This continues my series of potential first-round draft targets for the Falcons, moving onto the most polarizing figure in the class, Anthony Richardson. If you missed any of the previous editions of this series, follow the links below:
- Bijan Robinson
- Brian Branch
- C.J. Stroud
- Bryce Young
- Will Levis
- Will Anderson
- Paris Johnson Jr.
- Devon Witherspoon
Falcons fans always enjoy criticizing me in my mentions every time I bring up Anthony Richardson as a potential target for the team with their first-round pick. I understand; he’s a project quarterback that severely fell short of expectations while he was at Florida. In the same breath, every top quarterback prospect will be in consideration for the Falcons until they figure out the position.
I’m warm to the idea of Desmond Ridder being the team’s starting quarterback in 2023, but he hasn’t shown enough to cement the position entirely. If the Falcons are in love with a QB in this draft that’s available when they are on the clock, they would be fools not to take him. It’s the most important position in all of sports and having two quality ones is much better than having none. Several teams are going to fall in love with Richardson because of his upside, and the Falcons could be one of them.
Let’s start with Richardson’s calling card — his size and athleticism. He was made in a lab, standing 6-4, 235 pounds with 4.4 speed. That’ll play, and it would be especially valuable in a system like Arthur Smith’s, who would prefer to have a quarterback that can make plays with his feet. Imagining the Falcons running game with Richardson in the fold should have fans salivating, even if his ability as a passer still leaves a lot to be desired.
From an arm strength perspective, Richardson might be the best in the class. There isn’t a throw on the field he can’t make. The problems that arose last year at Florida stemmed from his decision making and ability to read coverages properly. He’s often too athletic to a fault, causing him to hold onto the ball too long and take unnecessary sacks. He also has a lot of faith in that aforementioned arm strength, which resulted in far too many forced throws and turnovers.
Those are legitimate concerns that might not be fixed overnight, but my counterpoint to that would be his lack of experience. Richardson only started one year at Florida. The sample size is minuscule. With the proper coaching, I do believe many of these red flags could begin to look green over time, and time is something the Falcons do not lack.
I know fans want something immediate, but the reality of the Falcons’ situation is they are nowhere close to fielding a team that’s ready to compete for a Super Bowl. It’s not happening next season and probably even the year after, no matter who is under center. They are a franchise that needs to be looking two or three years down the road when thinking about competing, which is why a quarterback prospect like Richardson is very intriguing. Don’t be shocked if the Falcons end up being the team that pulls the trigger on the ultra-talented quarterback prospect out of Florida.
Photo: David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire
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