Paul Richardson announced his decision to enter the 2014 NFL Draft just over two weeks ago after Colorado’s final game of the season.
Originally a UCLA signee, Richardson enjoyed a very productive career with the Buffalos, but projections as to when he’ll be drafted are a bit of a mixed bag.
He has solid bloodlines working in his favor (a nice bonus in the eyes of NFL scouts) as the son of former UCLA receiver standout and NFLer, Paul Sr. His cousin, Shaq, is an NFL-caliber cornerback from Arizona with plans of being drafted this spring. He also received sound coaching while making strides in 2013 under the tutelage of former Biletnikoff award winner, Troy Walters, a first-year receivers coach at Colorado.
Despite originally signing with UCLA, Richardson eventually chose to play for the Buffalos and became an instant impact player during fall practices as a true freshman. He produced every year despite shaky quarterback play as well as defenses’ recognition of him as the Buffs’ only offensive playmaker. In 2012, he suffered a torn ACL during spring practices that required surgery so he ended up redshirting. By the beginning of the 2013 season, he’d recovered 100% without losing a step.
Richardson did not have much else to prove at Colorado and after making a full recovery from his injury, may have been wise to enter early. As far as his draft prospects, he looks like a mid round receiver on film but he’ll likely test very well throughout the pre-draft process which could push him solidly into Day 2.
At 6’1 180, Richardson is undersized and will get pushed around by NFL corners. He has a long frame, which he hopes to pack some meat on during training but that always comes with the caveat of possibly losing speed. With that said, he is an outstanding athlete with excellent top end speed to consistently take the top off defenses in the NFL. He eats up cushion quickly and does not get caught from behind once he’s secured the football. He shows the body control to get in and out of breaks easily and does not need to gather himself when making sudden changes in direction.
At this point, he’s still a bit raw, however. He does not have much experience running advanced routes in college and really only seems comfortable on downfield patterns. For a guy whose strength is getting behind the coverage, he doesn’t particularly track the deep ball well and loses too many 50/50 opportunities. His hands are inconsistent overall as he’s shown the ability to make the highlight reel grab but will then drop the easy ones.
He leaves Boulder with 29 school records but NFL coaches will have some work to do to polish him up. Overall, his athleticism makes him a high upside weapon in offenses that like to attack downfield but he’ll likely be cleaning up the small things during his first year.