Anthony Richardson: the Most Interesting Player of the 2023 NFL Draft

For the first biomechanical review of the 2023 offseason (and therefore the first review since methods have advanced over the past several months), it seems appropriate to present arguably the most interesting/ polarizing prospect of the 2023 draft. Anthony Richardson (6’4” ~230 lbs QB from Florida) shows some of the most potentially powerful tools of any recent QB studied in this space, but in such an unfinished state as to be genuinely still in their raw assembly phase.

From a pure athletic/ biomechanical perspective, Richardson (lateral oriented posterior dominant) appears extraordinarily developed/ efficient in a number of areas. His lumbar efficiency/ development ranks among the very best dual threat QBs in NFL history. Both in speed and run power, Richardson is a rare threat out of the backfield. Not quite as fast as Michael Vick, not quite as elusive as Lamar Jackson, but likely equal to Cam Newton’s run power and with significantly greater speed. While Richardson is not a RB, he nevertheless shows truly well rounded lumbar development with no obvious stunting or areas of inefficiency.

Moving to thoracic areas, Richardson shows full efficiency in his lateral posterior areas (for an explanation of full thoracic efficiency, please see here). This combination– extremely high lumbar efficiency, with full thoracic efficiency– puts Richardson in truly rare company. The only modern dual threat QBs to show full efficiency in any thoracic areas are Jalen Hurts (who just engineered an MVP caliber season) and Kyler Murray (whose diminutive stature and taut injury-prone mechanics have not prevented truly high level play when healthy). Although Michael Vick’s left-handedness has precluded full study to date, Richardson’s full thoracic efficiency likely puts him in a sample of just three– and he is easily the largest and most overwhelmingly athletic of the three.

In addition, while most mobile QBs show cervical inefficiencies relating to some type of deficit in field reading (Russell Wilson’s anterior cervical stunting correlating with poor horizontal field reading for example), Richardson shows very high levels of cervical efficiency/ development, and appears to read the field very well both horizontally (right to left) and vertically (depth sensing).

So Anthony Richardson is the perfect QB prospect, correct? Well, his 2022 completion percentage of 53.8% tells the other side of the story. When Richardson drives throws from his less-than-fully-efficient thoracic areas he misses throws– oftentimes by a huge margin. When the motion derives from his lateral anterior areas, the ball tends to die/ dive, and when the throw over-involves his medial posterior areas, he tends to overthrow (sometimes wildly). These tendencies become particularly pronounced when Richardson fails to set up a firm base angled towards the intended target.

This lack of consistent footwork is almost certainly the main contributor to Richardson’s misses (especially his wild ones). Unlike certain QBs who habitually miss certain types of throws due to under-developed/ stunted areas, Richardson shows very few consistent mechanical tendencies in these misses. The one consistency is how differently he sets up to throw each time. In all areas of footwork/ learned mechanics, he is driving throws with his eyes and his instincts, but rarely from a well-established base and set of mechanics.

So what does that mean for his NFL future? It means that in many critical ways, he is still a lump of clay waiting to be molded into shape. All the raw attributes are there in abundance– extremely effective running ability, superlative arm strength/ potential for control, and excellent vision. And unlike many QB prospects entering the NFL, Richardson shows plenty of biomechanical slack for continued development.

But that continued development is absolutely essential for Richardson to reach anywhere near his potential. When he enters the NFL he will require prolonged practice and coaching on fundamental footwork and throwing mechanics. To iron out his wildly inconsistent tendencies and give him a stable base of learned mechanics to support his raw athleticism and improving field processing. Continued focus on this sort of mechanical learning over the next few years could yield tremendous results, with Richardson showing so much natural talent as well as the biomechanical slack to shape this talent.

There have been very few (if any) QBs entering the NFL with such a discrepancy between talent and developed mechanics. Where Richardson is drafted, and how that coaching staff is able and willing to shape/ develop Richardson’s mechanics over time, will likely dictate whether the NFL sees another Josh Allen-esque college-rags to NFL-riches story, or a precautionary tale of talent gone to waste. Which is why Anthony Richardson may be the most interesting player of the 2023 NFL draft.