A physical and elusive runner with very good burst to and through the hole. Accelerates very well out of his cuts, able to get up to top speed very quickly. Has the speed that when he gets to the edge or on the second level he can hit the homerun. Plays with excellent balance, able to side-step and juke defenders. Has very quick feet and is able to set up defenders with subtle moves. Rarely takes a lot of square hits because of his ability to avoid contact in traffic. Has very good lateral agility, able to side-step defenders easily in the hole. Will break ankles when he gets into the open field. Consistently makes the first defender miss and manages to get yardage even in the face of penetration. Has good forward lean that even if you get a good lick on him in the backfield, he'll manage to pick up another yard or two. Has a very strong lower half and very tough to make the stop one on one for a defender. Will shrug off times when defenders try to cut his legs because of his lower body strength. Gets to the edge, and does a good job squaring the shoulders, making the quick cut, and getting north and south. Has very good vision with very good patience to follow his blocks. Sneaks his way through creases and can bounce plays outside on the second level. Tends to create something out of nothing because of his vision. Finishes his runs well and will fight for extra yards, churning the feet after contact. Breaks arm tackles and his low center of gravity and balance allow him to duck under a lot of tackles. Will deliver a stiff arm on the edge. Has good hands and does a good job adjusting to throws in the flat. Has an explosive first step after the catch as a receiver coupled with his agility, making him very dangerous on screens. Is solid in pass protection, able to square up a blitzer off the corner. Will cut down a blitzer off the edge and create throwing windows for his quarterback. Does a nice job chipping bigger pass rushers and then releasing into the flat. Also willing blocker for his teammates downfield. And has been effective on kickoff returns because of his burst, speed, and vision.
At times will stop his feet trying to juke defenders, which will allow defenders to rally to the ball and make the stop preventing him from getting yards after contact. Will miss some assignments in pass protection, and will drop some passes from time to time.
Richardson is a complete back, and the rare workhorse type nowadays. He's an extremely powerful runner, but is so quick and explosive with excellent balance and vision that he doesn't take a lot of shots. He's a guy that consistently gets the maximum yardage on a given play because of his skillset. Collegiate defenders can't tackle him one on one, and the majority of NFL ones will also have trouble because he's so compact and powerful. And when you think he's going to run through you, he'll juke you and break your ankles. And when you think he'll try to run away from you, he'll lower the boom and go right through you. A year ago, I was a big fan of Mark Ingram because of his compact build and power, but Richardson has the same tools, but much better burst and speed to hit the homerun plays, something that Ingram will have difficulty doing at the NFL level. And his value in the passing game is not completely refined, but he's about as good there as any collegiate back you'll come across meaning that he can come in right away and be an everydown back in the pros. The only thing that is going to stop Richardson from being an elite back is injuries, which are impossible to predict. He's had some injuries to his knee the last two years, although they were nothing major. Had his knee scoped after the season due to an injury he suffered before the BCS Championship game. Also has two daughters.
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(10/22) vs. Tennessee: 18 att., 79 yds, 4.4 avg, 32 YAC, 2 TDs; 3 targets, 3 rec., 33 yds, 11.0 avg, 38 YAC, 0 TDS
(11/5) vs. LSU: 23 att., 88 yds, 3.8 avg, 39 YAC, 0 TDs; 7 tgt., 5 rec., 80 yds, 16.0 avg, 76 YAC, 0 TDs; 1 fumble, 1 drop
(1/9) vs. LSU: 20 att., 96 yds, 4.8 avg, 20 YAC, 1 TDs; 2 tgt., 2 rec., 11 yds, 5.5 avg, 14 YAC, 0 TDs; 1 sack
2011: 13 GP/13 GS, 283 attempts, 1679 yds, 5.9 avg, 21 TDs; 29 rec., 338 yds, 11.7 avg, 3 TDs; 3 KOR, 22.0 avg, 0 TDs
2010: 11/2-112-700-6.3-6; 23-266-11.6-4; 24-26.4-1
2009: 14/0-145-751-5.2-8; 16-126-7.9-0; 1-20.0-0
- injured his knee prior to BCS championship game in 2011, but managed to play; had surgery following the season
- missed 2 games in 2010 with a sprained knee
Richardson is the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson, and unlike Peterson is not going to have to deal ball security issues, as he almost never fumbled during his career at Alabama. And in that way, he may be better than Peterson. He has the potential to hit the ground running immediately in the pros as a workhorse back that gets 20-25 carries and be the guy that an offense is built around. With good blocking in front of him, he can be a guy that is among the league leaders in rushing each and every year. And he's skilled enough in pass protection that he's not going to be pulled off the field in those situations like Peterson often has been in Minnesota. Ideally, teams won't put too much on Richardson's shoulders right away, since he proved when he shared the backfield with Mark Ingram, that he works very well as part of a 1-2 punch. But given how high he'll likely be drafted, he probably won't have such a luxury since he'll likely be going to a bad team that will need him to be a workhorse right away. The only thing that really could stop Richardson from reaching his full potential as one of the elite backs in the league is injuries. But I believe those won't be a major concern for him because he doesn't take as much contact as you would think. But his stop and start running style does put a bit more pressure on his knees as he shifts his weight from one leg to the other, making him potentially more prone to ACL tears than your average running back. And you do worry that if he gets a lot of 300-carry seasons early in his career, it would shorten his career significantly more than many backs who tend to get about half that their first year or two in the league. As far as his long-term potential, the sky really is the limit.
If Richardson were to play for the Falcons, he would be the perfect workhorse back that Mike Smith prefers, but also be an extremely valuable weapon on third downs. He wouldn't be rushed into the lineup right away here, as he would split reps with Michael Turner. He would likely work primarily on third downs with Rodgers, but eventually his young legs would probably win out and he would relegate Turner to a short-yardage and goalline specialist by year's end. Going forward, he would replace him as the lead back and be used similarly going forward as a guy that regularly gets 20-25 carries in a run-based attack.
Richardson is an elite running back prospect that if a team with a shoddy passing game is looking to turn around their offense, would be worth drafting in the Top 5. You can build an offense around him.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.