It always seems to be a toss up whether or not a college star can translate their game to the professional level. Think back to great college athletes who couldn’t make it in the NFL. It’s an underwhelming list that includes the likes of JaMarcus Russell, Vince Young, Brady Quinn, and who could forget Ryan Leaf?
All the above are first round picks that never amounted to anything, except a giant waste of millions of dollars. This select group proves that everything leading up to the draft, the combine and team workouts, doesn’t always accurately gauge any given player’s ability. The leap from playing on Saturday to playing on Sunday seems daunting to some. However, there is no reason to believe that this will be the case for Seattle Seahawks draft pick Paul Richardson.
Richardson, the former Buffaloes’ star wide receiver, was selected 45th overall in the 2014 NFL draft. Ranked as one of the top 10 receivers in the country going into the draft, expectations are high as he approaches his rookie debut.
There was no question that he was a star for Colorado football. Richardson finished his college career third all time in receptions (156) by a Colorado receiver. He finished fifth in receiving yards (2,423) and second in touchdown catches with 21. He broke or tied an astounding 29 school records and made his mark in Buffaloes’ history books, time and time again. In 2013, he earned All-Pac 12 honors, becoming Colorado’s first all-conference receiver in over 15 years.
Thus far, he has thoroughly impressed coaches in Seattle with his speed and incredible hands. These were some of the qualities that originally enticed the Seahawks to trade out of the first round to select Richardson. However, one of the biggest question marks surrounding Richardson is his durability. During his tenure at Colorado, he suffered from multiple knee injuries, including a torn ACL that caused him to miss his entire junior season. Other than his durability, his stature will also under the microscope. He is too lean to be a number one receiver in the big leagues. If he wants to compete with top corners, he’ll have to get bigger and stronger.
If he can remain healthy, he may become an elite NFL receiver at some point down the road. He has all the intangibles that a great receiver needs: blazing speed, spectacular catches, and innate football ability. He is able to chew up yards with extremely long strides, boasts great route running, and should present himself as nothing less than a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Seattle may be the best place for Richardson to further himself and his game. The Seahawks now have maybe the fastest receiver duo in the league, in Percy Harvin and Richardson. He’ll be playing with a proven, Super Bowl winning quarterback, in Russell Wilson. Most importantly, he’ll be going up against MVP cornerback Richard Sherman every day in practice. Richardson will have to quickly adopt the mindset of having to be the best, to beat the best.
There’s never a sure thing in the world of professional sports. It’s always a gamble whether or not a pick will pay off and be worth the big money contract. It may be too early to say whether Paul Richardson will pan out as an NFL receiver, but it certainly seems that Seattle shook an eight ball and the answer they got “all signs point to yes”.