Second-year pro Jordan Richards wears the No. 37 jersey, so he is the subject of discussion today as we mark 37 days until the New England Patriots open 2016.
Size: 5-foot-11, 210 pounds
NFL experience: One season
2015 stats: 14 games (two starts), 20 tackles, fumble forced, two passes defended
Selected by the Patriots in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Richards is the latest obscure college safety to be drafted in the early rounds by the Patriots. He follows in the footsteps of Tavon Wilson (now with the Detroit Lions) and Duron Harmon in that category.
However, don’t let Richards’ premature draft status alter your perception of his play. As a rookie, Richards survived training camp and answered the call whenever the Patriots needed him, whether it was special teams duty or filling in for Patrick Chung on occasion. Richards is fast, physical and possess a higher-than-average football IQ (not surprising considering that Stanford degree).
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Unfortunately for Richards, he is bordering on bust status because he hasn’t had a chance to get substantial playing time, and it doesn’t look like that will change unless injuries ravage the safety position. Devin McCourty, Chung and Harmon occupy the top three spots on the depth chart; Chung is better as a run defender lining up closer to the line of scrimmage, and both McCourty and Harmon are significantly better in coverage.
Richards also has to be mindful of Cedric Thompson and Vinnie Sunseri and Brock Vereen. Although those three are all roster long shots, Richards has to remember that anything can happen in the dog days of summer in New England.
Be sure to stop by Musket Fire tomorrow morning as we mark 36 days until kickoff by profiling the owners of the No. 36 jersey, second-year safety Brandon King and running back Tyler Gaffney.