The talent at the tackle position in this year’s crop is by far the deepest it’s been in years, and that theme continues with Tennessee’s Antonio Richardson.
The 6-foot-6, 330-pound Richardson is arguably the most athletic prospect among the young tackles in this year’s class, and while his on-field performance may not stack up as high as that of Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson, Richardson’s ceiling may be the highest.
Richardson boasts a powerful lower body and a long reach. His physicality is obvious when he absorbs pass-rushers, as his size and strength are usually too much to overcome.
While Richardson’s physical traits will be enticing to NFL clubs, it should be noted the 21-year-old is still a bit of a developmental player. As his college tape would prove, there are still some holes in his game and he’ll have to do some technical work before he can be a full-fledge left tackle on the professional level.
Richardson is ranked the 53rd-best player in the draft, according to CBS Sports, and fits in as the No. 7-rated offensive tackle. He, like every other tackle in the class not named Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson, all fit into that second tier of prospects, though many should come off the board in the first and second rounds.
No team is in more dire need of help at tackle than the Miami Dolphins, who will all but certainly take the best available prospect their turn in the first round. The Fins have been linked a lot to Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio, which is a better fit given that the he may be ready to contribute as a rookie.
The New Orleans Saints have been connected to Richardson, largely because the team has a need at tackle but can afford to wait for him to develop. Richardson should be available when the Saints pick at No. 27, and the former Vols standout could be Drew Brees’ blindside-protector for years to come.
Should Richardson slip into the second round, he could be a fit for the Houston Texans. Bill O’Brien will want to protect whoever is under center next season, and Richardson and that quarterback could be the cornerstone of the Texans offense for years to come. Richardson also makes sense for the St. Louis Rams, who signed former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long to a deal last offseason and could sure up the other side with Richardson this year.