The Bengals will be in he market for an offensive tackle if Anthony Collins leaves in free agency. They may draft one as high as Round 1, but one player who could have been available at pick No. 24 may be too much of a risk to draft that high now.
Antonio "Tiny" Richardson (6-foot-6, 336 pounds) started 24 consecutive games for the Tennessee Volunteers over his last two seasons, but had knee surgery after his sophomore season in 2012. He missed spring practice last year while recovering from surgery.
As a junior last year, Richardson was one of the top tackle prospects entering the season, and many had him projected to go as high as the top 15.
Unfortunately, he wasn't as effective as it appeared the knee was still affecting his play. He still entered the draft this offseason and has been projected as a first-rounder, but after his combine performance, that may not be the case any longer.
Now, there are concerns about the medical reports on Richardson, according to NFL Media analyst Charles Davis, who thinks Richardson might have to "redshirt" his rookie NFL season because of knee problems as a result of his surgery in the spring.
Bucky Brooks, a former NFL player and scout now with NFL.com, was less than impressed with Richardson’s performance at the Combine, and said "his stock is certain to tumble after a disappointing workout." Richardson ran the 40-yard dash in 5.3 seconds at the combine and his vertical jump was 24.5 inches.
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah said Saturday that Richardson's junior-year film carried the grade of a fifth-round draft pick.
Draft analyst Russ Lande, a former scout for the Browns and Rams, isn't high on Richardson either.
"If I were a betting man, I’d say he goes in the second round," Lande said. "He is a good football player, but I don’t think he is a premier guy. I just don’t think he is a top-level athlete. When I watched him on film, he’s struggled with those explosive guys off the edge.
Can he play in the NFL? There’s no question. But I don’t see him as a front-line stud guy. I see him as a good, solid starter."
"Good, solid starter" isn't what you want from an offensive lineman drafted in the first-round. You want a player who can become a star and a rock along the line. "Good, solid starter" can be had in the second-fourth rounds, where the Bengals have drafted Eric Steinbach, Andrew Whitworth, Anthony Collins and Clint Boling since Marvin Lewis became head coach of the Bengals.
In other words, if the Bengals do want an offensive tackle in the first-round, they need to feel confident the player they select can become an impact player and possibly the leader of the Cincy o-line in the future. That means Richardson shouldn't be in consideration at No. 24.