For the past 2 seasons, Max Richardson has been one of the standard carriers on the Boston College Eagles defense. Richardson owned the middle linebacker position beginning with his redshirt-sophomore season. He made the most of that time, recording 316 tackles (175 solo tackles) over 50 games in his BC career. In the 2020 season, aside from being a leader for the Eagles on and off the field, Richardson was a 3rd team All-ACC selection, was 2nd on the team and 4th in the ACC in tackles, led the team with 8.0 tackles for loss, set career bests for tackles, sacks, and tackles for loss, and ended up with the 11th most tackles in the nation.
What does he bring to an NFL team?
Richardson’s biggest strengths are his intellect and his relentless motor. During his 3 years as a starter Richardson played under 3 different defensive coordinators but still managed to be an impact player no matter what system was being run. He knows how to find the ball carrier and how best to take them down. Richardson truly looks like a ball-carrier-seeking missile when he is chasing down a play.
Despite his aggression Richardson is very much a patient running back, choosing his approaches carefully and not always trying for the big play, instead choosing to clog up the lane. His tackling fundamentals are very strong. Whether the play is inside or outside he can still make the tackle. He takes good angles, is good at tackling in space, rarely falls for jukes or spins, and brings the boom when he makes contact.
Richardson has the intellect to get himself in the right spot, the skill to make any tackle, and the drive to finish every play. In coverage Richardson is a solid zone defender in the short area of the field and has a decent grasp at reading the QBs eyes, but he is by no means a prolific pass defender. His strength lies in attacking the run. Richardson is also a very versatile player as he, in addition to middle linebacker, saw time at outside backer and special teams.
Richardson’s drawbacks are his size and speed. At 6’0”, 230 pounds, he doesn’t have the size and strength to fight off blocks or shed them when rushing the passer, and in general his pass rushing skills are not very reliable. Richardson needs to use his wits to find the free rushes to get to the ball carrier. Richardson certainly plays faster than his 4.82, 4.88 forty time but he still doesn’t have the speed to chase down ball carriers in the open field or recover on the rare occasions he gets caught out of position. The lack of speed also means he’ll likely struggle with covering deeper zones or covering man-to-man.
Richardson has the ability and the drive to make an NFL roster but he will have the greatest impact on the special teams side of the ball, at least in the first few years of his career. I could see him being a lot like BC alum, Kevin Pierre Louis, in terms of his career trajectory.
Where will he get drafted?
Richardson will likely be a day three draft pick. Even with his motor, leadership, and intelligence I would be surprised if Richardson goes higher than the sixth round.
Where could he go?
I could see a team who both has a strong special teams unit and an ability to develop linebackers taking Richardson, like the Baltimore Ravens (John Harbaugh started out as a special teams coach). Other teams I could see eyeing Richardson are the Indianapolis Colts, or the Kansas City Chiefs, and maybe the Buffalo Bills or Seattle Seahawks. The best landing spot for him, in my mind, would be the New England Patriots as Bill Belichick loves smart and versatile players who can play special teams.