From an analyst’s perspective, the time period between the beginning of Anthony Gordon’s draft process to present day has been among the most frustrating to watch.
The way his path has gone at the professional level is a perfect illustration of the detrimental effect COVID restrictions had on lesser-known prospects in terms of exposure and getting a full chance to show what they bring to the table.
Gordon largely flew under the radar as far as draft projections are concerned when he was at Washington State, garnering a pop of attention around the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine. By draft day in 2020, Gordon was projected between the third and fifth round by most analysts. Instead, he went undrafted with numerous prospects that were either at his talent level or below it coming off the board in front of him. He didn’t even land with a team until he was signed by the Seattle Seahawks on May 1, 2020, then waived by the team on Sept. 5, 2020.
His next opportunity came with the Kansas City Chiefs, who signed him on Jan. 12, 2021. He seems to be in a better situation with a coaching staff that more clearly sees his value and the height of his ceiling.
Gordon saw action in the Chiefs’ 19-16 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the first preseason game of 2021, completing 11-of-17 passes for 79 yards.
He has the potential to be a significant asset to an NFL team, and perhaps his most notable trait is his release, which people are still talking about even if Gordon himself isn’t a hot topic of conversation.
Former Washington State head coach Mike Leach, who was with Gordon while he was with the Cougars, told me that he thought Gordon’s 3/4 release was unparalleled ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft.
“I think he’s got a quicker release than nearly anyone in the entire league,” Leach said. “He’s got above-average arm strength. He’s got a really good presence in the pocket. There are faster guys, he’s not a slow guy. I think he really sees the field well. I think that he’ll have a successful NFL career.”
Here’s a look at a play that showcases just how insane of a release he has:
Gordon was impressive taking the reins from Gardner Minshew after the current Jaguar departed for the NFL, completing 71.6% of his passes for 5,579 yards with 48 touchdowns and 16 interceptions as a fifth-year senior in his first year starting at Wazzu.
Gordon’s 48 touchdowns were the second-most in the nation behind former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. That’s impressive for a first-year starting quarterback, especially in a scheme that demands so much from the position.
In addition to the release and what the Senior Bowl’s Jim Nagy refers to as “sandlot instincts,” Gordon has the type of pocket presence and field vision you want in a passer with more than just adequate arm strength.
As the battle continues through the preseason in Kansas City, time will tell if Gordon gets the opportunity he deserves under Andy Reid. It’s a good setup for him, with the chance to be at someplace on the depth chart behind the most successful Air Raid quarterback currently in the NFL, Patrick Mahomes. Otherwise, he’ll go down as a quarterback who could have been better than most backups and some starters who simply never got a legitimate chance due to circumstances out of his control.