By Danny O’Neil
RENTON – After two trades and 44 selections, the Seahawks made their first choice in the 2014 draft, picking the third-fastest receiver at the scouting combine.
The route: The Seahawks’ selection of Colorado’s Paul Richardson was the end of a two-tiered deal that saw Seattle trade down twice, picking up two additional draft picks and improving a fifth-round choice to a fourth-rounder.
Step one: Seattle traded its first-round pick (No. 32 overall) for Minnesota’s second-round pick (No. 40 overall) and the Vikings’ fourth-rounder (No. 108 overall).
Step two: Seattle took that second-round pick from Minnesota (No. 40 overall), traded that pick and the fifth-round pick (No. 146) to Detroit for the Lions’ second-round pick (No. 45 overall), their fourth-round pick, (No. 111 overall) and their seventh-round pick (No. 227 overall).
Paul Richardson | WR | Colorado
|• Height/Weight: 6-1, 183||• Drafted: Round 2, No. 45 overall||• Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.||• Quotable: “You keep telling yourself, ‘He’s too small, he’s too small, he’s thin,’ and all he does is get open and make plays and make catches.” – Matt Berry, Seahawks area scout|
The rationale: He’s fast. He proved that not just because he was timed at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine – third-fastest among all receivers – but because he was disappointed to run that speed.
“I wanted it to be a lot faster,” Richardson said.
The Seahawks had no questions about his speed. In fact, Seattle was sufficiently sold on it to pass up other, more big-bodied targets like Clemson’s Martavis Bryant and Penn State’s Allen Robinson. So much for all that focus on getting a bigger target on the outside, huh?
“We’re kind of about guys with special traits,” said Matt Berry, one of Seattle’s area scout. “He’s a guy that had something different and something exceptional and that’s what drew us to him.”
In 2013, Richardson was the best player on a bad Colorado team. He caught 83 passes for more than 1,300 yards and showed that he was completely recovered from a knee injury that kept him out all of 2012.
The risk: It’s a sizable one. Well, lack of size.
Richardson weighed 175 pounds at the combine. That’s decidedly small by NFL standards, but was bigger than he was in college. In fact, the heaviest he ever was at Colorado was 162 pounds.
“I definitely realized that I needed to gain weight from my coaches in college,” Richardson said, “and then in my training.”
Berry was quick to point out that Richardson’s size – more accurately his lack thereof – didn’t hurt his ability to evade the attempts defensive backs made to jam him at the line of scrimmage.
“He really has got a knack for releasing,” Berry said. “He’s got really good rhythm off the line of scrimmage so guys have a hard time getting their hands on him and he can really accelerate. That’s the thing you really notice.”
Richardson said he’s up to 180 pounds now, and hopes to reach 190, but Berry isn’t worried the additional pounds will weigh the receiver down.
“He’s fast and he has been fast since he was 150 in high school,” Berry said. “I don’t think that’s changing.”
Note: Originally signed to UCLA, Richardson was dismissed from the program by then-coach Rick Neuheisel after an alleged theft. Two other players were also dismissed: Josh Shirley, who went to Washington, and Shaquille Richardson, Paul’s cousin, who transferred to Arizona.