Since Art Briles arrived at Baylor, he has completely remade the image of the team and turned them into a legitimate power in the Big XII. They have had a ton of success on offense and produced a number of talented prospects on that side of the ball as a result. This year will be no different and Lache Seastrunk is the player that will get most of the headlines, one of the guys working to open holes for him, Cyril Richardson, is a talented prospect in his own right.
Richardson is a tremendous athlete at the left guard spot and allows them to have a ton of size running to the left while giving them someone who can pull and bring a load to the right side to help open up running lanes for Seastrunk on power. In many ways, Richardson goes against type as despite his size, he is remarkably athletic but he is not a power player. If he can improve his hand usage and technique with how he locks onto opponents, he could end up playing with far more power and be more of a bulldozer, but his feet are impressive and he could be a tremendous asset as a left guard in the NFL but might get some serious looks at right tackle. As a result, Richardson enters the process as a likely top 75 pick who could significantly improve his stock this year and may well end up in the top 50 if not push his way into the first round.
Vitals & Build
Richardson is listed at 6’5” 335lbs and is remarkably light on his feet. He shows impressive acceleration and overall speed, especially going forward. His functional strength is underwhelming but some of this might be due to technique and improving upon that will help. Richardson has shown to be able to function at his weight, so his physical potential is largely based on improving his body composition and improving the quality of the 335lbs he brings to the table.
Richardson shows impressive ability to move whether it be getting to the second level or pulling around and blocking. He can be an extremely fluid athlete on the move but he needs to take good angles as he tends to have trouble making tight turns as one might expect for a battleship like Richardson. Richardson is athletic enough where he can pull but when his path will be too wide (which is a testament for how well he can move) and he will actually end up too wide and make it extremely difficult for him to get back inside and be out of position to block.
Richardson’s run blocking is somewhat of a mixed bag. He has the feet to get in position and wall off opponents from the ball carrier as well as being a great asset pulling and getting to the second level. He is really effective when it comes to combo blocks and setting up the center for a good block before moving onto to the next level and getting another block.
The downside is in addition to the fact he can pull too far out is his hand usage. While Richardson is not a guy who is going to get called for holding, the reason is because he does not lock on to opponents and they will get around him as a result. He is also not a great finisher and will stop on plays at times far too early.
Richardson has the ability to create space and push opponents back but because he cannot sustain blocks, they fall off and he looks less powerful than he might otherwise be. He will also have situations where he is overextended and leaves himself open to falling forward.
Richardson’s ballast and footwork makes him extremely well suited to be a pass protector, especially when he is working in a phone booth. Those factors alone should make it extremely difficult for opponents to get past him and for the most part, they do. Richardson’s questions with locking on to opponents make it somewhat problematic as guys can keep working and get past his blocks and find their way into the backfield. And despite his overwhelming athleticism, he can occasionally get beat with quickness before he can get into his pass set. Richardson has the quickness to recover for the most part but because of his hand usage, he gives opponents openings to beat him.
Richardson shows a good punch and is not afraid to use it more than once, but his troubles when it comes to locking on and maintaining blocks with his hands can be problematic. He is not someone who is going to get called for penalties but if his quarterback gets killed as a result of being unwilling to lock on, his coaches and teammates are going to wish he went ahead and grabbed the guy. It puts a ton of stress on him to be a great walling blocker and for the most part he is, but any lapse could get him beat badly.
Hand usage and technique is the area that Richardson needs to improve the most and if he can get better at where he puts his hands and his ability to lock on and block opponents, he is a talented blocker that could make a huge leap forward and play with a lot more power. Because of his size and speed, he can create a lot of momentum quickly and he just needs to make sure it is aimed properly and he can be devastating.
Richardson gives a team a ton of options because of how well he can use his feet. He is able to pull and get across in a hurry or get out and lead a toss. Richardson can easily get to the second level and his acceleration going forward can be impressive, whether out of his stance or after setting up as a combo block.
He also has the quickness to mirror effectively in pass protection and he can be more than capable of moving to tackle should it be needed. Richardson shows he can wall off opponents well and is always working to get better position and put himself in between the ball carrier and the defender.
While he is really impressive with how easily can go from his left guard spot over to the right side and lead block on the pull, he needs to do a better job with his angles and aiming points. Richardson is so athletic that he will end up overshooting his target and while he can really move well going forward, steering that much weight can be tough and at times, he handles like a rusty shopping cart. As a result, he will overshoot his target and put himself in a difficult position to land a block. Instead of attacking the opponent and being able to drive them out wide or head on to create a running lane for the ball carrier, he can end up too far out and push the opponent inside, which is a more difficult play for the ball carrier.
Richardson’s feet make him a weapon in the running game as with his size, he is still able to play left guard and lead block when running to the right. He also has the quickness and ability to mirror where he can be a right tackle if a team were to want to go that route. However, that move is less likely if he does not improve his hand usage. His ability to pull and get out in front makes a huge difference and gives Lache Seastrunk some big running lanes which he is able to exploit and make into huge plays.
Richardson can play in just about any scheme because of his athleticism and quickness. The larger question with Richardson is where teams are going to want to play him. Whether they look at him as a left guard who can give them size and power on the left side while being able to pull and help the run going to power on the right or give a team a right tackle with great feet and a ton of ballast remains to be seen. Ultimately, he may get selected by a team and get time at both spots and be part of the equation of the ‘best five will play’ and wherever the best five put him, he will play. He needs to continue to work on his hand usage and hitting his spots with his movement but he gives a team a lot of options and a ton of athleticism that may have his best football awaiting him in the NFL.
|Sat, Aug. 31||vs. Wofford|
|Sat, Sept. 7||vs. Buffalo|
|Sat, Sept. 21||vs. LA-Monroe|
|Sat, Oct. 5||vs. West Virginia|
|Sat, Oct. 12||at Kansas State|
|Sat, Oct. 19||vs. Iowa State|
|Sat, Oct. 26||at Kansas|
|Thu, Nov. 7||vs. Oklahoma|
|Sat, Nov. 16||vs. Texas Tech|
|Sat, Nov. 23||at Oklahoma State|
|Sat, Nov. 30||at TCU|
|Sat, Dec. 7||vs. Texas|
The final three games of the regular season are going to be a great test for Richardson. Starting with Oklahoma State, he could see a lot of matchups with Calvin Barnett who has a lot of athleticism and quickness from the defensive tackle spot. The following week, the Bears go to Fort Worth to play TCU. The defense has a couple superstars but is always a tough team that does a good job playing against the run and getting after the quarterback. Finally, the last game of the season is against Texas at home. Texas has been down lately but they are not short on athletes and will have some guys who can provide a good test for the big man as he tries to open up holes for Seastrunk.
While Richardson is not on the level athletically that Mike Iupati was coming out of Idaho, they have a number of similarities. Both have remarkable athleticism and are simply enormous human beings but both have significant hand usage issues to improve. Richardson needs to improve how he locks on and sustains blocks while Iupati came into the NFL as a grabber who was holding on virtually every single snap. Iupati’s issues were addressed when he came into the NFL and he is one of the better guards in the NFL and Richardson could follow a similar path.
There is so much raw talent with Richardson between his size and quickness and while he does not show a ton of strength, improvement in his technique and hand use may ultimately unlock his functional strength. Combined with his athletic ability, he might be a mauler in waiting. Richardson looks like a top 75 pick coming into the season and it would not be a surprise if he ends up as a top 50 pick or even sneaks into the first round if the light goes on for him with his hands, which would make him appointment viewing as he opens up holes for Seastrunk.