Florida QB Anthony Richardson competes for NFL execs
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Anthony Richardson completed the last of 45 passes, raised his right index finger and started jogging toward midfield.
He got near the Gators logo and delivered a roundoff backflip that was as perfect as any throw he made during Florida’s pro day Thursday.
It may have been his last gymnastics move for a while.
Richardson put on another show for NFL coaches, general managers and scouts, this one a follow-up to his record-setting performance at the combine earlier this month.
The 6-foot-4, 244-pound quarterback from Gainesville skipped all the measurement drills on campus — there was little chance he would have improved on his gaudy numbers from Indianapolis — but he did throw at the team’s indoor practice facility. He misfired a few times, overthrowing one receiver 70 yards away and launching a deep ball that hit the ceiling.
He felt as if he accomplished his main objective, which was to showcase his accuracy.
"I feel like I delivered the ball pretty well today," Richardson said. "Some of them weren’t as great as I wanted to be, but I feel like I threw the ball pretty well today."
Carolina’s Frank Reich, Seattle’s Pete Carroll and Jacksonville’s Doug Pederson were three NFL coaches in attendance. The Panthers and Seahawks sent large contingents as they did for pro days involving three other highly rated QBs: CJ Stroud (Ohio State), Bryce Young (Alabama) and Will Levis (Kentucky).
Richardson met individually with Las Vegas and Carolina on Wednesday, and he has several more teams lined up in the coming days and weeks. His pitch to all of them?
"I’m a workhouse," said Richardson, who set QB records at the combine for the broad jump (10 feet, 9 inches) and the vertical jump (40 1/2 inches). "I’m going to work to be the greatest. I’m going to continue to work. A lot of people would say I have a lot of things to clean up, so I’m definitely going to try to clean those things up."
Richardson put up modest numbers in his only year as Florida’s starter. He completed 53.8% of his passes for 2,549 yards, with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also ran for 654 yards and nine scores.
Consistency, most notably on routine throws, was the biggest concern.
"The narrative out there is there’s accuracy issues," said Will Hewlett, Richardson’s QB coach at 6 Points in nearby Jacksonville. "We were hoping to define what those are and showcase that he can make all the throws at 5 (yards) and under, 10 and under, 15 and under.
"The deep ball is obviously there. And part of it is showing … everybody knows what he can do, but he’s still really fun to watch. He put on a little bit of a show. It’s good for him. It went how we expected it to go."
The backflip, however, was not part of the script.
After connecting with Florida receiver Justin Shorter on a deep pass, Richardson took off and got in position for a routine he’s accomplished countless times during pregame warmups at nearby Florida Field.
He tried it at the combine but over-rotated and failed to stick the landing. This one was perfect, drawing oohs, aahs and plenty of applause.
"I just said, ‘OK, I may have to just stick a backflip,’" he said. "So that was it for the last one, I think. … I feel like I’m getting older, so my body won’t be able to hold up, back-flipping, so we’ll see."
Added Tom Gormely, owner of Tork Sports Performance and in charge of Richardson’s daily workouts: "I think that’s probably the last backflip. He’s a freak athlete. To him, it’s honestly just as safe as one of us doing anything.
"He can do everything. He can flip. He can run. He can jump. He does that on his own sometimes, but he’s smart and he knows what he’s doing."