After redshirting in 2009, Cyril Richardson played in 12 of Baylor's 2010 contests, starting four, all at left guard. In 2011, he moved out to left tackle protecting Robert Griffin III's blind side for all thirteen of the Bears' games and earning All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors. In 2012 and '13, he kicked back inside to guard, where he continued to excel. In 2012, he started twelve games, receiving high grades from the Baylor offensive coaches; in 2013, after logging thirteen more starts, Richardson was recognized as an Outland Trophy finalist. Big Cyril was the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year both of his final two seasons.
Richardson has a massive frame with a large wingspan to engulf defenders and is surprisingly light-footed and nimble, moving from side-to-side very easily. That said, he tends to allow rushers into his body too often and needs to be more consistently aggressive. As with many of the other O-linemen in whom the Cowboys have expressed interest, Richardson has experience at multiple positions, although his ideal pro position will almost certainly be guard. Wanna take a look at the big man in action? The extraordinary gentlemen at Draft Breakdown have provided six of Richardson's games for your viewing pleasure, including Baylor's last two bowl games: the 2012 Holiday Bowl win over UCLA and 2013 Fiesta Bowl loss to a Blake Bortles-led UCF team.
Now that you've seen the tape, check out how our panelists interpreted what they saw in film:
Dane Bugler (NFLDraftScout.com): 10th-ranked OG; no overall grade (4th-5th round)
Strengths: Passes the eye test with a thick, massive frame and large wingspan...better athlete and body control than expected...good eye discipline and foot coordination to mirror and keep his upper and lower halves in sync...stout lower body and base to stonewall with strong hands to control defenders at the POA - has pop in his hands to knock rushers off their path...works hard in the run game to seal run lanes...enjoys impacts and blocks with a feisty demeanor - road grader with a nasty attitude...mature and unintimidated - has faced adversity and doesn't have a quitting bone in his body...has some position versatility with time at LT and LG, starting 42 games over his career (26 LG, 16 LT) - 2012 Big 12 OL POY.
Weaknesses: Not body beautiful and weight fluctuates between 325 and 350 pounds - needs to find a happy medium...gets too tall and needs to show better pad level to win with leverage...doesn't explode off the snap with streaky balance and struggles to properly shift his weight when changing directions...plays too much on his heels and catches rushers while in retreat - gets lazy with his hand technique...not a twitchy athlete...needs to improve his timing and discipline pre and post snap to cut down on the mistakes, including false starts...temperament will waver at times and will play down to the competition - inconsistent energy...still learning in several areas and his football acumen is a work-in-progress.
Summary: A three-star recruit, Richardson didn't play high school varsity football until his senior year after he and his family were forced to move several times due to Hurricane Katrina, ending up in Fort Worth. He starred as a senior in high school, but received only one scholarship offer, enrolling at Baylor and redshirting in 2009. Richardson filled in as a starting LG in 2010 before taking over the LT duties in 2011 for the departed Danny Watkins. He moved back inside to LG as a junior, starting 25 games the past two seasons, earning All-Big 12 and All-American honors both years. Richardson is built well for the position with a good combination of natural athleticism and power, but his technique and discipline need refined. He blocks with a mean streak and will flash dominance on some snaps, but then will be dominated on others - needs to develop better consistency from play-to-play. Richardson plays too heavy and is undeveloped in several areas, but is a heady, versatile player with some untapped potential - prospect worthy outside of the top-100 picks.
Gary Horton (ESPN.com): 7th-ranked OG; 109th overall
Pass Protection: Massive individual with ideal anchor. Absorbs power rushers. Stones pressure from second and third levels. Powerful upper body with heavy hands and outstanding length but ducks head, lunges and gets caught off balance instead of sinking and shooting hands inside. Waist bender with marginal flexibility and sub-par lateral mobility.
Run Blocking: Violent drive blocker that fires off ball and gets excellent initial surge. Above average powerbase and can move defensive tackles off the ball but falls off too many blocks. Inconsistent at best hand placement and fails to press defenders off frame. Leans into defenders. Not a great athlete in space but takes adequate angles and overwhelms linebackers at second level.
Awareness: Inconsistencies recognizing and reacting to defensive line stunts and pressures in pass pro continued in 2013. Relatively assignment sound in run game but some problems locating second level targets and adjusting on fly.
Toughness: Aggressive and physical mauler that mixes it up and possesses finishing strength. Turns and looks to deliver kill shots when unoccupied in pass pro.
Intangibles: Family forced to move from New Orleans to Fort Worth Texas following Hurricane Katrina and missed nearly two years of high school football because of it. Soft spoken individual that displays toughness and perseverance. Earned undergraduate degree in general studies December 2013. Ejected from 2012 Iowa State game and didn't play in the first half of the Kansas game the following week. Appeared to kick Iowa State's Brandon Jensen on replays.
Dan Shonka (Ourlads): 5th-ranked OG; 68th overall
Three-year starter who is thick and quick in his play. Long arms. Plays left guard in a high tempo no huddle offense. Powerful and aggressive. Quick enough to gain an advantage on run plays. Explosive on down blocks. Can stun and control a defensive tackle. Has had several "pancake" or "decleater" type blocks. Good surge in the run game. Can quick position a defender with base leverage. Has functional strength and balance. Improved his technique this fall and has become and punch and slam blocker....An explosive and violent player who manhandles his blocking target. Tendency to lose his knee bend at times and can get bull rushed. Will drop his hands and head in pass pro.
Senior Bowl notes: wide body and thick physical frame with good arm reach and wing span. His stance (toes and knees out) hinders him somewhat, but generally okay initial movements off the ball. Not exactly a stiff athlete, but not smooth in his movements....Showed inconsistent location with hand placement and punch on both the run and pass. Gets hands outside the framework of the defender's body. Beaten too often with quick sudden movements and by sudden quick counter pass rushers. Shows NFL anchor abilities.
Long Ball (Drafttek.com): 7th- ranked OG; 97th overall
Another huge man that I'm just not that impressed with. You would think with his massive frame, he should be able to engulf defenders but, due to poor technique, he allows rushers to get into his body. Lateral agility is lacking and he struggles at the second level. I think he has just "gotten by" by overpowering his opponents and is lazy when it comes to improving his technique. I will be real surprised if the Cowboys draft him (Now why do I say that? There's always at least one draft selection, if not more, that surprises me every year!)
Nolan Nawrocki (NFL.com): 5th-ranked OG; 89th overall
Strengths: Outstanding size and girth with legitimate NFL strength. Sturdy base and heavy anchor -- squats a small house and is dependable in pass protection. Generates movement in the run game. Can work his hips and gain positioning. Walls off and seals. Packs a jolting punch and plays with a load in his hands -- latches on, controls and steers. Wins in a phone booth and can manhandle smaller linemen. Enough balance, coordination and foot speed to pull and trap effectively. Has played tackle and guard. Conditioned in an up-tempo, no-huddle offense.
Weaknesses: Bad body -- has a fleshy midsection and could stand to shed some bad weight. Lateral agility and recovery quickness are just adequate. Gets in trouble when his feet stall or he bends at the waist (slips off blocks). Intermittent intensity. Does not play violently or impose his will physically as often as he should. Could stand to become more of a nasty finisher. Has underachiever traits. Questionable motivation and passion for the game.
Draft Projection: Rounds 3-4
Bottom Line: Massive road grader with enough mass to re-establish the line of scrimmage in the run game. Versatility to play right tackle adds to value, and he has the physical tools to compete readily in a man-blocking scheme if the game is kept simple. Has a bust factor.
The four panelists who offer numerical rankings have Richardson graded from the early third (#68) to early fourth (#109) rounds; the fifth, Brugler, maintains that Big Cyril is a fourth or fifth rounder. That's a fairly wide swath; unless they acquire an extra third rounder via trade, pick # 78 seems a bit rich for the former Baylor product. As a result, I'm going to spit the difference and put him in round four on my "little board."
I believe the Cowboys want to add at least one interior lineman in this draft, preferably with a first- or second-day pick. If they wait until the third day to secure a guard, it probably means they found better values in rounds one through three. If those values are along the defensive line, or represent too-good-to-pass-up selections at positions like wide receiver, linebacker or safety, then I'll happily wait until Saturday for an OG. That said, there are OL candidates in whom the Cowboys have expressed interest that I like quite a bit more than Richardson.
Later today: Now that you've seen how the national draftniks rate Richardson, stay tuned for our in-house scout, Joey Ickes, who will post a detailed film study of the former Bear's game.
Tomorrow: Ohio State OT Jack Mewhort