Josh McDaniels once took a supremely athletic University of Florida quarterback in the 2010 NFL Draft. Could the Las Vegas Raiders head coach do the same in the 2023 edition of the event?
It’s been 13 NFL seasons since McDaniels swung big on Tim Tebow when he was the head man with the Denver Broncos. And now that McDaniels is paired with longtime friend Dave Ziegler as the head coach and general manager of the Silver & Black, respectively, history has a chance to repeat itself — this time with Anthony Richardson.
Not only did Richardson sport the No. 15 Tebow wore as a Gator — the former became the first scholarship quarterback to wear the number since the latter — he is just as much of a wild card prospect as his predecessor. At 6-foot-4, 232 pounds, Richardson is a well-built quarterback who displays tantalizing height, weight, and speed traits to go along with a very strong arm. It’s that speed and velocity from his right arm that’s fueled some first-round projections as Richardson was the top SEC quarterback with five runs of 30-plus yards this past season.
The physical traits and intangibles make Richardson an intriguing developmental-type quarterback, similar to Tebow all those years ago.
Would it be enough to attract the Raiders attention — namely Ziegler who is the team’s chief personnel man?
Raiders GM Dave Ziegler was reportedly “intrigued” by Anthony Richardson throughout this past college football season.— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) January 20, 2023
The Las Vegas Raiders currently hold the seventh overall pick in the NFL Draft pic.twitter.com/7mEaaJIAQr
Unlike his predecessor in Florida, however, Richardson doesn’t come with the same accomplished collegiate resume as Tebow. Where as Tebow led the SEC in pass completion percentage three straight season from 2007 to 2009, passing efficiency rating from 2007 to 2009, and paced the conference with 23 rushing touchdowns in 2007, Richardson finished in the top five in only two categories in 2022: Passing interceptions (nine for No. 4 in the SEC) and total yards per play (7.4 also for No. 4 in the conference).
This is a byproduct of games played disparity between the two Gators signal callers. Tebow played in 55 career games across four seasons from his true freshman to senior years while Richardson played in 22 career games in three seasons since arriving to Florida in 2020 and redshirting. Of those 22 games, only 13 were starts as he sported a 6-7 record for the Gators. Compare that to the seven career losses Tebow sustained as Florida’s starting QB and the disparity is even more clear.
Hence the developmental tag for Richardson. However, you can’t teach size and speed and he has it in spades.
Richardson has put a lot of promising things on film — such as being able to put mustard on throws while he’s on the run, and running away from defenses when he decides to run. But there are misfires on throws as accuracy issues show up, his decision making and ability to command an offense. The last point being a main sticking point in McDaniels scheme installed in Las Vegas. But, we’ve seen McDaniels adjust his scheme from a pocket-type to scrambling-type quarterback when the New England Patriots went to Cam Newton as its starting quarterback.
And if Richardson’s passing skills improve, he’d be a headache dual threat that has imposing size and take-it-to-the-house speed. (If he doesn’t, he’d be Terrelle Pryor all over again).
What also can’t be ignored is McDaniels loves having developmental quarterbacks on the roster — players who can develop and learn behind a true starter — and Richardson should certainly intrigue him. The issue is the Raiders lack a “true starter” at the moment. Who would Richardson develop behind? Perhaps free agent acquisition Tom Brady or re-upping Jarrett Stidham?
And, namely, Will Richardson intrigue Ziegler just the same? That’s the chief question as Ziegler made it clear he has final say on the roster, even though he and McDaniels collaborate on decisions.
Las Vegas owns the No. 7 overall pick along with the 38th and 70th overall picks, in the second and third rounds respectively. The draft boards will fluctuate heavily until April and it’s “lying season” where rumors and interest are rampant and not 100 percent the truth. But one could surmise Richardson may be gone before the Raiders pick again at 38, or he may be there for the picking.