NFL Draft Rumors: Richardson, TEs, Wright

Every year come draft time there are prospects that divide scouts and analysts. Never has that been more apt than this year with Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson. We reported this dichotomy back when Richardson first announced his intentions in December, and nearly four months later, teams are still torn.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler went on NFL on ESPN to discuss first-round quarterbacks and the conversation eventually fell to Richardson. Fowler reported that he’s never seen “a bigger variance leaguewide on a feeling about a” quarterback, saying that while some talent evaluators have him as a first-round talent, others (sometimes on the same team) aren’t thinking to look for him until the fourth round.

Fowler believes that Richardson is a bit of a project who will need to find a situation in the NFL where he can sit for a year and develop but notes an NFL executive who calls Richardson a combination of Cam Newton and Justin Fields. Quoting NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 asserts that some teams have Richardson as the second-best quarterback on the board. I’ve personally seen a mock draft by Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports that has the Bears trading Fields and taking Richardson at No. 1 overall.

All this to reiterate sentiments from our breakdown of his initial draft announcement. Teams are evaluating Richardson off of 13 games of film of the one-year starter in Gainesville. That single season saw him complete only 54.2% of his passes for 2,631 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He added 680 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 115 rush attempts. He went 6-7 as a starter for the Gators. The college stats aren’t great, but there’s so little to work with that scouts are still betting on the potential he held as a four-star recruit coming out of high school.

Last year, experts predicted as many as four quarterbacks would be taken in the first round. Only Kenny Pickett actually heard his name on Day 1 of the draft. Evaluators are equally bullheaded this year on quarterbacks going early and often, but with nearly two months until Draft Day, there is still much that we don’t know.

Here are a few other quick notes on upcoming prospects:

  • Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer has long been thought of as the 2023 NFL Draft’s best prospect at the position. Well, according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, one tight end made a strong case for himself at the Senior Bowl. Oregon State tight end Luke Musgrave made a lasting impression on scouts at the all-star event. Musgrave measured at 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds and impressed with his physicality, speed, route-running, and hands. Breer posits that Musgrave did enough to earn the top spot on position rankings.
  • Another prospect who may be higher than initially thought is Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright. The O-lineman also attended the Senior Bowl with many believing that he had a lot that he still needed to prove. According to Matt Miller of ESPN, Wright may have already done enough. Miller claims Wright is a top-32 prospect and finds it hard to believe that he’ll slip past the first round. The Volunteers didn’t expect to keep the consensus five-star out of West Virginia for all four years and the fact that they did had many thinking Wright is not a first-round talent. An impressive performance at the Senior Bowl and a first-team All-SEC selection in 2022 should prove otherwise as Wright continues to work towards the goal of hearing his name called on the first night of the draft.
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