When BetMGM released 2023 NFL Draft odds for the No. 1 pick, the sportsbook’s opening price (+10000, or 100-to-1 odds) implied Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson had a .99% chance of going first overall. A mock draft boosted the interest in Richardson going No. 1 and a change in his odds. Following his combine workout, his odds were second to only Bryce Young.
A strong combine performance can boost a player’s draft stock, but enough to make him a player worth taking No. 1?
Odds To Be No. 1 Pick in 2023 NFL Draft
Richardson’s combine performance wasn’t the only one that generated excitement– C.J. Stroud’s workout did as well. That attention led to more interest in him going with the No. 1 pick, and his odds have since adjusted accordingly. Bryce Young is still the heavy favorite, but his odds are now followed by Stroud then Richardson.
When betting on the 2023 NFL Draft opened at many sportsbooks, Richardson’s name was nowhere near the top of oddsboards. Following Florida’s loss to Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl (a game in which he did not play), Richardson’s odds of going No. 1 were as short as +2000 (Caesars) but as long as +6500 (DraftKings) and +8000 (FanDuel).
According to those odds, his chances of going No. 1 in the draft ranged from 1.23% to 4.76%. But after the college football season, Richardson got little attention as a potential No. 1 pick. The focus has primarily been on Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, and Will Levis.
That is no longer the case.
Anthony Richardson Jumps Up NFL Draft Oddsboards
According to the betting odds, Richardson has gone from having less than 1% shot at getting taken with the No. 1 pick to between 11.11% to 12.5% following the combine. As of March 10, his implied probability ranges from 14.29% to 18.18%.
When asked about the drastic change in Richardson’s NFL Draft odds, BetMGM’s John Ewing told GamingToday.com:
Richardson has been projected by some sites to go No. 1, and we have seen interest in bettors on him being the first pick.
We found just one mock draft with Richardson going No. 1. It’s the latest mock draft by CBS Sports analyst Chris Trapasso. In it, he has the Colts trading up to take Richardson with the No. 1 pick:
“I think Richardson is going to emphatically remove the lid from Lucas Oil Stadium at the NFL Scouting Combine,” Trapasso writes. “That will lead to the Colts taking a chance on him, given the hiring of former Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen as head coach. Richardson has similarities to Jalen Hurts and All-Pro upside.”
As expected, Richardson did just that setting records for broad jump and vertical for a quarterback while running a 4.43 40-yard dash.
Anthony Richardson just set a combine record for quarterbacks with a 40.5” vertical with this… pic.twitter.com/68muNURNwq
— StaceyDales (@StaceyDales) March 4, 2023
Factor in his throwing session and the case for taking him first in the draft becomes rock solid:
Throwing Session At Combine pic.twitter.com/1aYoqSXeP5
— Gifted (@G0dGiven_) March 5, 2023
It is common for mock drafts and the Combine to drive interest in draft odds, which certainly appears to be the case with Richardson. But could he really go No. 1? The conversation has centered on Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, and Will Levis. Could Richardson steal their thunder?
The Case for Richardson To Go No. 1
If you look at the stats and his win-loss record as a starting quarterback at Florida, you’ll think the notion of Richardson going No. 1 is insane. Yes, he’s as athletic as advertised and a gifted runner. Dual-threat quarterbacks are becoming popular in NFL circles. However, he struggles in the passing game; last season, he completed barely half of his passes (53.8%).
But all you have to do to justify taking him No. 1 is to refer to one current NFL quarterback: Josh Allen.
When the Bills took him with the seventh pick in the 2018 draft, it wasn’t because of his stats or win-loss record at Wyoming. The Cowboys were competitive when he was the starter, going 8-6 (2016) and 8-5 (2017). From a statistical perspective, he was slightly better than Richardson but not by much (56.3% completion percentage in 2017).
So, why was he first-round material? He was a big, tall, athletic quarterback (just like Richardson) with all the intangibles that NFL evaluators love. He looked like the wrong choice in his first two seasons. But in his third, everything started to click, and he is now considered one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
As for the two quarterbacks taken before him, Baker Mayfield (No. 1) and Sam Darnold (No. 3), neither are on the team that drafted them nor are they expected to start next season. If given a chance to do that pick over, would the Browns possibly select Allen instead of Mayfield? Knowing what they know now — probably.
Whether it’s the Colts or another team, is it reasonable to think they might want a quarterback like Josh Allen? Absolutely.
The Case Against Richardson
While the comparison to Josh Allen makes it seem reasonable to project Richardson as a potential No. 1 pick, at least two comparisons suggest otherwise: Zach Wilson and Mitchell Trubisky.
Like Richardson, Wilson is an athletically gifted player. But unlike him, Wilson had more success, experience, and stats as a college quarterback while playing for BYU. In his final season for the Cougars, he completed 73.5% of his passes for 3,692 yards, 33 touchdowns, and just three interceptions.
When a clip of him throwing bombs at BYU’s Pro Day went viral, many fans and analysts fell in love with him. Consequently, the Jets took him second in the 2021 NFL Draft. Two years later, do they wish they had drafted differently? Probably.
As for the Mitchell Trubisky comparison, draft analysts and the Bears loved what they saw in him during his single season as the starter for North Carolina. Many projected him as an early first-round pick, but many also had questions about him, since he had just one season as the starter under his belt. They wanted to see more.
Fast-forward to the present, and he is no longer on the Bears and played on his third NFL team last season.
Getting enamored with a player because of anything he does during his Pro Day or the Combine is a mistake. Basing a draft decision off a single season as a starter is not a good idea. No one wants the next Zach Wilson or the next Mitchell Trubisky.
Odds On Who Will Draft Anthony Richardson
|Seahawks (5, 20)||+400||+430|
|Lions (6, 18)||+1000||+1000|
|Eagles (10, 31)||+10000||+14000|
Chicago has the No. 1 pick, but since they do not need a quarterback, they will likely trade it. Speculation on who will trade up has run rampant in the media, of course, with the focus being on QB-needy teams like the Colts, Texans, Panthers, Raiders, Titans, Falcons, and Jets.
The Jets appear to be focused on Aaron Rodgers, and the Falcons seem like they want to give Desmond Ridder a shot. While the Titans have a veteran starter in Ryan Tannehill, they have supposedly inquired as to what it would take to trade up from the No. 11 pick. The Titans also have Malik Willis on the roster, but he appears to be more of a project QB needing time to develop.
Most of the attention has been on the Colts, Texans, Panthers, and Raiders regarding trading up, but the betting market is for who will take Richardson, not who will take him with the No. 1 pick. Young and Stroud will probably be the first two quarterbacks off the board.
They will likely go to Houston and Indianapolis if no one trades up.
Seattle (No. 5) doesn’t need a QB; the Lions (No. 6) may be interested but seem happy with Jared Goff. The Raiders, Falcons, and Panthers follow the Lions at No. 7, 8, and 9. If he doesn’t get taken in the top ten by one of them, there is a solid chance he will fall out of the first round.
If that happens, anyone could take him.
NFL Draft Betting Analysis: Anthony Richardson
Mock drafts are a good tool for betting on NFL Draft odds (as a starting point for your research), but you must be careful which ones you use. Some are more accurate than others; Trappaso’s 2022 mock draft came in at No. 65 last year according to one website that tracks mock draft accuracy, and another ranked him at No. 109.
While Trapasso had nice things to say about Richardson in his latest mock draft, his review was not as complimentary back in December:
Richardson is very tough to project. His film is that of a quarterback prospect, most often taken on Day 2 or later. However, no other quarterback has the physical and athletic profile that Richardson brings to the table. When all is said and done, it would not be a surprise if he worked his way into the top half of the first round with a strong pre-draft showing.
He’s not wrong. A solid showing at his Pro Day and the Combine can improve his draft position, but enough to make him the No. 1 pick? No. Watching the clip of Richardson’s combine throw, it is hard not to think about Zach Wilson making a similar throw at his Pro Day.
Two years into his career, it looks like the Jets made a mistake. Anyone that trades up to take Richardson will also be making a mistake.
Betting Analysis: Who Will Draft Anthony Richardson?
That is not to say he can’t become a star at the NFL level, but that there are other quarterbacks and players worth taking over him. Someone will take him. Assuming he goes in the first round, he’ll likely go in the top ten to the Raiders or Panthers.
But before betting on either, it is worth taking a step back and looking at the ultra-athletic quarterback everyone was excited about after last year’s combine—Malik Willis. While he generated a lot of No. 1 pick and early first-round talk, Tennessee snatched him up in the third.
The appeal of Willis was his athleticism, but a quarterback needs to be more than a stellar athlete. Richardson is more NFL-ready than Willis, but there are some questions/concerns over his skillset, i.e., accuracy. If teams are as concerned about Richardson’s deficiencies as Willis, then he could easily be a Day Two selection.
If that’s the case, the only teams bettors should rule out are the ones with starters on rookie contracts and those who have recently signed their QB to a megadeal.
Our Pick: Raiders
Longshot: Ravens, Packers
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