While some were surprised at how the order of the quarterbacks went in the NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts selecting Anthony Richardson over Will Levis, followed by Levis dropping to the second round, gave great insight into some of what these franchises are looking for from the college prospects.
Richardson’s selection proved that a Top 5, a Top 10 quarterback in the draft doesn’t have to be a Heisman contender or consistently have his team ranked in the AP Top 15. He doesn’t have to be the best quarterback in college football or even in that conversation. He just has to have enough tools and promise that will convince an NFL office that he can be trained and molded into a proper NFL quarterback.
In some ways, Anthony Richardson’s draft spot at No. 4 overall gives a fascinating look into how Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton could be evaluated this next offseason. And in those same ways, it makes Joe Milton a must-see prospect during his final season of collegiate football.
Milton will have the added benefit of being in a Josh Heupel offense in comparison to what Richardson was running with the Gators last year. Based on the success that Hendon Hooker had at Tennessee, the Vols’ No. 1 offense last season, and Milton’s performance in the Orange Bowl, there’s reason to believe that Milton could have a better statistical year than Richardson had this past season.
Richardson finished the 2022 season with a 53.8 pass completion percentage, 2,549 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, and nine interceptions.
As a baseline for the Richardson numbers, Hooker finished with 69.6% passing, 3,135 yards, 27 touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Milton, meanwhile, doesn’t have a full season of football under his belt. Over the span of his entire career, Milton has a 57.8 competition percentage, 2,540 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, and six interceptions. Milton has not thrown an interception yet in a Tennessee uniform and is at nearly 60% completion with the Vols.
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Both quarterbacks also have a similar big size to them, which is especially attractive in the NFL compared to smaller quarterbacks like Justin Fields and Kyler Murray. Richardson is listed at 6-foot-4, 231 pounds. Milton, on the other hand, is listed at 6-foot-5, 244 pounds.
Depending on how he performs on the field and in the testing process following the season, there’s enough reason to believe that Milton could find himself with a lot of the similar positive traits that Richardson went into the draft process with including raw potential, a massive arm, great body size, toughness, and power.
The biggest difference between the quarterbacks off the field, though, is age. Richardson is entering the NFL at age 20 while Milton will enter the league at age 24 next year. While 24 isn’t considered too old in the league, there were plenty of people knocking Hooker for being a 25-year-old quarterback during the draft process. The age definitely counts in Richardson’s favor.
At the end of the day, all of this is just an idea, and not meant to specifically compare the quarterbacks against each other. That specific topic is hard to do nonetheless considering Milton hasn’t played an entire season as the starter yet. But, because Anthony Richardson was picked in the top five, there are enough similarities in their draft profiles to make Joe Milton III a must-watch prospect throughout the 2023 season.
A really strong year leading the Tennessee Volunteers to another Top 5 offensive finish could be massive for Milton’s draft stock as he continues down the road.