Position: Offensive Guard
Height/weight: 6'5', 329 lbs.
The Cowboys probably won't make it through seven rounds without selecting one, so we'll take a look at a good candidate to don the Blue and Silver at the next level in Cyril Richardson. Linemen get a lot of attention on draft day, but haven't in this esteemed space on WFAA.com, so let's change that with some analysis of our second Baylor Bear in our 'Draft Focus' series.
Cyril Richardson was a three-year starter at Baylor, blocking for the likes of Robert Griffin III, Bryce Petty, Terrance Ganaway and Lache Seastrunk, the players that have redefined the Bears' offense as an explosive and high-flying unit. Richardson is a two-time All-American who was named a finalist for the Outland Trophy, given to the top collegiate interior lineman (offensive or defensive), and won the Jim Parker award, which recognizes the top offensive lineman at the college level.
Richardson has been labeled in the past as a second round talent, but has slipped to 'the fourth round mix,' according to Mel Kiper. While his career accolades are impressive, Richardson's college career ended on a sour note with a poor performance at the Senior Bowl against top-tier competition.
Why he's a good fit for the Cowboys
The offensive line was much improved for Dallas in 2013. While it only allowed one less sack (35) than in 2012, their sacks allowed total was seventh in the NFL, up from no. 17 the previous season. The run blocking was also better as the 'Boys averaged 4.5 yards per carry in 2013, tied for seventh-best in the league. Their 3.6 YPC in 2012 was second worst in the NFL.
But the fact remains that the Cowboys' starting guards are Mackenzy Bernadeau and Ronald Leary, without much depth behind them. The 6-foot-5, 329-pound behemoth has experience at left tackle as well, protecting RG3's blind side -- and although he will surely play guard at the next level, versatility and experience up and down the line is a plus. Bleacher Report writes that Richardson 'lacks a true 60-minute motor.' But even if Richardson stepped in to be the third guard in a rotation for Dallas, he could be a valuable addition.
His ability to drive into defensive linemen and re-establish the line of scrimmage is impressive, as you can see here where he clears running lanes for Seastrunk and dominates a drive.
While he ran a slow 40-yard dash at the scouting combine (5.36 seconds), he was more than a tenth of a second faster at his Pro Day. Even still, his straight line speed may not impress, but he shows an undeniable ability to get to the next level and free up room for the running back, and his 34 ⅜ inch arm length gives him the ability to create space. DeMarco Murray could be a beneficiary of an acquisition of Richardson.
Richardson was named one of the top five most physical players in all of college football by NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah. Jeremiah had this to say about the Baylor grad:
'Richardson plays a very physical brand of football in a Baylor offense that is often identified as a 'finesse' system. He weighs more than 340 pounds and uses that size and power to maul defenders in the run game. He has unbelievably strong hands to torque and turn defenders at the point of attack. He also does a nice job of running his feet after his initial contact, which allows him to create a lot of movement at the line of scrimmage. He has a very firm, powerful base in pass protection.'
He has mammoth size - he would be the biggest of the Cowboys' offensive guards - and doesn't let that advantage go to waste with his style of play.
While his Baylor Athletics page listed him at 340 lbs., Richardson weighed in at 329 at the combine, which could show a commitment to slimming down and becoming more athletic at the next level.
Lastly, if Richardson's aggressive play doesn't show his toughness, maybe his personal story would. He moved to Fort Worth in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It could be a stretch, but someone with a history of overcoming adversity and making life adjustments is one that I would go to battle with, especially in a transition to a new level of football.
Richardson could fall to the third or fourth round, which would be ideal for a team like Dallas. As previously stated, I don't see a scenario in which the Cowboys make their 11 selections in the draft without taking an O-lineman; it's just a matter of where they decide to take one. Cyril Richardson could make a nice addition to the line - possibly not as a four-down player right away, but one that could make waves in the run game and bolster the offensive guard position.