The Baylor offense functions largely on being able to run power up the middle with track speed on the outside at the wide receiver position. The biggest, most athletically gifted lineman the Bears have is their left guard, Cyril Richardson. Richardson is simply enormous and while he has been a good run blocker, he is actually more polished and effective as a pass blocker.
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 Baylor’s running game on power. In many ways, Richardson goes against type as despite his size, he is remarkably athletic but he is not really a power player. It has improved but he is still not really an overwhelming force in the middle of Baylor’s line. If he can improve his hand usage and technique with how he locks onto opponents with a rising blow, 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 in the postseason process and may well end up in the top 50 with a small change to end up in the first round.
Vitals & Build
Richardson is listed at 6’5” 340lbs 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 340lbs 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 improve the angles he takes to make sure he has a good line to his target, whether it be on a pull for belly or power or if he is going to the second level.. 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.
He is still a little raw when it comes to blocking opponents in space, hitting moving targets and taking the right angles when he pulls. This is an area that should be fixed with time and reps as he certainly has the athleticism to do the job, but still misses or hits opponents from bad angles too often at this point.
Richardson is not a guy who is going to get called for holding, the reason is because he blocks inside on opponents. Last year, Richardson would not latch onto opponents and lose the block but he has improved and is still not getting called for holds throughout the play. His hand use is getting better.
Richardson needs to continue to work on lowering his pad level as a run blocker and getting more out of his raw strength. When he plays high, he is not able to access as much of his power and while he can certainly control the opponent, he does not show off the overwhelming power that many might expect.
Richardson’s ballast and footwork makes him extremely well suited to be a pass protector, especially when he is working in a phone booth. In addition, he has gotten significantly better in space this year. He slides in protection naturally and is able to shut down the hole between the tackle and center.
Richardson has a great anchor and is virtually impossible to move, so he takes on power with little or no effort. His wide base and feet make it relatively easy for him to handle speed as well and has really become a shutdown pass blocker as long as he sees the opponent.
The one area where Richardson is still hit or miss is when it comes to certain blitz looks. He needs to do a better job of keeping his head on a swivel and recognizing stunts and blitz packages that do not attack his gap initially. He has been caught napping a few times in these situations because he simply did not see the opponent coming.
Richardson shows a good punch and is not afraid to use it more than once. He has gotten much better in terms of his ability to control opponents and shut them down from the play. The times where opponents are able to slide off of his blocks are only happening a fraction of the time compared to last year, especially when it comes to pass protection.
The area Richardson needs to improve is how he adjusts his pad level in the running game. He tends to fire out too high and relies on being able to bully opponents too often. If he can fire out lower, he will have more power at his disposal and be a more powerful force. In short yardage and goal line situations, he shows he can do this but they are usually situations where he is lunging and able to fall down as he overextends. If he can get more flexible and become a more natural knee bender, he could make far better use of his brute strength.
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 givesLache 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. He has the potential to be an extremely powerful force at guard and while he still has some developing and refining to do, he can play left guard. It would not be a surprise if a team started him at right guard and moved him across as they feel he is comfortable. Richardson could be an outstanding right guard but that athletic upside makes him an extremely intriguing option to teams that want to make a potent running attack with the option to pull and play power football to the right.
It is also possible that Richardson could end up being looked as a right tackle. Because of his natural athleticism and quickness, he appears to have the ability to play the strong side tackle spot and protect the edge. It is not terribly likely but it would not be a huge surprise if he is at least considered at that spot.
While Richardson is not quite on the same level athletically that Mike Iupati was coming out of Idaho, he is not too far off and 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 refine his blocking angles and his pad level 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’s issues should be terribly difficult to adjust.
There is so much raw talent with Richardson between his size and quickness and while he does not show a ton of strength, he appears to possess it and could take better advantage of it with better leverage. He also needs to improve his blocking angles. Combined with his athletic ability, he might be a mauler in waiting. Richardson looks like a top 75 pick but the postseason process could elevate him to the top 50 with a small chance he could end up in the first round with an offensive line hungry league.
Some of the film used for this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com