Seahawks draft Anthony Richardson top-10? Mel Kiper mock draft doesn't ring true
For QBs who have yet to prove passing competence, NFL teams have no reason to rush to the podium: 2/28/2023
Hollywood doesn’t make football movies about exceptional athletes with extraordinary physical gifts who land at premium college football programs before becoming the number one pick, winning a Super Bowl, and being inducted into the Hall of Fame. It’s not because theirs lives are boring or that stories like Peyton Manning and John Elway are dime-a-dozen; they are two of the most unique careers in NFL history.
But people don’t make movies about people who are expected to be great and then go onto be great. Hollywood prefers stories about people who were expected to fail and then go onto be good enough. Great is just icing on the cake and not a requisite for a Hollywood story.
Rudy wasn’t great. He wasn’t even good! Vince Papale, the inspiration for the movie Invincible, wasn’t great. He overcame monumental odds…to play on special teams and catch one 15-yard pass over three seasons with the Eagles.
They don’t make movies to tell stories about people who say, “Well, I was supposed to be great. And I was!” They make movies about those who say, “Never in a million years would you think they’d make a movie…about me!”
Underdogs who are good enough. Not favorites who are what we thought they would be.
In that way, Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson is the polar opposite of a football movie protagonist. He has all the tools to be great, all the opportunities to showcase his gifts as keys to an extraordinary career, but nothing to show for it after three years at a major football school that’s been begging to unearth another star quarterback.
Richardson has no great story…other than the fact that he is no great story.
The only reason football fans are even talking about Richardson right now is not because of anything he’s done, it’s only because of what he’s “supposed to do” in the NFL if everything breaks a certain way. But that, even more so than American Underdog or Rudy or Invincible, is merely a work of fiction.
At least those are dramaticized stories of events that really happened in the past. The draft obsession with prospects like Anthony Richardson are based on fantasies of stories we’re being sold about his potential future. To which I always have to ask the same question: “Why are we ignoring all the factors that haven’t led to him being great up until now?”
I think it’s human nature to be most fascinated by aspects of a person or story that seem to be overlooked by everyone else, and in Richardson’s case what I’m intrigued by is the fact that analysts and fans keep talking about him like a project who is bound to improve…but without explaining what’s taking him so much longer than his peers to start playing good football.
Yes, Richardson is 21—turning 22 in May—and that makes him at least a couple of years younger than 2023 class counterparts like Will Levis and Hendon Hooker. But Richardson is also two months older than Bryce Young and five months older than C.J. Stroud.
We don’t have to hear excuses or explanations for Young’s lack of development because he’s actually so far ahead of the curve that most draft analysts have never seen a 21-year-old who is able to process the game as quickly and as effectively as he’s done for the last two years at Alabama. Against SEC competition, against defenses that run the gamut from “weak” to “Georgia”, Young has proven dominant at playing top-level college football since he was 19.
Consider Stroud, a quarterback who definitely had considerable advantages at Ohio State but no less emerged from a crop in which he hasn’t been the Buckeyes’ only four or five-star recruit at the position in the last 10 years (many of whom disappeared), and you have a player with two top-four finishes in the Heisman race and dominant stats.
Young, Stroud, and Richardson were all highly-respected QB recruits in 2020. Three years later, they’re being talked about as three of the top-four QB prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. But only two of them have proven that they’re capable of playing good football on Saturdays.
It’s not just a gap. It’s the Grand Canyon.
Young, 2021-2022: 624/949, 65.8%, 8,356 yards, 80 TD, 12 INT
Stroud, 2021-2022: 575/830, 69.3%, 8,123 yards, 85 TD, 12 INT
Richardson, 2021-2022: 215/393, 54.7%, 3,105 yards, 24 TD, 15 INT
Technically, Richardson is the oldest of the three. He wasn’t overlooked coming out of high school and buried on the depth chart, needing to prove himself before getting the coach’s attention. He wasn’t stuck on a program that had no talent and needed him to carry the team beyond their abilities, as some are arguing for Levis.
He’s been compared to Cam Newton, a quarterback who indeed sat for two years at Florida like Richardson—but then won a Heisman and a national championship when he got his opportunity at Auburn.
He’s been compared to Josh Allen, a quarterback who indeed struggled with accuracy and wasn’t polished entering the draft—but who was a no-star recruit who overcame all the odds to eventually spend two full years as a starter at Wyoming and having almost twice the experience as Richardson with none of the top-ranked recruits or highly-paid coaches on his offense.
And as of Tuesday in Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft for ESPN, Anthony Richardson has been linked to the Seattle Seahawks at pick no. 9 (after they traded down with the Panthers) because, well…have you heard that the Seattle Seahawks need a quarterback???
The more I heard Kiper talk about Richardson in an interview with Field Yates on Tuesday, the less I expected the Seahawks to consider actually using a top-10 pick on him. In fact, the more I watch of Richardson at Florida during his one-season as a starter (following two seasons on the bench), the harder it is for me to see any team using a first round pick on him.
He wasn’t just bad. He’s been really bad. It’s not just one year of poor play on the field. It’s three years since he graduated high school and no evidence in that period that he’s going to have an easy time adjusting to NFL defenses, NFL coordinators, and NFL players.
He couldn’t do it in college. Why are so many people quick to assume—as they did with Malik Willis in 2022, Justin Fields and Trey Lance in 2021, or Daniel Jones in 2019—that development is inevitable? Why should we think that because teams have used first round picks on QBs who have taken two, three, or four years to become competent, as is the case with Jones, that other teams won’t see that as a reason to de-value development-heavy projects like Richardson?
The Seahawks—Pete Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks—using a top-10 pick on a QB who needs multiple years to maybe contribute?
Last time, I shared skepticism of Will Levis as a top-10 pick. This time, I will show you that I’m skeptical of Anthony Richardson…as a top-60 pick. Join Regular Joes for only $5/month or $55 for the entire year to keep reading!