Colorado had one big time star on their offense this year in wide receiver Paul Richardson. He was able to produce against just about every opponent the Buffaloes played this year, showing the ability to make big time plays. As a result, he went ahead and has declared for the 2014 NFL Draft, forgoing his senior year in Boulder.
Richardson’s speed, quickness and body control make him hard to miss and he the ability to catch the ball and make plays. He is still a work in progress physically and needs to continue getting stronger and filling out his frame, but Richardson still looks ready to step in and contribute. Richardson seems best suited to be a #2 receiver initially but has the long term potential to be a #1 and projects as a top 75 pick.
Vitals & Build
Richardson is listed at 6’1” 170bs and looks it. He has an extremely lean build and needs to keep adding weight. Richardson has extremely quick feet, great body control, and accelerates well with good top end speed. He needs more strength and it shows, but he might have the frame to keep getting stronger and filling out his frame as he goes into the NFL. His physical potential is pretty high if he can maintain his athleticism and add significant strength to his frame.
Route Running & Technique
Richardson has a pretty good stance that allows him to explode forward with little wasted motion, especially when teams play off man coverage against him. He is able to work with quick steps when opponents play tight on him.
Richardson wins with his feet, but he can use his hands better to create separation. There is no question he has shown he can shake opponents with his quickness and his footwork, but he can get hung up by defenders who use their hands more effective than he does and he can end up somewhat of a victim against opponents who can get a good jam. Better hand use would make it so either off the line of scrimmage or getting past defenders in the open field, he can do it more cleanly and with better separation.
Richardson has great body control and is able to stop and start effectively. He does a great job of sinking into his cuts and coming back to the football with few steps as he drives off that plant leg and comes back to the football. He is dangerous enough where he can run and sell a vertical route or comeback a number of different ways and get the opponent to buy it.
Richardson does a good job of eating up the cushion of the defensive back and forcing them to make a choice. When that happens and the defensive back is forced to turn and run, Richardson does a good job of working his cut on that motion and creating a ton of separation coming back to the football.
Richardson is able to work outside cuts well, but he does have experience working in the middle of the field as well. He can occasionally be a little too high in his cuts which make it so he does not have great separation coming out of his cut when the opponent mirrors him effectively, but Richardson has shown he can do it and just needs to be more consistent.
There are times when Richardson will try to make too many moves, shake too many times and the route just takes too long as well as making it difficult for the quarterback to know when he can throw the ball. Richardson is a pretty good route runner who could get even better. His physical ability and his feet make it so he could really excel in this area with hard work.
Richardson has good hands but he does not always use them. He has shown he can have a big catch radius with the potential to make some spectacular catches, but Richardson will also resort to body catches when there is no reason to do it and it simply looks like a bad habit. For instance, there are situations where Richardson comes out of his cut going outside and catches the ball in his body, which is basically the time when a receiver would want to use their hands so they could effectively keep their momentum going forward and make a play up the sideline.
Richardson has shown he can make some spectacular catches on passes behind him, up in the air and has made some incredible one handed catches. There are occasionally some lapses when it looks like he hears footsteps and is anticipating contact, but overall, he is a pretty reliable pass catcher.
Richardson does not always have great separation and make it so he is open and there are opponents on top of him. He has shown he can make contested catches and concentrate on the football in those situations. There are definitely situations when Richardson can use his body better to box out the opponent, but he has done a good job of adjusting to the football with bodies flashing in front of the ball or in tight quarters with a defender and fighting to the catch the football.
Run After Catch
Richardson can definitely be a threat to run after the catch and has really shown that when he has gone deep running vertical routes and posts. He is also able to make catches where he is in the flat or coming back to the football with the ability to adjust and get more yardage. Richardson has the quickness to make opponents miss and the speed to make them pay for it when he does.
If he can eliminate some of the unnecessary body catching, he would be able to adjust from pass catcher to run after the catch more quickly and seamlessly, which would make him a bigger threat to make a play.
Richardson has shown he is willing to go get his hands dirty and block, even when he is hopelessly outsized. He is not someone who is going to land a big punch or make a big pancake block, but he is not afraid to put his body in the way, try to make a block and help out the play going down the field.
His hand use can improve and he can work to eliminate diving at the opponents’ legs and working to stalk block them better, but he is able to make more blocks and slow down opponents more than many might expect. More strength and technique work should only help him get better, but he shows he is willing to do it and just needs to keep working at it.
Richardson can play in just about any scheme because of his ability to make plays all over the field, but the role for him appears to be key coming out of the gate. He seems best suited to play off of the line as the #2 receiver to ensure he is able to get separation and avoid the jam. Richardson has the ability to contribute in a number of ways, but he seems more suited to be a great speed and quickness option as opposed to being a full service receiver. If he can get stronger and use his hands more effectively to get separation, the potential is there for him to be a true #1.
Richardson’s game is a little bit similar to that of T.Y. Hilton of the Indianapolis Colts. Hilton is certainly shorter than Richardson, but they are both lean and slippery with the ability to attack deep and use that to open up opportunities at different areas of the field. Hilton is a great weapon for Andrew Luck, who was tremendous as a second option but seems to be growing into a player who can stand on his own as Richardson may be able to do.
Paul Richardson has a ton of ability and his best football could still be ahead of him. Paired with a great quarterback and with added strength, he can be a terrific weapon that can get open and make big plays. His feet, quickness and speed make it tough to stop him but he does need to get stronger and keep filling out his body. Nevertheless, he looks ready to be able to contribute in the NFL with long term potential ahead of him. Richardson grades out as a solid second round pick and looks to project as a top 75 pick.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com