NFL combine: Did Anthony Richardson’s show of force change draft discussion with Bryce Young?

This column originally appeared in the daily Sportzshala Sports Read & React newsletter. You can subscribe here.

Let’s start the week off talking about the NFL Scouting Combine, which concluded on Sunday. The NFL is a bit like a first date in the 21st century: you’ve read a profile, watched some game movie, swiped to the right, and now it’s time to see for yourself if this match is right.

Coming out of this year’s unification, Florida’s Anthony Richardson was the quarterback that created the most intrigue. He ran very fast, jumped very high, basically confirming why, despite only completing 54% of his passes last season, he is an elite prospect.

Alabama’s Bryce Young’s mind may be the most prepared for the NFL, but what if Richardson could be coached like Josh Allen? How good is Richardson?

‌This is the question that makes the top of the upcoming draft so interesting.

‌Do you support the more NFL-ready Prospect Young, who has proven himself in the biggest and toughest competitions in the country, yet is only 5ft 10in tall? Or will you go with Richardson, who has seemingly higher potential but will take some time to get there if he ever does?

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 04: Quarterback Anthony Richardson of Florida participates in an exercise during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 4, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Quarterback Anthony Richardson of Florida underwent several eyeball tests during Saturday practice on the field at the NFL Scouting Combine. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Young is still the favorite to bet on first place, but since his performance at the combine, Richardson’s odds have dropped from +10,000 to +300. And scouts, general managers and coaches now have two more months to discuss how they can turn him into a more athletic Patrick Mahomes, so expect those chances to narrow even further.

‌The conversation is always dominated by the mystery of which QB will act first, but one thing that seems to be overlooked is this: is the team ready pick a quarterback?

Yes, the Chicago Bears needed a QB a few years ago, but when they took Justin Fields, there was nothing around him. It’s one thing to make a $500 million film, but the studio won’t get that money back unless it spends millions more to promote it.

In the case of the Bears, they spent so much draft capital to get Fields that they had nothing left to “promote” him. Result: Two years into the Fields era, they have the worst record in the NFL.

‌The opposite was in San Francisco, who filled the closet and then made a move to QB. No, the 49ers still don’t know what they have in Trey Lance, but they managed to turn Mister Irrelevant into a potential franchise quarterback because Brock Purdy had Debo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and Christian McCaffrey.

‌It’s kind of a date, the equivalent of friendship in the first place – not as forced, more organic, and less potential for falling in love just like that.

‌Some teams will be celebrating two months after picking Young or Richardson (or CJ Stroud or Will Lewis). It’s just worth remembering that “winning the draft” is not the same as winning in September.


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