NFL Prospect Focus: Davante Adams and Paul Richardson

Davante Adams from Fresno and Paul Richardson from Colorado had great production this year as their teams go-to receivers. Here are my thoughts on their talent.

Paul Richardson – Colorado

Richardson is a fourth-year junior and a two-year starter. He missed the 2012 season with an ACL injury but came back to catch 83 passes for 1343 yards and 10 TDs.

Richardson is not big as receivers go. He is listed at being 6010 – 170. He has a long, lean frame, but he is quick, fast, and athletic. In high school, he ran a verified 10.62 100 meters. Richardson gets off the line quickly and is a good route runner. In the tapes I saw, he seldom faced press coverage as opponents were concerned with his deep speed. When he did face press, he was a bit inconsistent getting off a jam. He has the athleticism to avoid a jam, but once a big corner gets his hands on him, he can be rerouted.

Richardson is a good route runner who has the body control to get in and out of cuts quickly. He has the speed to get deep and can come back to the ball well. He shows good hands and does a good job extending to makes catches. He shows toughness and competitiveness by consistently competing for balls in traffic. His run-after-catch concerns me. He is not really strong and needs space. The first tackler is the guy who gets him down. He has average elusiveness, but with his speed, he is dangerous once in the open. As a blocker, he is average. He lacks “pop” and does not stay with blocks.

Richardson reminds me of a receiver we had in Chicago in the mid 2000’s, Bernard Berrian. Richardson and Berrian have similar size and are similar athletes. Berrian was a productive receiver for about five years, but the pounding on his slight frame took its toll. I can see the same thing happening to Richardson. Still, he is a very solid “B” level player who will probably be gone before the third round is over. He needs to get stronger because he will struggle versus press coverage in the NFL. With his size limitations, I see him more as a slot-type receiver at the next level.

Davante Adams – Fresno State

Adams is a third-year sophomore and a two-year starter at Fresno. In only two years, he has put up unbelievable numbers. In 2012, he caught 102 passes for 1312 yards and 10 TDs. This year, he upped his production to 131 catches for 1718 yards and 24 TDs. Adams' physical traits are the similar to many of the productive, big receivers in the NFL, he is listed at being 6020 – 212 and looks bigger because of his long arms. He is a very good athlete with good play speed. I don’t think that Adams will run much faster than 4.48, but with his stride and size, he plays faster.

Watching tape, Adams is not asked to run a large variety of routes. He runs mostly bubble screens, go’s and comebacks. He will occasionally run a slant. He is not a precise route runner and can get sloppy. While he can make sharp cuts, he doesn’t do it consistently. He has a burst to get separation. What he does do, is use his size and body very well. He has great length and a huge receiving radius. He has the strength to shield defenders and the jumping ability to go up and get it. While he will double-catch some balls, he shows the ability to snatch the ball. I would grade his hands as very good. He also is excellent at adjusting to the ball and has made numerous “circus” catches. After the catch, Adams is a strong runner. He has both power and a burst and can make the first man miss. As a blocker, he is willing, but the results are inconsistent.

Overall, Adams is still a raw “work in progress”. He hasn’t begun to reach the level of receiver he can be. It’s all in front of him, and he has the physical traits to become an excellent NFL receiver. He will need time to develop, but the team that drafts him will look at what he can be, not what he is. For that reason, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him drafted in the first, but right now, I see him as a guy that could go anywhere from the bottom third of the first to the top third of the second round. In other words, a 20-to-40 guy.

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