It's pretty much assumed that the Dallas Cowboys will target either the offensive or defensive front with their first round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, 18th overall. (That said, we're obligated to point out that with Jerry Jones at the helm, nothing should be taken for granted.).
In his latest mock draft, ESPN Draft guru Todd McShay has the team going defensive in the top round and grabbing Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who he believes will make an immediate impact in the newly-installed 4-3 alignment.
“Richardson fills a top need and is a perfect fit as 3-technique in the 4-3 scheme of new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin,” McShay writes, via the Dallas Morning News. “He lacks ideal size and strength, but Richardson has elite first-step quickness, change-of-direction skills and range to penetrate and disrupt plays.”
Dallas seems to have the linebackers and the corners to thrive in Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2, but indeed, the interior of the defensive front may be an area of need. For obvious reasons, Josh Brent is out of the picture, and following an injury plagued season and an arrest on suspicion of DWI, All-Pro nose tackle Jay Ratliff may well be gone in 2013 as well. Considering the need, McShay sees Richardson as an eminently viable option on the inside.
“Richardson was clearly the best player on a bad Missouri defense, and he played hard despite additional attention from offense and his team’s overall struggles,” McShay continued.” Richardson can penetrate with a quick first step and has excellent straight-line speed, good range and power as a bull rusher.”