Name: Anthony Gordon
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School: Washington State
Height: 6’ 2”
Washington State was led by Luke Falk in 2017 and Gardner Minshew in 2018, before Anthony Gordon was finally handed the keys to the car. All he did was lead the entire nation in pass attempts while still managing to complete a high percentage. He also blew away his predecessors’ numbers in passing yardage, touchdowns, and passing efficiency rating. People are quick to write this off as just another product of the college “air raid” offense. Some of this criticism is warranted as his numbers are definitely inflated by this fact. As a starter in 2019, he amassed over 350 passing yards in 11 of those 13 games. In comparison, Joe Burrow only produced over 350 yards in eight of his 15 games. Despite stats that really jump off the page, Gordon is not being talked about with the big names in this 2020 NFL Draft class. Could this be an under-the-radar talent that we’ll all be talking about this preseason?
-Accuracy: Completing 71.6 percent of his 689 attempts is a telling stat no matter what type of offense you play in. Especially when you factor in that his yards per attempt is on par with the top QB names in this class. He is extremely accurate on short and intermediate routes, especially on crossing routes. He can also make sideline and end zone corner throws look easy. He puts the ball where only his receiver can catch it. Helps his receivers open with this ball placement. Gordon is in the discussion for the most accurate quarterback in this class.
-Arm strength: His arm strength is very middle of the road. It doesn’t really hinder him, but it’s not a calling card either. His deep balls do float on him from time to time allowing for safety help over the top. However this tends tends to happen 50 yards down the field or further. His accuracy also helps minimize this issue, but with the speed at the next level it has potential to hinder his performance.
-Mobility: His strength is as a pocket passer. He is ultra comfortable in the pocket trusting his blockers to keep him upright. Gordon has enough awareness to make adjustments to pressure, but only if they are minor enough to keep him upright and progressing through his reads. Pocket footwork seems apathetic much of the time. To be fair, these small adjustments proved to be enough for him most of the time. He did just enough to help his blockers get into a favorable position. On the rare occasion he does escape the pocket, he is plodding and linear. He has -20 rush yards in his 15 game college career. Although it’s not a strength in his game, he has enough ability that I don’t believe it’s going to be a weakness for him either.
-Mental Game Management: One of Gordon’s best attributes is his ability to stand calmly in the pocket no matter the level of commotion around him. He is so relaxed that it almost looks strange at times. This could be attributed to his lack of mobility that I discussed above, but whatever the reason, it works for him. He seems cool at all times, under all types of situations. He can sense pressure coming and makes the correct decision when that situation arises. Has an excellent internal clock that warns him of danger. He can at times stare down receivers. Hard to tell how much of this is a character flaw or if it’s a symptom of the air raid system that gives receivers freedom to make their own routes. This will need work at the next level, but hopefully it will be a transition he can make.
-Final Thoughts Kliff Kingsbury is the obvious example of the air raid offense being used in the NFL, but aspects of it can be found all over the league. In a New York Times article called “The Air Raid Offense Invades an N.F.L. That It Already Conquered” by Benjamin Hoffman, the author draws parallels between the air raid offensive scheme and strategies that current NFL teams rely on. With so many professional football players coming from colleges that ran the air raid, it shouldn’t be a reason to write Gordon off. I am a believer that Gordon has more upside than many of the top notch quarterbacks in this draft. In researching this article I have become a big fan of his game and he is my fifth ranked signal caller in the class. His strengths are strong and his weaknesses shouldn’t be enough to hold him back. I expect him to be a viable NFL back up.
Projected Draft Round: 4-6
Question Marks: Is Gordon just an air raid system quarter back or can he prove to be more than that?
Comp: Blake Bortles
Team Fit: Patriots, Broncos, Steelers