Has NFL Combine changed Commanders stance on Anthony Richardson?

(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Anthony Richardson
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Anthony Richardson /

Has a starring showcase of skills at the NFL Scouting Combine changed the Washington Commanders’ thoughts on quarterback Anthony Richardson?

It was an NFL Scouting Combine performance for the ages. One that has the whole league buzzing for good measure.

Anthony Richardson was expected to test extremely well. The quarterback’s unique athletic traits dictated as much, but what he managed to produce in terms of numbers made the entire NFL sit up and take notice.

Richardson broke numerous records for quarterbacks and demonstrated his blazing speed with a 4.3-second 40-yard dash time to further enhance interest. Something that has many predicting the former Florida star is guaranteed to become a top-10 or even top-five pick during the 2023 NFL Draft.

Commanders should avoid the Anthony Richardson temptation

The Washington Commanders could be one team looking at Richardson’s performance differently. They are going to give Sam Howell every chance at winning the starting job heading into OTAs, but head coach Ron Rivera was keen to point out that if a better option comes along, the Commanders will consider the possibility.

There’s almost no chance of Richardson making his way down to No. 16 overall now. Even if the signal-caller needs some refinement in terms of processing and mechanics before assuming a starting role under center.

This means the Commanders would need to give up a substantial amount of future draft capital to trade up in pursuit of Richardson. And even that might not be enough to guarantee his services depending on how things unfold early in the draft.

Richardson’s electrifying dual-threat ability is something Rivera’s gambled on before with great success. Cam Newton was the face of the NFL for a brief period when the pair worked together on the Carolina Panthers, so the prospect of having another with similar traits could tempt the figurehead heading into Year 4 of his tenure.

This sounds nice, and Richardson could be the next great NFL star if everything clicks. But from a logistical standpoint, it seems like a non-starter.

The compensation alone would be jaw-dropping to get in the same vicinity of where Richardson is now projected to land. And the Commanders have some pressing needs at cornerback and across the offensive line that should take priority.

A more realistic scenario is signing a veteran free agent capable of challenging Howell. At the very worst, this gives them a mentor for the North Carolina product and a capable presence in case he cannot meet objectives.

If it doesn’t work out with Howell, then the 2024 NFL Draft is loaded with potential franchise prospects the Commanders could bring into the fold.

As for Richardson, the intrigue grows with every passing day. No team likes missing out on the next big thing, so somebody is going to shoot their shot in the top 10 and hope he can develop into a signal-caller with franchise-altering capabilities.

Washington will have a discussion, one suspects. But it would be an absolute bombshell if it amounted to anything more than that.

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