Tallying 934 yards on 49 receptions (19.1 yards per catch) during his true freshman season, Richards caught fire quickly in his college career. Battling injuries during his sophomore season, Richards still averaged 18.3 yards per reception but he was in and out of the lineup. Healthy entering his junior season, Richards is looking to regain his 2016 form and cement himself as a top prospect.
Richards offers a dynamic skill set that starts with his release. Richards showcases a variety of foot and handwork to beat press coverage and quickly accelerates, generating strong vertical push during his stem. Richards is quick and smooth in and out of his breaks while showcasing outstanding stop-start ability to shake corners and execute double moves. He works tempo in his routes and knows how to create separation and find space. He does well to adjust his routes.
While Richards does show some inconsistency with his hands catching the football, his ball tracking skills are outstanding. Richards knows how to find the ball in the air and settle underneath it while never tipping the balls arrival to the coverage. He is slippery for tacklers with the ball in his hands and is explosive working up the field. As an added bonus, Richards is a dedicated blocker who gets his work done.
In terms of where Richards can improve, it starts with becoming more consistent in contested situations. I want to see him more assertive establishing his frame at the catch point and display stronger hands to pluck and squeeze the ball away from his frame. Richards is guilty of guiding the ball into his frame and the ball gets on top of him at times.
If Richards can stay healthy, I expect him to contend for the ACC receiving title while confirming his status among the top receivers in the nation.