The defensive tackles of the 2013 NFL Draft have been showered with praise over the last month, and it's not hard to see why.
Utah's Star Lotulelei, Missouri's Sheldon Richardson and Florida's Sharrif Floyd are all players who could make an immediate impact on the interior of the defensive line. All could come off the board within the top 15 picks, and another few could slide into the later part of the first round.
With all of the talent on the board at defensive tackle, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock gave Richardson some of the highest praise of all during a conference call Monday.
"The Richardson kid is exciting," Mayock said. "At 300 pounds to me he has the skills of a 250-pound linebacker. Missouri actually stood him up. How often do you see a defensive tackle standing up to play a linebacker position at 300 pounds? So, obviously Missouri and Dave Steckel were highly impressed with this kid's athletic ability. He's really gifted. He's probably more gifted than the Utah kid.
"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. 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."
Floyd has been getting most of the buzz lately, but Richardson is quite the prospect in his own right. A high-motor player with outstanding physical skills, Richardson started to put it all together this season at Mizzou.
Questions linger over his boisterous personality, which was on display often in Columbia, Mo., this season, but his discipline and motor have improved with every snap in his football career. Teams will have a hard time passing on a player with Richardson's talent.