Gold or Lead? Nobody knows, but we’re damn sure the NFL Combine is important. Anthony Richardson is our hero and his NFL potential is real, so go big or go home in the NFL Draft.
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As we barrel through the NFL offseason and await checkpoints along the way, the NFL Draft Combine wrapped this week. We got our most recent glimpse at the measurables and talents of the league’s next group of stars. The key is determining what information from the combine is useful and what is not. A high stakes game of “Hot Or Not,” if you will.
Every year, there are combine standouts; guys who show freakish athleticism that teams feel like they can’t pass up. Sometimes, that player ends up being a freakish athlete that teams couldn’t pass up. Other times, the rest of his game never translated, and he fades out of the league as a bust. Front offices still struggle to determine who will fall into which group.
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This year’s combine darling is Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson. He showed off-the-charts athleticism, speed, and arm strength from the QB position. Consequently, he is now flying up mock drafts, and some folks are touting him as a top-five pick. But Richardson has always been freakishly athletic, yet never showed consistency when actually playing football. He fulfills the prophecy of combine hero, but is he a myth or a legend to be?
Anthony Richardson and the NFL Combine Myth
Todd Salem: Keep Playing Your Silly Games
The NFL Combine so predictable it’s funny. And yet, it’s not necessarily wrong. Teams covet quarterbacks who can make all the throws physically, as well as those who can extend plays, move outside the pocket, and pick up first downs themselves. Richardson can do all those things on paper.
On the field in college, he was definitely capable yet inconsistent. He struggled with accuracy and decision making. He also didn’t have the success that teams normally want out of a franchise leader. We’ve heard this story so many times before. Yet, it’s worth reiterating, sometimes that story ends like a fairy tale and sometimes it ends in heartbreak. It still depends on the individual player. There are no archetypes for prediction in this game.
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We won’t be privy to the interviews teams conduct with Richardson and others. That seems like it should be a bigger deal, combined with game tape, than anything that happens at the combine. And yet, we know it’s not. The league and fans go crazy for combine results when it should only be one piece of the pie. I’m sure in the actual front offices, at least the good ones, it IS just one piece of a player’s draft viability, but it becomes an outsized talking point.
Where do you stand on the combine? Do you love it, pay it no mind, or fall somewhere in between? And do you have any specific thoughts on Richardson after his performance?
I just personally find it so silly that if someone measures an inch shorter than expected or has hands slightly larger than expected, it can swing their draft prospects. Or if their three-cone drill is really fast, it somehow makes up for three years of shoddy game tape. Richardson might end up being a star in the NFL, but where he gets drafted should not have been altered by his combine. Teams knew about the athleticism already, when he was leading a 6-6 Gator team and completing 53 percent of his passes.
Dan Salem: The Exception Proves The Rule
The NFL Combine is truly the first time we see college prospects as NFL players, even if no game is being played and the entire thing is a glorified weight lifting competition. The existence of the Combine is justified by how valuable we consider its results. To put it another way, we MUST consider the NFL Combine results as super important, otherwise why hold a combine at all? Truthfully it’s not super important to the average college prospect, but the Combine absolutely gives a player like Anthony Richardson the opportunity to prove themselves one final time on the very first NFL stage made available.
If your tape is hit or miss and you didn’t leave college with unbelievable numbers, then you better destroy your NFL Combine opportunity to make a name for yourself in front of an NFL audience. Richardson caught my attention based upon the fact that he garnered so much media attention. While it’s true that the NFL media needs someone to parade around as the “winner” of the event, it’s also true that you don’t simply keep talking about a guy unless he did something noteworthy. The NFL needs this story and Richardson needs this story. I personally will be going after him hard in Fantasy Football, because the reward will be huge if he hits and there is zero risk involved.
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Real NFL teams do have a huge risk to consider. Is Anthony Richardson still the player we saw on the field in college, or is he changing before our eyes? Because the NFL Combine is a glorified weight lifting competition, those who dominate the Combine will often be vastly different from those who dominate the actual game of football. There is significant overlap because the NFL has designed things pretty well, but its entertainment first and foremost. All this being said, it’s quite rare for a dominant NFL rookie to have previously bombed his Combine. It’s also rare for a standout at the Combine to completely bust in their rookie season. What causes problems is when a player originally projected in the 2nd or 3rd round gets bumped up to the top 10 of round one because he ran really fast.
Anthony Richardson is a huge risk for quarterback needy teams in round one, but he is a slam dunk selection in round two. The fact is, Richardson won’t last until round two because he crushed his NFL Combine performance. If he falls deep into round one, then every team should consider drafting him, but he won’t escape the top 10. Quarterbacks are so disproportionately valuable to a team and having a good QB on a rookie deal is the only way to build a winner, outside of already having a good team and being able to afford a top-tier veteran.
While I find the idea of watching the NFL Combine on television to be stupid, the actual event is quite valuable. Fans see the fast sprints and highest of jumps, but teams get to put eyes on a guy and even talk to them. Nothing beats the eye test and seeing in person beats watching on film every time. Witnessing how a player handles being by himself in the spotlight is critical, especially after dominating or bombing a drill. Intangibles are the only proven thing that determines NFL success. Unfortunately we can’t measure intangibles, so let the fun and games commence!
Meet our Writers:
Dan Salem is Lead Editor, Writer, and Co-owner of BuzzChomp. He’s a published author, as well as an award winning Actor, Director and Producer. Visit M Square Productions for his film work, or get lost in his old-school comedy on Pillow Talk TV. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Todd Salem is a Staff Writer and Contributing Editor at BuzzChomp. He’s also a fantasy football and fantasy baseball Staff Writer for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter or comment below for his unfiltered opinions.
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