Many were wondering how wide receiver Richie James lasted until the seventh round, but his his coach at Middle Tennessee State, Rick Stockstill can venture a guess. Stockstill was on Joe Fann’s 49ers Studio Podcast as part of a series of interviews with the draft picks of the 2018 NFL draft’s college coaches. While Stockstill had a lot of praise for his now-former player, he had an interesting take on how the NFL game is evolved in relation to how James can thrive in the league:
“The pro game is starting to get a little bit like the college game where the quarterback is in the shotgun a high percentage of the time, the ball gets out quick now. Yeah, they are going to take shots deep, but most of NFL offenses, that quarterback is getting it out on five to 10, to 15-yard routes. The old days of taking seven-step drops and sitting back there and two receivers going out and you’re throwing 25-yard digs and post corners and all that stuff. That doesn’t happen a lot in the NFL. I think the NFL is moving a little bit more, well not moving more to the college game but they are starting to implement some college philosophies of an uptempo team, change the pace of play, and being in the shotgun and trying to create mismatches. And that’s what we did with Richie inside, did a lot of option routes, vertical routes on linebackers, nickels or safeties coming into the box.”
The big thing is if the uptempo style can ever be fully implemented. Chip Kelly’s system is exactly as Stockstill describes it with little variance and we saw the tragic end to that story in his single year as coach of the San Francisco 49ers. The uptempo offense is showing up in the NFL as another formation of sorts, but teams definitely cannot rely on it like college.
Below are the time stamps of his interview talking about this and the 49ers’ selection of Richie James. You can listen to the interview here.
00:48 - How does James last until the seventh round?
02:35 - His scouting report on Richie James
04:30 - Can James’ game translate to the NFL?
07:00 - Ever get a sense he was frustrated at his draft stock?
09:35 - Where does James rank against guys Stockstill has coached/gone against
11:03 - Does Kyle Shanahan’s experience make Stockstill think James found a good landing spot?
13:16 - An area James can improve
15:42 - Parting words with James before he got drafted