The 6-6, 327-pound offensive line prospect is ranked as the No. 6 offensive tackle for the upcoming class and the No. 38 prospect overall by NFLDraftScout.com. Richardson started all 24 games the past two seasons at left tackle.
“As much as I have enjoyed my time at Tennessee, I have long dreamed of playing in the NFL and taking care of my family,” Richardson said in a statement. “After careful consideration, I have decided to forego my senior year and enter the 2014 NFL Draft.”
Richardson, who said he feels “ready for the next level,” is a projected top-50 prospect for May's NFL Draft. He flashes first round ability with his natural size and skills, but inconsistencies could push him to the draft's second day.
The Nashville native passes the eye test with a naturally wide base, broad shoulders, vines for arms and a wingspan to engulf defenders. Richardson sets up effortlessly off the snap with a terrific kickslide and shuffle to mirror rushers, showing natural bend and flexible joints. He looks comfortable in space and at the second level, displaying enough athleticism to get outside and bury defenders on the perimeter.
While Richardson has impressive natural tools, he is far from a polished player and needs to refine his game in several areas before he's ready for NFL success. He has a bad habit of overextending due to his aggressive, uncontrolled nature and needs time and pro coaching to help develop his discipline and patience. Richardson needs to do a better job locking on and driving his man out of the play as he is too often content hand fighting and simply getting in the way. Overall, timing, angles and hand use aren't strengths right now for the big tackle.
While the potential is exciting, Richardson has several question marks as he makes the jump to the next level. But nonetheless, he has the qualities that cannot be taught and the Tennessee coaches speak highly of him and the way he carries himself on and off the field. If Richardson isn't a first round pick in May, he shouldn't last too much longer.