The Manchester City defender has hailed his team-mate after they combined to deliver the club's first clean sheet of the season against Sunderland in the 3-0 victory on Saturday
Richards partnered the England international in the centre of defence against Sunderland as Roberto Mancini's team cruised to a 3-0 victory.
The 24-year-old feels that Lescott has been underrated previously but may now be getting the recognition he deserves given his regular involvement with the national team.
"He is a quality defender," Richards told City's official website.
"A lot of people don't understand how good he is - well, people do because he is playing for England - but he really is a top-class centre-back, one of the best in the league.
"I think last season and at the start of this season he has shown that."
Richards was a surprise selection on Saturday having missed the entirety of the 2012-13 campaign so far with an ankle injury.
The academy graduate was pleased to help secure City's first clean sheet of the season but highlighted midfielder James Milner as the team's stand-out player in the victory.
"Obviously it is nice to get back after so long but it is nice to get a clean sheet," he added. "We had not kept a clean sheet this season so to come in and step into the back four - I thought the back four was outstanding.
"But I thought James Milner was my man of the match. I thought he was outstanding, he was everywhere.
"Obviously [Aleksandar] Kolarov had a good game as well, so it was an all-round good team performance and I am just happy to be back."