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Draft Profile: OT Richardson anything but 'Tiny'

Posted Apr 23, 2014

He's 6-foot-6 and 336 pounds, but that hasn’t stopped his teammates from giving him a nickname that has stuck with him since high school.

“When I first transferred in the 10th grade they started calling me Tiny and it kind of stayed with me,” Richardson said. “That’s kind of my trademark.”

Another thing Richardson is known for is being one of the only offensive tackles in college football the last few years to match up head-to-head with fellow NFL prospect Jadeveon Clowney and hold his own.

In their 2012 matchup when both were sophomores, Richardson neutralized Clowney for most of the game, until in the final minute. Clowney was able to get a step on Richardson and force a fumble on a sack that ultimately led to a South Carolina win.

In their much-anticipated 2013 rematch, Clowney got an edge early, especially in the run game, getting two and a half tackles for loss in the first half. But Richardson held him mostly in check in the passing game, and Tennessee exacted revenge, winning 23-21 on a last second field goal.

"Scouts and teams and GMs are looking at more than who won the matchup here and who won the matchup there. They look at the way you compete. And every time I played Clowney, me and him were competing very tough. This year, he caught me a couple of times and I caught him a couple of times," Richardson said.

Scouts have mixed opinions on Richardson. NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah has said that he has a 5th round grade on Richardson and that Tennessee teammate Ja’Wuan James is the better tackle prospect. Still, most projections do not have “Tiny” getting out of the second round, with perceived upside being the main reason for those predictions.

“It was one of those things where people were always asking, ‘Who is the better tackle? Who is the better tackle?’ And me and him would argue about who was a better tackle on a daily basis,” Richardson said about his relationship with his teammate James. “I felt like that made us better. We had three different offensive line coaches [in Richardson’s three years at UT] and we took lessons from each one and competed every day.”

That lack of cohesion in coaching staffs could have contributed to some of Richardson’s weaknesses entering this draft. For as big as he is, he is not as dominant in the run game as one would expect, usually because of technique - playing with a high pad level and bending at the waist instead of the knees. He is also susceptible to speed rushes around the edge in the passing game.

But Richardson believes that despite his flaws, he is good enough to be a top-32 pick.

"I’m a first rounder. If push comes to shove I’m still blessed. If I would fall into the second round, only two percent get to do this so it’s a blessing either way," Richardson said.

With Cordy Glenn entrenched at the LT spot, Richardson would seem like a solid pickup for the Bills in round two, provided Buffalo chooses a different position with the number nine overall pick. The Bills would be getting a guy who has high aspirations for his future in this league.

“I want my trademark to be a hard worker, a guy who comes to work every day,” Richardson said. “The goal is to be All Pro, the goal is to be in Ohio for the Hall of Fame some day, but you have to take baby steps to get there. So I’m trying to do the little things so I can become great.”