While it is likely that no Gopher will hear his name called for the first time since 2013 in the NFL Draft this weekend, several Gophers will most likely sign with NFL teams as undrafted free agents and gain rookie try-out spots in the next few weeks. We will preview the Gophers who are most likely to earn one of these spots over the next few days. First is defensive tackle Steven Richardson.
40 Yard Dash: 5.19
Bench Reps: 31
Vertical Jump: 28”
Richardson completed a four year career with the Gophers as a mainstay in the center of their defensive line. In his four year career he played in 43 games, recording 103 tackles, 29 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. In addition, he made 4 fumble recoveries and forced 5 fumbles. His best season was his junior year when he recorded 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks. His numbers decreased in 2017 due to a myriad of factors including nagging injury, constant double teams and the Gophers chance in defensive front four philosophy.
What is not up for debate is that Richardson may be pound for pound one of the strongest players the Gophers have had in recent memory. Richardson’s 31 bench press reps at the Gopher pro day would have tied him for sixth out of all the defensive linemen who got an invite to the NFL Combine. While Richardson lacks the height that you would want in a NFL defensive line prospect, which is why he will most likely go undrafted, his strength allows him to make up for some of that lack of height. But as we all know in the trenches, often the low pad wins. And Richardson wins a lot. He demands a double team which can free up another defender to make a play. He gets comparisons to Aaron Donald due to his height but is not nearly as explosive. While Richardson will not blow you away, he definitely has the potential to be a sneaky free agent signing and fight to make a roster spot as a rotational defensive tackle in the NFL. He caught the attention of at least one potential first round pick.
“He was the hardest person I blocked [in 2016],” said Iowa center James Daniels, a likely first-round pick later this month. “He’s even better this year. Because he’s short, he can do more than just bull [rush]. He can push, pull, rip. He has a lot of moves and that makes him hard to block. He’s really quick.”
Richardson will never get the benefit of the doubt due to his size, but give him a chance to work and whatever team gives Stove a chance will most likely end up very happy at their decision.
And who may those teams be? Well here is at least a potential list.
Former #Gophers DT Steven Richardson worked out recently for the hometown #Bears. The Steelers, Seahawks, 49ers, etc. have also shown interest. Richardson had many great moments in the maroon, gold, and white. pic.twitter.com/IYWNkxJkvX— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) April 19, 2018
We shall see on Saturday whether someone decides to take a chance on him in a late round, or if he will have his choice of spots after the conclusion of the draft.