The Falcons are reportedly looking hard at quarterbacks in this draft class. Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, Anthony Richardson, and Will Levis all have enticing attributes. Atlanta is just completing its due diligence, but if they fall in love with one of the prospects, they should absolutely pull the trigger, which is what Nate Davis of USA Today has the team doing in his latest mock draft, landing “Cam Jackson” — i.e., Anthony Richardson.
Analysis: The self-styled “Cam Jackson” indeed blew up the combine as a bit of a Cam Newton–Lamar Jackson hybrid. At 6-4, 244 pounds, Richardson blazed a 4.43 40 and hit combine quarterback records with a vertical jump of 40½ inches and a broad jump of 10 feet, 9 inches. So though he’s lacking in experience (13 starts for the Gators), Richardson’s physical tools – to include a bazooka of an arm that was also on full display Saturday – are very likely to land him in the top half of Round 1 … at the very least. And even though QB Desmond Ridder is coming off his rookie season, Atlanta – owner Arthur Blank had his team in the running for Deshaun Watson last year – will have a prime opportunity to reinvest at the position. Richardson could clearly benefit from a season (or more) to marinate under HC Arthur Smith and work on his accuracy while the less physically gifted Ridder’s evaluation continues. But Smith’s penchant for extracting the most from his players and the prospect of Richardson eventually joining an offense with several promising youngsters could make him hard to bypass – and perhaps galvanize a city nearly two decades removed from the Michael Vick Experience.
The monicker Cam Jackson isn’t too far off. He set the NFL Combine on fire last weekend. He ran a 4.43 40-yard dash, which was the fourth fastest by a quarterback since 2000, but he did it at 6-foot-4, 244.
For reference, the other three that ran faster: “Robert Griffin III (6-foot-2, 223 pounds; 4.33 40-yard dash), Reggie McNeal (6-foot-2, 198 pounds; 4.40 40-yard dash) and Michael Vick (6-foot, 210 pounds; 4.33 40-yard dash).”
Yes, Anthony Richardson is a combination of Cam Newton and Lamar Jackson. The Auburn product checked in at 6-foot-5, 248 pounds and ran a 4.56 40-yard dash. Jackson didn’t participate in the NFL Combine but would’ve tested exceptionally well.
“Growing up it was always Cam Newton for me,” Richardson said. “But then when I got to high school, just seeing how dynamic Lamar was. I tried to implement both of those guys in my life. I started calling myself Cam Jackson in 11th grade, just trying to make big plays. Just Cam Newton and Lamar Jackson.”
Richardson is one of the craziest physical specimens we have ever seen enter the draft. He’s about as explosive as any quarterback ever, with his arm and legs. Against LSU, Richardson had one of the most spectacular runs I have ever seen. Moreover, nine of his 40 passing touchdowns traveled more than 40 yards, including four of 70 or more yards.
There are facets of Richardson’s game that need refining, but his potential is off the charts. If he can develop in the right situation, he has legitimate MVP capabilities. Because he struggled at Florida, Falcons fans, mostly Georgia Bulldogs fans, will paint him as a bust due to his struggles in Jacksonville, but those Gators were terrible; nobody could’ve succeeded in Gainesville. I’m eager to see what he can do in the league, and if it’s with the Falcons, sign me up.
Photo: Chris Leduc/Icon Sportswire
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