Farewell, Anthony Richardson. Go be great. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
The Florida Gators will officially be looking for a new quarterback in 2023, as Anthony Richardson’s time in Gainesville is done.
Richardson, the local Eastside High School product, is leaving Florida for the 2023 NFL Draft after one full year as the Gators’ starting QB but after spending three years at the school. He completed 176 of 327 passes in 2022 for 2,549 yards and 17 touchdowns, along with nine picks. He also ran 103 times for 654 yards and nine more touchdowns.
For NFL scouts, Anthony Richardson is truly the ultimate risk/reward scenario.
The athletic abilities are off the charts. Richardson stands 6’4, 240, and runs a 4.4 40 yard dash. This is nearly unheard of for a college quarterback.
As such, Richardson often dazzles as a runner, displaying a rare blend of speed that can quickly leave defenders in the dust and power that can drive them back four or five yards in a scrum. Furthermore, Richardson has made some throws in his career that are nothing less than brilliant, navigating the lob/line drive spectrum perfectly in different situations and dropping in dimes that Aaron Rodgers couldn’t throw any better.
The problem is that he doesn’t do any of these things consistently. Sometimes he would run with confidence and fury, and sometimes he would be hesitant and tepid. Sometimes he would go through his progressions, read the field well, and deliver perfect passes, and sometimes he would look uncomfortable in the pocket and misfire balls in every direction. Sometimes he would square into his shoulders, step into a throw, and follow through, and sometimes he would… not.
Richardson also was not a natural fit for Billy Napier’s offense, which certainly had at least something to do with his inconsistency. Dan Mullen’s offense was much more dual-QB-friendly, and for all the natural talent that Anthony Richardson has, it felt a lot like trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. The NFL team that drafts him will almost surely either already run some type of spread offense, or be willing to adjust their offense to suit what he does best- something that, much to many Gator fans’ chagrin, Billy Napier did not do.
But Richardson’s possession of such a crazy amount of natural athleticism meant that scouts wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they didn’t pay close attention to him. Every hotshot young NFL coach sees a project like Anthony Richardson and believes that they can fine-tune things and wring success out of him. The saying that I’ve heard a lot of regarding Richardson has been: “grab the talent, we’ll figure out the mechanics later.”
And by all accounts, Richardson is an extremely hard worker and a great human being off the field- the latter of which I can personally verify with not just one, but two accounts of– and those things will help make a team fall in love with him.
Florida, in the meanwhile, will have a QB battle on its hands this spring and summer. And we don’t even know all the combatants now. The ones we do know- Jack Miller, Jalen Kitna, Jaden Rashada, and Max Brown- are very likely to have competition from someone via the transfer portal whose identity we do not know yet.
All the best to Anthony Richardson as he pursues his dreams of playing at the next level. Go make Gainesville proud.