Continuing the trend of surrounding EJ Manuel with as much talent as possible, the Bills grabbed G Cyril Richardson with their fifth round pick of the 2014 draft.
The 6-5, 330-pounder was the 2013 Jim Parker Award winner as college football's top offensive lineman, as well as being a two-time Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year. He was the best offensive lineman on a Baylor offense that broke records in 2013, leading the country in scoring with 52.4 points per game and total offense at 618.2 yards per game.
"He's a big mauler type guard who can gain movement. We just love his power and strength," said Director of Player Personnel Jim Monos.
Although clearly known for his run blocking skills on the interior of the offensive line, Richardson also has experience at left tackle and pass protection. Richardson did not give up a sack in 2013 and led the Bears with 83 knockdown blocks.
Richardson will immediately compete for a starting guard spot in 2014, joining Kraig Urbik, Eric Wood and Chris Williams in the middle of the offensive line.
"We don't draft guys to be backups; we want guys to compete and challenge to start," said Monos. "If he comes in and picks things up he has the ability [to start]."
Richardson has experience paving the road on the ground, leading Baylor to 5.37 yards per rush and 47 touchdowns in 2013. Fellow 2014 draftee Lache Seastrunk had to back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at Baylor running behind Richardson.
Clearly, the Bills are focusing on drafting powerful blockers in the run game who can lead CJ Spiller and the newly acquired Bryce Brown to daylight.
"He fits what we're looking for in terms of size and strength," Monos said. "Guys like him play in the NFL and start."
With so much production in college, some may wonder why he slipped until the fifth round. One of the knocks on Richardson's play was his foot quickness. He's worked over the past year to keep his weight in check to improve in that area.
"I'm pretty dedicated to my work out plan and my diet," said Richardson, who was listed at 330 at the NFL combine. "I don't feel like it's a really big challenge right now. I've proven to myself that I can do this and I've proven to everyone else that I can. It shows in my results. I want to get a little lower, maybe 325 and just settle right there. I think that's a great weight to be at, to compete fast and to the best of my ability."
Richardson started 42 of his 51 games at Baylor, where he played in a no-huddle up-tempo offense.
"This was another guy that we really liked the whole year," Monos said.
Earlier in the draft process, Richardson was seen by many as a second- or even late-first round pick. He seemed to struggle against some other top competition at the Senior Bowl in February, and it may have scared some teams off. But the Bills were confident in what they saw on his film at Baylor.
"I think what happened a little bit at the Senior Bowl, during the week he may not have had the best practices and stuff like that," said Monos. "When the game was on he came right back and played like he was capable of. Maybe the practices turned some people away, but we're not afraid of him."
The Bills have now solidified the offensive line and added young talent at the skill positions. There is no doubt Manuel will have plenty of ability surrounding him come September.
"I'm glad to be a part of this," Richardson said. "It's a great fit."