Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Eyeing the draft: Antonio Richardson
By John Keim
I'm taking a look at selected players leading up to the NFL draft, which begins May 8. The reports are based on watching multiple games on draftbreakdown.com; I'll let you know when there is an opinion other than my own. I'm not a fan of having to only watch them off a TV feed -- you don't always get the best angle, or see all the players -- but it's the best I can do now and it helps provide a snapshot. The draft analysts -- especially those from ESPN.com, NFL.com and CBSSports.com -- help fill in the gap, especially in terms of where they are projected.
College production: Started 24 games the past two seasons at left tackle and appeared in all 12 games three years ago.
How he'd fit: Richardson, among a handful of tackles to visit with Washington, would be its right tackle of the future. Would be tough to see him as a Day 1 starter, but he would be the guy in 2015 at the latest.
What I liked: Has power and long arms (35 inches; 34 is considered good), a good combo for a tackle. His long arms bailed him out of numerous situations in college, though at times he seemed to rely on that more than his footwork. Issues he had usually were related to technique when in pass protection. Good athlete. Strong hands. Saw a lot of flashes of good pass protection in a conference with numerous pass rushers. Seemed to compete well. For the most part, avoided being driven back into the quarterback. Sometimes it was because he could anchor; other times his long arms could force a guy off stride. Though inconsistent with what he did once reaching the second level, he showed the ability to get there, so it's in him. Has raw ability; will take good coaching.
What I didn't: His ability to finish blocks. It wasn't about effort, but rather about holding onto his man. If that's about drive or killer instinct, I don't know. But it was evident. Too often the guy he was blocking would slip away and get in on the tackle. Richardson needs to be more consistent with his hands. When they were up and ready, it made a huge difference. But there were times he'd lower just before impact and cause him to lose leverage. Too often after engaging a defender he'd end up bent over because he moved his arms more than his feet. At times he gave away where he was going with a slight lean or his head cocked a little to that side. He would get off-balance, sometimes due to his base. Though he came off the ball hard sometimes, did not see him drive his man. Sometimes that was due to his feet stopping. Regardless, he didn't take advantage of his upper-body strength. South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney dominated him this past season, not only moving him back on occasion but forcing a number of whiffed block attempts. It's not a crime to be beaten by Clowney, but he did provide a measuring stick for what he'll soon be facing. Had some issues against Missouri end Kony Ealy as well. One concern was keeping his weight down.
Projection: Second round, perhaps into the third. At this point he likely projects to right tackle, which of course is an area the Redskins might address. Had arthroscopic knee surgery last spring, but did start every game.