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Sam’s Film Room: Is Paul Richardson finally going to break out next year?

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A video breakdown of his 45 targets in 2016.

NFL: NFC Wild Card-Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Edit: If the video above does not play, please click “Watch on YouTube” or follow this link.

Throughout most of the 2016 season, Paul Richardson was relegated to fourth wide receiver duty on the Seahawks behind Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, and Jermaine Kearse. Add in the receiving prowess of Jimmy Graham, and he was at best an afterthought for much of the season. After Lockett was injured during Week 16, Richardson stepped up and made some truly spectacular catches. His ability to bring down those contested 50/50 balls were a highlight as the Seahawks’ offense was generally inconsistent. They needed a spark to move the chains and Richardson provided that big play ability with increased opportunities.

In this video breakdown, I tracked all 45 of his targets looking at his skill-set and route running ability to see the trends of his performance. Then, I analyzed his two games in the playoffs when he had enough snaps for me to form the general trends of this analysis.

Before we look at him as a player, here are some charts from tracking:

Targets by Location

This table breaks down where the ball was thrown. Note: Deep is 16+ yards, Medium is 6-15 yards, and Short is 5 yards or fewer.

Paul Richardson’s Targets by Location - Samuel Gold

Targets by Route

The next table breaks down his targets by route. Similar routes were combined together based on the distance and type of pass.

Paul Richardson’s Routes - Samuel Gold
Paul Richardson’s Routes - Samuel Gold

As you can see in the charts, for most of the season his role was mainly running fade routes down the sideline. These were used to vertically stretch the defense. If Russell Wilson really liked the match-up, he could attempt the throw. Beyond these attempts, however, his role was rather limited until Tyler Lockett was injured. At that point, Darrell Bevell gave him Lockett’s snaps and in this increased role it gave him more opportunities to flash his big play ability.

Overall, Richardson has good speed and it’s clear he has the ability to be a clutch receiver. However, in order to become an all-around receiving threat, he still needs to master the subtleties of route running. After three years removed from being a second round pick out of Colorado, he still has a lot to learn. This is why he struggles to gain consistent separation against defenders.

Is Paul Richardson finally going to break out next year? I think there is a good chance he’ll gain more opportunities based on his fantastic play last year, but he still needs to take the next step and hone his receiving skills.