Coming into the most recent NFL draft, the Los Angeles Chargers may not have had a bigger positional need than at defensive tackle. The team waited until the third round before selecting one, grabbing Justin Jones out of North Carolina State.
But a player who wasn’t drafted may have a chance to have just as big of an impact.
Undersized at 6’0 and 292 pounds, Steven Richardson joins the Chargers after a productive career at the University of Minnesota. That career included 103 total tackles, 12.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries while playing in 43 games for the team.
He will have his work cut out for him to make the team, as does any undrafted free agent. But he has two qualities that will work in his favor and both should catch the attention of the coaching staff.
Former #Gophers DT Steven Richardson is going to land with the Chargers, I'm told. Such a good player the last 4 years here. Will always remember the memorable run he was part of in 2014.
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) April 28, 2018
He has a non-stop motor so what he likes in size, he makes up for in effort on nearly every play. He knows how to win on a consistent basis and did well despite routinely facing double teams as his college career progressed.
In addition to that, he’s incredibly strong. He showed that off at the Minnesota pro day, putting up 31 bench press reps of 225 pounds. Only six defensive lineman invited to the scouting combine put up more.
But Richardson didn’t receive much attention heading into the draft and as a result, likely knew he’d have to take the undrafted rookie route. Now he’s landed in Los Angeles where he’ll have to find a way to beat someone out for a roster spot.
The Chargers’ current depth chart at defensive tackle includes Brandon Mebane, Corey Liuget (suspended for first four games of season), Jones, Damion Square and Bijhon Jackson.
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Despite the selection of Jones, I still wouldn’t call the defensive tackle spot deep or really even close to that. The suspension facing Liuget opens the door for other players and one of those players could be Richardson.
He has a high motor and the organization will appreciate the effort he puts forth on the field. Will that be enough to win him a spot on the roster? Probably not, at least not by itself, but seeing Richardson make the 53-man roster is not out of the realm of possibilities.
At worst, he will be a part of the team’s 10-man practice squad where he’ll have a chance to appear in some regular season games early in the season while Liuget serves his temporary ban.