-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer
A two-year starter at Indiana Bobby Richardson has experience playing both defensive end and defensive tackle. The Hoosier flashed potential earlier on, breaking his way into the starting lineup late in his freshman season after starting his collegiate career as a scout team player.
However, he leveled off in terms of production over the next two seasons before having his career year as a senior in 2014. Richardson led the Hoosiers with 5.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss, while blocking two kicks. There were also times when he wasn’t much of a factor and was pushed around by superior offensive linemen. Moreover, much of his production—three sacks versus Indiana State—came against inferior foes.
He’s quick and has strong active hands, however needs to do a better job of getting off blocks as a pass rusher if he is going to get into the offensive backfield at the next level. Athletic and agile, plus a strong motor makes him a solid run-stopping prospect, although at times he struggles finishing plays in the open field.
The Hoosier is an instinctive player, who knows where the ball is and who isn’t afraid to mix it up. In addition Richardson appears to be a good locker room guy with leadership skills.
Measurables: Height: 6’3”; Weight: 283 pounds; 40-yard Dash: 5.16; Vertical Jump: 32 ½”; Broad Jump: 8’2”; Bench Press: N/A
NFL Scouting Combine: There was some good and some bad at the NFL Scouting Combine. Richardson is very undersized for a defensive tackle. He’s short at 6’3” and was in the bottom five percentile in weight for the position at 283 pounds. Richardson also failed to show much speed with a 5.16 40-yard dash. For those of you that are screaming when does a DT ever run 40 yards? He posted a 1.78 10-yard split—34th percentile among DTs—which indicates a lack of initial burst, a trait often needed to be an impact pass rusher at the next level.
Where did Richardson grade out well?
The Indiana man had a very impressive 20-yard shuttle and vertical jump, both indications of the ability to play in short areas. His 4.41 shuttle time was in the 86th percentile, displaying quickness and the ability to change directions, the type of agility that can make blockers miss in the trenches. A 32 ½” vertical jump had Richardson at the 82nd percentile among defensive tackles, an indicator of his short-area explosiveness.
Richardson makes up for his lack of prototypical height with his arm length (34 5/8”), 88th percentile, and hand size (11”), 97th percentile. That should help him with hand battles in the trenches, fighting for leverage and getting his big paws on the football.
What The Pundits Think: ESPN.com’s Scouts Inc. has the Indiana product ranked 24th among the defensive end prospects, which is the same exact slot as CBSSports.com, who lists Richardson as a DT. NFL.com has him much more highly regarded, with the ninth-highest grade on their defensive tackle board. (Tied for 13th among all defensive linemen.)
NFL Fit: Is a ‘tweener or scheme versatile? An age-old question many prospects have had to answer as they transition from the college game to the NFL. Richardson is never going to be a big-time passer rusher coming off the edge as 4-3 defensive end and he may be too undersized to hold his own against the run as a defensive tackle, which is why his best chance to stick at the next level will be as 3-4 defensive end. Still a bit undersized for a five technique, Richardson is closer to the prototype there than he is at any other position. In addition, the ability to get to the quarterback is less critical for a 3-4 end compared to a 4-3 end. His long arms and big hands should make up for what he lacks in ideal stature.
Projection: At this point Richardson looks like a Day 3 choice. Entering the league, his role will likely be as backup who provides depth, possibly at multiple positions. If he can get bigger and stronger without sacrificing his athleticism a starting job could be in Richardson’s future down the line, but he will probably never develop into a star player.
Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. You can reach him via email: email@example.com.