We are closing in on the final days of the circus that is mock draft season, as the 2023 NFL Draft is nearly here. NFL Insider and PFN contributor Adam Caplan’s latest mock draft has gone live, and with it, we examine the potential landing spot of Florida QB Antony Richardson and how the Houston Texans could still be in play.
While the Work Is Done for Anthony Richardson Leading To the Draft, Questions Remain
Life as a top-ranked quarterback this time of year is busy. That is the case for Richardson, who wrapped up his stretch of top 30 visits and will wait to hear his name called during the 2023 NFL Draft.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that Richardson had three more visits to close out the week, with the deadline to visit being Wednesday. Richardson met with the Titans, Falcons, and Ravens. He’s also met with the Panthers, Texans, Colts, and Raiders as teams gauge their interest.
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For a pure ceiling aspect, there is an argument no one in this class can match what Richardson brings to the field. He did an outstanding job showcasing his talents at the NFL Combine and during the throwing sessions. But the 6’4″ and 244-pound quarterback truly stole the show after recording a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, 40.5″ vertical jump, and 10’9″ broad jump — setting an NFL Combine record for a quarterback.
In doing so, Richardson submitted himself among the top-ranked quarterbacks in this class. However, he is also the enigma of the group, given the head-scratching inconsistencies against the competition, which will be far easier than what he sees in the NFL.
That hasn’t stopped former Florida Gator teammate and current Houston Texan RB Dameon Pierce from singing the praises of Richardson.
“As you see, [Richardson] crushed the Combine — he has a rocket of an arm,” Pierce said on Good Morning Football. “But he is a great guy. He is a caring guy.
“He is always involved in the community in Gainesville, it’s one of the reasons why he went to Florida — to be that motivation to the kids surrounding the area. He is a great guy to be around and is an even better athlete.”
Due to his pre-draft success and puzzling tape, Richardson is popping up all over mock drafts, beginning all the way up at No. 1 to sliding in the first round. For a team like the Texans, which needs a quarterback as Davis Mills has not proven to be a franchise-altering signal-caller and has multiple Day 1 picks, this could become very interesting, something Caplan discussed in his recently published mock draft.
Anthony Richardson Is a Gamble Too Good for the Texans To Pass Up at No. 12.
While the Texans would have their chance to select him at No. 2, barring a trade or something truly chaotic with Carolina, Richardson sliding to No. 12 in Caplan’s mock draft shows a hesitancy amongst decision-makers to put their name on the dotted line in case Richardson does not pan out. After all, drafting a QB in the top few picks can be a death sentence to a career if that player does not pan out.
However, that risk comes substantially mitigated should Richardson fall outside of the top 10. When we do talk about the big four quarterbacks, it’s genuinely separated in half, with Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud on the upper end and Richardson, along with Will Levis, below them as the more uncertain players.
Caplan points out that history shows quarterbacks who only start one year at the collegiate level struggle to find long-term success in the NFL. He is absolutely correct in this assessment. It’s also a very rare thing to find. Coming into this year’s draft, there’s only been eight one-year QB starters in college who went on to be drafted in the first round since 2000.
There are certainly some notable names in here. Mitchell Trubisky, Mark Sanchez, and Dwayne Haskins show the low end of the range of outcomes. The jury is still out for others, including Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, and Trey Lance, though Lance would’ve been a multi-year starter had North Dakota State played during the COVID-impacted season.
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But for all the lows, they’re also the players who have shined, despite being one-year starters, such as Cam Newton, Joe Burrow, and Kyler Murray — one of whom is a prolific passer with the best pocket awareness in the league, while the other two are supreme athletes, including Newton, who is a common high-range comparison for Richardson.
Richardson is the true wild card in this draft, which is something Caplan even notes. He could go anywhere from fourth to the Indianapolis Colts to all the way in the late teens. His athleticism is tantalizing, and his arm strength is jaw-dropping.
But is he ready to be an NFL quarterback? Unfortunately, no one knows the answer, and to find out, someone will have to push their chips in the middle and go all-in on the player who could be the jackpot of the 2023 NFL Draft.
While I would personally elect to have Richardson wait a season, there is no substitution for game reps when the bullets are real and players are going full speed. With players like Trevor Lawrence, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, and Justin Fields taking the league by storm as dual-threat QBs, Richardson could add his name to the list while returning the Texans to AFC South contenders — possibly even more.
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