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Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Edgar Thompson

QB Anthony Richardson to throw before ‘packed house’ at Florida Pro Day

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Anthony Richardson stole the show during a record-setting NFL scouting combine to position himself as the possible No. 1 pick in next month’s draft.

For an encore, Florida’s former quarterback plans to throw on Thursday during the Gators’ Pro Day as he pushes to build a case as the best quarterback available.

“We look at it like: as a competitor, any time you get a chance to go out there and compete, showcase your skill set, you want to take that opportunity,” Deiric Jackson, Richardson’s agent and a former Gainesville High star, told the Orlando Sentinel Wednesday. “We don’t shy away from these opportunities. We embrace them. We welcome them.”

Jackson expects a “packed house” at the school’s indoor practice facility, where all 32 NFL teams are expected.

“Everybody from head coaches to GMs, even some ownership,” Jackson said.

Jackson said Carolina’s Frank Reich and Seattle’s Pete Carroll of Seattle, head coaches with the Nos. 1 and 5 picks, respectively, are scheduled to attend.

Florida head coach Billy Napier expects more than 80 representatives — many of them traveling from the owners meetings in Phoenix to Gainesville — to be on hand to see Richardson, along with guard O’Cyrus Torrence, the draft’s top-rated guard and a unanimous All-America in 2022.

Torrence was honored Wednesday with a brick outside at the southwest corner of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. He is the 72nd player to receive one.

“To have two guys expected to be that high always draws a crowd,” Napier said of Pro Day. “Some guys that are unique and some needs at those positions early in the draft. A lot of important decisions to be made.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Richardson is one of the more unique and intriguing draft prospects in years. His performance at the combine March 4 put him in the running with Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s CJ Stroud and ahead of Kentucky’s Will Levis among the top quarterbacks available.

The respected website projects Richardson to go No. 4 to the Indianapolis Colts, with Stroud going No. 1 to Carolina and Young No. 2 Houston on April 27. The top pick receives a guaranteed deal of $40.9 million while the amount drops to $34.2 million at No. 5.

The 6-foot-4, 244-pound Richardson boasts superior size, arm strength, speed and explosiveness to either the 5-foot-10 1/8, 204-pound Young or 6-foot-3, 214-pound Stroud.

Richardson ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, the fourth-fastest by a quarterback since 2003. He broke the modern combine position record with a 40 1/2 vertical leap while his 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump tied Matt Jones of Arkansas.

Jackson said Richardson also “threw the ball very well.”

Yet, Richardson also was wildly inconsistent for the 2022 Gators. He closed his career with a 9-of-27 passing effort during a 45-38 loss Nov. 25 at rival Florida State, amplifying concerns about his inaccuracy and poor decision-making. Richardson completed just 53.8% of his throws for 2,549 yards and 17 touchdown while rushing for 654 yards and nine scores.

Richardson also started just 13 college games and does not turn 21 until May 22, hinting his potential remains untapped and his upside is boundless.

On Thursday, Richardson will have a script of the passes he plans to throw and be on a pitch count. Jackson preferred not to share specifics but is confident Richardson will rise to the occasion.

“These type of guys are rare these days,” Jackson said. “He’s a special talent. It’s just one more opportunity to showcase they’ll be getting a special player and somebody that can help lead them to doing some great things for years and years to come.”

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