Editor’s note: It’s only early March, and we’re already in the mood for football again. So we asked a projected top 15 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, to take us inside his prep for the NFL Draft, which starts on April 25. Here’s his first post, and here are his latest thoughts…
Hey people, how are you all doing? I’m blogging from back home in Columbia, Missouri. Oh man, I’m smiling about the whole NFL pre-Draft process, from the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, to Pro Day this week at Mizzou, leading up to the Draft in late April. I’m blessed to be in this situation, enjoying the moment and chasing after my dream to play in the NFL.
There were some big guys who play offense, like 340-pounders, doing 23 reps of the 225-pound bench press. I put up 30 reps and showed I wasn’t a weak D-lineman! It was fun!
Let me back up to my intensive training program at the IMG Academy. I know I talked about it in my first column, but there are a few other things I wanted to tell you about, because I think they’re pretty cool. They used new motion capture technology by Motus Global for player testing. That’s where they attach reflective markers to you, and then film your movements. They use the technology to show a visual representation of your movements, like a cool animated stick figure of you, and it also shows the optimum way your body is supposed to look when you’re running—how your steps should be, little things to work on. They say it can help shave fractions off your 40-yard-dash time and help you jump higher and longer.
Personally, it helped me a lot, and every little bit does help, especially when you’re trying to improve your form and technique. Moving forward, they say these software tools will be able to give feedback on a player’s ongoing performance and also help prevent injury during the regular season, which is great.
As for the recent NFL Combine in Indy, I was satisfied with how I performed, overall. I tested in the top 3 in several skills for D-linemen, including the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and broad jump. Some of the real big O-linemen thought they were going to outperform me in the bench press, but they didn’t. It showed who’d been putting in their work. There were some big guys who play offense, like 340-pounders, doing 23 reps of the 225-pound bench press. I put up 30 reps and showed I wasn’t a weak D-lineman! It was fun!
The feedback I got was that I had a heck of a Combine, but my Pro Day is going to be even better because I’m focusing on the 40 and other speed drills. My fellow Mizzou guys—wide receiver T.J. Moe and linebacker Zaviar Gooden—also performed well, so we all came out feeling good.
I’ve continued to work out since I left the IMG Academy and finished the Combine. Now, I just want to keep a smart schedule, continue working out and strategically take the team interview meetings I need to take leading up to the Draft. I’m already preparing for this coming football season. The NFL pros tell you that it’s the work you do in the offseason that impacts how you perform during the regular season. They say you can get pretty banged up in the NFL, so I’m making sure I’m getting my body well-prepared.
In some of the interviews I’ve had, I’ve been asked what I bring to the table. Here’s how I answer. I feel I’m a unique player who can perform at multiple positions. A versatile guy who can be used in various ways during the course of a game, who doesn’t get tired but rather gets better as the game goes on. I refuse to leave the field of play till the job is done. I consider myself an original, genuine and unique, and I’ll stand on that. I also feel I’m an on-field leader who leads by example.
On the field, one of my strengths is recognizing plays quickly, based on the film study I’ve done on an offensive coordinator’s schemes. Then during the game, I see how they’re scheming me, recognize where I can be most disruptive and then adapt and make small changes as the game goes on. When the opposing team makes adjustments, I adjust to that, too, and make sure I’m hitting on all cylinders.
I also humbly believe I’ve got a mean football IQ, as I’ve been around the game since I was a kid and have played pretty much every position—tight end, kick returner, everything. So I look at the game from a big-picture standpoint, asking myself what I would do if I were in the shoes of that offensive lineman or tight end or running back. And even on defense, I look at it from a linebacker or safety’s perspective, because the only defensive position I haven’t played is corner (yet, ha ha).
Here are a couple of things you may not know about me. Growing up I was a huge fan of Jackie Chan and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was more of a Raph type of guy—he was named after the famous Italian painter, Raphael. Raph is serious but also carefree and loyal to his brothers and sensei. I love comedies and am a big fan of comedian Kevin Hart and his stand-up, like I’m a Grown Little Man—just too funny. As for music, while I like hip-hop, I’ve also got some Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Police on my iPod. And I’ll even go back to Motown, some R&B.
One more thing: regarding the Super Bowl halftime show, I’ve always felt that Kelly Rowland was the best-looking singer from Destiny’s Child! (Sorry, Beyoncé!)
Thanks for checking in, check back with me before the NFL Draft and follow me on Twitter @godforshort.
—As told to Ashley Jude Collie