This year’s draft is full of talented wide receivers. Today I’m going to discuss former Colorado wide out Paul Richardson. The first thing you notice when you see him is he looks a lot like DeSean Jackson, only taller, as he is 6’ even and weighs 175 lbs. soaking wet. While he did not have the fastest 40 yard dash time at the Combine, Brandon Cooks did (4.33), the former Colorado Buffalo wide out ran a quick 4.40. To get a better understanding of the skill set this receiver will bring to the NFL, I viewed five of his 2013 games against: USC, Arizona, California, Oregon, and Colorado State.
This athlete is a play maker and is very exciting to watch. I am going to discuss the great things I saw him do, but the first game I watched, against USC, was the game I will take the most from. He had issues gaining separation with physical tight coverage. Chances are that he will see that type of coverage on almost every down in the NFL so team’s will need to get him open in space through design by formation or send him in motion to dictate coverage. This makes me question if he will ever become more than a dynasty WR2, but that’s not to say he won’t be a good player, but I doubt that he will ever be elite.
Let’s break down his game by the long and the short of it, starting with the short part first. Richardson is quite dangerous when used on bubble screens as he can weave in and out from between blockers like an Olympic downhill skier. Defenders are forced to take bad angles and he makes them look silly at times. When the receiver gets an unencumbered release of the line, he can use his initial burst to create separation almost instantly. He also has one of the best jump cuts in his class that helps him get away from crashing defenders. It’s his quick feet (the ability to start and stop quickly while making cuts at the same time), and good vision that helps him take the best angles in close quarters. Although Richardson doesn’t use them very often, he will bust out a spin move every so often to keep the defense on their toes.
Colorado used him as a decoy running reverses to confuse opposing defenses. This helped showcase his ability as a runner blocker. He squares his shoulders and gets in front of defensive backs. This will help him become a three down receiver instead of a pass formation specialist. Richardson does have a decent throwing arm that he used while running a reverse against Oregon that went for a 66 yard scoring play. Much of those passing yards were after the catch, but the young receiver got the ball where it needed to be to make the play.
Despite his thinness, Richardson was more than willing to catch passes in the middle of the field and took a lot of abuse making those plays. He does a good job shielding the ball from the defender when going up for the pass. For someone his size to take that abuse, I’m not sure how long he will last in the NFL. Perhaps Richardson is built out of the same toughness mold that D-Jax is. It certainly looks like he is trying to be that tough as he is always falling forward fighting for extra yardage or absorbing contact to get into position to make a play. I also like that he doesn’t seem to take his eyes off the ball and worry about contact as he understands it is a part of the game. Richardson runs crisp clean routes so he can find soft spots in the zone to sit down and wait for the ball. He does work back to the quarterback when he senses a blitzing defense. These skills will make him a quarterback’s safety blanket.
When the receiver gets a free release, he can get behind the defense in a hurry with his sudden burst. Richardson uses double and triple moves to create separation and makes sharp cuts that take defensive backs by surprise. He has a nice shoulder shake that he sells while his lower body is going somewhere else. One of his best traits is that he catches the ball away from his body with out-stretched hands. This sounds simple, but he rarely uses his body to help him secure the ball. This makes it easier for him to control the ball.
Richardson has good leaping ability as he can sky above smaller corners and get to the ball at its highest point. This makes him especially dangerous in the end zone. The receiver can contort himself around to make very difficult catches and does a great job of tracking the ball in the air without having to constantly look back to know it is on its way. He has a flair for the spectacular play as he likes to catch the ball with one hand. It didn’t work out too often, but he did have one against Oregon that he made one-handed falling down with a defensive back draped all over him. Those plays will be few and far between in the NFL.
I like Richardson as I have him in my top ten rookie receivers, but I have many concerns about the physical nature of the NFL and how he will hold up. To be an effective WR2 , he will need a high-powered offense and a true WR1 to take coverage away from him.
For further questions or comments, you can reach me at @AndrewMiley or @Dynasty_Blitz on twitter.