Apr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson walks the NFL Draft Red Carpet before the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Colts select Florida QB Anthony Richardson fourth overall

One of the best athletes in the NFL draft is headed to the Indianapolis Colts, where the challenge will be to build Florida’s Anthony Richardson into one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

The No. 4 pick on Thursday, Richardson was the third quarterback drafted in the first round following Alabama’s Bryce Young to Carolina at No. 1 and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud to Houston at No. 2.

“The journey starts now,” Richardson said.

In 2021, the first three picks were quarterbacks — Trevor Lawrence (Jaguars), Zach Wilson (Jets) and Trey Lance (49ers) — and that scenario also played out in 1999 and 1971.

Richardson was the biggest and fastest quarterback at the scouting combine, running a 4.43 40-yard dash at 6-foot-4, 244 pounds. He’s not a polished product or passer with just 13 career starts for the Gators, but he’s also the youngest of the prized prospects. His running skills could be more attractive to the Colts given their new offensive scheme.

As of Monday, Colts owner Jim Irsay told ESPN the franchise was “still debating” the merits of the quarterbacks in the 2023 draft class. Irsay denies he’s the overlord in the draft room or pushing buttons on personnel decisions.

However, he did make clear when new head coach Shane Steichen was hired in February that quarterback was a need that helped guide the team to hire the former Eagles offensive coordinator, “knowing we’re going to have to find a young quarterback to develop.”

Steichen helped develop Jalen Hurts from second-round pick to NFL MVP runner-up last season.

Spinning the quarterback carousel has been a constant for the Colts, a pendulum that began with Andrew Luck’s abrupt retirement in August 2019. Luck was the No. 1 pick in 2012, months after the Colts released Peyton Manning (first overall, 1998).

Luck leaving started the Colts’ cycle of mediocrity and ushered a baton pass to new starters every season with Jacoby Brissett (2019), Philip Rivers (2020), Carson Wentz (2021) and Matt Ryan (2022).

This is just the second time the Colts have drafted in the first round since 2019 (defensive end Kwity Paye, Michigan, 2021). Ballard has drafted two quarterbacks since he arrived in Indianapolis in 2017: Sam Ehlinger (sixth round, 2021) and Jacob Eason (fourth round, 2020).

In the same stretch, Ballard drafted seven linebackers and seven wide receivers.

Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Edgerrin James was the No. 4 pick in 1999, the last time the Colts had the fourth selection.

The franchise also had the No. 4 pick in the 1986 draft, selecting Alabama defensive end Jon Hand.

In addition to Luck and Manning, the Colts spent the No. 1 pick on a quarterback in 1990, selecting Jeff George of Illinois. In 1983, the Baltimore Colts drafted John Elway No. 1 overall and traded him to the Denver Broncos.

–Field Level Media

Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud talks to Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich during Ohio State football's pro day at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus on March 22, 2023.

Football Ceb Osufb Pro Day

Panthers decide on QB to draft — but who remains a secret

Carolina Panthers coach Frank Reich said Tuesday that the team has reached a consensus on which quarterback it will take with the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s NFL draft.

Good luck shaking that information out of the new Panthers coach.

“We’ll announce that Thursday at about 8 o’clock,” Reich said during a press conference.

Reich said the consensus was reached Monday during a conversation with general manager Scott Fitterer.

“He came into my office yesterday at some point, and asked the question,” Reich said. “It was kind of like a proposal of sorts. And I said yes. There is consensus, and we’re excited.”

The Panthers have been dissecting the top four quarterbacks in the draft — Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Kentucky’s Will Levis and Florida’s Anthony Richardson.

Young was been viewed as the favorite to be tabbed first, while Stroud also has believers that feel he is the best quarterback in the draft.

Reich said the Panthers have conducted a thorough evaluation of all the possible choices.

“There was ebbs and flows during the process,” Reich said. “… I don’t want to say there’s any drastic change of mind, but there’s ebbs and flows of how much you like a guy. And that’s why you have to resist the temptation of making your mind up too early, right?

“So I thought we as a scouting staff and coaches did a good job of not falling into that trap. Just take it for what it is. Take it day by day. Go on these visits, watch tape. Go through the process. Continue to evaluate and talk it through.”

The Panthers went 7-10 last season for their fifth consecutive losing campaign.

Since the decline of former star Cam Newton, Carolina has gone through signal callers such as Kyle Allen (2019), Teddy Bridgewater (2020), Sam Darnold (2021-22), Baker Mayfield (2022) and PJ Walker (2022) without finding a capable starter.

–Field Level Media

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) is the right choice at No. 1. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

NFL draft position series: Quarterbacks

For the 27th time since 1967, the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft will be a quarterback. Which one, the Carolina Panthers aren’t quite ready to say.

General manager Scott Fitterer, groomed under John Schneider and the Seahawks’ scouting department when third-round pick Russell Wilson proved to be solid gold in relative draft terms, has been down the road before in Carolina, too.

Fitterer is under orders from Panthers’ ownership to find the franchise quarterback by any means possible. He swung a trade with the Chicago Bears in March to move up from the No. 9 spot to be “able to control it from the top.”

Until the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Travon Walker No. 1 in 2022, a four-year run of quarterbacks at the top produced mixed results. Trevor Lawrence (2021, Jaguars) and Joe Burrow (2020, Bengals) are already playoff quarterbacks — Burrow a Super Bowl runner-up with two AFC Championship game appearances — and Kyler Murray (2019, Cardinals) and Baker Mayfield (2018, Browns) have also been to the postseason but with less consistent results. Mayfield had a layover in Carolina last season in a trade with the Browns and begins a tour with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2023 representing his fourth stop since the end of the 2021 season.

The Panthers aren’t the only team thirsty for a fixture at the position. The Houston Texans (No. 2, No. 12), Indianapolis Colts (No. 4), Seattle Seahawks (5), Detroit Lions (6), Las Vegas Raiders (7) and Atlanta Falcons (8) all hosting top quarterback prospects in this class and could take a swing at replenishing the depth chart in the first round.

There have been five drafts in which four quarterbacks were chosen within the top 15 selections, including 2021 and 2018.

With demand as high as ever, here’s a review of the 2023 draft supply at quarterback:

1. Bryce Young, Alabama

Projected Pick: 1

Power Points: Young’s size and weight (5-10 1/8, 204 pounds) invite durability questions even without an injury history because he’s a far cry from the prototype at the NFL’s most important and challenging position. While there are exceptions, there are also injury incidences with each of the most prominent “small” quarterbacks, from Murray (torn ACL in 2022), Mayfield (multiple injuries in 2020, 2021) or retired Drew Brees (separated shoulder) that might give a team pause. But Wilson, who measured half an inch taller than Murray at 5-10 5/8, has never had a major injury and Mike Vick’s playing style at 6-0, 199 pounds was a hazard.

Young missed one of his possible 37 career games at Alabama (2022, sprained shoulder).

Scouts love the mental makeup that helps Young thrive. He already carries himself like a professional and the type of posterboy personality and humble leadership team ownership and fan bases can firmly stand behind.

Groomed for success at California’s high school quarterback factory — Mater Dei HS in Pasadena, which produced Matt Barkley and Matt Leinart plus current Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown — Alabama coach Nick Saban called him an “all-time leader” and his college production speaks in exclamatory terms: Young had 80 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions as Crimson Tide quarterback, and he left Tuscaloosa as a Heisman Trophy winner and national champion.

Last Word: He’s not the only QB in the 2023 draft, but he’s definitely the one.

2. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
Projected Pick: 4

Precision decision: Another California kid, Coleridge Bernard (C.J.) Stroud IV nearly rode a late rise on the recruiting circuit to Georgia, where he could’ve dramatically shifted the Stetson Bennett storybook ride in Athens. He had clipboard duty behind Justin Fields as a redshirt in 2020 and then was a two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, claiming the silver football for tossing 85 total touchdowns and 12 interceptions and completing an insane 69.4 percent of his 830 pass attempts. Bigger than Young but by no means bulky at 6-3, 210, Stroud looks like a wide receiver in street clothes but also missed just one college game (shoulder).

His right arm is more of a precision tool than a cannon, but he can make all the throws. There’s a poetry to Stroud’s dropback and release and his ability to parachute the ball over coverage down the field and place it on the target in traffic stands as the eye-catching NFL QB trait that gets him drafted. He bears no similarity to Fields as an athlete in or around the pocket and speed rarely shows up with defenders in pursuit. Potent as a sniper in the pocket, Stroud won 21 games in 25 starts in two seasons and had better per-game averages than Burrow (LSU record 305.9 yards, 2.8 TD passes per game) with 324.9 and 3.4.

Last Word: An incomplete quarterback, but Stroud stands out as the best pure passer in this class.

3. Anthony Richardson, Florida
Projected Pick: 7

Delta, Bravo: Deciphering whether Richardson is the second coming of Cam Newton or an athlete with superhuman arm strength brings the inexact science of scouting under the microscope. All of the positives are scintillating. He’s bigger than most linebackers and faster than many wide receivers at 6-4, 245 with a 4.43 40 time. Testing ball speed on short and long throws is John Elway-like, and the right coaching staff couldn’t help but picture the man child in a Jalen Hurts-type role operating a system revolving around RPOs. A believable follow-me personality who takes ownership of his inconsistency at Florida, there’s a maturation and humility to Richardson balanced by the open desire to collaborate and yearning to improve. Teammates will follow Richardson.

Then there’s the tiny devil on every general manager’s shoulder poking the play button on his 33 percent completion night at Florida State or perhaps a skidding 5-yard pass with a receiver running clean on a 10-yard crosser. Less production means more projection, a hope for the best type of proposition filed under make-a-wish items that cost GMs jobs. Three games into the 2022 season, Richardson had five interceptions before his first TD pass (41 of 77). There’s a strong argument he failed his two stiffest tests of NFL-readiness in starts against pro-prospect packed Georgia that were borderline disastrous.

2022 (42-20 L)
— 18 comp 37 att 271 yards 48.6 comp % 1 TD 0 INT 78 long 3 sacked 11 rushes 19 yards 1.7 avg 0 TDs 14 long

— (34-7 L)
— 12 comp 20 att 82 yards 60.0 comp % 0 TD 2 INT 18 long 2 sacked 12 rushes 26 yards 2.2 avg 0 TDs 9 long

In fairness, Young wasn’t his best vs. Georgia in a second game facing the Bulldogs in 2021: four sacks, two interceptions but 369 yards in the 33-18 national championship game defeat. He carved up the same defense in the SEC title game (four total TDs, 421 yards passing, zero sacks and no picks) five weeks prior.

When considering a “bust” factor, scouts arguing Richardson isn’t ready, might never be the total package, or needs years of training could be proven correct.

Counterpoint: What if he hits the NFL runway with all of the unicorn athlete natural tools, bundled promise and drive displayed over the past year and takes flight?

He’s just 20 years old and started only 13 games in college. Scouting buzzwords — potential and upside — are insufficient to properly emphasize the reach of Richardson’s ceiling as an NFL quarterback.

Last Word: One GM, likely in the top 10, stakes his job — and perhaps his head coach’s, too — on the educated and researched, convicted and cross-examined opinion that Richardson’s undeniable elite athleticism and potential accumulatively equal not only starter material, but star status. And he might be right.

–Best of the Rest

4. Will Levis, Kentucky
Projected Pick: 11
Only two starts and a redshirt season at Penn State pushed Levis to Kentucky, where he became a team captain because somehow his Wildcats teammates forgave his sinful indulgence of mayonnaise in his coffee (just once, he says). Quirky, confident and built for the part of pro quarterback, Levis lands in the NFL at more of a developmental stage facing the same type of test and steep expectations and learning curve that sat former first-rounders Jake Locker (Titans), Christian Ponder (Vikings) and Josh Rosen (Cardinals) on their rears. There are some similarities to Ryan Tannehill and Carson Wentz, untamed athletes who’ve experienced highs and lows in multiple stops in the pros after being drafted too high. To that end, Levis was under constant pressure from the pass rush at UK (nearly 30 percent of his pass-play snaps in 2022), a fault not entirely his own, and there are other signs he’ll need a high number of reps before stepping into a starting role.

5. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
Projected Pick: 18
Barring a torn ACL 11 games into his sixth college season and relatively advanced age (25), the former Virginia Tech quarterback might have been in the conversation as the top arm in the ’23 class. There are some decision-makers who believe he’ll be the best of the bunch. For Hooker to take off, he’ll need a built-to-suit offensive system and patience as he returns to health and evolves to a pro scheme.

–Second- and Third-Day Shopping List

6. Jake Haener, Fresno State
7. Aidan O’Connell, Purdue
8. Clayton Tune, Houston
9. Tanner McKee, Stanford
10. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA

–By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media

Mar 23, 2023; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA;  Quarterback Bryce Young uses balls to help him loosen up during Pro Day at Hank Crisp Indoor Practice Facility on the campus of the University of Alabama. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News

Ncaa Football University Of Alabama Pro Day

Top QBs among 17 prospects planning to attend draft in Kansas City

Quarterbacks Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson are among 17 prospects planning to attend the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City, Mo., on April 27.

Young and Stroud are widely expected to be the top two picks in the draft with the Carolina Panthers leading off the proceedings, followed by the Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts.

All three QBs and Kentucky’s Will Levis are viewed as first-round picks and have visited both teams, we well as the Colts.

Alabama defensive end Will Anderson Jr. and Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter also accepted invitations to attend the draft, as did top cornerback prospects Christian Gonzalez (Oregon), Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State) and Devon Witherspoon (Illinois).

Running back Bijan Robinson (Texas), three wide receivers and yet another Crimson Tide product — safety Brian Branch — are also on the list of players scheduled to attend. The full list:

Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Will Anderson Jr., DE, Alabama
Brian Branch, S, Alabama
Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Keion White, DE, Georgia Tech
Tyree Wilson, OLB, Texas Tech
Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

–Field Level Media

Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud works out for NFL scouts during Ohio State football   s pro day at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus on March 22, 2023.

Football Ceb Osufb Pro Day

Colts arrange draft close-ups with top QBs

Top quarterback prospects C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young worked out for the Indianapolis Colts on Monday as general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Shane Steichen ratchet up their focus on top-ranked passers.

Indianapolis is widely considered a prime candidate to select a quarterback after a carousel at the position since the retirement of Andrew Luck has caused distress and turnover with coaches.

Stroud and Young are from California and worked out recently in Huntington Beach with Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. Hurts and Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner, both attended Alabama.

The Colts have the No. 4 pick in the 2023 draft with expectations the No. 1 pick to the Carolina Panthers will be spent on Stroud or Young. Carolina sent more than a dozen people to both pro days in the final week of March.

Pro days are often scripted and rehearsed for weeks, limiting the risk and multiplying the comfort level for prospects.

The Houston Texans, who have the No. 2 pick, could also draft a quarterback. The Arizona Cardinals have the No. 3 pick and are reportedly open to trading the selection.

Colts owner Jim Irsay said at the press conference to introduce Steichen in February that he liked “the Alabama quarterback.” Irsay all but promised to select a quarterback, raising the eyebrows of Ballard and many others.

The Colts are scheduled to host Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson this week.

Ballard denied at the NFL Scouting Combine that Indianapolis was married to moving up via trade to select a quarterback despite moving on from Matt Ryan, who followed Carson Wentz. Philip Rivers, the starter in 2020, replaced Jacoby Brissett (2019) after Luck’s retirement.

Stroud starred at Ohio State but the Colts sent only a modest representation to his pro day workout in Columbus last month.

–Field Level Media

Mar 1, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; An empty podium for Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jalen Carter (not pictured) during the NFL Scouting Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Still the 1? QBs rise, DT Jalen Carter falls in top pick odds

Bryce Young exits the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine with a firm grip as the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick, oddsmakers say.

FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook and DraftKings all upped Young’s chances of being the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft over the past week, despite Young’s decision to postpone his passing session and on-field testing until the Alabama Pro Day on March 23.

Young is -190 at FanDuel with former Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud +350 and ex-Florida QB Anthony Richardson making another big climb to +600.

Richardson, with his 6-foot-4, 244-pound frame, led all quarterbacks at the combine in the 40-yard dash, broad jump and vertical jump.

Will Anderson, who worked out as a defensive end, is the top defensive player at FanDuel at +1200.

No player dropped further in No. 1 pick futures odds this past week than ex-Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. The pre-combine buzz around Carter pushed him to +550 to be drafted No. 1. After he left Indianapolis to turn himself in for a reckless driving and drag racing warrant connected to the deaths of two people in Athens, Ga., Carter dipped to +4000 at FanDuel.

He’s +5000 at DraftKings, and both books list Carter on the board behind former Texas Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson (+3500).

BetRivers took a $1,000 bet on former Kentucky quarterback Will Levis to be the No. 1 overall pick at +2500 odds (potential payout of $25,000) with another $1,000 wager on Wilson being the first defensive player drafted at +550.

Defensive players are also taking a hit in No. 1 pick futures after Bears general manager Ryan Poles all but admitted there’s not much of a chance Chicago will pick No. 1 overall. As the Bears fish for the best trade offer, the most likely scenario involves a team that needs a quarterback swapping picks with the Bears.

Richardson opened at +10000 at BetMGM and was +500 as of Tuesday morning.

Richardson has 22.7 percent of the handle at BetMGM, where Young is the leader in total handle at 28.8 percent.

At PointsBet, Richardson is just +350 — dead even with Stroud — and Young is the favorite at -165.

–Field Level Media

Jan 02, 2023; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA;  Bryce Young announces his intention to enter the NFL draft during a press conference for University of Alabama juniors to announce their intentions.

Ncaa Football Ua Juniors Announce For Nfl

Bryce Young nixes combine workout; other top QBs will throw

Projected No. 1 pick Bryce Young will not throw at this week’s NFL scouting combine but the other top three QBs – C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis – will work out, ESPN and NFL Network reported Monday.

The combine begins Tuesday in Indianapolis and runs through next Monday. The throwing sessions for QBs are scheduled for Saturday.

Young, who will work out for scouts at his pro day on March 23 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., will go to Indianapolis for interviews, medicals and measurements, per the reports.

All four quarterbacks are projected to be selected in the top 10 of April’s draft.

The Chicago Bears own the No. 1 pick but are expected to trade out, with quarterback-needy teams looking to move up.

Young and Stroud are expected targets of the Indianapolis Colts, who would like to move up from No. 4 to avoid losing out on an elite passer. The Houston Texans own the No. 2 pick and are also in the QB market, as are other teams with selections in the top 10 — the Las Vegas Raiders and Carolina Panthers among them.

–Field Level Media

8. Atlanta Falcons -- Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

Syndication Ocala Starbanner

Florida QB Anthony Richardson is No. 1 bet in top draft pick futures

Two months before the 2023 NFL Draft, Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson has drawn more bets to go No. 1 overall than any prospect in the class.

Richardson opened at +10000 when BetMGM released top pick futures in January. By Tuesday, the polarizing prospect had jumped to +1000, and he climbed further to +700 on Thursday.

BetMGM data analyst John Ewing explained the rise of Richardson began Monday, when 13 percent of bettors had placed wagers on the quarterback going first in the draft. After multiple draft-focused sites began discussing Richardson as a serious option for the top pick — including NFL.com and Pro Football Focus — the public rode the flame to the window and Richardson currently leads all prospects at 22.6 percent of those bets.

Field Level Media rates Richardson as the No. 4 quarterback in the 2023 draft behind Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Kentucky’s Will Levis.

Quarterbacks are the top four in the No. 1 pick futures odds at DraftKings.

Young (-160) is ahead of Stroud (+380), Levis (+650) and Richardson (+750). Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter is +850.

Richardson is drawing athletic comparisons to Cam Newton, who by way of Florida and then Auburn rose up draft boards after leading the Tigers to the national title and winning the Heisman Trophy. Newton was the No. 1 pick by the Carolina Panthers in 2011.

A word of caution when ingesting pre-draft buzz as gospel: The 2022 case of Liberty quarterback Malik Willis, the prohibitive favorite to be the first quarterback drafted who went closer to pick 100 than pick No. 1.

Willis was +4500 to be the No. 1 pick before the NFL Scouting Combine last February, then wowed in throwing sessions open to media and entered the top four in the top pick future.

Willis was productive in college — he threw for 5,117 passing yards and 47 touchdowns, rushing for 1,822 yards and 27 touchdowns — and in media interviews.

Willis was -200 to be the top quarterback drafted on the eve of the NFL draft. The over-under for his draft slot at pick 9.5 was -140.

But the Auburn transfer wound up falling all the way to No. 86 and the Tennessee Titans.

–Field Level Media

Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) celebrates after diving into the end zone for a touchdown in the second half against LSU at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, October 15, 2022. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

Ncaa Football Florida Gators Vs Lsu Tigers

Polarizing QB Anthony Richardson leaving oddsmakers nervous

Alabama’s Bryce Young is the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, but it’s another quarterback who has at least one sportsbook sweating a bit harder as the pre-draft process begins in earnest.

Anthony Richardson remains a +2500 longshot at BetMGM to go first overall, but the former Florida star is the sportsbook’s biggest liability a little more than two months out from the draft. Richardson has accounted for 13.4 percent of all money wagered on the top pick, third behind only fellow quarterbacks Will Levis of Kentucky (34.6 percent) and Young (22.9 percent).

Young is widely expected to be the first name called, whether the Chicago Bears keep or trade the pick. The former Heisman Trophy winner is the -120 favorite ahead of Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud, who is listed at +275.

Defensive linemen Jalen Carter (Georgia) and Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama) are both being offered at +600 — down from each opening at +750 — while Levis’ odds have shortened from +1000 to +750 at BetMGM.

Levis has also drawn the most total bets for the No. 1 overall pick at 22.2 percent, followed by Young (15.9 percent) and Carter (14.5 percent). That also makes Levis the sportsbook’s second-biggest liability at this time ahead of Carter.

Interestingly, Richardson has accounted for 13 percent of the total bets and 13.4 percent of the money since BetMGM opened the market on the No. 1 overall pick.

Quarterbacks have a lengthy history of rising through the pre-draft process, and Richardson’s name remains somewhat polarizing a little more than two weeks before the start of the NFL Scouting Combine.

Richardson is rated the fourth-ranked quarterback prospect in this year’s class by Lindy’s Draft Guide, which compares his skill set to that of former NFL MVP Cam Newton. While Richardson has “all-world tools,” according to the publication that is published in conjunction with Field Level Media, he also likely faces a long learning curve in the NFL.

After a red-hot start to his final season in Gainesville, Richardson finished it with a 53.8 completion percentage. He has the upside to intrigue teams with top-five picks. Whether his potential ceiling is enough to entice whichever team has the No. 1 pick come draft day remains to be see.

One thing is for sure: His pre-draft journey will be monitored extremely closely by oddsmakers along with NFL scouts.

–Field Level Media

Jul 20, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier talks from the stage during SEC Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

New coach Billy Napier aiming for a Florida revival

Billy Napier coached Louisiana to a 33-5 record over the past three seasons to earn his opportunity of Florida’s new coach.

He doesn’t need to be reminded the Gators lost more games (seven) last season than he did over his final three seasons with the Ragin’ Cajuns.

Napier clearly knows there’s work to do after replacing Dan Mullen. But he also doesn’t want to write off chances of excelling right away.

“This 2022 team that we have is a new team, it’s a new year, a new set of challenges and opportunities,” Napier said Wednesday at SEC Media Days in Atlanta. “I think each year each team is its own entity. They got to start over every year.

“This is a first-year staff at a new place with a new roster. We’ve got a lot of players and a lot of staff that are learning our way, right? A lot of new roles. There’s lots of roles to be determined on our team. We’ve got a core group of veteran players. We have a big portion of our team we think has ability, but it’s inexperienced and needs to develop.”

Napier can sense the hurt from a long season lingers.

Florida lost five of its last seven games and gave up 52 points in one of the wins during that span — against FCS opponent Samford.

The Gators lost by 27 points to Georgia, 23 to South Carolina and 12 to non-conference opponent UCF. Florida did lose by just two to Alabama.

“I like this group,” Napier said. “I think they’ve got a chip on their shoulder. They’re excited about the opportunity to earn some respect.”

For the Gators to take a step forward, they will need a big season from quarterback Anthony Richardson.

“I’ve been impressed. I think he’s remained humble,” Napier said. “He’s got a little bit of an edge. I think he wants to prove himself.”

In spot play last season, Richardson completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 529 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s highly dangerous on the ground as he gained 401 yards on 51 attempts — a gaudy 7.9 average — while scoring three touchdowns.

“He has tremendous ability,” Napier said. “He’s working hard to develop, improve as a person, as a leader. He’s working hard to increase his football IQ. His skill is developing. I think he’s prime to have a phenomenal year.”

–Field Level Media