some ugly misfires. He forces too many balls into crowded areas, too. He is electric as a runner, using his burst, agility, and power to rack up runs of 60 to 80 yards. In summary, Richardson needs polish, but his upside exceeds everyone in the draft class. He’s a low-floor/high-ceiling prospect.
Dane Brugler agrees with Jeremiah regarding the ceiling:
A very young and unrefined passer, Anthony Richardson doesn’t have the most impressive résumé (zero career games with 250-plus passing yards and a 60% or higher completion rate). However, his impressive talent gives him the highest ceiling of any quarterback in this class. A traits-based prospect, Richardson is the most intriguing wild card of the 2023 Draft.
Richardson currently has an expected draft position of 4.8 on Grinding the Mocks, which sources mock drafts around the interwebs. Mock Draft Database is a similar service that has Richardson fourth overall. He was the fourth selection in both Jeremiah’s most recent mock and Brugler’s adjusted top 10 after the Panthers trade. Richardson looks to be a solid top-five selection, and certainly locked into the top 10.
I use Principal Component Analysis to evaluate prospects. In simplest terms, this kind of analysis looks at relevant data points to find the closest comparable players in past drafts. I prefer this to a model output — which yields only a single result — as it can display the possible range of outcomes for a prospect.
Note that the analysis itself isn’t telling us how good a player is; it is simply returning the most similar players. It is then up to us to layer in context and past results to see how good we think this player may be.
The range on Richardson is extremely wide — even when accounting for wide QB ranges in general. Deshaun Watson has been one of the best young QBs we have had in the last decade, while Robert Griffin had an amazing rookie year before injury set in. The other end of the spectrum includes Logan Thomas, who had to make a position switch over to TE in order to see the field.
It is worth noting that Richardson is such a rare player, that his similar players are some of the lowest we’ve seen. There are only three comps in our database that are even 70% similar to him.