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Film Room: What Anthony Richardson could bring to the Raiders

Could be the Raiders’ QB of the future

South Carolina v Florida
Anthony Richardson
Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

While the Las Vegas Raiders no longer have an immediate need at quarterback with Jimmy Garoppolo under contract, the Raiders could still turn to the NFL Draft to find their “QB of the future”. One name that’s been tossed around is Florida’s Anthony Richardson who has gained steam after lighting it up at the combine with a perfect 10 RAS Score.

But if Las Vegas wants to draft Richardson, who appears to be a lock to get selected in the top five picks, they’ll have to trade up to get him. That maneuver would come with a good amount of risk as the Gator is far from a perfect prospect and likely needs some time to develop before he’s ready to start.

On the other hand, having Garoppolo in place could make the Raiders a good landing spot for him, so is Richardson worth trading up for? Let’s dive into the tape and see.

What I like about our first clip is it does a good job of showing Richardson’s mental processing. Pre-snap, he uses a dummy snap count to try and get the defense to tip their hand. As a whole, Utah doesn’t budge much but No. 3 flinches which is a good sign that he’s blitzing. Richardson sees that and makes a check at the line of scrimmage, likely changing the protection now that he knows the linebacker is blitzing and not dropping into coverage.

Post-snap, the Utes run inverted Cover 2 which means the safeties dropdown to cover the hook-to-curl areas, and the outside corners bail to take care of the deep halves of the field. In other words, the safeties and corners switch responsibilities to confuse the quarterback.

However, Richardson isn’t fooled. He starts his read to the left but quickly comes off of it and works to the other side of the field where the slot receiver has found a window between the middle hook (No. 20) and hook-to-curl (No. 11) defenders. Then, the Gator’s famous arm strength takes over and he throws a rope for a conversion on third and long.

That’s impressive processing for a guy who was making his first start in this game.

Now we get to take a look at the running ability.

Florida is running a Yankee concept here which essentially means play-action with two deep routes and max protection up front. Utah counters by running Cover 2 out of a one-high look where the boundary corner (No. 1 at the top of the screen) serves as the second deep-half defender.

They also are disguising the coverage by having No. 15 follow the wide receiver in motion to give a man coverage look pre-snap. However, 15 ends up passing off the receiver to the field corner (No. 4) and does a good job of opening up his hips to take away the dig route.

All of this is designed to confuse the quarterback, but Richardson doesn’t force the ball into coverage and recognizes that No. 1 and the two linebackers have their backs turned to him, so he takes off and it’s off to the races. In the open field, he puts a move on and makes the defensive back miss, and a play that normally would be dead with an immobile quarterback turns into a 45-yard touchdown run.

This is just ridiculous and a great example of how Richardson’s size and athleticism can help avoid sacks.

It’s another play-action pass from Florida but Utah isn’t fooled and they bring pressure off the edge with the linebacker. The jump-pump fake-spin-rollout move is not something you’re going to see from many quarterbacks at any level.

This is Pat Mahomes/Josh Allen-level playmaking ability (R.I.P. to my mentions for saying this but it’s true) and that gives Richardson plenty of time to find a wide-open receiver in the back of the endzone for an easy touchdown.

If you want the Raiders to draft a quarterback who can make the off-script plays that have become popular in the league recently, A-Rich is your guy.

I will say Richardson needs to work on his touch on short passes, but he can drop it in the bucket on deeper throws like this.

Florida runs play-action here but it’s really more of a token ball fake as the offensive line doesn’t try to sell the run. It’s also only a half-side read as the wide receiver at the bottom of the screen motions across the formation and the tight end stays in to block, so there isn’t much to take away from a processing standpoint here.

It looks like Richardson’s first read is the outside receiver (No. 1) running the out route as he eyes No. 1 pretty much the entire time. When he sees the defensive back overcommit to the in route — great job by the wideout of selling it — he knows where he wants to go and delivers a perfect ball where only his guy can get it.

Now, some people might point out that the slot receiver (No. 4) was wide open on the corner. While that’s true, Tennessee is playing man coverage with safety help over the top and the defensive back covering No. 4 trips.

It’s hard to account for that as a quarterback and if the safety is in a better position/closer to the middle of the field, he should be able to pick up the open receiver and still take that throw away after the primary defender stumbles. Plus, if you’re first read is open, throw it, so I wouldn’t hold that missed opportunity against Richardson especially when he still drops a dime for a big gain.

Here we’ll get an example of Richardson’s ability to maneuver in the pocket and a glimpse of the arm strength.

Another token ball fake on play action from the Gators and the Volunteers are running Tampa 2. That takes the seam route by the slot receiver away, and the tight end clearly didn’t get the memo on the protection scheme as the defensive end breaks through the line basically untouched or unblocked.

That forces the running back to pick up the end and Richardson does a great job of stepping up in the pocket once he reaches the top of his drop. He climbs the pocket with his eyes downfield, eventually finds a receiver open down the field, flicks his wrist and still has enough mustard on the ball to get it to his target.

The latter might not be what most people think of when they hear “arm strength”, but the ability to put that much velocity on a throw like this is impressive and part of the reason why the defensive back has no chance to make a play on the ball.

After some great YAC skills from the wideout, what could have been a sack turns into another 45-yard touchdown.

I saved my favorite play for last because this really highlights a lot of Richardson’s strengths in one play.

Florida runs two deep crossers with their two outside receivers, but Tennessee only rushes three defenders and drops eight so no one is open. This is where the fun begins.

The easy play here would be to just dump the ball off into the flat to the wideout who was in motion. However, Richardson knows he has time since there he has six guys to block three defenders so he gets creative.

Instead of throwing the short, gimme pass, he fakes it and look at what that does to the corner at the top of the screen. The corner takes the cheese and bites on the flat route, leaving a vacancy for No. 1 to exploit. That’s when Richardson delivers an absolute strike while on the move and shows some nice touch to get the ball over that underneath defender’s head.

Instead of taking a check-down that sets up a third and medium situation, A-Rich uses his playmaking ability to set the Gators up with a first and goal situation late in the game to help his team’s comeback effort.

Worth trading up?

Obviously, the clips above are all positive but to answer the question of whether or not Richardson is worth trading up for, we have to at least acknowledge some of the concerns about his game.

The two clips above will highlight some of my biggest concerns with Richardson.

My biggest worry is what a lot of other people have already highlighted, his accuracy on short throws. When he is asked to make quick throws or when he has easy passes, his footwork gets sloppy and/or lazy which leads to balls either sailing on him or being too far in front of receivers.

He also isn’t consistent about finishing his throws which can lead to some balls getting tipped by receivers because the pass is slightly out of reach and falling into the hands of safeties for interceptions.

While I’d say Richardson is solid at throwing with anticipation, it’s another area where he isn’t consistent nor is a strength of his game which will have to improve in the NFL. The good news is footwork and throwing with anticipation can be improved with experience, especially the latter.

My final two concerns with the Florida product are he has a little too much confidence in his arm where he’ll try to force a throw into man coverage occasionally, and he has the typical running quarterback issue where he likes to lower his throwing shoulder on contact.

To answer the big question, I think a lot of Richardson’s issues are fixable and can be improved with more experience and good coaching. To me, he’s absolutely worth trading up for if the Arizona Cardinals are willing to part with the third pick overall. Obviously, the asking price will play a factor too but as a general statement, that’s a move I’d make.

Coincidentally, this would be basically the same situation Garoppolo is leaving in San Francisco, where the Raiders trade up to number three overall to draft and develop his replacement. The NFL is a flat circle!