2014 NFL Draft Scouting Report – Weston Richburg, C Colorado State

Nov 2, 2013; Fort Collins, CO, USA; Colorado State Rams offensive lineman Weston Richburg (70) against the Boise State Broncos during the first quarter at Hughes Stadium. The Broncos defeated the Rams 42-30. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado State’s Weston Richburg is one of a few extremely talented centers in the Mountain West Conference.  He has been a contributor for four years with most of his experience snapping the ball, but has played guard and tackle in his career at different points.  Richburg was penalty-free in his junior year while being an extremely effective pivot and that has carried over into his senior year.

Richburg’s combination of athleticism and power are impressive.  He demonstrates range and good hand use with a mean streak and looks to dominate opponents.  Richburg has some of the finer points to iron out as a player including getting better at hitting opponents in space and avoiding being on the ground so much.  He could contribute as a center or guard in the NFL and projects as a top 100 pick that could find himself going in the top 75 when he has a chance to showcase his skillset and passion for the game in the draft process with the possibility of starting immediately, but his long term potential is outstanding.

Vitals & Build

Richburg is listed at 6’4” 300lbs with a relatively ordinary looking build, which is misleading.  He has impressive functional strength combined with the fact he is light on his feet with speed and agility.  Richburg also appears to have good arm length combined with his long frame so he has pretty good reach.  His motor never stops and he plays through to the echo of the whistle.  Richburg still appears to have room on his frame to get stronger without losing any of the athleticism that makes him stand out as a player.

Athleticism

Richburg is an impressive athlete.  He has the speed and agility to pull, cover ground laterally and get to the second level.  There are times when he needs to work on his body control as he can get lost in space and overrun plays.

The other thing, which may be a function of the offense either now or developed from high school is how often Richburg ends up on the ground.  Too often, he ends up lunging at blocks with the full intent of landing on the ground and it makes him look less athletic; worse when he is unsuccessful.  Richburg is an impressive athlete and when he goes to the ground, he is doing his opponent a favor by taking himself out of the play.

Run Blocking

Richburg demonstrates a good punch, power and can create running room.  He brings consistent effort, plays with a mean streak and looks to dominate opponents with plenty of pancakes to his credit.  Some of that is a function of his power, but he also is able to generate momentum quickly with his first step and quickness.

He does a good job of always working his feet to cut off opponents from getting to the ball carrier, which makes it so Richburg has a lot of tools at his disposal, which can keep opponents guessing.  Richburg can win with power, technique, and positioning and has a good sense of when he can and should use them to defeat opponents.

Richburg gets good explosion with his first step as he snaps the ball, whether he is going forward or pulling.  He almost has a moving snap when he is going to pull, which in slo-mo looks like he is tipping his pitch, but it is so hard to pick up live that it actually works like a quick windup.

Richburg has the ability to land multiple blocks in a play and demonstrates a great feel for when he can go from one block to another to help a given play.  His awareness of what is going on around him and how to best attack the play is impressive.  Richburg also has the athleticism where he can get from one block to another and not look out of control.

As well as he does that, he will then have some issues when he goes to the second level and tries to make a block.  It is bizarre how well he can move and block, but then will miss second level blocks.  He can easily get there but needs to land the block and has trouble hitting the moving target, whether it is a case of just being too anxious or inexperience.  This is also part of the reason he never gets called for penalties because he cannot hold if he is using his body to take out the opponent.

This can extend to his pulls as well.  Too often, he ends up throwing himself at the opponent, which has him end up on the ground.  There are times when opponents are so far out that it might make sense but in general, it looks like he is unsure of the situation and takes that way out to make sure.

Going down the field, Richburg brings plenty of effort and is always looking for another opponent to block if he does not have one.  Occasionally, when he goes to reach block and has an opponent taking a pretty good angle to the opponent, Richburg’s punch does more harm than good.  He ends up pushing the opponent away from him and giving him a better lane.  In those situations, he should work to latch on and control the opponent.

There are occasions when Richburg’s base can get narrow and he can get caught off balance, but overall, he is a terrific run blocker in a phone booth and landing reach blocks who just needs to polish the finer points of the position, which for Richburg, comes down to adjusting to moving targets more efficiently.

Richburg has all of the ingredients to frustrate opponents.  He plays hard, uses power and looks to dominate, working hard to the end of the play.  Then he pats the opponent on the butt and goes back to the huddle.  Richburg has the ability to summon up all of this rage and violence between the whistles and seems to click off after the play, which can drive opposing players nuts, because they have a tough time getting him.  Football players are accustomed to dealing with guys who talk trash and everything else; the ones that get under their skin the most are the ones that kill them with kindness during the game.

Pass Protection

Richburg is outstanding in pass protection.  He slides extremely well, stays under control in space, can hold his ground and uses good hand placement to control opponents.  Richburg also brings that same mean streak to pass protection.  He drops and gets into his pass set quickly, is constantly surveying the area around him to find threats if he is not engaged and has a great sense of when he needs to hold his water and when he is free to help a teammate finish a play, which he often does in the form of a knockdown block.

Richburg handles speed slightly better than he does power as he is able to slide between guards pretty effortlessly.  He has quickness to get in front of opponents but he has the power where if he catches them in their flank, he can either push them into the guard or just knock them to the ground.  This also allows him to handle blitzes extremely well.  He recognizes what the defense is doing quickly and adjusts well.

When it comes to power, Richburg generally does a good job of anchoring, staying balanced and not giving up ground.  Occasionally, he will get caught with a narrow base and get knocked off balance, but these instances are few and far between.  In those instances, again, he can end up on the ground.

He does a great job of using his hands to control opponents while keeping his feet moving and being able to block without holding.  Richburg is able to block and stay under control with relative ease and looks extremely comfortable.  He has experience as a tackle in his career and it shows with how naturally he can operate.  For the most part, when he gets his hands on an opponent, it is over and he is going to win.  And when he has the opportunity, he will finish an opponent.

Technique

Richburg does a great job with his hands and controlling opponents when he latches onto them.  He demonstrates a great punch and can jolt opponents.  Occasionally, he punches when he should look to latch on and control an opponent when they have an angle to the run, but he uses his hands extremely well for the vast majority of the time.

The issue that Richburg needs to address is how often he goes to the ground.  It can be a tool for players to use when they are unsure of themselves in a situation, but for the most part, it is reserved for far less athletic players.  For someone who is as gifted athletically as Richburg, he is doing the opponent a huge favor by limiting how much of an impact he can make on a given play.

Footwork

When it comes to reaching, pulling, and his first step in the running game, Richburg does a good job.  He needs to work on his angles and aiming points when it comes to hitting opponents in space to avoid needing to throw his body at them to make the block as well as just making the blocks when he goes to the second level.  The athleticism is there and he is clearly able to do it, but he just needs to firm up those details in his game and he should with reps and coaching.

System Fit

The most natural fit initially for Richburg is as a center in a zone blocking scheme or something that will take advantage of his range and agility.  He could function in a power scheme, but might not be ideally suited to play there at least initially.  With a chance to add more strength and mass, he could become a tremendous fit in that scheme, but out of the gate, he is a tremendous asset in how well he can move.

NFL Comparison

In many ways, Richburg is similar to Alex Mack of the Cleveland Browns as a prospect.  He is not quite the plug and play prospect Mack was, but he has the potential to become that type of player.  They share a similar combination of power and athleticism, they are a similar combination with Mack just being a little more finished when he was in the draft.  The other thing they have in common is that Mack had the same issues with ending up on the ground too much when he came out of Cal.  Like Richburg, he would end up throwing himself at opponents at times and taking himself out of plays too easily given his talents.  Mack addressed the issue when he got to the NFL and eliminated it quickly.  Richburg likely will as well.

Draft Projection

Weston Richburg is an extremely talented prospect athletically, but his attitude and how hard he plays stand out on the field just as much.  He is extremely talented as a run and pass blocker and has some small details to work out like hitting targets in space more effectively and avoiding being on the ground so much, but he is still a talented center prospect.  Richburg could also contribute as a guard which should only enhance his value and he should impress in the postseason process.  He projects as a top 100 pick but he seems like a player that will end up going in the top two rounds of the NFL Draft when all is said and done between teams needing centers and the overall need of talented offensive linemen in the NFL in general.  Richburg could end up starting out of the gate but he has the potential to be a top of the line center.

Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com

Interview with Weston Richburg from March 6th

Topics: 2014 NFL Draft, Centers, Colorado State Rams Football, Weston Richburg

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