Sheldon Richardson, DL
- Height: 6-foot-4
- Weight: 295 pounds
- School: Missouri
Richardson seemed like he'd take a rather traditional path to the NFL after being one of the highest rated defensive linemen in the country as a senior in high school, but though he planned on signing with Missouri, he didn't qualify academically. That led him to a two-year stint at the College of the Sequoias, and though he could have gone anywhere in the country after proving himself as one of the nation's top junior college players, he decided to return to Columbia. There were more eligibility issues following his transfer, and though he wound up on the field, he only started two games while battling a shoulder injury. His senior season, however, was a different story. Richardson thrived as Missouri moved to the SEC, earning second-team all-conference honors, leading all interior linemen in the league with 75 tackles while recording 10 1/2 for loss and 4 1/2 sacks. Richardson is light on his feet despite his size, as he's able to swim past interior offensive linemen with ease due to his above-average agility. He has a great first step, displays excellent leverage and can work his way through double teams. Missouri would occasionally use Richardson as a standup rusher to drop into zones, where he excelled despite his size. Though he has a great burst, he could stand to add some bulk as his upper-body strength is not great, and he must continue to show there are no lingering effects from his shoulder surgery after the 2011 season. The biggest problem is that Richardson isn't much of a force against the run and tends to miss tackles, surprising issues for such a highly skilled interior presence. Still, his ability to get in the backfield and chase the quarterback is rare for a defensive tackle. He was suspended for a game in 2012 for breaking team rules, and given his past academic issues, NFL teams will certainly do their homework before making Richardson a high pick. But should the character issues check out, look for Richardson to be off the board by the middle of the first round, with Carolina at No. 14 a strong possibility.
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