NFL Futures: Will Anthony Richardson be the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft?

By Zachary Cohen  ( 

February 22, 2023 04:19 PM

If you watched a majority of the 2022-23 college football season and think Bryce Young is the best quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft, you certainly aren't alone. Young threw for 3,328 yards with 32 touchdowns and only five interceptions this past season, and he significantly raised the level of an Alabama team that didn't provide him with the best supporting cast — at least by head coach Nick Saban’s lofty standards.

Young is currently a small favorite to be the top pick in the draft, with Ohio State’s CJ Stroud and Kentucky’s Will Levis being the two other quarterbacks that have been in the conversation. Stroud threw for 3,688 yards with 41 touchdowns and only six picks for the Buckeyes, while Levis is viewed as a prospect that oozes potential because of his combination of size and athleticism — even if his actual production (2,406 yards, 19 touchdowns, 10 interceptions) trails in comparison to his peers. There is, however, a fourth quarterback that appears to be skyrocketing up draft boards: Florida’s Anthony Richardson.

In early February, former NFL GM and VSiN’s own Michael Lombardi ("The Lombardi Line") went on CBS Sports Radio and quoted the legendary Buddy Ryan when talking about smaller quarterbacks, like Tua Tagovailoa and Young.

“There’s a place in football for the little man, it’s just not in front of the big man,” Lombardi recited. That quote almost perfectly sums up Young’s biggest weakness, while also doing a bit to boost Richardson’s value.

Young, who is listed at a very generous 6’0’’ and weighs only 194 pounds, has everything you look for in a franchise quarterback, except for the one thing you can’t teach: size. For that reason, it seems people are starting to sour a bit on the 2021 national champion and Heisman Trophy winner. But size isn’t an issue for Richardson, who stands at 6’4’’ and is listed at 232 pounds.

Richardson, who threw for 2,549 yards with 17 touchdowns and only nine interceptions last year, looks like a superhero when he’s lined up under center, and he possesses a cannon for an arm and lively legs. Last year, Richardson rushed for 654 yards with nine touchdowns for the Gators, and it isn’t hard to see NFL coaches salivating over his skill set in the coming months.

Richardson did complete only 53.8 percent of his passes in his lone season as Florida’s starter, but his teammates didn’t exactly make his job easier. And if NFL front offices are willing to overlook Levis’ up-and-down tape because of his enticing tools, it no longer seems crazy to think that Richardson will be the first player selected.

Josh Allen, who is already one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, was viewed as a raw prospect because of his accuracy issues in his time at Wyoming, but he has thrived as both a passer and a runner with the Buffalo Bills. Teams now have a couple of months to decide whether Richardson has what it takes to similarly lead an offense and turn into a star. All it takes is one franchise to view him as a good fit for its system, and that isn't out of the question with a player like this. 

All in all, Young’s size has kept him from running away as the clear favorite in this class, and Richardson’s outrageous upside is already generating some serious buzz in league circles. We have seen the stock of quarterbacks rise significantly after a season has been completed, with Zach Wilson and Carson Wentz being examples of players that won over teams well after they were done playing. Richardson could potentially add his name to that list, as his Pro Day is sure to have scouts drooling. That could be enough for a team to trade up and grab him with the slot the Chicago Bears are currently occupying.

While it's highly unlikely this happens — he has to leap three quarterbacks, and multiple talented defensive players, that were ranked above him all year long — you’ll be upset you didn’t grab him at the generous +3000 odds that DraftKings is offering if there's a shocker on the day of the draft. As you might have seen earlier, Richardson is down to as low as +700 to go first in the 2023 NFL Draft and multiple sportsbooks are now putting more conservative prices on him. It won't be long before the rest follow suit. 

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