As I’m sure you’ve all heard no less than 7,000 times (give or take), the New England tree loves interior defensive lineman. And with Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia manning the ship, the Lions look well on their way towards becoming Patriots Midwest. Sounds like a hoot. The prevailing thought is that interior guys can wreck games by generating pressure right into the quarterback’s grill and be disruptive against the run. They also come much cheaper than high-end edge benders.
Sheldon Richardson flashed right away in that vein in New York, winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2013. He racked up 3.5 sacks and 78 tackles in 15 starts. However, with regime changes, a surplus of talent at the position, and suspensions in back to back years, he fell out of favor with the Jets. He was shipped to Seattle before the season for Jermaine Kearse and a 2018 2nd round pick.
Richardson started as a 3-tech in a 4-3 Over, Cover 3 defense. He slid inside the 1-tech and true nose late in the down. Richardson has a long, muscular frame with good athletic ability through very good explosion, good agility and fluidity, and solid balance and quickness.
|Prospect (Last, First)
|Scout Name (Last, First)
|INJURIES||2017 – Oblique(1 Game, WK9)
2016 – No Injuries
2015-Hamstring(1 Game, WK11)
2014 – No Games Missed
2013-Listed for Shoulder Week 3-6, No Games Missed
|KEY STATS||2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, 2014 Pro Bowl, 6 Career Forced Fumbles
2017-1.0 Sacks, 27 Tackles, 654 Snaps
|Height||Weight||40 YD||10 YD||Arm||Hand||Vert||3Cone||SS||Broad||Bench|
|6024||294lbs.||5.02s||1.75s||34 4/8”||10 4/8”||32”||n/a||n/a||908”||30reps|
Richardson anticipates the snap well and explodes into his first two steps to challenge offensive lineman upfield or laterally. He’s consistently the first man off the ball on a talented defensive line. He’s near impossible to reach and often crashes the party from the backside on outside zone runs either with penetration or muscling a guard into the play.
He can get his hands inside and bench press his men or stack against the run. When he’s in good position, he has the lower body strength to stalemate base blocks and hold his own against double teams, flashing the ability to split them when his pad level is good. Richardson shows good hand use to stab and swim to blow up blocks. When the ball carrier approaches, he can shove aside blockers and make the tackle quickly or spin out of blocks to make plays outside his gap.
Richardson does a solid job creating pressure with hand use and power. He disarms lineman with sharp stabs into the chest to set up bull rushes or swim moves. When his pad level is good and he wins the chest, he can effectively squeeze the pocket against average blockers. He displays impressive explosion and fluidtiy to get through in the twist game. He shows the want to to pursue the quarterback outside of the pocket and get up after he falls down. Some of his best plays came when the game was on the line.
In both the run and pass games, Richardson is prone to playing with high pad level. When he’s upright, lineman can generate movement against him on all types of blocks. He could stand to be more precise with his hand placement and has trouble knocking aside a lineman’s hands when they latch on.
Stronger lineman can halt Richardson dead in his tracks when he converts to power, particularly when he’s playing tall or looses his chest. He doesn’t have enough juice to win on speed alone and can be steered out of the play by more experienced pass blockers.
Although he might not have drawn the headlines he did early in his career, Richardson was exactly what Seattle must have been hoping for when they traded for him before the season. He’s a building block talent that can disrupt gameplans as a penetrating 3-tech in a 4-3 scheme as a wrecking ball against the run and pass. It would be surprising if he gets out of Seattle this year. He’d be well worth opening up the checkbook for in March as a blue chip to build around.
Grade: 7.25 (Starter You Can WIn Because Of)