There are many easily debatable topics when it comes to Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, a top prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft, including whether or not he should sit for his entire rookie season.
This discussion was broached on the most recent episode of "With The First Pick" podcast, and Brady Quinn had a unique take on the playing timeline for Richardson in the NFL.
"Is it in his best interest to sit and watch for a year? Maybe. I sometimes feel like that's overrated. Quarterback play is a game where you need experience, you need reps. And the only real reps you can give someone to help them truly improve is those live-game reps," said Quinn.
For as against the grain, particularly regarding Richardson, as that take may be -- I totally agree. From a general perspective, it's extraordinarily rare for a first-round quarterback to get a full season watching from the sidelines.
Patrick Mahomes famously got almost an entire redshirt season behind Alex Smith in 2017, only appearing in the Chiefs' regular-season finale as a rookie before erupting as the runaway MVP in 2018, when the tossed 50 touchdowns. But that was such a unique scenario since Smith had quarterbacked the Chiefs to three playoff appearances in a row before Mahomes took the reins.
As a rookie, Jalen Hurts didn't play considerable snaps until Week 12. For Lamar Jackson, it was Week 11. The Eagles made the playoffs the year before and had, at the time, an established starter in Carson Wentz. The Ravens went 9-7 the year before Jackson was drafted and Joe Flacco was the entrenched starter. Unless he's drafted by the Seahawks, Richardson won't be afforded a luxurious team environment like those quarterbacks were gifted.
Then, there's the other end of the spectrum. Joe Burrow -- Week 1 rookie starter. Same with Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence. Deshaun Watson played in Game No. 1 in the NFL. So did Russell Wilson.
Richardson is nowhere near as polished as Lawrence was, and he's behind development-wise where Burrow, Herbert, and Watson were when they entered the league. And, yes, Richardson is way less experienced as a prospect than all the passers mentioned here. Which is precisely why he needs to get on the field. To get experience. Against NFL defenses.
The most apt physical and stylistic comparison for Richardson is Josh Allen, and the Bills franchise quarterback saw action in his first NFL game -- a relief appearance -- then started the following week. Outside of a short injury stint during that debut NFL season, Allen has started every game for Buffalo since.
But my disagreement with the belief that Richardson needs to sit for a long time -- maybe even his entire rookie campaign -- also centers around a misnomer regarding his low floor. Because of his tremendous size, athleticism, and natural running talents, Richardson's floor isn't nearly as low as it's widely thought to be.
His offensive playbook doesn't need to be as expansive as Tom Brady's was with the Patriots in the prime of his career. But Richardson can lean on his legs early as he's acclimating to the speed and complexity of NFL defenses through which he'll eventually have to navigate his passes.
Allen did (89 carries in 12 starts in Year 2). So did Watson and Wilson, and remember how high-volume of a rusher Jackson was as a rookie in Baltimore? He carried the ball 101 times in his first eight contests, including the playoffs. Then, in 2019, he won league MVP.
There's no strong evidence suggesting drastic patience with a quarterback increases the chances of yielding MVP-caliber results, and while Richardson's supreme athletic gifts are mostly referenced when describing his high upside, they also deceptively couple as a boost to his floor.
Richardson can play early in his NFL career.