Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson commanded the podium during Friday’s NFL Scouting Combine media session. A physically imposing figure, Richardson touched on a number of topics, none more important than Richardson debunking the “inexperienced project” label he’s unfairly been tagged with throughout the pre-draft process.
“I don’t even know what that means,” Anthony Richardson replied to the notion of being a “project quarterback.”
It’s a wise reply to the criticisms Richardson has earned. Richardson did acknowledge he has room to grow, which shifts the narrative in a more positive direction. A first-year starter in 2022, Richardson showcased the athletic tools and arm talent necessary to quickly command first-round attention.
Richardson threw for 2,549 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, and nine interceptions last season. A dynamic dual-threat quarterback, Richardson added 654 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns to his offensive totals. There’s no denying that Richardson’s tape features instances of questionable decision-making, but calling him a “project” is downright disrespectful given what Richardson achieved in the SEC, otherwise known as the best conference in all of college football.
Richardson will continue garnering comparisons to the most electric quarterback talents in recent history. Lamar Jackson and Cam Newton are two names that are frequently brought up when searching for player comps. It turns out Richardson sees the same similarities.
“I began with Cam Newton and then Lamar Jackson,” Richardson said when discussing his main quarterbacking influences. “I started calling myself Cam Jackson in the 11th grade. I try to pull something from both of their games,” Richardson jokingly concluded.
Identifying those comparables is a straightforward process on film. Like Jackson and Newton, Richardson possesses the rare athleticism necessary to pick up chunks of yardage with his legs, both via designed quarterback runs and outside of structure when protections break down. Richardson is a candidate to lead all NFL quarterbacks in rushing yards someday.
Richardson’s evaluation largely centers around his off-script abilities, but don’t underestimate Richardson’s traits as a pure thrower of the football. At Florida, Richardson loved pushing the ball down the field vertically. Arm talent isn’t an issue. Elite velocity and zip allow Richardson to test tight throwing windows at all levels of the field, too. As for how receivers react to his otherworldly arm strength, Richardson isn’t going to spend much time worrying about it.
“I don’t care if somebody complains about me throwing too hard,” Richardson said with a sly grin. “They better catch it.”
Richardson is expected to light the combine on fire when the Gainesville, Florida native goes through the athletic testing process on Saturday afternoon. Richardson will almost certainly run the fastest 40-yard dash time among quarterbacks, with an official result in the 4.3-to-4.4 range qualifying as likely. Richardson should continue attaching a jetpack to his pre-draft stock through vertical and broad jump testing.
The combine provides athletically gifted talents like Richardson with an opportunity to shine on the biggest pre-draft stage. Indianapolis has literally been Richardson’s oyster. His well-built frame was easy to marvel at. Richardson won the media scrum by commanding the room while speaking with confidence. Expect his fruitful weekend to carry over into his testing, too. Richardson will cement his early-first-round status.
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