Sheldon Richardson I Missouri I DT I 6040 I 295 I Junior
40 Time (E): 4.70
Overview: Sheldon Richardson brings a unique blend of speed, power, and explosion on the frame of a near 300 pounder. He’s an ideal three-technique that plays with disruption on the mind. Richardson is a prime candidate to fly up draft boards the closer we get to the draft. Richardson flat out flys for a big man and could run a sub 4.7 40 at nearly 300 pounds. He was a highly recruited prepster that was forced to head to junior college because of issues with academics. The major knock on Richardson will be how he reacts to cashing in on the big payday that awaits at the next level. Richardson struggled with maintaining eligibility at Missouri due to grades. Loads of potential with Richardson that could have him hearing his name called in the top ten picks of April’s draft.
Pass Rush: Sheldon Richardson will make his name in the NFL with his ability to get after the QB from the interior DL. He turns speed into power as well as anyone in the draft, including the defensive end class. His burst/quickness off the snap is rare at the position. Richardson possesses an array of pass rush moves and uses his hands well to disengage from blockers. He makes it near impossible to square up with him because of his initial burst and the ability to disengage with his hands and powerful lower body. He’s a quick twitch athlete with the suddenness of a much smaller athlete. Active motor that has him playing from whistle to whistle.
Run Defense: Disruptive run defender with his ability to shoot gaps with explosive speed and power. Richardson’s burst off the snap doesn’t allow the trap blocker to make it to the point as he’s able to shoot into the backfield before the block is set up. Great chase down tackler with his combination of speed and motor. Led his team in tackles as a DT, a rare feat. Powerful lower body is conducive for short yardage situations. Excellent instincts in screen and draw game. Pad level is an issue as he’s has a tendency to play high. His tendency to shoot gaps leaves wide open running lanes.
Size/Strength/Athleticism: Rare athletic skills for his size. Has the frame to add weight without compromising his agility. Thick lower body and powerful, violent hands. Ideal height/weight/speed 3T or 5T in the NFL. His change of direction skills are second to none in this DT class. Powerful, explosive tackler with the ability to make highlight reel tackles on ball carriers.
Technique: Richardson has an array of pass rush moves with the ability to disengage from blockers with strength. Natural feet makes him an ideal one-gapper at the next level. Excellent eyes with the ability to sniff out misdirection. His pad level is a concern as he pops straight up off the snap. He will need to learn to play with leverage at the next level as he won’t be able to win with just speed and burst.
Bottom Line: Sheldon Richardson will intrigue all 32 teams with his ability to play in either the 4-3 or 3-4 as a 3T or 5T respectively. I believe this guy’s game is worthy of a pick inside the top five. I do, however, have concerns with how he’ll handle the fame, success, and money that comes at the next level. He struggled off the field with academics and seemed to lose interest at times late in games. That said, he’s an elite athlete at the position that reminds me of Warren Sapp. In a class with Star Lotulelei and Sharrif Floyd, Richardson is clearly the most disruptive of any DT in the class. NFL teams will be intrigued by his ability to play in the opponents backfields. If you’re in the market for a disruptive interior playmaker, Richardson is your guy.