Photo of Sheldon Richardson
Grade
90.7 ?
  • 5.02 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 30 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 32.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 116.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 6'2" Height
  • 34 1/2" Arm Length
  • 294LBS. Weight
  • 10 1/2" Hands

Overview

Richardson could have gone anywhere to play major college football after his stint at the College of the Sequoias, as he was one of the top junior college prospects in the country even with missing all but two games of the 2010 season there because of a wrist injury. But the former star player at St. Louis’ Gateway Tech High School decided to return home instead of going to Southern California, Miami (Fla.), or an SEC power.



He originally planned on signing with Missouri out of high school, after being rated the top defensive lineman in the country by several recruiting services (he had 19 sacks as a senior, also eight touchdowns as a tight end), but did not qualify academically. There were some anxious moments before the 2011 season as well, because Richardson needed to finish course work in August before the NCAA deemed he was eligible to play for the Tigers. He played through a shoulder injury (which required surgery in the offseason) and only started two games on the year, but made enough plays as a reserve (37 tackles, eight for loss, two sacks) to garner honorable mention All-Big 12 honors from league coaches.



Missouri’s move to the SEC coincided with Richardson taking over one of the starting defensive tackle positions. Richardson had a standout season, earning second-team All-SEC honors as one of the lone bright spots on a Missouri team that was often overmatched against superior competition. He led all interior defensive linemen in the conference in tackles (75), adding 10.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks for good measure.

Analysis

Strengths

Scouts like the light feet Richardson shows for his size, as he is able to twist inside and chase plays to the sideline with great speed. That agility, combined with his length, makes him a strong tackler in close quarters. Richardson’s first step off the snap, especially when lined up over the ball, is quite impressive; he gets into the backfield in a heartbeat, beating reach-blocks and will work his way through double-teams if he sees the ball in the quarterback’s hands. He plays with leverage at the point of attack at times despite his height, holding his ground and wrestling with attitude. Has enough athleticism that Missouri uses him as a standup rusher and to drop into short zone coverages over the middle of the field, where shows the ability to cover crossing receivers and tight ends in a short area

Weaknesses

Richardson can struggle to break down and his upper-body strength is not elite, which means his high pad level and failure to use his hands to shed blocks can allow him to get turned from the hole and taken to the ground once off-balance. He had surgery in the offseason to repair a shoulder injury, so he must show his strength has improved. A better player in pursuit than he is holding the point against the run, where he can struggle to anchor. Drag down lunging tackler that misses ball carriers in space.

NFL Comparison

Cullen Jenkins

Bottom Line

Richardson was forced to go the junior college route, then missed most of his sophomore year due to injury before attending his home state school in Columbia; he wasn’t a starter in 2011, but showed off the athleticism (eight tackles for loss, two sacks) to make scouts think 2012 could be a break-out year. He had a superb junior campaign, and his role grew extensively with Missouri using him in a variety of roles. With Richardson's incredible athleticism, he figures to be one of the top combine performers and will likely warrant a top-20 selection.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
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