NFL Draft Profile: Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson
This is the seventh in a series. Click the link for profiles on Florida’s Sharrif Floyd, Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher, Alabama’s Dee Milliner, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel and Oregon’s Dion Jordan. Between now and April’s draft, we’ll profile as many prospects as possible.
Sheldon Richardson hasn’t traveled the straightest path to get to this point.
Considered one of the top defensive linemen in the country coming out of high school in 2009, the St. Louis native originally chose to play for University of Missouri but was academically ineligible, and had to attend junior college instead. He finally joined the Tigers for the 2011 season but a shoulder injury slowed him down.
Richardson finally hit his stride last year. posting 75 tackles — 10.5 for loss — and 4.5 sacks. The disruptive interior lineman garnered second-team All-SEC honors. He is considered one of the top linemen in the draft.
“I see myself as a top pick, not a top-10 pick,” said Richardson at the Combine. “I don’t come into this draft to be second to anyone, so if they see what they like, they’ll draft me. I’m going to be myself at all times, and you’re gonna get a helluva ballplayer.”
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Greg Cosell (on the team’s website):
“He to me is a true three-technique just like Sharrif Floyd. Very, very athletic.
“The first thing that jumps out is, this guy moves — not like a 300-pound man. This kid is athletic. He presses to the play. I really liked him on film. He’s not quite Sharrif Floyd but I think he is a similar style player.”
Missouri defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski called Richardson a “Warren Sapp kind of guy.” From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal:
“He’s as talented a guy as I’ve coached…(Richardson) is a guy that weighs almost 300 pounds and can move like a linebacker. He’s very tough. He’s an instinctive football player. When you need somebody to make a play, he’ll be the guy that stands up to do it.
“He’s been focused on being a great football player his whole life. And sometimes that meant he wasn’t so focused in the classroom. As far as us just having him for a little while, it wasn’t because he was slacking on the football field. When he was in high school, he was the best player in the state for two years. When he went to junior college, he had 18 sacks as a freshman or some kind of crazy number and got hurt his second year and didn’t play. Whenever he has performed, he has performed at a high level.”
AN EAGLES SLANT
Richardson’s measurables (6-2, 294) are similar to Floyd’s (6-3, 298). Chip Kelly values speed and versatility, and Richardson seems to check both of those boxes. His ability to drop into coverage on one play and provide an inside pass rush the next could be appealing to Billy Davis, who would like to throw as many different looks at the opposing offense as possible.
Would he fit the scheme?
“I think his natural position is a three-technique defensive tackle in a four-man front but it’s not the only position he can play,” said Mayock. “You can move him around and just about all 32 teams in the league can find a way to use his skill set. He’s really exciting. He’s got a ton of upside and he’s as physically gifted a defensive player as there is in this draft.”
If Floyd is already off the board, it’s possible that the Eagles could trade back and nab Richardson if he is the type of player they are after. Although at least one mock-up has him going quite early…
Mike Florio has the DT going to the Eagles at No. 4
Mike Mayock has Richardson as the second best tackle in the draft, behind Floyd.
Josh Norris over at Rotoworld has him ranked seventh overall in the entire draft class.
Great at splitting blocks, winning off the snap, or beating reach blocks. Very quick for his size and can really make his presence felt in the backfield as a three technique tackle or five technique end. Has been asked to drop back into short zones.
Here is how he fared against Alabama, the cream of the crop.
His lateral quickness is easy to see. Few tackles can go sideline to sideline with this type of ease.
You can get a good feel for his explosiveness at the 1:30 mark as he bursts through the hole and puts pressure on the QB. At the five-minute mark, he gets free and records a sack.
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