The Buffalo Bills have a clear mold for what they seek in their offensive linemen. Cyril Richardson, a fifth-round pick out of Baylor, fits it well.
From 2012 draft pick Cordy Glenn to veteran free-agent signing Chris Williams and second-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio, the Bills have made it clear that they desire massive offensive linemen who can engulf defenders with their length and win with their power.
If that wasn’t already clear from the players they added at the position, they all but confirmed it in an unsolicited tweet response to Joe Marino, one of my colleagues at BuffaloBillsDraft.com, earlier on Saturday.
Buffalo clearly believes that size matters, especially on the offensive line. At 6’5” and 329 pounds with long, 34.625” arms, Richardson is one of the biggest blockers in this year’s draft class.
Of course, size doesn’t matter if you can’t use it effectively on the football field. Richardson can. The 2013 first-team All-American is a powerful drive blocker who can bulldoze defenders away from the line of scrimmage to open up holes between the tackles.
The Baylor product is at his best as a run-blocker, with his ability to clear defenders out of the middle of the field. That said, he can also be an effective interior pass-blocker, as he typically controls smaller defenders if he can use his length to envelope them.
Like Kouandjio, the biggest concern about Richardson’s projection to the next level is his limited athleticism.
Richardson lacks lateral agility, which is the main reason he projects only as a guard and not as a tackle at the next level.
He doesn’t explode off the snap, either, which can allow more explosive penetrators to get the upper hand on him from the beginning of a play. In one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl, he noticeably struggled against quicker defensive linemen like Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald, the No. 13 overall pick in this year’s draft.
His run blocking potential is also affected by his athletic limitations, as he will struggle to pick up run-blocks at the second level and in space against faster NFL defenders.
Nonetheless, it’s clear that Richardson has the traits the Bills want in an offensive lineman. He has a great deal of successful collegiate experience, and he will only make the Buffalo offensive line bigger and stronger.
Fifth-round picks aren’t always expected to make immediate impacts, but Richardson should immediately compete for the starting left guard position, where he could quickly emerge as a stronger option at the position than Williams and Doug Legursky.
Jim Monos, the Bills’ director of player personnel, has already made it clear that Richardson will have a real opportunity to win that job.
Arguably the best offensive lineman on the board when the Bills took the clock, Richardson is a great value as a selection outside the top 150.
Making that value look even better, Buffalo drafted Richardson with a pick it acquired by trading down in the second round. The Bills started Day 2 with the No. 41 overall pick, and ended up turning that into Kouandjio and Richardson, who could both end up being starters up front for Buffalo.
All measurables courtesy of NFL.com.
Dan Hope is an NFL/NFL draft Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.
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