By: Robert Craft
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
It’s easy to talk a General Manager into drafting Anthony Richardson, easy to see that size, speed, strength and weigh the undeniable singularity of his physical abilities and not get intoxicated at what could be.
It’s easy to turn on tape and convince yourself that with the right coaching and the right system, there’s no way this man — this freakish talent who’s all of 20 years old — won’t grow into a weapon that’ll scare the living hell out of NFL defensive coordinators for an awfully long time.
In Richardson’s case, he has about everything: He can make every throw. He can run through an entire defense. There are no limitations on where he can put the football, or what he can do when he tucks it away and scampers from the pocket.
Richardson’s far from a polished prospect, arriving on the doorstep of this spring’s draft with serious questions about whether he can win at the pro level from the pocket (a must in today’s league).
Remember, the Combine isn’t real football. The pro day, either. They are scripted, controlled, routes-on-air. It happens almost every spring, a quarterback catapulting up the draft boards largely because of what could be, not necessarily because of their previous fall.
Potential can be expensive, even if it doesn’t work out.
Who has been more physically gifted than him? Andrew Luck? Richardson has a more gifted arm and is much faster. Cam Newton is taller, but Anthony is much faster and with a more dynamic arm. Josh Allen is bigger, but their arms are similar, and Josh is not even close to as fast.
Physically, Richardson has the traits of becoming a game-changing weapon, a player who defenses fear, a quarterback who can lift a mediocre supporting cast and give you a chance every Sunday.
His passing numbers weren’t tremendous for a first-round quarterback prospect: 17 touchdowns, nine interceptions, a worrisome 53.8 completion percentage (he did add nine rushing touchdowns).
But he cut his turnovers down over the second half of the season — his TD-to-interception ratio was 12-to-2 over his final six starts. That shows he grew increasingly comfortable in the pocket and his decision-making reflected that.
Richardson’s receivers dropped a large number of catchable balls. If you really dig into the film, Richardson has more downfield accuracy than what’s assumed.
He certainly must tighten up his mechanics, his footwork, and his presence in the pocket, but it’s not as if there aren’t plenty of encouraging signs he can get better from behind center.
And again, Richardson’s only 20 years old. This is important. He has so much growth ahead of him. One can only wonder what he would’ve done with another year at Florida, how many of the draft concerns he could have eased.
It’s officially draft week, and the Colts — picking fourth — need a quarterback. Most of the speculation has come down to two passers: Florida’s Richardson and Kentucky’s Will Levis.
But a recent curveball is gaining steam: what if Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud makes it past the Texans at No. 2? It would change the discussion, widening the Colts’ debate from two QBs to three.
Elite quarterbacks dominate the NFL and will for the foreseeable future. Mahomes. Allen. Burrow, Herbert, Hurts. Jackson.
Mediocre isn’t going to cut it. Teams need a playmaker if they want a winning chance, and it’s time to gamble.
Bet on your coach and see if you can climb back into the mix. It’ll take time to mature, but it’s a High Risk-High Reward wager. High rollers welcome!
By: Robert Craft
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
Stetson Bennett; the great story, has turned into something more complicated.
For so long he was the folk hero, the former walk-on proving everyone wrong, winning one and then two national championships.
All along there was an edge to him, but it manifested itself in endearing ways, especially to Georgia fans.
mic drop after throwing a touchdown, the telephone signal to taunt Tennessee fans who had lit up his cell phone. And the general competitive spirit that won over the Georgia coaches who kept trying to find another quarterback.
But since winning the second national championship, Bennett’s edges have come out in other ways.
Blowing off the morning-after news conference, being accused of not being warm enough with fans at the championship celebration, a slightly off-key speech at the celebration, then an arrest on a public intoxication charge.
By themselves, none of these put Bennett in red flag territory, but together- they’ve added up to an interesting narrative heading into the draft.
Bennett responded by retreating from public view, dodging interviews and press opportunities all together. He emerged and had a good showing at the NFL combine, as well as a pro day performance that reinforced Bennet’s arm strength, athleticism and accuracy.
Thus, the narrative has flipped: The physical attributes are there, the intangibles are now in question.
This drama-turned-screenplay is still being written. Will the next Act be in the NFL?
Admittedly, that’s a stretch. The idea of Bennett achieving a long NFL career is about as likely as … Well, feel free to ask a new employee of the Baltimore Ravens about doubting the kid from Blackshear, Ga.
Maybe it’s about being the best football player, but plenty else goes into the NFL Draft.
That’s why Bennett has to confront off-field questions. He said there have been “a lot of different questions,” not specifying which ones, but outlining his approach: being honest, and upfront, (NFL teams already know the answers to their questions). They want to see how Bennett, and any prospect in that matter, answers.
There’s a tired routine that’s played in the run-up to the draft: prospects being asked who they’ve met with. Bennett wasn’t asked that, pointing out that those meetings and media coverage is all a game.
Sometimes teams meet multiple times with prospects they have no intention of drafting, creating a smokescreen, then never meet a prospect they do draft until they’re drafted.
So Bennett takes the meetings, but doesn’t read into which team is talking to him, which team has concerns about his intangibles, and which team wants to pick the former walk-on turned folk hero turned complicated NFL prospect.
So, where will Bennett get selected on draft day? His résumé is impressive. He’s a back-to-back national champion. He is the first quarterback in Georgia history to achieve that accomplishment. It was a storybook college career for Bennett, as he grew up a die-hard Georgia fan. But the story may not have a happy ending if the goal is hearing his name early on draft night.
Ranked 10th at quarterback on my draft board, the 25-year-old is the same age or older than several NFL quarterbacks who have been in the league for a few years.
To put it in perspective, Bennett is older than the 24-year-old Jalen Hurts, who just led the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl … in his third NFL season.
That said, I believe Bennett will hear his name called before the NFL draft has concluded. He comes from a winning culture, and NFL teams love to be surrounded by winning.
From all accounts, Bennett would make a great addition to a locker room. On top of that, we know he is not afraid of the big moments should he ever be called upon.
Who knows, maybe Bennett’s legend will continue to grow, and he pulls off the unexpected. It wouldn’t be the first time.