To this point, the offensive tackles who have received the most buzz among players eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft have been Texas A&M‘s Jake Matthews, Alabama‘s Cyrus Kouandjio, and Michigan‘s Taylor Lewan. Though all three of those players have the potential to be very good NFL players, Tennessee‘s Antonio “Tiny” Richardson is a very consistent tackle who is just as skilled. Purely due to his lack of experience, Richardson may stay behind those players throughout the scouting process, but there really is no reason that he can’t pass them up if he continues to perform like he has so far in his career. Richardson is only a junior, so it’s also possible that he may stick around for his senior year at Tennessee and try to position himself as the top tackle in the 2015 Draft, just as Matthews and Lewan did following last season.
The monstrous Richardson is building quite a resume for himself through his career at Tennessee thus far. After getting himself integrated in the Vols’ offense in his true freshman season, Richardson wrestled away the starting left tackle job from Dallas Thomas, a very highly-regarded prospect, before last season. Thomas ended up being the Miami Dolphins‘ third-rounder in this spring’s draft, so logically Richardson should have a very good case for being picked in the first two rounds.
He’s done a great job of building his case on the field, too. When he went up against South Carolina‘s Jadeveon Clowney, he did a very good job of shutting him down for most of the game, with his only real issues coming when he let Clowney go early on run plays. Unfortunately, Richardson seemed to wear down late in the fourth quarter and allowed Clowney to get into the backfield twice in the span of three plays.
For the most part, though, Richardson does a great job of keeping defenders away from the quarterback, and he has the potential to be a very good NFL lineman, whether it be from the left or right side. Richardson has played on the left side with the Volunteers, but his tall, heavy build makes him look more like a right tackle.
If Richardson declares for the draft after this season, he may encounter difficulty getting picked in the first round due to the other highly-regarded tackles in the draft, along with the fact that five teams just took tackles in this past draft’s first round. He is talented enough to be a first-rounder, though, and wherever he ends up, he should have the opportunity to be an impact starter early on.
- Extremely physical, his strength is very evident in his play
- Doesn’t let guys get around him on pass blocks
- Good footwork
- Effective as both a pass and run blocker
- Legitimately loves football and is a student of the game
- Seems to wear down on long drives; it wouldn’t hurt him to improve his conditioning
- Speed getting to second level is questionable
- Fails to square up at times when blocking at second level
Richardson and the Volunteers are preparing to open up a difficult SEC schedule on Saturday when they face Florida. Playing in such a talented conference gives Richardson an opportunity to be tested on a weekly basis, but his biggest challenge will come on October 19, when the Volunteers host South Carolina and Richardson will once again get to face Clowney. If he can once again handle the player who is widely expected to be the draft’s top pick, it should do some good things for Richardson’s draft value.
2014 Draft Projection: 2nd round
Film Watched: vs. Georgia (2012), vs. Florida (2012), vs. South Carolina (2012), vs. Alabama (2012)