I’ve been officially studying the NFL draft and the QBs in particular in the NFL draft since 2018. And this year’s draft class is full of talent. One QB that stands out because of how polarizing he is is Anthony Richardson the QB of the University of Florida.
Richardson has a lot of things scouts love, he has a big arm and will probably run in the low 4’s in the 40-yard dash. Richardson has drawn a lot of comparisons to Buffalo Bills Quarterback Josh Allen. And that comparison sent me down this journey to research and study every QB drafted in the first round since 2000. Both Allen and Richardson completed 54% of their passes entering the draft. That is what I started researching. I researched how many QBs between the years 2000-2022 entered the draft with a completion percentage in the 50s or lower and were taken in the first round.
What The Research Says
Going back and looking at all the first-round QBs between 2000-2022 I found 8 QBs who fit the criteria listed above. And in the last 22 years and out of the 8 QBs that fit that criteria I wondered how many have gone on to succeed, how many have gone on to be considered a top QB in the league. The answer to that question is 1. That QB is Josh Allen. Josh Allen has been used as an example and as the blueprint for guys like Richardson and others to succeed. But history says Allen is the outlier, not the example.
The Other Guys
When you go through the other QBs, guys like Jake Locker, Josh Freeman, J.P. Lossman, Joey Harrington, Brady Quinn, Kyle Boller, and Patrick Ramsey what you come across is a list of guys who are busts or flameouts. But also something the majority of all these guys have as well that also fits the same mold as a guy like Josh Allen and Anthony Richardson is the stereotypical QB build. The majority of these guys stand around 6ft 5in and have big arms. This list demonstrates something teams need to look at when it comes to drafting QBs with uber talent but not the efficiency or accuracy in college, that thing is don’t draft a QB in the first round off one or two special traits with big questions in the other major categories of the position.
What this Means For Anthony Richardson
I’m not saying Anthony Richardson will be a bust and flame out like the other 8 QBs in this study, but I will say teams need to use history and caution when it comes to drafting guys like Anthony Richardson. The thing Richardson has going for him is that the Bills did lay down the blueprint to success. But a guy who has the talent and skill that Richardson has coaches and GMs usually rush into the starting role because of that talent. For Richardson, it will take the right team and situation for him to succeed. Now I don’t think Richardson is a 1st round guy let alone a top-10 pick in fact I have a 3rd round grade on him and history is on my side but with the right coaches and the right situation it could work.
I’ll end this story with this. I think Richardson is one of the most talented guys we have seen enter the NFL draft in a long time. I think Richardson the day he enters the league will have a top 5 arm and will be rivaled only by Lamar Jackson when it comes to speed and his ability to run. But I think ultimately a lot like Malik Willis last year that Richardson needs a team that has a veteran that they love or has faith in for a few years so he can learn and grow into the guy you want. But the one thing this research has shown me is Josh Allen is special and different because he broke the mold listed above. And this research has shown me that when it comes to drafting QBs with a completion percentage in the 50s or lower teams need to use caution and history alongside the tape.