This article was originally published on Apr. 17 before the Draft. The Packers reportedly signed Richardson as an undrafted free agent…
Before he took to the field for his workout at the NFL Combine, Vanderbilt safety Sean Richardson told Cheesehead TV what he hoped to accomplish and prove to NFL teams.
“That I’m more of a complete safety, not just a box safety,” said Richardson. “I can cover and show my athleticism.”
To say that Richardson impressed would be an understatement. He had the best performance among all safeties at the Combine in both the vertical jump (38.5 inches) and broad jump (10′ 8″), tied for the most 225-round bench press repetitions (22 with Eddie Pleasant of Oregon) and had the second-fastest forty time (4.52 seconds).
Richardson was not a highly-rated safety coming into the Combine, but after a remarkable workout, it’s time for NFL Draft analysts to take notice.
After racking up 84 tackles as a sophomore, 99 tackles as a junior and 63 more as a senior, Richardson has shown to be the type of player that’s always around the football.
“Coach always tells us, be in the picture,” said Richardson. “We want all 11 guys when the play is over in the picture. I’ve always been that type of guy that hustles and play my butt off.”
One knock on Richardson, however, is his lack of big-play ability. In four years of college football, he only had one interception that came in 2011. That’s why he feels he has to prove he’s not just an in-the-box type of player.
The ability to create turnovers is going to have to show itself at some point if he’s going to become an effective player at the professional level.
But the raw ability is there, and so is his dedication to the game.
“I think he’s going to do great,” said teammate Casey Hayward, another NFL Draft prospect. “Somebody’s going to fall in love with his work ethic because he’s a hard worker. The sky’s the limit for Sean. Great guy, great athlete.”
The work ethic is an attribute Richardson says he got from Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, a Packers wide receivers coach back in 2005.
According to the safety, Franklin got his players to “buy in” to the program from Day 1 when he was hired, forced them compete against each other, didn’t show any favoritism and taught them to hustle in everything they did during practice.
Once games came around the fourth quarter or a drive that would determine the outcome of a game, Richardson felt as if he was prepared. And that was part of the reason the Commodores were able to qualify for a bowl game in 2011 after coming off of consecutive 2-10 seasons the previous two years.
“Some of the referees came to our practices and stuff and told us that us and Alabama and a few of the other SEC schools were the few that really gets after it in that small amount of time in practice,” said Richardson. “So we just took pride in that, and we always practiced hard. And when it came to game time, it was easy. We weren’t tired or anything. We was able to finish.”
The next major event in Richardson’s life will be the NFL Draft beginning on Thursday Apr. 26 when he finds out who his future employer will be.
Regardless of Nick Collins’ decision whether to continue playing football or not, there’s a need for depth at the safety position in Green Bay, and Richardson could be a target.
Richardson indicated he interviewed with the Packers at the Combine.
Where he ends up in the pecking order among draft-eligible safeties remains to be seen.
Asked where he thinks he’s underrated, Richardson replied, “Not really, we’ve got some great safeties here. They earned it, the respect and the fame. I’m not necessarily underrated, but when I get out there and compete, I’ll definitely raise some eyebrows.”