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Vanderbilt's Richardson Rising Among Safety Prospects

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Vanderbilt's Richardson Rising Among Safety Prospects

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."

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (14) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Mike's picture

How big is this kid? Seems like he is a good tackler and has the athleticism to cover the deep half.

Brian Carriveau's picture

6-2, 216

Evan's picture

In what round is he expected to get drafted, Brian?

Brian Carriveau's picture

Most people have him pegged as a third-day guy, but I think there's a chance he gets selected by the third round. He's in my top five safeties.

BubbaOne's picture

Brian, who are your top cover safeties?

Brian Carriveau's picture

If it's a weak year for safeties, it's an even weaker year for cover safeties. Harrison Smith probably No.1. Barron is solid all around, but his coverage is behind his tackling. Iloka has the size factor working for him. Trenton Robinson, Brandon Taylor, Aaron Henry and Tramain Thomas are average. The rest are probably behind the afore-listed guys.

pkrNboro's picture

"84 tackles as a sophomore, 99 tackles as a junior and 63 more as a senior"

what happened during his senior year?

Mike's picture

Vandy's D got better, meaning fewer plays got to the 3rd level of D, thus fewer tackles for Richardson

mark's picture

How about Antonio Allen (South Carolina)? His tape reminds me of Woodson.

Brian Carriveau's picture

I actually like Allen a lot. My hesitation about him is that he wasn't just an in-the-box safety, he literally played on the line of scrimmage quite a bit. The transition to lining up 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage is going to be a big one. I think he can do it, but it's going to take a while. But he was a playmaker at South Carolina, that's for sure.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

It's just a good feeling to know we have two more hungry young guys to come in and complete, really is.


pkrNboro's picture

Was it PG or JS that had a story about MD Jennings being the only player to answer a question correctly? Bottom line: he knew the play/playbook, when his peers did not.

Seems like I remember many plays last pre-season where he was around the ball. I'm curious if he can add about 10-12 pounds of muscle/good-weight over the off-season -- if he can, then he will be a factor in the "safety dance."


dawg's picture

Haywood,Richardson, Just a feel good
story, hope it all works out!

Nononsense's picture

The Packers definitely were looking for speed and explosion in this draft and in their undrafted FAs and they found it.

Can't wait to see these guys on the field.

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