Lamar Jackson, Anthony Richardson and the Commanders QB situation
By Jonathan Eig
Should Commanders bet on Anthony Richardson?
To me, the answer is obvious as the question.
The Washington Commanders should go to enormous lengths to secure the services of Lamar Jackson. They should not even remotely consider trying to move up to draft Anthony Richardson.
That isn’t to say that if the Commanders happened to be sitting at No. 4 and Richardson were available that they shouldn’t take him. That would be awfully tempting. I might well do it.
Richardson might turn out to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league. No one has a crystal ball on this. Certainly not me. But he’s a gamble and I would not increase this by pouring multiple high draft picks and/or good young players into any such deal.
Then, an iffy bet becomes a bad one.
Why is Richardson an iffy bet? Because his extraordinary athletic gifts do not guarantee he will be a good NFL quarterback, and his stock is rising almost entirely based on those athletic gifts. After combine testing, his Relative Athletic Score (RAS) is the highest ever recorded by a quarterback.
The player he knocked off the top spot is Cam Newton.
But take a look at the 14 quarterbacks who now slot in behind Richardson on the all-time RAS list. They are all phenomenal athletes. None has ever won a Super Bowl, except as a backup. Other than Newton, none has ever taken his team to a Super Bowl.
Four of them – that’s just under 30 percent – never played a snap at quarterback in an NFL game. Two tried to transition to tight end, and two found a home in the Canadian Football League.
The other ten? Well, in addition to Newton, they include Andrew Luck and Tim Tebow. I mention them because they are the only members of the list that had positive career winning percentages as starting quarterbacks in the NFL. That’s three out 14.
As a group, these hyper-athletic men have started 651 games in the NFL and have won about 45 percent of them. That equates to an 8-9 season record.
You know – the exact same record the Commanders have managed with Taylor Heinicke and an assortment of injured veterans during the Ron Rivera years.
I won’t belabor this point other than to mention one specific statistic. Daunte Culpepper and Robert Griffin III are two of the other quarterbacks on this athletically elite list. They both had career completion percentages of 63 percent, which are the highest of anyone on the list.
There was a time in the NFL when 63 percent would have put you in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but not anymore. These days, that is well below average – it puts you in the bottom third of the league.
You know who was 63 percent in 2022? Baker Mayfield.
Everyone wants an athletic quarterback who can escape pressure, run and make every throw. But you had better have a guy who is very accurate and who processes at an extremely high rate. You also better have a guy who leads by example – the first-in, last-out type of player.
Richardson may be all that. I don’t know. You don’t know.
We do know that he has not been an especially accurate passer in college, but that can be improved. Josh Allen had the same knock. He overcame it. Mitch Trubisky did not. We are watching right now whether Justin Fields will develop his passing to match his elite running ability. The jury is still out.