Anthony Richardson is the definition of high-risk, high-reward. Considered by most, the most physically talented prospect in recent memory, he is reminiscent of a combination of Cam Newton and Justin Fields. Richardson has rare size, speed, and arm talent, and with the NFL scouting combine rapidly approaching, (February 28, 2023), I’m certain he will steal the show and blow the roof off of Lucas Oil Stadium. Doing so will most likely propel Richardson up most draft boards.
The Las Vegas Raiders currently sit in the seventh spot in the NFL Draft– prime position for the men in Silver and Black to select Richardson, but is he the right choice? Head Coach Josh McDaniels and GM David Zeigler are in a complicated predicament in year two of their regime, and it is no doubt that this offseason will make or break their collective futures as an NFL Head Coach and GM combination. The sins of the past regime are still haunting the organization, highlighted by the images of numerous bad draft picks and poor free-agent signings, along with the witnessing of arch-nemesis Kansas City Chiefs winning their 2nd championship in the last 5 years. It is seemingly an impossible burden to overcome. To add insult to injury, you also compound it with a Public Relations’ nightmare of Raiders ownership packing up and leaving our beloved Oakland Coliseum for a new state-of-the-art Las Vegas “cash machine”. These issues burden a tall task– a unique, unprecedented task– one that naturally produces added pressure from ownership onto the GM/Head Coach to attempt to correct a losing culture, as well as attempt to establish a new home-field advantage. Tough spot. In addition, a large percentage of the fanbase are still mourning the loss of one the most beloved and significant players ever to dawn the silver and black; Derek Dallas Carr. It is why, for these aforementioned reasons and factors, I emphatically state to you right now that they must hit it big on every major decision this offseason in order to not lose their jobs and fanbase.
Considering what’s at stake, should the Raiders gamble on Anthony Richardson if available? The safe bet would be to draft a starter on defense and bring in a stopgap to compete with Jared Stidham. Others would say go big or go home and draft the man with off-the-chart ability… heck, we have to compete with Patrick Mahomes!
The problem is Richardson comes from Billy Napier’s offense, which appears to be a scheme that uses the run game to set up the pass with only a few pro concepts. Factor in Richardson’s lack of time under center and his questionable throwing mechanics and accuracy, this makes him radioactive in the eyes of front office executives of the Raiders.
Richardson entered 2022 with first-round projections and was able to maintain his draft stock throughout the Fall, despite some early-season struggles and a nagging ankle injury. He finished 2022 with 2,549 yards on 53.8% passing with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He added 654 rushing yards and nine additional scores. Richardson was one of three FBS quarterbacks with over 2,500 passing yards and 650 rushing yards, along with LSU’s Jayden Daniels and North Carolina’s Drake Maye. As a result, Richardson gave up his remaining eligibility and declared for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Could AR-15 be a star at the next level? Absolutely! Is he the right fit for the Raiders at the number seven? I would say a resounding no, especially with players like Hendon Hooker as a possibility in later rounds. The Raiders don’t need to reload at QB for the sake of replacing Derek Carr. What some would deem most important is picking the right player for the Raiders’ current situation. The Raiders cannot put the weight of the collection of failures from the last 20 years onto a prospect, which many consider a project.