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Old 07-03-2009, 05:11 AM   #1
Galax Steeler
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Default Snapshot: Derrick Richardson

Deep into the offseason, SteelCityInsider.com continues its coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers with a look at another newcomer. Here's an inside peek at undrafted free agent Derrick Richardson.

If this NFL thing doesn’t work out for Derrick Richardson, at least he’s making some friends in high places.

The rookie free agent safety with the Pittsburgh Steelers is just a few credits short of graduation with a degree in accounting from New Mexico State.

Given who he’s hanging out with now and how much money they make, even if Richardson doesn’t make the Steelers’ final roster, he could at the very least meet some potential clients.

The 5-11, 190-pound Richardson, however, has bigger plans.

“I’m all in here, but if that doesn’t happen, I was ready to take a couple of more classes to get my 150 credits and sit for the CPA course in New Mexico or Arizona and be a CPA,” Richardson said. “I’d probably do audits.”

Yes, Richardson has an analytical mind. In fact, the three-year starter at New Mexico State was an engineering major before the birth of his daughter forced him to switch to something a little less demanding.

“You can ask anybody. I’m a pretty smart dude,” Richardson said with some modesty. “I read a lot. I do a lot of studying. I watch a lot of film. I always work on my craft. I’m just a worker.”

That attitude is what helped sell the Steelers on him when they were looking at undrafted free agents. It also didn’t hurt that Richardson as a tackling machine for the Aggies.

Richardson recorded 318 tackles in three seasons, good for 10th in school history. He led the nation in tackles per game as a senior, averaging 12.5, while finishing with 137.

“I pride myself in being a good tackler,” Richardson said. “I tell myself that I shouldn’t miss at all. Whatever play that comes to me, I’m not going to miss it.”

It also didn’t hurt that the Aggies played a 3-4 defense before shifting to a 3-3-5 in 2008.

“The 3-3-5 that we ran last year is a lot different that what we’re running out here,” Richardson said of the Steelers’ base defense. “There’s not a lot I can take from that. But I ran the 3-4 a lot, so I’m used to this.”

The Steelers used Richardson at both free and strong safety during spring workouts and he and the other young safeties on the team’s roster saw plenty of practice time as starting free safety Ryan Clark sat out after having shoulder surgery, while strong safety Troy Polamalu went through his own offseason training program.

Richardson leaned on second-year safety Ryan Mundy – who also played in a 3-3-5 defense at West Virginia – to help him out when needed.

“He’s a smart guy, he knows the defense in and out. They call him Wonderlic, so he’s a good guy to ask questions,” Richardson said. “I just go to him and ask him where I should be and what I should do. He gives me the right answer and has been a lot of help.”

The fact that the Steelers weren’t deep at safety behind Clark and Polamalu was one of the selling points that helped make his decision to sign with the team. Despite having offers from six other teams in the hours following the draft, when scout Kelvin Fisher called, Richardson said the decision to sign with Pittsburgh was an easy one.

“I told (the other teams) them nope, I’m already signed, I’m going with the Super Bowl champs,” Richardson said. “It wasn’t that only. They didn’t have many safeties. All the other teams had five or six on their depth chart. There were only four or five here and (the Steelers) said they weren’t bringing in any more safeties. I really went for it. Then, to come to the Mecca of defense and NFL football, I was ready to come and play for the Steelers.”

It also didn’t hurt matters that so many undrafted free agents have not only earned roster spots with the Steelers, but are now starters.

“That was definitely a selling point. When the scout (Kelvin Fisher) called me, he told me that (head coach Mike) Tomlin doesn’t care where you were drafted or if you were drafted. If you can play football, you can play football. That’s all you want, a decent chance, especially in this league.”

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Old 07-03-2009, 06:07 AM   #2
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Default Re: Snapshot: Derrick Richardson

Dang... nice read.

Hope the guy does well. Not just for the team, but for him. Gotta like guys like that.
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Old 07-03-2009, 07:35 AM   #3
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Default Re: Snapshot: Derrick Richardson

Gotta love a smart football player either at FS, QB or O-line. I just don't see him making the squad, but between him and Mundy, somebody should be taking the roster spot of Anthony Smith.
once a sandwich artist....soon to be Sack Artist.
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Old 07-03-2009, 07:49 AM   #4
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Default Re: Snapshot: Derrick Richardson

Nice stuff..thanks Galax!
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Old 07-03-2009, 09:00 AM   #5
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Default Re: Snapshot: Derrick Richardson

Love the fact that this guy is a tackling machine and smart on top of that!!! Not to mention that Mundy is also smart, sounds like we have a couple of real prospects at the saftey position!!!
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Old 07-03-2009, 09:13 AM   #6
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Default Re: Snapshot: Derrick Richardson

Great read...I like this guy, I hope be does well
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Old 07-03-2009, 09:57 AM   #7
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Default Re: Snapshot: Derrick Richardson

Definitely a good read. Can't wait to see what becomes of this guy. Certainly seems like that type of player that you want on your team
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Old 07-03-2009, 10:05 AM   #8
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Default Re: Snapshot: Derrick Richardson

Good article thanks
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Old 07-03-2009, 12:50 PM   #9
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Default Re: Snapshot: Derrick Richardson

i dont think richardson can beat out mundy for a. smiths open spot but also dont think we can hide him on the practice squad.

while im not a tyrone carter basher, we are probably better long term with derrick replacing him next year. is it worth cutting the FA to be this year? i think that would put us in a short term pinch (being how many times carter has been asked to fill in for both safety positions and quarter packages).

it saves about half a million and richardson has a ton of upside (r. clark was an UDFA). i guess its a good dilemma to face. being that even anthony madison may face getting cut, i think he has even a smaller chance of making it as a special team ace.

i think the ravens and cowboys are still a little thin at safety depth.

fwiw, in addition to agriculture, nmsu has a top notch engineering program.
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