Every NFL team works hard to build the back end of the roster during the offseason, in season and training camp. In 2012, the St. Louis Rams were extremely aggressive in free agency and they drafted players with a difference making skill set, huge upside and a chance to be immediate starters.
The past regime struggled to load the roster with playmakers. Jeff Fisher and Les Snead were hired and quickly made a difference, reshaping the roster by deleting aged veterans and making the 2012 Rams the youngest team heading into the 2012 Bud Light Training Camp. They were also not afraid to draft a pair of running backs to create depth. They added rookie running backs Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson to back-up Pro Bowler Steven Jackson.
The Rams pulled the trigger on Pead in the 2nd round. Pead is a versatile back from Cincinnati that drew a lot of attention during the draft process after his performance at the Senior Bowl.
Richardson is from Abilene Christian, a small school located in West Texas, and was drafted late in the 7th round. He is also a very versatile running back with outstanding running skills for the next level. When I dug into some film, after the Rams held their rookie mini-camp, I saw a running back that plays bigger than measured (5’9 -193), has a solid compact frame with large legs, has stop and start quickness and an explosive burst with acceleration. He has the ability to change gears and bounce laterally. He has great vision, with cutting ability to escape pressure and defy angles in space. This skill set seems to run in the family. Daryl is the younger brother of Bernard Scott, the Cincinnati Bengals running back.
When Coach Fisher was asked about Richardson he responded, “I think if he continues with what he’s doing, I think he’s got a chance. I don’t know if we would get him involved in special teams just because the running and the striding thing, but from a back stand point I think he has a chance, yeah.”
“He has great speed, vision, very explosive. He’s tough, he can run inside, he can run outside. He runs the entire offense. He gives us speed he can get to the edge and set up the outside zone. He got good tracking ability on the inside zone, and good vision”, Fisher added.
In every NFL preseason, there is a player that turns heads with very good production and skills that force that team to keep them on the roster, while the other 31 teams wait for them to place that player on waivers at the cut to 53. While Richardson struggled early in training camp with a hamstring issues, he has emerged just in time for the first game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Keep an eye on this short but stout running back and possible kick returner, once healthy. Richardson has the talent to play at this level and just might, just might be the Rams preseason darling.