NFL Draft 2013: Sheldon Richardson prospect profile

Jeff Blake-US PRESSWIRE

Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson is being hailed as a first-round draft pick despite his lack of experience at the FBS level.

Defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was one of the most-hyped players to come through the Missouri Tigers program in the last few years. He was recruited by the Tigers of his home state, but started his collegiate career at College of the Sequoias, a junior college in Visalia, California. He made his return to his home state to make his debut with Mizzou in 2011, when he racked up 37 tackles, eight tackles for loss and two sacks in only eight games, two of which he started.

He moved into a starting position in 2012 and finished the season with 75 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, three forced fumbles, three batted passes, a blocked kick and he topped it all off with a 60-yard fumble return. After his impressive season, he was named to the 2012 All SEC First Team, becoming Missouri's first player to win the honor.

Many mock drafts have Richardson being selected in the first round, as he could add a significant burst to a team looking to boost the production of their defensive line. The 6'4, 295-pound defensive tackle not only shows an ability to stop the run, but to rush the passer as well and has found success playing against some of college football's best offensive lines in the SEC.

He is No. 8 on SB Nation's big board and according to his SB Nation scouting report, he has the potential to be a top-10 pick.

Richardson has an ideal skill set to make a quick impact in the NFL. He's going to blow people away at February's combine with his speed and agility at 300 pounds. Richardson plays defensive tackle with a relentless attitude and a mean streak. He should find a home in the first round with his draft ceiling being the first ten picks.

Pros:

  • Richardson has the size to be a dominant defensive tackle in the NFL
  • His size comes along with incredible speed and quickness considering the weight he's moving
  • He's athletic enough that Missouri coaches asked him to drop back in pass coverage occasionally
  • He's instinctive enough to accurately sniff out screens and draws
  • Explodes into tackles
  • Plays best against some of the toughest competition

Cons:

  • Only had one dominant season at FBS level
  • Sometimes stands up and loses leverage against blockers
  • Struggled academically throughout his college career
  • Underwent shoulder surgery after the 2011 season
  • Seems to run his mouth a bit too much in interviews

Richardson would likely fit best in a 4-3 defensive scheme where he could do the most damage, especially when it comes to providing pressure on the quarterback from the middle of the line. Some teams that may be interested in the Missouri defensive tackle are the Titans or Seahawks, who are likely looking for depth on the line.

From DraftBreakdown.com:

Quotables

- Richardson enjoys talking to the media, and had some interesting comments after Missouri's season-opening win, before his team's game against Georgia:

"If we execute," he added, "nobody in this league can touch us. Period."

On Georgia football: its "like watching Big Ten football. It's old man football."

Richardson was banned from talking to the press for a month by coaches after the incident.

Twitter

Richardson is on Twitter at @Godforshort

College Stats/Info

- Richardson was a top recruit out of high school, but didn't qualify for Missouri academically and spent two years at College of the Sequoias, a junior college in California. He played one year there, leaving him three years of eligibility at Missouri.

- While at Missouri, he was suspended one game, reportedly for missing class.

- Richardson had 18.5 tackles-for-loss in two years at Missouri. Here's his full stats from CFB Stats.

2013 NFL Combine performance:

With the unfortunate absence of Star Lotulelei due to potential heart problems for the Utah defensive tackle, Richardson shined in his absence, leading some to believe that Richardson has the highest upside of any interior defensive lineman. Richardson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.97 seconds, but was more impressive in the vertical and broad jumps where he displayed impressive lower body strength and burst.

A big question for Richardson is where he ranks in regard to defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd following the combine, as the Florida lineman had a similarly impressive showing.

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