The Atlanta Falcons have said that they are planning on going into the 2023 season with second-year pro Desmond Ridder as their starter. They are also hosting uber-talented quarterback Anthony Richardson on a top-30 visit next week and could possibly draft him No. 8 overall later this month.
Both things can be true at the same time.
Richardson is considered one of the most physically talented quarterback prospects, well… ever. At 6-4 and 244 pounds with sub-4.5 speed and a 40.5″ vertical leap, Richardson compares more favorably to Kyle Pitts than most quarterbacks.
Cam Newton is the easy comp for Richardson, and Newton was selected No. 1 overall and won an MVP with the Carolina Panthers.
Richardson is considered a much more raw prospect than Newton was at the time. He completed just 53% of his passes at Florida last year, his only season as a starter.
Being selected by a team that isn’t expecting him to start right away could be the best thing for his long-term development.
Ridder is expected to be Atlanta’s starter. When quarterback Taylor Heinicke was signed, he admitted that he was being brought in as No. 2 behind Ridder.
The Falcons have other needs than quarterback, but a talent like Richardson could prove too tempting to pass up for a run-centric head coach like Arthur Smith.
When Michael Vick was selected No. 1 overall by the Falcons in 2001, he didn’t start right away with Chris Chandler as the entrenched starter. Head coach Dan Reeves found ways to get Vick involved in the offense, specifically in red zone and short-yardage packages.
Despite only playing in eight games, Vick rushed for nearly 300 yards and a touchdown as a rookie. Richardson could find a role in the offense even without being the starter, much like Vick in 2001.
Ridder is the No. 1 heading into the 2023 season, but with just four starts under his belt, he hasn’t done enough to solidify himself as the long-term answer for the Falcons. The Falcons could stack their quarterback room by taking Richardson.
It’s highly unlikely Richardson will be available at No. 8 when the Falcons pick, but they are doing their due diligence with him regardless. There are rumblings he could go as high as No.1 overall to the Carolina Panthers, and there’s very little chance he gets past the Colts at No. 4.
The Falcons need help at edge, cornerback, left guard and wide receiver before quarterback, but Richardson is a rare-physical talent. Would the Falcons pass him up if he falls to eight?
Maybe… Maybe not… but they likely won’t get the chance.