INDIANAPOLIS -- Concerns about the medical reports on offensive lineman Antonio Richardson aren't helping the draft status of the former Tennessee left tackle, according to NFL Media analyst Charles Davis, who questioned on NFL Network Saturday whether Richardson might have to "redshirt" his rookie NFL season because of knee problems.
Davis, a former Volunteers defensive back, told College Football 24/7 that this was his opinion, not what he was hearing from either the college or NFL community. But if NFL teams discover medical issues with Richardson here this week, he might have one of the most historical drop-offs in stock we've ever seen, going from one of the nation's top tackles just a year ago to one that might be on the bubble of getting drafted.
Richardson (6-foot-6, 336 pounds) started 24 consecutive games for the Volunteers over his last two seasons but had knee surgery after his sophomore season in 2012. He missed spring practice last year while recovering from surgery. As a junior last year, he wasn't as effective, but nevertheless opted to enter the draft early.
Although he was reportedly beaten for just two sacks on the season, he struggled at times in run-blocking. In fact, NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah said Saturday that Richardson wasn't even the best tackle on the Volunteers. Right tackle Ja'Wuan James had the better year of the two, Jeremiah said. Richardson's junior-year film, according to Jeremiah, carried the grade of a fifth-round draft pick.
That's a precipitous fall from the preseason hype that surrounded Richardson, who was not long ago considered one of the top offensive tackle prospects in the nation. If NFL clubs see Richardson as a fifth-round pick as Jeremiah does and have concerns about his ability to compete as a rookie as Davis does, he could be one of the draft's free-fallers.
His confidence, however, is unshaken.
"I'm a first-rounder," he said Friday. "I plan on (a first-round call) being the case. If push comes to shove I'm still blessed. If I would fall into the second round, only two percent get to do this so it's a blessing either way."
Richardson ran a middling (among OL) 5.3 40-yard dash Saturday.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.