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Scouting Notes: Max Richardson III, LB, Boston College

Senior | 6’, 230 lbs | Duluth, GA

 

A disciplined weak-side linebacker with good coverage ability, sure tackling and natural pursuit instincts

 

Overview:

Max Richardson is a defensive leader who usually plays the WILL in Boston College’s 4-3 defense. He’s starting 27 of the 39 games he’s appeared in as an Eagle. After his true freshman year in 2016, composed mainly of special teams reps, he started BC’s first four games in 2017 before a knee injury took him out for the rest of the season, redshirting that year as a result. Since then, he spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons setting consecutive career highs in total tackles, TFLs and sacks. He finished 2019 with a team-high 108 tackles (up from 76 in 2018), 14.5 TFLs (9 in 2018), and 3.5 sacks (2.5 in 2018). The 2019 All-ACC Second Team linebacker chose to bypass last year’s draft to return for his senior season at Chestnut Hill, where he has already compiled 38 total tackles and 4.5 TFLs in 4 games in 2020.

Strengths:

– Consistently shows near-perfect form tackling. Rarely has tackles broken
– Acts as a running back when plugging a hole against the run. Shows patience and anticipation when a play is developing
– Above-average in pursuit angles and tracking the inside hip when closing
– Very disciplined as both a force and contain player and will not stray from his responsibility easily
– Plays with a level head. Will choose to disrupt impact blockers to blow up the play rather than try to make the big play every time
– Has good play recognition and is comfortable in zone coverage. Will communicate and/or reroute receivers running through his zone
– Serviceable mirror coverage against tight ends and running backs in man
– Can shed blocks quickly with first contact and arm extension
– Fluidly navigates through trash in pursuit

Areas to improve:

– Slow top-end speed will hurt on sprint pursuits
– Will get beat over the top in zone coverage on play-action
– Route concept recognition in zone coverage. Will stick to his zone without flowing with the route concept
– Delayed reaction when reading backfield mesh when play is going towards him
– Can sometimes over-anticipate cut-back holes and lose gap integrity, allowing the running back daylight
– Has problems with consistency. Displays outstanding flashes of ability but does not exhibit them with regularity

Injury Concerns:

– Hamstring – Missed 1 game (2018)
– Knee – Missed rest of season (8 games) (2017)

Projection:

Richardson has the discipline and instincts to be a contributing off ball linebacker with the possibility of starting in year 2. He can fit as a Will linebacker in 4-3 and 3-4 schemes. He is a field general who can quarterback a defense and can anticipate open holes like a running back. With his sack total rising each year, he is establishing himself as a blitzing threat and can be used on 3rd down as a blitzer or a coverage man. Before he opted to forego the 2020 draft, he was projected to be an early Day 3 pick, but if he can put up similar production this season, which he as already started to do so far, he can make the jump to be a valuable Day 2 pick for teams needing a disciplined linebacker to add to its core unit.

What to watch:

Richardson has been one of the only bright spots on Boston College’s defense over the last couple years. Under Steve Addazio, Richardson has been able to key in on his responsibilities his entire BC career. This changed in 2020 after the Eagles chose former Ohio State DC Jeff Hafley. How he performs with a new coach in his final year will show scouts his ability to adapt to coaching turnovers and his ability to pick up new schemes quickly. Despite his average speed, Max does a lot of things well: he is a textbook tackler, physical in coverage and he is a natural at pursuing the ball-carrier, hardly taking bad angles. He does the little things right, but where he can really improve his stock is by making big plays. He led his team in sacks last year with only 3.5. He’s never had an interception in college and only created two fumbles. He is comfortable in coverage and will perform his responsibilities, but to really boost his stock is if he can do things that he hasn’t before: show scouts he can take the ball away.