Sheldon Richardson is a highly-touted defensive tackle prospect, even listed as the #1 overall pick in James Christensen’s February 13th mock draft. I don’t think he’ll go that high, but let’s see if Richardson has the potential to be the #1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Richardson was recognized as one of the top 5 football players in his high school class. Unfortunately for Missouri, he was deemed academically ineligible, and ended up playing junior college ball at College of the Sequoias for 2 years. To a great deal of hype, he committed to Missouri again for his junior year.
When you watch Richardson, you immediately notice how athletic he is. Sure, he has great size for a 4-3 defensive tackle, but he’s still so quick and explosive. Richardson makes a lot of plays in pursuit, and shows good motor and effort. He led the Tigers with 75 tackles in 2012. He also forced 3 fumbles last year. He has a great swim move, and shows good strength in his rip move. Richardson also shows good balance and active hands, as well as great recognition skills, which are a huge factor in him making plays in space.
As for the negatives, there are reasons that the 295 lb. Richardson profiles as an under tackle. He often gets washed out in the run, and is far from a space eater. If he doesn’t beat his man initially, he frequently gets high in his pads. His troubles are also not limited to academics, as he has had multiple team rules violations, which forced him to miss the final home game of his career. If that weren’t enough, Richardson also has had lingering problems with his shoulder, and needed surgery in 2012.
So does Richardson have the talent to be a #1 overall pick? Absolutely, but he has more than enough concerns, and will likely be labelled as a high-risk/high-reward player. If he gets the right coaching at the next level, he could be a terrorizing interior pass rusher. If not, he is very likely to end up a bust.