COLUMBIA — Sheldon Richardson swaggered around Dan Devine Pavilion on Thursday, a smile plastered on his face.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
Missouris Pro Day was finally here, and this was a day Richardson had been waiting on for a while. The big defensive tackle has long prided himself on his athleticism hes quick to state that linemen can be athletes, too which is why hed been stewing since Feb. 25, the day he ran a 5.02 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
I had to (wipe) that five off the record, Richardson said.
Richardson, it appears, did just that. After running in front of a crowd filled with family, friends, teammates and 20-plus NFL scouts, Richardson said afterward that a scout clocked him at times of 4.71 and 4.82 in the 40-yard dash, perhaps proving his Combine time was an aberration.
And afterward, Richardson who checked in at 6-feet-2, 294 pounds at the Combine seemingly could not have been in a better mood. He lingered near a fence on the field, talking to friends, before smiling and bellowing one of his oh-so-familiar lines to no one in particular.
You aint never seen 300 pounds look this good, Richardson said with a laugh.
It appears NFL teams agree, at least to some extent. Richardson is widely viewed as a first-round pick and is listed as the drafts 16th-best prospect by ESPN.com. Richardson said he has a private workout scheduled with Cleveland next week, and has drawn interest from several other teams, including the Dolphins, Raiders, Jaguars, Cowboys, Seahawks, and yes, the Chiefs.
The whole NFL wants Sheldon Richardson, said Richardson, who tied for second on the team in tackles as a junior last season with 75 and also had 10½ tackles for loss, seven quarterback hurries and four sacks.
In fact, when asked if he thought he was in play to be the No. 1 pick by Kansas City, Richardson true to form playfully insisted that he thought he should be.
Hell yeah, youve seen me play here, Richardson said. Am I good enough to be a No. 1 guy? All right then, thats what I like to hear.
And when asked if he was mainly being courted by teams that run 4-3 defenses like Missouris, Richardson insisted that he would feel comfortable as a 3-4 defensive end, adding that he didnt really play on the interior until he got to Missouri.
But while Richardson appears primed to be the latest in a long line of first-round picks from Missouri joining Ziggy Hood, Jeremy Maclin and Blaine Gabbert, of late that hasnt stopped teams from asking why he was suspended for the Syracuse game last season.
Sources told The Star that it was related to missed classes, and Missouri certainly missed his presence, as the defense struggled without him in a loss that contributed to a disappointing 5-7 season that ended with no bowl bid.
It hurt, it hurt really bad watching those guys lose, Richardson said. It hurt really bad watching the game, period.
Richardson returned for the season finale against Texas A&M, but declared for the draft almost immediately after the season.
I served the punishment, he said. Other than that, I left on good terms.
Now, with a lifelong dream of playing in the NFL about to be realized, hes focused on making the most of the opportunity. He said he will remain in Columbia until his workout with the Browns who pick sixth in the draft on Thursday, all the while training with MU strength coach Pat Ivey.
Whatever they need, Im in play on April 25, Richardson said, referring to the date of the first round of the NFL Draft. I put my film against anybody in this draft.
To reach Terez A. Paylor, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 816-234-4489. Follow him at Twitter.com/TerezPaylor.