Now that his intentions to enter the 2013 NFL Draft are fully known, Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson is widely being considered one of the top available players at his position heading into the spring.
The 6'4, 295-pound Richardson finished second on the Tigers in tackles this past year with 75, and was easily the most productive interior lineman on the roster in his third collegiate season. In the wake of his impressive campaign, a trio of scouts informed Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Richardson could easily be one of the first few defensive players taken off the board:
I talked to three NFL scouts Friday, and each had a similar view of Richardson’s pro potential. In short: strong, quick, nasty and substantial talent.
All three scouts suggested Richardson will have to dispel concerns over his immaturity, and that interested NFL teams will be checking Richardson out closely to get a sense of his personality. Unless NFL teams fear Richardson is a character risk, he’ll probably be drafted somewhere between 12th and 20th in the first round. But it’s too early for a meaningful projection.
Though he could have made a massive impact once again for the Tigers in 2013, Richardson opted to take advantage of his stellar statistical production by leaving for the pros with one year of eligibility on the table. Despite being a minor character concern after being suspended for his team's game against Syracuse early in the season, Richardson's immense upside while playing at an extremely coveted NFL position should only strengthen his value to NFL general managers.
Richardson is seeking to become the sixth Missouri player under head coach Gary Pinkel to hear his name called during the first round, and would join a list that includes Jeremy Maclin, Ziggy Hood, Sean Weatherspoon, Aldon Smith and Blaine Gabbert.