Everyone wants to compare Florida QB Anthony Richardson to Cam Newton but, to me, Richardson is a bigger, stronger, faster version of Russell Wilson . . .
. . . with stats that are similar to Wilson’s at the same age.
To be clear, I’m not saying that Richardson will be as good as Russell Wilson.
I’m also not saying he won’t be.
Bigger, Stronger, Faster
Before we get to the heart of this comparison (aka their college performances), let’s knock off the simple things . . .
Per MockDraftable, Anthony Richardson’s measurements at the 2023 NFL Combine were 6-4, 244, with 32-3/4-inch arms and 10-1/2-inch hands.
That’s a difference of 5 inches, 40 pounds, 1-3/4 inches on the arms and 1/4-inch on the hand size. BIGGER.
It would be super convenient to use the bench press results from the two combines to compare Richardson and Wilson strength-wise. Unfortunately, neither one did that test (do QBs do that test in general?).
Here’s what we do have though:
- Broad Jump: Wilson = 118 inches; Richardson = 129 inches
- Vertical Jump: Wilson = 34 inches; Richardson = 40-1/2 inches
That’s an 11-inch advantage for Richardson on the broad jump and a 6-1/2-inch difference in the vertical jump. STRONGER.
This is the easy one.
Especially since it’s been widely reported that Anthony Richardson ran the 4th-fastest 40-yard dash for a QB at the Combine this century.
The only guys faster are Michael Vick (2001), Reggie McNeal (2006), and Robert Griffin III (2012).
- 40-yard dash: Wilson = 4.55; Richardson = 4.43
- 10-yard split: Wilson = 1.55; Richardson = 1.53
Richardson smokes Wilson in the 40, but they’re actually fairly close in the 10-yard split (0.02 difference). To be fair, Richardson’s 40-time smokes any QB currently in the NFL so . . . FASTER.
The above isn’t exactly an apples-to-apples comparison because Russell Wilson was almost 23-1/2 at the 2012 Combine (November birthday), and Anthony Richardson doesn’t turn 21 until May 22nd.
An acknowledgement of RW3’s excellent 2011 season
Before comparing Russell Wilson’s performance as a 20-year-old college QB (i.e., 2009) to Anthony Richardson’s performance as a 20-year-old college QB (i.e., 2022), let’s first acknowledge that Wilson kicked ass in his final college season (2011).
- 309 pass attempts
- 225 completions
- 72.8% completion rate
- 3,175 yards (10.3 per attempt)
- 33 TDs vs. only 4 INTs
- Passer rating of 191.8
- 79 carries
- 338 yards (4.3 average)
- 6 touchdowns
- 3 receptions
- 56 yards (18.7 average)
- 1 touchdown
Were it not for his height, it seems likely that RW3 would have been an R1 selection.
Comparing 20-year-old QBs
Russell Wilson’s excellent 2011 season notwithstanding, let’s look at Wilson’s 2009 season with the North Carolina State Wolfpack. You know, the one where he was 20 years old when the season started (like Anthony Richardson was during the 2022 season).
- 378 pass attempts
- 224 completions
- 59.3% completion rate
- 3,027 yards (8.0 per attempt)
- 31 TDs vs. 11 INTs
- 147.8 passer rating
- 103 carries
- 260 yards (2.5 average)
- 4 touchdowns
Now, let’s look at Anthony Richardson’s age-20 season (2022).
Note: A side-by-side comparison follows so you don’t need to scroll up and down.
- 327 pass attempts
- 176 completions
- 53.8% completion rate
- 2,549 yards (7.8 per attempt)
- 17 TDs vs. 9 INTs
- 131.0 passer rating
- 103 carries
- 654 yards (6.3 average)
- 9 touchdowns
Side-by-side comparison - Wilson vs. Richardson
- Pass attempts: 378 vs. 327
- Completions: 224 vs. 176
- Completion rate: 59.3% vs. 53.8%
- Yards (avg./attempt): 3,027 (8.0) vs. 2,549 (7.8)
- Touchdowns: 31 vs. 17
- Interceptions: 11 vs. 9
- Passer rating: 147.8 vs. 131.0
- Rushing attempts: 103 vs. 103
- Yards (average): 260 (2.5) vs. 654 (6.3)
- Rushing touchdowns: 4 vs. 9
My takeaway is that Wilson had the better passing stats, but not exponentially so (+5.5% completion rate, +0.2 yards per attempt, only the TDs are truly “lopsided”).
Richardson kicked Wilson’s ass on the ground though - same number of attempts, basically 2.5x the yards, and more than twice as many touchdowns.
And here’s the thing about that . . .
2009 was Wilson’s second year as a full-time starter. The year before, he threw 275 passes and completed 54.5% of them.
2022 was Richardson’s first year as a full-time starter. He threw 327 passes and completed 53.8% of them, which is much closer to Wilson’s numbers his first year as a full-time starter.
In the interest of not being accused of cherry-picking stats to make my case, Wilson’s TD-to-INT ratio in 2008 (aka his first year as a full-time starter) was 17-1.
That said, his yards per attempt were 7.1 (minus-0.7 from Richardson in 2022), and his passer rating was 133.9 (only 2.9 higher than Richardson last year).
Bottom line: To me, 2022 Anthony Richardson looks an awful lot like 2009 Russell Wilson, statistically - not quite as good passing, but much, much better on the ground.
Wilson is clearly “something special”, but it took him four full years as a starting quarterback in college to elevate his draft stock enough to get selected in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Should Richardson have stayed in school (at Florida or otherwise)? Maybe. But he’s being talked about as a top-5 pick so it’s not like he made the wrong choice.
Wilson took a huge step forward in 2011 (jumping from a 57.8% career completion rate to a 72.8% completion rate) in his lone season at Wisconsin.
Who’s to say that Richardson can’t do the same?
Especially if he has time to “master his craft” before being thrust into action as an NFL-caliber starting quarterback.
Circling back to the statement I made at the beginning of this post . . .
As I see it, Anthony Richardson is bigger, stronger, faster version of Russell Wilson, and if he’s going to reach his potential in the NFL, I really want him to do it while playing for the Seattle Seahawks.
I guess I’m just greedy that way.