Prospect: Sheldon Richardson, DT, MissouriSheldon Richardson

Height: 6’2½”

Weight: 294 lb.

Athleticism:

  • Elite open field speed for a man of his size, can chase down ball carriers all over the field
  • Redirects in space incredibly well, can change directions on a dime with nimble footwork
  • Stays very balanced and under control despite speed and energy level
  • A bit light in the pants at only 295, may be asked to add weight depending on schematic fit

Intelligence/Effort:

  • Has all the abundant energy of an eight year old kid, sustains it relatively well throughout games as well
  • Experience across the defensive line between two seasons including 0, 3, and 5 techniques heavily, even played from two point stance between the tackles frequently
  • Quick to recognize screens and draws, high football IQ
  • Adjusts his playing style to his opponent from game to game well, understands the gameplan
  • Very ball aware player who tracks it well in both run and passing games
  • Was suspended for the Syracuse game for academic reasons

Pass Rush:

  • Works a bullrush to moderate effectiveness with low pad level and proper leg drive
  • Has ability to string counter moves in with the power rush, comes with relentless attitude
  • Very effective on stunts across the line due to quick feet and ability to bend around blockers when given a step
  • Becomes easy to lock up for pass rushers during stretches when he gets lazy with his hands
  • Had some success batting passes in college, translates well due to active hands and immense timing

Run Support:

  • Incredible range sideline to sideline for a defensive tackle, gets to the ball at a very high rate
  • Can explode through gaps with a quick first step and strong upper body, very disruptive in the backfield
  • Strong hands to shed blocks against the run and get into space to chase the ball
  • Falls into the trap of relying on his speed and becoming a chase defender occasionally instead of anchoring at the line or penetrating gaps
  • Struggles to anchor against power run blocking even against one blocker and rarely spins back into the hole when being rooted out of plays
  • Lacks lower body resistance strength to counter directional blocks as a one gap player, needs to get through the gap and into the backfield
  • Instinctively plays off cut blocks with ease
  • High impact tackler who has the awareness to knock or strip the football from ball carriers, forced three fumbles in 2012

Technique:

  • Quick off the snap and into contact with low pad level consistently
  • Needs to fire his hands into contact more consistently as a head up defender
  • Overall hand usage runs hot and cold, will control blockers with violent hands or lead with a shoulder into blockers

Overall:

Sheldon Richardson seemingly set the world on fire at the start of the 2012 college football season.  He initially enrolled at Missouri out of high school but wasn’t academically cleared and forced to turn to a junior college.  He then re-enrolled with the Tigers and earned a starting job at the end of the 2011 season.  The rest is now history.  He finished the season with 75 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks.  He did this in 11 games while being doubled on almost every snap during the last half of the season.  Anyone who has seen him play will rave about his athletic ability.  He truly plays like a linebacker in the running game, often flowing over the top of plays and making tackles on either sideline.  He affects offense on a snap to snap basis that few other defensive linemen can match.  He’s not without a few question marks.  His technique can be inconsistent, and he struggles to handle big run blockers at the point of attack at times.  Even so, his athleticism and ability to be a disruptive force in the backfield makes him a defensive lineman who can fit across any scheme.  He’ll be most effective with one gap to control, whether that’s as a three or five technique.  He could even be asked to bump outside to defensive end in a 4-3 scheme on run downs.  My favorite part of Richardson’s game is his energy level though.  He plays with the effort and resilience that teammates can feed off of.  Sheldon Richardson is a special talent and should be under consideration to be the first name Roger Goodell calls.

Originally published at DetroitLionsDraft.com: Sheldon Richardson Scouting Report

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