Which Gators were included in Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock draft?

As the NFL playoffs near a conclusion, it’s time to start looking seriously at the 2023 draft, and Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock indicates that former Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson is a serious first-round candidate.

Kiper has Richardson going ninth overall to the Carolina Panthers, which is where some pegged him to land before his lone season as a starter at Florida began. It would be a developmental pick without question, but Kiper sees Richardson doing great things if he gets with the right staff in the NFL.

The only problem is that Carolina needs an answer under center for next year. Drafting a quarterback that needs at least a year to develop won’t help the current situation and could deter the franchise from taking the risk. Kiper suggests a scenario where the Panthers bring back Sam Darnold for a season so that Richardson can learn on the sidelines for a year.

“Let’s get this out of the way now: I wouldn’t play Richardson in Year 1,” Kiper wrote. “He needs time to develop. He’s not an NFL-ready thrower. But he is an awesome talent, a raw quarterback in a 6-foot-4 frame who would be one of the league’s most electrifying runners as soon as he steps on the field.

His size and physical tools cannot be taught, and NFL coaches will want to work with him and try to take him to the next level. Richardson completed just 53.8% of his passes in 2022 — he has a long ways to go with his mechanics. Again, though, he has a high ceiling if a coaching staff can help him get there.”

Unfortunately, Richardson is the only Gator on Kiper’s first-round mock this time around. Many are expecting guard O'Cyrus Torrence to get some looks in the first round, but Kiper doesn’t have him going that high. He does get a mention at No. 27 for Buffalo, but as a secondary option to Auburn EDGE Derick Hall.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire