Minneapolis Newspaper on Board with Splashy QB Plan

Ignite QB Frenzy
Oct 15, 2022; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) looks on against the LSU Tigers during the first quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports.

The University of Florida’s Anthony Richardson is one of the most inaccurate 1st-Round QB draft prospects in history, but folks simply do not care.

Richardson mesmerized onlookers at the 2023 NFL Combine, whisking his draft stock into the Top 10 with athletic prowess. His measurables compare to a mean EDGE rusher; his arm to Patrick Mahomes; his generalized skillset reminiscent of Cam Newton.

Minneapolis Newspaper on Board with Splashy QB Plan

The ultimate Madden quarterback — or Daunte Culpepper with big hands — Richardson will become the for-now savior theory for some NFL team, and it might just be the Minnesota Vikings.

Minneapolis Newspaper
Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) warms up before the game against the Eastern Washington Eagles at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL, on Sunday, October 2, 2022. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun. USA TODAY NETWORK.

A couple of recent mock drafts have theorized Richardson to the Vikings either via trade-up or draft-night tumble. Then, Tuesday rolled around, and the Star Tribune echoed the same sentiment. In the here and now, Richardson as the Vikings quarterback after Kirk Cousins in 2024 feels like a palpable reality.

The Star Tribune’s Ben Goesling published a Vikings mock draft, and indeed, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah weaseled up the draft board for two 1st-Rounders to pick No. 11 from the Tennessee Titans. There, he grabbed Richardson, and Goessling explained the projection, “This would be a bold move. Richardson comes in as a bit of a project, and the Vikings wouldn’t hand him the starting job without at least a year for the 20-year-old to develop as a passer, the conductor of the offense and a leader of the franchise.”

Richardson produced 26 total touchdowns to 9 interceptions in 12 games during his final year at Florida.

Vikings Have Official
Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) salutes while carrying a bag of Skittles in his mouth while walking on Steve Spurrier-Florida Field during Gator Walk at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, September 10, 2022. © Doug Engle / USA TODAY NETWORK.

“But if he makes it past the top several picks, the prospect of letting coach Kevin O’Connell, offensive coordinator Wes Phillips and QB coach Chris O’Hara develop Richardson before pairing his spellbinding athletic ability with that of Justin Jefferson could be too tempting to pass up, for a team that doesn’t plan to be picking this high very often,” Goessling concluded.

If Richardson is gettable for two 1st-Rounders, he’s probably worth the risk. No matter how one dices it, expecting him to become more accurate in the NFL than college is a little strange, but that’s evidently where coaching works magic.

Three quarterbacks in the last 25 years had a worse completion percentage than Richardson coming out of college as 1st-Rounders: Ryan Leaf, Kyle Boller, and Jake Locker.

Did Anthony
Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) has word with Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier in the first half. Florida hosted the South Carolina Gamecocks in the last home game of the season at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday, November 12, 2022. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

In that vein, Richardson — and the Vikings, especially — will hope this time is the exception to the rule or that Richardson is the outlier to Leaf, Boller, and Locker’s underwhelming QB1 careers.

On the whole, however, roughly two weeks ago, Richardson’s availability to the Vikings felt like an extreme longshot. Recent draft smoke, the Star Tribune included, suggests otherwise.

Goeslling also mentioned Pittsburgh DT Calijah Kancey and Maryland CB Deonte Banks as potential Round 1 darlings for the Vikings.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.