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Why Paul Richardson is the Seahawks’ breakout player this season

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Richardson is going to ball this year. Retired NFL defensive end Stephen White explains why.

Wild Card Round - Detroit Lions v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Seahawks wide receiver Paul Richardson burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2014 with 29 catches and a touchdown, looking like he just might be the future at wide receiver in Seattle. Unfortunately, he ended up tearing his ACL in the playoffs that season and only played in one game in 2015.

Richardson bounced back last season to catch 21 more balls and another touchdown in a backup role. While he didn't get a ton of targets, I loved the way Richardson gave maximum effort to try to catch each and every one of those passes. Whether the ball was too high, too low, too deep or on the money, the effort Richardson put into trying to haul them in just jumped off the screen.

For a guy who is only 6’0 tall in this era of giant wide receivers, it was very impressive to see Richardson go up and fight for 50/50 balls. It was even more impressive to see him win a lot more of them than he lost.

But Richardson isn't some possession type receiver who has to catch a lot of contested passes because he can't get separation. He's actually a guy who can get deep in a hurry and whose speed allows him to put the fear of god into defensive backs.

I saw several times where Richardson came off the line like he was running a go route and forced the corner to bail out of there while he was breaking the route off at 10 yards. His 13.7 yard per catch average is not indicative of the kind of deep threat that Richardson can be. He just didn't see that many balls thrown his away and some that were weren't on target.

Richardson carried his strong play from last season over to this preseason and in the first game he looked fantastic in limited work. He did end up spraining his AC joint after making a really nice diving catch on a go route, which means he will probably miss the rest of preseason. That's actually a plus because now there isn't much chance of him going down with a season-ending injury before the season even starts. And he should have fresh legs by the time the first weekend in September rolls around.

I'm not sure if it means anything, but Richardson also started in that first preseason game, over Jermaine Kearse. I think Richardson is the better option at this point, especially as far as being a home run threat in an offense that needs one.

Richardson is going to ball regardless of whether he starts of not. If he does start I expect his numbers to skyrocket this season. And two years removed from a torn ACL, I'm expecting him to be as fast as he has ever been, or faster.

Put all that together and Paul Richardson is going to be a game changer for the Seahawks this season. That's why he is my choice to be their Breakout Player of 2017.