Sheldon Richardson: 5 Things You Need to Know About Missouri Defensive Tackle

Vincent Frank@VincentFrankNFLCorrespondent IApril 25, 2013

Sheldon Richardson: 5 Things You Need to Know About Missouri Defensive Tackle

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    Sheldon Richardson looks to join a long line of recent Missouri defensive products to enjoy a prosperous career in the National Football League. He has the pedigree and success to provide that type of production early in his career. 

    As it relates to where Richardson stands at this late part in the draft process, he is considered a borderline top-10 prospect by many mainstream scouts. 

    Richardson can play both inside and outside but is probably best suited as a 3-tech defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme. With that being said, I wouldn't be surprised to see a team that runs a 3-4 draft him to line up outside. 

    This type of flexibility will definitely make Richardson a sought after player early in the draft. Let's take a look at five things you simply must know about the Missouri product.   

Background

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    Full Name: Sheldon Richardson 

    Hometown: St. Louis, Mo.

    High School: Gateway Tech in St. Louis, Mo.

    Major: Agriculture 

    Class: Senior 

    Sheldon Richardson was the fourth-ranked recruit in the nation back in 2009 by Rivals. In fact, he even ranked ahead of the likes of Trent Richardson, Matt Barkley and Manti Te'o

    With that being said, Richardson failed to qualify academically and was forced to enroll in the College of the Sequoias in California. According to Missouri's official website, Richardson was the No. 3 ranked junior college recruit "even after he redshirted in 2010 due to a wrist injury." 

    The talented defensive lineman has long been considered one of the most talented players at his position. It was all about him growing and maturing as a person, especially academically. 

    Prior to his transfer from junior college to Missouri, it seems that Richardson himself was worried about qualifying to attend school in Columbia the following semester (via Columbia Tribune). 

    Richardson would have to graduate from the junior college and have maintained a 2.0 GPA. Last night, Richardson told the Tribune he was waiting on the scores of his final exams to determine whether he would be eligible to transfer at the semester break.

    With a relatively big payday coming after graduating from Missouri, let's hope that Richardson has put some of the lingering issues he has had in the past to rest. After all, he is going to be a damn good player on the football field come Sundays this fall. 

Statistics

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    2011 (Sophomore): 13 games, 37 tackles, 15 solo, eight for loss, two sacks and one forced fumble.

    2012 (Junior): 11 games, 75 tackles, 39 solo, 10.5 for loss, four sacks and three forced fumbles.

    After playing a part-time role during his first season with Missouri, Richardson stepped up into a leadership role this past season. He recorded 75 tackles in 11 games, including a ridiculous 39 for loss from the defensive tackle position. Those 75 tackles led all SEC defensive tackles. 

    Immaturity seemed to plague Richardson throughout his short, two-year stint in Columbia. He was suspended for a game against Syracuse and forced to mute himself in front of the media after calling out conference-rival Georgia (via St. Louis Post-Dispatch). 

    With that being said, statistics and a perceived lack of maturity don't tell the entire story. Richardson was a force along Missouri's defensive line, even after facing double teams a vast majority of the time. 

    All statistics provided by CFB Stats

Draft Process

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    Measurements 

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 294 pounds

    Arm Length: 34.5"

    Hand Size: 10.5"

    Combine Results

    Broad Jump: 116.0"

    40-Yard Dash: 5.02

    Vertical Jump: 32.0"

    Bench Press: 30 reps at 225

    Sheldon Richardson had a decent performance at the combine in Indianapolis. While his time of 5.02 in the 40-yard dash left a bit to be desired, in my opinion, he did well with a 32" vertical and 30 bench-press reps. 

    He also did well in the position-specific drills, which many scouts use as more of a barometer of success at the next level. 

    Richardson improved his 40 time a great deal at Missouri's pro day by running a 4.71 on his first try and a 4.82 on his second attempt (via St. Louis Post-Dispatch). 

    All numbers provided by NFL.com

Interesting Facts

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    After producing only two first round picks from 1980 to 2000, Missouri has been somewhat of a prominent NFL farm team since. Starting with Justin Smith in 2011, the Tigers have produced six first-round picks over the last 12 years (via NFL.com).

    That list promises to grow with Sheldon Richardson in 2012.

    As a senior at Gateway Tech High School in St. Louis, Richardson played on both sides of the ball. He tallied 27 receptions for 541 yards and eight touchdowns at a tight end. Defensively, Richardson scored a ridiculous six touchdowns

     

Observations

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    It will be interesting to see how things end up with Sheldon Richardson at the top of the first round. As my colleague Chris Trapasso mentioned last week, the Missouri product doesn't seem to be getting the same play as Star Lotulelei or Sharrif Floyd.

    "4. Sheldon Richardson appears to be vastly underappreciated. DT buzz is all Floyd/Lotulelei. SR = extremely disruptive. Datone Jones too."

    This doesn't mean that Richardson is a lesser player. He might be flying a bit under the radar but is going to be a dominating anchor along the defensive line for the team that selects him.

    I also went back and watched tape of Richardson after reading this Tweet from the respected Don Shonka. The former NFL scout is 100 percent correct in his analysis that Richardson completely outplayed Floyd. "@Ted_Sundquist Good job on getting Sheldon Richardson up where he belongs. 7 game SEC comparison he outplays Floyd in every game."

    Look for Richardson to go much higher than most currently expect. I see him as a top-10 prospect leading up to the draft. 

    Vincent Frank is an NFL featured columnist here at Bleacher Report. He was hired prior to the 2011 season and couldn't be happier working with a great group of individuals here. In addition, Vincent is the head sports editor over at eDraft, co-host of Draft Sports Radio, which airs every Monday and Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. ET and a fantasy writer for Pro Football Focus.

    Go ahead and give him a follow on Twitter @VincentFrankNFL.