Richie James did not attend a ‘powerhouse’ school, but he certainly left behind a legacy. In just over 2 years, he holds the Middle Tennessee State University records for catches (244), receiving yards (3,261), and receiving TDs (23). He therefore leaves the Blue Raiders as the best receiver to ever suit up for the team.
It’s not like MTSU have had a plethora of NFL caliber talent come through their ranks. They’ve had a little bit of a luck producing some defensive backs, but the most well-known name to fantasy owners would be Bears’ RB, Benny Cunningham. Still, it’s quite impressive that in just 31 career games he managed to smash all their receiving records with less-than-elite QB play to help. In fact, he’s one of only four WRs since 2000 to register multiple 100/1300 seasons. A full breakdown of Richie’s college career can be seen below:
As you probably figured, the limited 2017 campaign was due to injuries. He was cut short by a high ankle sprain and a broken collarbone. That said, when he was healthy, he was prolific.
There’s plenty to love with James. He has brilliant hands that can catch almost any ball thrown his way. He’s a superb route runner, and plays with great speed. He’s explosive and just makes the game look easy. His dominance over inferior opposition combined with a great technical skill set, makes me think that he could be this year’s Cooper Kupp. That being said, there are times when I look at his motions and it is reminiscent of Antonio Brown.
Despite such glaring positives, Draft Analyst’s Tony Pauline believes he may have a difficult time being drafted. This is because of his size. James is naturally undersized at 5’9”, 175 pounds. Obviously, there is concern that he won’t be able to match the physicality of NFL defensive backs. Watching him on the field, he plays much bigger than his size, in my opinion.
This is also something that he has dealt with his entire life. His size led to minimal college interest, but that gave him a chip on his shoulder. He said, “I actually came into high school about 4-foot-9, 95 pounds. Legit. But I grew every year. People always told me I was a little too small, but people from where I actually live and inside the hood, they always said, ‘You going to make it one day.’ I always believed in that. Any team that passed on me, I’m going to play hard against. That was the mindset. I’m going to wear them out. I’m going to make them wish they did take me. My mindset is not going to change for the NFL.”
Personally, I don’t think his size will be too much of an issue. We’ve seen guys like TY Hilton and Tyreek Hill thrive despite being 5’8” and 5’10” respectively. He has so many transferrable skills and a great confidence. In most early rookie drafts I’ve seen so far, he’s being taken around the 3rd round. That seems like a steal to me. At this point I’d be very happy to take him in the 2nd round, draft position depending. I think he will surprise so many people and will see his profile rise as the process goes on.