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Colts Quarterback Draft Prospects: Washington State’s Anthony Gordon

NCAA Football: Washington State at California Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Given the Indianapolis Colts’ need for a quarterback who can be developed — whether through free agency or the upcoming NFL Draft — and the recent performances we witnessed in the Reese’s Senior Bowl, it appears to be high time for some film review of the draftable passers who will be available.

One of the more popular quarterbacks from this past week, and maybe even one of the less notable ones up to this point, was Anthony Gordon out of Washington State. He was pretty intriguing to me during the game, and with our annual Anthony Arena Draft Guide just around the corner, it seemed reasonable to start letting you guys in on what i’m seeing with these signal callers as well.

Gordon ended his Senior Bowl performance 8-of-12, for 69 yards, and 2 touchdowns. His quick-snap release was what first caught my eye, and it’s something that I saw quite a bit throughout the game film that I have watched since. This review isn’t as much about finding a landing spot for him in the draft, but he does appear to be a guy who could go in the second or third round in April.

Gordon was Gardner Minshew’s backup in 2018, and only threw the ball 5 times as a result, so one of his knocks right out of the gate is that he’s a one-year product entering the draft. However, in 2019, Gordon completed 71.6 percent of his throws and passed for nearly 5,600 yards, and racked up 48 touchdown passes (16 interceptions) with an insane workload of 493 completions on 689 attempts.

Most of what I saw from Gordon was that he’s a quarterback who is going to take what the defense is giving him a large portion of the time. He does well with tight-window throws, has that quick release that caught my eye right off the bat, and doesn’t waste any time at all in getting his feet set using great torque to get the ball where it needs to go.

Gordon doesn’t have the strongest arm you’re going to see throughout this process, but he uses everything he has to produce the most power he’s able to generate. Gordon does a nice job with touch, and feel, and is able to find the right velocity and trajectory in placing the ball between the second, and third levels of the defense (over the linebackers, and in front of the secondary). You can see a quick clip below that shows this.

One of the most noticeable parts to Gordon’s skillset, or ability, is that he works very well against, and possesses great recognition to take his deep shots against press-man coverage. In the clip below, you’ll see that UCLA works a lot in a cover-3 look, which Gordon navigates around very well. He’ll go deep if the cornerbacks don’t have the ability to match up with his receiver, and he has enough zip on the ball to get it downfield before the single-high safety can get there to help on the ball.

Gordon also shows some odd arm angles, which we saw a little bit of in the Senior Bowl, and he’ll use them for quick throws, as well as throws to get the ball around defenders that are able to get pressure on him. He’s not a guy who’s going to move defenders with his eyes a ton, but he does go through his progressions quite naturally which achieves the same objective against the defense.

Gordon became more intriguing the more I watched him. You can see his decision-making is processed very quickly on most plays. However, Gordon obviously has plenty more to work on in his path to the NFL. He struggles at times when he’s trailing to maintain his ability to be as decisive, and make good choices. Gordon also points to where he wants his receiver to go WAY too much, regardless if there’s coverage that the receiver will run into.

Gordon doesn’t show as much aggression downfield versus a cover-2 look, but does have the capability, and accuracy to excel at the next level. Gordon also possesses the ability to make plays out of the pocked, both, with his feet and with intent to deliver the ball downfield. Gordon can read the open areas in zone looks efficiently, but I really liked how his game unfolds against man coverage.

He has nice back-shoulder accuracy, good recognition of the defender’s back facing him, and his confidence increases immensely with just a few consecutive completions.

All in all, I really liked what I saw out of Gordon’s tape. I certainly think he can make it in the NFL, but he’ll have to continue to progress with his natural passing talent and ability to read defenses. He throws with good anticipation, and sees the field well, including his ability to read coverages that are changing at the line of scrimmage. This may be one of the things that will help him the most at the next level — his natural feel for pre-snap evaluation of the defense.

With Frank Reich developing him, he’s got the requisite arm strength, accuracy and decision making ability to become a successful quarterback. I don’t know if he’s got a massive ceiling, but he certainly has all the tools to give Reich a pretty damn good piece to polish into a quality signal caller.

My friend Mark Schofield, who’s worked with several fantastic publications throughout the years, and is a former quarterback himself, did a nice piece and film review of Gordon as well for Matt Waldman’s RSP series. You can see this video below which is a more in-depth, conceptual look at what Gordon can do combining his physical and mental talents.

The next quarterback that I’ll be evaluating is Georgia’s Jake Fromm.