Anthony Gordon didn’t hear his name called at all during the three days of the 2020 NFL Draft. Instead, he had to wait until the annual event was all said and done to sign as an undrafted free agent. Gordon reportedly signed with the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday evening.
Gordon is taking a similar path to that of Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew, although the latter was drafted and not signed as a UDFA. Gordon has had an opportunity to see Minshew’s progression first-hand after having backed him up at Washington State for a season.
Like Minshew, Gordon wasn’t a highly touted high school recruit, and the two also share the experience of beginning their collegiate football career at the JUCO level before transferring to Washington State.
It’s not all that likely in Seattle, but Gordon could potentially follow in Minshew’s footsteps once more and earn his way into a starting NFL role.
Gordon had zero scholarship offers coming out of high school
Gordon played both baseball and football at Terra Nova High School in Pacifica, California, and started at QB his last two years. During his senior season, he threw for 4,899 passing yards and 49 touchdowns, which earned him all-state and All-Metro League honors. Still, he wasn’t getting any attention from colleges to play football.
Gordon apparently wasn’t too surprised he wasn’t recruited much as a quarterback in high school.
“I was a baseball player primarily growing up and I didn’t start playing football until my freshman year of high school,” Gordon told the Seattle Times in August 2019. “We ran a wide-open offense but (Terra Nova) has always been known as a school that gets overlooked. I was pretty small in high school, too (180 pounds), so maybe that had something to do with it too.”
At that point, Gordon could have opted to pursue baseball. He was even selected by the New York Mets in the 36th round of the 2015 MLB Draft. But he chose football instead.
Gordon spent the 2015 season at City College of San Francisco at the JUCO level, where he led his team to a 12-1 record and a California Community College Athletic Association championship. He threw 37 touchdowns and averaged 297.2 yards per game before transferring the next year to play for the Cougars in Pullman, Washington.
Gordon had to wait his turn as a backup for two seasons before getting the nod to be a starter
After redshirting in 2016, Gordon was former Jets quarterback Luke Falk’s backup in 2017. A year later, he appeared in just two games and completed three passes as Minshew’s backup. Three years riding the bench could have been enough to convince Gordon to transfer elsewhere, but he remained with the Cougs.
Sticking it out at Wazzu proved to pay off for him. In 2019, he got his chance to start for the first time since his JUCO freshman year, and he made the most of it.
Gordon finished the season with 5,579 yards and 48 touchdowns with just 16 interceptions. Although Wazzu finished with a 6-7 record last season, Gordon set both school and conference single-season records for passing touchdowns and yards, as well as total offense (5,559) and completions (493). He led the nation in completions and finished with more passing yards per game than any other quarterback, including Heisman winner and Bengals’ No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow.
Gordon brings a skillset that can absolutely translate to the NFL
On film, Gordon shows off a big arm, which also has a quick release and accuracy. He was a good fit in Mike Leach’s air raid system, but his game can translate to the types of schemes NFL teams are running:
Anthony Gordon “Ramsay” (QB 18 from Washington State) has impressed me on the film that I’ve watched tonight. With just some of the throws I’ve seen, I’m hoping we see him at the Senior Bowl. He puts some zip on this one after scanning the field from left to right. pic.twitter.com/zCCMbAh2sK
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) November 19, 2019
He’s also able to fit throws in some tight windows when he needs to:
As Gordon pointed out at the Senior Bowl, the past three Super Bowls have all featured a quarterback from air raid systems in college. Those include now-Bears QB Nick Foles (Eagles), Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff, and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
At the Senior Bowl in January, Gordon went 8-for-12 passing and threw for 69 yards and two touchdowns. He didn’t participate in the measured drills at the combine in Indianapolis, but he impressed during the passing portion of them. Without the benefit of having a pro day and not being able to have pre-draft visits due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gordon’s film had to speak for him.
Here’s what SB Nation’s draft expert Dan Kadar said about Gordon’s stock prior to the 2020 NFL Draft:
“After you get past the top few groups of quarterback prospects, Gordon is right there at or near the top of a middle group that includes players like Cole McDonald of Hawaii and Nate Stanley of Iowa,” Kadar writes. “Gordon is a pretty strange prospect. He only started a season at Washington State, but he had more pass attempts in his career than Tua Tagovailoa. His playing style was a perfect fit for Leach’s offense. Gordon has a fast release and throws a good ball. His arm isn’t a rocket. He’s more of a touch and precision passer. He was at his best at Washington State when he got into rhythm.
“The biggest concern on Gordon is his penchant for throwing bad passes into coverage. He had 16 interceptions last season. While that is partially a volume issue of throwing 687 passes in a season, Gordon’s forced throws stick out. Gordon is also only ordinary in terms of size and athleticism. But he could succeed in the right system, and on the basis of his will.”
In Seattle, Gordon will serve as Russell Wilson’s backup. Wilson hasn’t missed a single start through seven seasons, holding the franchise record for consecutive games started (128). But when signing Gordon, Seattle didn’t have another QB on its roster, so he is a much-needed addition. Nobody is rooting for Wilson to get hurt, but you never know what could happen. After all, Minshew came off the bench unexpectedly in Jacksonville as a rookie last season when Foles was injured, and now Minshew is heading into 2020 as the starter.
It’s been a long journey for Gordon, and what his future holds in Seattle isn’t clear just yet. If there’s one thing Gordon has proven, going from a zero-star recruit with no scholarship offers to a Pac-12 record holder, it’s that he can succeed as a QB at a high level, even if he has to wait for that opportunity.