Denver Broncos Draft Countdown: Making the Case for WR Paul Richardson

Travis WakemanCorrespondent IIApril 6, 2014

Colorado wide receiver Paul Richardson, left, celebrates after pulling in a pass for a touchdown in front of Central Arkansas defensive back Darius Reed in the first quarter of a college football game in Boulder, Colo., on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski

After making waves through free agency by bringing in DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib to strengthen the defense, the Denver Broncos have made it clear that they intend to be strong contenders for the Super Bowl again next season.

After signing a new three-year contract extension Saturday, per Gray Caldwell of head coach John Fox told the media that "all the eggs are in the basket" in reference to winning a Super Bowl in 2014.

The Broncos have a solid roster, but having more depth never hurts, especially when you experience a string of injuries like the team did last season. With the NFL draft just about a month away, Denver will probably be looking to bolster that depth in the secondary and offensive line while also shoring up the linebacker position.

But this draft has a plethora of talent at wide receiver.

Eric Decker caught 172 passes and had 24 touchdown receptions over the course of the last two seasons with Peyton Manning in Denver. Despite that success, he chose to chase the money and landed a contract with the New York Jets through free agency.

The Broncos responded by bringing in free-agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders from the Pittsburgh Steelers. They also re-signed wide receiver Andre Caldwell earlier this offseason.

Still, the team could use another option at the position, especially when you consider that both Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker will be free agents after the 2014 season.

The Broncos need to find a guy who can develop into a premier receiver, and there will be plenty of options to choose from on draft day. Fortunately, they won't have to look too far to find him, as a terrific option played his college ball pretty close to Denver.

Paul Richardson will be one of the gems that is discovered in this draft.

Playing for the Colorado Buffaloes, many people probably don't realize just how good he is since he played for a team that went 13-36 during his time in Boulder.

Richardson missed the entire 2012 season after tearing his ACL, but he bounced back with a massive season in 2013, catching 83 passes for 1,343 yards and 10 touchdowns. For his college career, he had 156 receptions, 2,412 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Richardson is going to catch the eye of teams with his speed. He ran a 4.40 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine and is one of the quicker receivers in this draft. He is a serious deep threat on every play and can make acrobatic catches. He single-handedly won games for Colorado in 2013.

Paul Richardson destroys pursuit angles when he gets in the open field. He has an extra gear.

— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) March 10, 2014

Listed at 6'0" and 175 pounds, Richardson's size seems to be the biggest concern teams will have with him. But as he explained to Mike Klis of The Denver Post in February, he was closer to 160 pounds last season.

In preparation for the draft, Richardson has added weight and says he can still run just as fast with the extra pounds.

Manning has one of the best receivers in the NFL in Thomas and guys he can trust in Welker and Caldwell. Sanders will come in and be able to duplicate what Decker did for the team.

For a better look at Richardson's abilities, check out the highlight package below. Note the separation he puts between himself and the defender, as well as his one-handed diving catch against Oregon.

This would be a great bunch of guys for Richardson to sit back and learn from. In time, he has the tools to become the best deep threat in the entire NFL.

The Broncos could get him in the second round of the draft, maybe even the third. He could get lost in the shuffle of a draft that includes Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, as well as highly rated receivers such as Marqise Lee, Odell Beckham, Davante Adams, Kelvin Benjamin, Brandin Cooks and Allen Robinson.

But teams would be wise to keep Richardson on their radar.

Making this selection would not only be a good move on draft night, it would be an excellent decision for the future. Richardson is a player the Broncos must find a way to obtain.