FOXBORO, Mass. — Jordan Richards wasn’t even watching the 2015 NFL Draft on TV when the New England Patriots called to select him 64th overall.
Richards and his parents were driving from Folsom, Calif., to Reno, Nev., to visit his sister, who couldn’t make it home for the weekend.. The Richards family was following the draft on the radio.
It seems obvious the Stanford safety, a projected fifth- or sixth-round draft pick, didn’t expect to be selected Friday. The Patriots tend to make late-round safeties dreams come true in the mid-rounds.
“Just so excited with me and my family here,” Richards said Friday in a conference call. “It’s an incredible opportunity getting to talk to the coaches and Mr. (Robert) Kraft, Coach (Bill) Belichick. It’s a dream come true, and I’m just excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to get out there and get ready to go.”
Richards has ties to New England: His father, Terry, was born in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood and grew up in Natick, Mass. Despite having family in the region, Richards has never been to Massachusetts, though his father was “stoked” the Patriots selected his son.
From scouting reports and his performance at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, Richards is a limited athlete, but he’s smart as a whip. His Stanford teammates used to call him “Coach Richards” — a moniker he didn’t like, but it seems to fit him well.
“I think I play fast and physical,” Richards said. “That kind of touches all aspects of the game, whether it’s (special) teams, or whether it’s defense.
“As a person, I think I’m a smart player, and I’m easily coachable. I just want to learn and be the best football player I can be. In an organization like the Patriots, I’m going to try to go there and be a sponge and try to soak up as much as I can from teammates and coaches, so I can somehow contribute to the success of this organization.”
Richards also has ties with the Patriots. He played with Patriots offensive lineman Cameron Fleming and running back Tyler Gaffney with the Cardinal. Richards already exchanged texts with Gaffney after being drafted.
It sounds like the Stanford coaches stress an on-field mindset similar to Belichick’s “do you job” mantra.
“Speaking first about Stanford coaches, just an incredible set of coaches over the course of my four years that really emphasized the fundamentals of the game, really focused on the team,” Richards said. “When you’re out there on the field, you do your one-eleventh, you don’t try to do anything above and beyond what you’re asked. You do your job, and you do it to the best of your ability.
“From a fan’s perspective, that seems to be kind of Coach Belichick’s motto. You just do your job, and if all 53 guys or however many guys on the field are doing their job and put everything they got into it, the chance of success is a lot higher than when guys are doing their own thing.”
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