Heading into the NFL Draft, there’s always one prospect coming out of college who everyone becomes infatuated with, despite not being the finished article.
Sometimes, it’s down to physical traits shown at the Combine; sometimes, it’s down to their personality; or sometimes, it’s down to their display at their particular pro day in front of scouts.
This year’s golden boy is Anthony Richardson and, in his unique case, he’s impressed at every stage of the process.
Richardson ran the fastest 40-yard dash time of all quarterbacks, as well as jumping the highest and furthest at the Combine.
But it was at his University of Florida pro day where his big arm and all-around skillset lit up social media and had teams drooling over his potential.
He literally almost threw the ball out of the building when one of his booming throws hit the ceiling of the indoor facility.
Richardson has become the most tantalizing prospect at the draft; reports have indicated some see him as the next Josh Allen – a rough diamond who will take years to perfect but who has elite potential – with teams all the way up to the Carolina Panthers at No. 1 considering taking him.
It is those rough edges which could see him fall down the draft order. But the prospect of ‘what if’ that comes with Richardson – and at just 20 years of age – is one general managers and coaches around the league have been unable to turn a blind eye to for years.
NFL analyst Lance Zierlein described him as having “elite size, strength and athletic ability for the quarterback position … potential to perform in a variety of offensive schemes … arm strength to throw downfield and into tight windows” in his official draft profile, but also points to his passing inaccuracy.
With potentially nine picks in the opening 12 being held by quarterback-needy teams, Richardson could be finding a new home anywhere across the league.
Diamond in the rough
Richardson first burst onto the footballing scene not for his skills throwing the ball, but for catching it instead.
In his first game for Eastside High School in Florida, Richardson was deployed as a wide receiver and was caught making an extraordinary one-handed leaping catch, similar to one made by Odell Beckham Jr. for the New York Giants.
That video, posted over four years ago, has become a portent for the athleticism Richardson is now known for.
Richardson says that he has a new tattoo which reads “1 of 1” to describe his unique skillset.
“A lot of people say I’m a different breed. I always tell people I’m not from Earth,” Richardson told ESPN. “I’m gifted, I’m talented. I feel like God made me different, and I just try to use that in my daily life.”
He quickly earned the starting quarterback spot, before deciding to attend the University of Florida; the college was just 15 minutes from his high school.
Richardson’s start to life with the Gators was underwhelming; he redshirted his first year and attempted just 64 passes in his second.
It was only in his third year at the college where he laid down a marker, starting 12 games and throwing for 2,549 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions as the team finished with a 6-6 record with him at the helm. He also ran for 654 yards and nine more touchdowns.