INDIANAPOLIS — — Paul Richardson does not weigh 175 pounds.
"Today I weighed in at 175.9,'' Richardson proudly stated during his NFL scouting combine interview Friday.
The scale reading is more significant than University of Colorado Buffalo program buyers might have thought. Speed is Richardson's strength, even after missing the entire 2012 season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a spring practice.
He was terrific in his rebound junior season last year, catching 83 passes for 1,343 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The Buffs finished an improved 4-12, but they might have been 0-12 if not for Richardson. Check out his numbers in CU's four victories: 40 catches, 679 yards and five touchdowns — an average of 10 receptions and 170 yards per victory.
After four years in the CU program, three seasons on the field, he understandably declared himself eligible for the NFL draft, where he is projected as a second- or third-round pick.
Breaking it down further, Richardson, who is 6-foot-1, has first-round speed and athleticism, second-round hands and fifth-round weight.
And so in recent weeks he went to work on strengthening his weakness. His weight, as it turned out, had been even less than advertised.
"This season I think they had me listed at 165 or 170," Richardson said. "I was only 161 this season, 162 at the most. So I've already gained over 14 pounds in the last month. I've shown I can gain weight and on Sunday I feel like I can run with my weight."
He carried those extra pounds well during his combine tests, running the 40-yard dash in 4.40 seconds, which was tied for third-fastest among receivers. Richardson also tied for ninth with a 38-inch vertical jump and tied for eighth with a standing broad jump of 124 inches.
Richardson did not fare well in the three-cone drill, posting the 30th-best time, but all that did was confirm he's not a slot, but an outside receiver. His big test was his straightaway speed with the added weight and in that regard Richardson should have put himself high on the skill side of NFL draft boards.
The key to Richardson's weight gain program?
"You have a little bit more money coming out of college," Richardson said. "They make sure I eat a few times a day and in-between meals and I've been lifting and getting stronger as well. I've been naturally gaining weight. I haven't been overfeeding myself or anything. I feel comfortable with the progress I've made with my weight."
Richardson, whose father played football for UCLA and briefly in the NFL, grew up in Los Angeles and attended the same high school as Buffalo Bills' second-year receiver Robert Woods (an early, second-round draft pick last year) and USC All American Marquise Lee (who could be a top 20 pick this year).
In Richardson's youth, he thought he was a little better as an Amateur Athletic Union basketball player than Pop Warner football player, but he eventually discovered 6-footers who can fly are better suited on the gridiron.
The second round is where NFL teams like to draft big-play, versatile threats such as Devin Hester and Dexter McCluster, but Richardson had only one punt return for 4 yards at CU (plus three fair catches).
Besides route running, Richardson has been working on his return skills in hopes he can get on the field as a rookie.
"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I can do punt returns. I can do kick returns. The only reason I didn't do it in college was because the coaches didn't want me out there and risking much. But scouts have come and seen me do it in practice and not drop a ball and not miss a beat, so I'm looking forward to being a punt returner or kick returner or both in the NFL."