ESPN’s Orlovsky: Seahawks shouldn’t be scared of QB Anthony Richardson’s ‘accuracy issues’

Mar 22, 2023, 12:37 PM | Updated: Apr 6, 2023, 2:24 pm

Seahawks Anthony Richardson...

Anthony Richardson of the Florida Gators throws a pass against South Carolina on Nov. 12, 2022. (James Gilbert/Getty Images)

(James Gilbert/Getty Images)

One of the biggest wild cards in this year’s NFL Draft is Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson. The big, fast QB prospect is a popular name linked to the Seahawks in mock drafts, including Mel Kiper’s latest for ESPN, which has Seattle taking him No. 5 overall.

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It’s easy to see why Richardson could be an NFL star. He’s big (6 foot 4 and 244 pounds), tested off the charts athletically at the NFL Scouting Combine (4.43-second 40-yard dash, 40.5-inch vertical leap and 10-foot-9-inch broad jump) and has a cannon of an arm.

But there are a few reasons Richardson isn’t a lock to go No. 1 overall, and that’s because he has very limited starting experience and completed under 54% of his passes for the Gators last year.

Those accuracy numbers typically are one of the first things that come up when discussing Richardson as a draft prospect, and he’s seen as a developmental quarterback who needs to sit for at least a season before starting. That’s part of why the Seahawks are a popular landing spot for the Florida prospect.

While that 53.8% completion mark in 2022 may scare some, former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovksy, now an analyst for ESPN, says that number actually paints an inaccurate story when looking at Richardson as a passer, as he explained during a Wednesday visit with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

“I don’t make anything of it,” Orlovsky said of Richardson’s completion percentage to Brock Huard and guest co-host Brady Henderson, Seahawks reporter for ESPN. ” … The reason why I don’t make anything about the completion percentage is I bet you if we looked at the history of college football – especially in the last 20 years – and you looked at the guys who led the country in completion percentage, most of them did not do anything in the NFL.”

When looking at Richardson’s game and numbers specifically, there are two big reasons his numbers are worse than his actual accuracy, Orlovsky said.

“No. 1, he had 19 throwaways. He played 12 games last year, and had 19 throwaways,” he said. “No. 2, they were – the University of Florida – 107th when it comes to drops in college football. That means 106 teams in college football caught the ball better than Florida. So if we just look at 19 throwaways – which is 1.5 per game – and we look at a team that averaged over two drops a game, if you take that one throwaway a game and one drop per game and count those as completions over the course of a 12-game season, his completion percentage goes to (over 61%). So then we’re not having a conversation about completion percentage.”

Orlovsky said Richardson is a prime example of game tape not backing up what statistics are showing.

“That’s why I’ve said when people are saying, ‘Well, Anthony Richardson has accuracy issues,’ I sit there and I go, ‘No, he doesn’t,'” he said. “Does he miss throws? Of course. But when we say a guy has accuracy issues, it means he’s an inaccurate player, that he misses throws on a consistent basis that others don’t, and I just don’t see that. Do I think mechanically he has flaws with his footwork? 100%. Do I think that’s one of the easiest things to fix? 100%.

“So that’s why I sit there and I go, we’re framing the conversation around Anthony Richardson like he’s a finished product and the flaw is something that is so glaring that it’s non-fixable or non- adaptable, and I just don’t believe that.”

When looking at the Seahawks, quarterback is far from the team’s most glaring need. They have already re-signed both Geno Smith, a 2022 Pro Bowler, and his backup, Drew Lock, this offseason. With those two locked in for 2023 – and in Smith’s case, potentially through 2025 – some think Seattle drafting a quarterback is off the table. Orlovsky doesn’t think that’s necessarily the case.

Related: With Lock re-signed, are Seahawks out on drafting a QB in the 1st round?

“I think that if you as an organization believe that that quarterback at five – whoever it is – is so highly rated and ranked and you believe that this is a special player, then you take him,” he said. “You take him, you do. I just completely believe in that.”

With Richardson, Orlovsky says he has a hard time seeing him fail at the NFL level because he’s “big, strong, fast, powerful, athletic, a natural thrower,” who is highly intelligent and has “great character and tremendous work ethic.”

“Can he fail? Sure, I just don’t think the likelihood of it is very high,” he said. “So if you’re sitting there and you view him the same way I view him and you have a luxury of not forcing him on the field in September, and you sit there and go, ‘We have him rated as the No. 1 player in our draft board and the guys that are available at five right now, we don’t think as highly of,’ then you take him.”

As for what that would mean for Smith and Lock, it doesn’t really matter, Orlovksy said.

“What that means for Geno and Drew is indifferent to what that means for the Seattle Seahawks organization in the year of 2030,” he said. “So that’s why I sit there and I go indifferent of who’s there, if you think that highly of him or (Alabama’s Bryce Young) or whoever, it’s a luxury to take him, and it also makes sure that you don’t take your step back in the future.”

Listen to the full conversation with Orlovsky at this link or in the player below.

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ESPN’s Orlovsky: Seahawks shouldn’t be scared of QB Anthony Richardson’s ‘accuracy issues’