BRADY HENDERSON

Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 23, WR Paul Richardson

Jun 29, 2016, 1:39 PM | Updated: 1:47 pm
Paul Richardson played in one game last year, injuring his hamstring once he returned from ACL surg...
Paul Richardson played in one game last year, injuring his hamstring once he returned from ACL surgery. (AP)
(AP)
LISTEN: Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 23, WR Paul Richardson

Each day until the start of training camp, “Brock and Salk” is talking with an NFL analyst and counting down the 25 most intriguing players on the Seahawks’ roster. “Two-a-days” continued Monday with ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia as the guest and Paul Richardson as the 23rd-most intriguing Seahawk. The segment on Richardson is embedded above. My thoughts are below.

Position: WR
Height/Weight: 6-0, 183
Experience: Third season
Acquired: Second-round pick, 2014

Overview: Richardson is trying to do what he hasn’t done in the two years since the Seahawks made him their first pick of the 2014 draft, which is to produce and stay healthy for an entire season. He got off to a slow start as a rookie in 2014 before his role expanded once Seattle traded Percy Harvin. After catching just one pass through the first five games, Richardson caught 13 – including his lone touchdown – over the final three. But right when he seemed to be emerging, Richardson tore his ACL in the Seahawks’ first playoff game. His recovery from surgery kept him out of the first eight games of last season, and when he returned in Week 10, he injured his hamstring while hauling in a 40-yard reception that would turn out to be his only catch of the season. When Richardson experienced a setback in his recovery and was placed on injured reserve, it was further validation of the pre-draft concerns about his ability to stay healthy, which dated back to college. Those concerns hang over Richardson’s head as he enters his third season and tries to carve out a role in an offense that he was hardly a part of last season.

The intrigue: While durability is Richardson’s biggest deficiency, speed is his biggest asset. Both were exemplified by that 40-yard reception last season against Arizona. Before Richardson hurt his hamstring on that play, he had blown by a cornerback to get open down the sideline. Richardson’s time of 4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash was tied for third-fastest among receivers at the 2014 scouting combine. He might still be the fastest player on Seattle’s roster even after a pair of leg injuries that cut his first two seasons short. “Paul’s off to a great start in camp,” coach Pete Carroll said earlier this month. “Gosh, he’s done really well. Obviously, the hard work that he had, he had so much work on the sidelines last year. He’s strong and he’s really fast. We’ve clocked him as fast as he’s ever been for us in OTAs. So he’s ready to compete and really help us.”

2016 outlook: It will depend first and foremost on whether or not Richardson can stay healthy, which at this point can no longer be assumed. If he can, Richardson should make the team. The question would be about where he fits in the rotation. Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett figure to be the top three. Richardson could be next in line, but he’ll have to fend off the likes of Kasen Williams, Kevin Smith and rookie Kenny Lawler. Seattle’s run-first offense means there are only so many balls to go around, especially for those not at the top of the depth chart. With his speed, Richardson could be an impact player even without frequent targets. But he’ll have to be available.

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Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 23, WR Paul Richardson