The New Orleans Saints used a handful of rookies in 2015 for their 53-man squad, and defensive lineman Bobby Richardson saw extensive playing time after beating the odds.
After going undrafted, the Indiana Hoosiers’ star quickly latched on with the black and gold. Richardson impressed many during training camp, and he’d make the final roster as a result. Richardson would see action as a defensive tackle and defensive end in 2015. He played in 15 games for the team, playing in 593 defensive snaps (54.9 percent) and starting in 11 contests for the black and gold. Richardson’s Pro Football Focus grade was the second-lowest on the defense at -16.2, but he clearly went through a learning curve.
Richardson’s final stats for 2015 were fairly respectable for a rookie, as he finished with 40 tackles, a half sack, and an interception (Week 16 – Jacksonville). Perhaps the best way to sum up what Richardson brought to the table was this image during the C.J. Spiller game-winning overtime catch and run against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Bottom Line
Bobby Richardson missed OTAs due to him recovering from offseason hip surgery, but was able to get back onto the field for minicamp. With the team moving on from Tavaris Barnes back in April and Kaleb Eulls moving to the offensive line, Richardson finds himself one of the lone rookies returning to a defensive line makeover.
The Saints will continue using Richardson on the inside and outside to find the best fit for him. There’s a reason the team gave him a roster spot in 2015, and he’s betting on himself again to make the final roster. Richardson’s versatility is a big upside for Dennis Allen’s defense, but clearly the big focuses look to Cameron Jordan, Nick Fairley, Sheldon Rankins, Kasim Edebali, and even David Onyemata.
"“I started off at closed end, and I had a few solid rushes inside, so they were telling me they could let me try inside, so I’m excited for that,” Richardson said. “Wherever I’m at, I’m going to embrace my role and play the best I can.”"
Richardson, who was a huge underdog last year, is in the fight of his life for 2016. However, we’d like to think that he comes out on top again, because the Saints desperately need production from their defensive line.