Five Play Prospect: Florida QB Anthony Richardson Scouting Report
Anthony Richardson has all of the tools to be a successful SEC quarterback. The incoming freshman at the University of Florida, fresh off of signing his letter of intent last week, provides head coach Dan Mullen with mouth-watering traits that he can't wait to develop.
The Eastside product, playing his high school ball not 15 minutes down the road from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, has drawn comparisons to former Gators, Auburn Tigers, and Heisman-winning quarterback Cam Newton for his raw skill-set. And for good measure.
His game is far from polished. He is a raw quarterback prospect from a team that won only two games in 2019, yet he was the driving force behind the Rams' 24.5 points per game, with 15 total touchdowns in six games before a shoulder injury that ended his season.
Let's take a look at what Florida is getting in quarterback Anthony Richardson, in GatorMaven's first five-play prospect scouting report.
First things first: Anthony Richardson was born with a cannon in place of his right arm.
This throw took place earlier in Richardson's senior season, a game I was in attendance for on the sidelines to scout the young quarterback. Standing next to me at the time of this throw, right around the five yard line (in a blue shirt, if you can see it) was Dan Mullen.
He couldn't help but smile the second the ball was in the receiver's breadbasket.
The arm power that Mullen and QB coach Brian Johnson are getting in Richardson will make this Florida offense really explosive when it's time for him to start taking snaps. Eastside's vertical offense often called for Richardson to let his arm loose, and his deep ball was always pretty consistent during his time in high school.
Whether it was throwing the ball 45+ yards down the field, or a 20 yard toss with plenty of zip to get to the receiver before a defensive back could make a play, arm strength is arguably the biggest component of Richardson's passing game.
Richardson pairs his impressive arm strength with touch on his deep ball, often putting the ball in positions where only the receiver can make a play on it.
That's the case in the play above. Eastside runs a smash concept to open up the left corner of the endzone against man coverage, with the safety draping the slot receiver - Richardson's ideal target.
But no matter, Richardson lets the ball fly out of the receivers route break, putting enough air under the ball to prevent any defender from getting a hand on the pass before the receiver can make a play on it. Paired with his excellent deep accuracy, Richardson drops this ball on a pin-point over the defenders head and right where only the receiver can make a play.
And one must remember, given that the snap is at the 20 yard line and the receiver is running this route into the endzone, the margin for error on the throw decreases dramatically compared to a typical deep throw. Richardson has to be precise in his timing and accuracy to make this play.
An easy six points for Richardson, on a difficult throw to make.
While he will have to adapt to some West Coast concepts in Florida's spread offense, and learn to control his zip and touch in the short game, his foundation being that he can win with both on the deep ball is pretty inspiring.
While it was previously mentioned that Richardson would have to develop his game to fit some of the West Coast concepts Florida runs (mesh concepts, quick drops [one/three-step] to get the ball out quickly in the short game, etc.), window throws like this should make Mullen hopeful that it won't be a long or difficult process.
Richardson takes a one-step drop with a small hitch to allow the slot receiver to run his slant into the middle of the field, and zips this ball between two linebackers to hit his receiver with enough time to create yards after contact - at the time of the throw, the receiver had five yards of separation from his coverage safety.
Given his zip, paired with more consistent accuracy in the short game, Richardson has the capability of making these throws often at the next level. Window throws require advanced accuracy, arm power, and polished timing to work, and once again, Richardson has the foundation to make it happen.
Throwing under pressure
Richardson has a knack for making plays off schedule. While an offense obviously functions best when the quarterback is making plays on schedule, Richardson has a great sense of pressure and taking matters into his own hands.
Sensing pressure coming up the middle, Richardson rolls right but keeps his eyes down the field the entire time. That right there is a special trait from a high school quarterback - keeping your eyes downfield while avoiding pressure requires both poise and quick thinking to extend plays.
Richardson sees a deep crossing pattern developing as he rolls right, and despite it going in the opposite direction of his roll-out, he quickly resets his base and lets this rip. Although Richardson threw this from the 22 to the 50 - considered 28 air yards - Richardson really threw this pass closer to 40 yards when you account for the ball traveling diagonally across the field. And he makes it look easy.
Given all of Richardson's arm talent, you probably wouldn't guess that he finished his high school career with more rushing touchdowns than scores through the air.
But that he did: 41 of Richardson's 79 career touchdowns came on the ground. And for a 6-4, 207 lb. quarterback, Richardson can move.
Much like the throw under pressure, Richardson displays a great feel for pressure and the pocket collapsing around him on a six-man blitz. Feeling heat off of the right side and understanding his protection to the left - with the running back picking up a block and the left tackle kicking the edge defender out of the play - Richardson tucks the ball, makes an impressive stiff arm, and is off to the races to eventually score a 51 yard rushing touchdown.
Hence the "dual-threat" label.
Anthony Richardson has all of the tools in the world to become an elite quarterback at the University of Florida with development within what the scheme calls for. However, with the deep-ball traits that Richardson provides, he will give Mullen the chance to establish a more vertical offense when he begins to take snaps.
After a thorough film review, it's easy to understand why Richardson draws comparisons to Cam Newton. While Richardson is certainly not ready to win a Heisman or go No. 1 in the 2020 NFL Draft, his skill-set is eerily similar to that of Newton's. It just needs polish.
Give him a couple of years to develop in Dan Mullen's system and to polish his game, and Richardson could become the most dynamic quarterback in the SEC.