The Baylor Bears have made a name for themselves as one of the premier offenses in football as a result of athletes like Robert Griffin III and Lache Seastrunk putting up crazy numbers. While those two guys had plenty of talent on their own, they could not have racked up those stats on their talent alone – they needed help on the offensive line.
One of the big fellas up front that paved the way for the Bears’ explosive attack was Cyril Richardson, who will be suiting up for the Bills next season. At 6-foot-5 and 348 pounds, the guy is a load and can mix it up with the best of him in the NFL.
Richardson did not just make it to the big leagues on size alone; he has a laundry list of awards and nominations from his days in Waco. He won the Jim Parker Award (an award given to who is deemed the top offensive lineman by the Touchdown Club of Columbus) and was a finalist for the Outland trophy in 2013. Also in 2013, Richardson took home the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year award and was a unanimous All-American selection.
So why did he fall to the fifth round you may ask? Well, what scouts pick Richardson apart for the most is his size. While his girth can play to his advantage, a lot of it is sheer bulk instead of muscle. Though he was able to hold his own in a fast-paced offense at Baylor, the NFL is another animal. I believe Doug Marrone, who once was the Jets’ offensive line coach from 2002-2005, can whip Richardson into shape, but it is something worth keeping an eye on.
Scouts also question his intensity and desire to compete play in and play out. Like his conditioning, I think this is also rectifiable and even if he cannot bring it every play, his talent is easily worth netting him some playing time, even in a backup role.
Despite these deficiencies, I can see Richardson competing for playing time right away in blocking for the trio of Bryce Brown, Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller.
He was a guard in college, but he is an excellent pass blocker and could shift to tackle if needed. Collin Brown, Doug Legursky and Chris Williams all struggled to make an impact at the two guard spots last season for a rushing attack that finished 28th out of 32 in rushing yards per game. Though the Buffalo Bills did not have the luxury of Bryce Brown in the backfield last season, finishing that far down in rushing is a testament to a weak offensive line.
I think Richardson is the guy to help shore up this issue. More household names like Cyrus Kouandjio and Seantrel Henderson may grab more of the spotlight, but I think Richardson could make a name for himself when its all said and done.