STRENGTHS - Richardson has an excellent combination of quickness, agility and balance, which he combines with outstanding instincts off the ball to consistently win gaps. When he stays low off the snap and gets his hands out quickly, he displays the violent hands needed to set up a variety of moves to defeat blockers. He plays aggressively from snap to whistle, and does an outstanding job of reading and reacting to the ball behind the LOS.
WEAKNESSES - Richardson lacks top end speed and is not able to consistently finish plays in pursuit. He also lacks natural explosiveness out of his stance, and must rely on quickness, instincts and hand usage to defeat blockers and penetrate the backfield. When rushing the passer he relies too heavily on his swim, despite possessing a full arsenal of moves. At times he gets too high at the snap and can be driven off the ball or neutralized at the LOS by aggressive drive blockers.
SUMMARY - Sheldon Richardson was an exciting player to evaluate because he plays at such a consistently high level. He displays the athleticism and timing off the snap to win gaps, as well as the anchor and heavy hands needed to occupy and work off blockers at the LOS. While he lacks natural explosion and long speed he is effective in space because of his read and react skills, as well as his ability to break down and change directions efficiently. Richardson's intensity and passion for football not only show up in his play on the field but also during interviews, and teams are sure to fall in love with his intangibles as well. He is likely to be a top 20 pick and should develop into a highly productive NFL player as either a 43 DT or 34 DE.