NFL Draft 2014: Paul Richardson and the Seahawks' team-speed

Doug Pensinger

Light the fires and kick the tires.

SB Nation 2014 NFL Draft

The Seahawks used the 45th overall pick to pick Colorado WR Paul Richardson, a somewhat surprising selection for a team that has consistently talked about their desire for a "big" receiver this offseason.

Trend focus:

Team speed. Paul Richardson has rare, unteachable speed, and while he ran in the 4.3-4.4 range at the Combine, he was disappointed with how he tested, and I'd say he looks even faster on the field.

Having speed on offense is certainly not a new trend, but it's not exactly something that the Seahawks had with their team in 2013 (when Percy Harvin was injured), and it's not what they're known for. Rather, Seattle's offensive identity is centered around power, mostly related to Marshawn Lynch and the team's run game. Getting faster at the receiver position was obviously a big priority for John Schneider and Pete Carroll.

The dynamic that a healthy Percy Harvin had on opposing defenses was apparent in 2013. That's to be expected, but it was specifically his speed that stressed the defense so badly. It wasn't Harvin in space, it wasn't Harvin making people miss, it was his pure speed, particularly horizontally, as he ran jet sweeps, that caused so many problems for defenses in the small sample size we saw.

When defenses have to respect speed, they can't focus as much on stopping power, and when they get back to stopping power, they get burnt by speed. The Hawks are looking to add another element of this to their offense and build in a little insurance in case Harvin gets hurt again.

Scheme fit:

Seattle's offense is built upon the run and punctuated by deep, downfield strikes. The Seahawks love the go-route, and Russell Wilson throws a sexy deep ball. Richardson has a second gear that most players don't possess, and he'll be an instant threat to take the top off a defense every time he steps on the field. The Seahawks are hoping this mere threat will help with their run game by keeping safeties back and out of the box, and when opposing teams don't respect Richardson's speed, they'll not hesitate to throw it deep.

Fit on depth chart:

Richardson will have to break into the depth chart in his rookie season. He begins the season behind Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, and Sidney Rice. He'll likely find himself a nice niche role early on as a deep threat and Harvin stand-in on the jet sweeps, but he could earn some time as a returner as well if he shows promise there.

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