One of the 2018 NFL Draft’s most intriguing offensive linemen leaves North Carolina State with two strikes against his name.
Will Richardson promises there will not be a third.
Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio with co-host Bill Polian and me, Richardson publicly admitted for the first time that his two-game suspension to start the 2017 season was marijuana-related.
“A lot of (NFL) coaches and scouts, they already know about it,” Richardson said last week.
The punishment came two years after Richardson was arrested on a DUI charge midway through his redshirt freshman season while 19 years old. Both situations will serve as red flags for NFL teams during the evaluation process. They also have given Richardson the wake-up call he said was needed to get his off-field life in order.
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Richardson credits Dave Doeren for the advice the Wolfpack coach provided after being told about the 2017 suspension. Doeren’s words helped lay the groundwork for the stellar Richardson season that followed.
“He said, ‘There’s two ways you can take it. Let it ruin the rest of your college career or you can take this and overcome it at the end,'” Richardson said. “I definitely went the (latter) route.”
Proof came in Richardson’s performance during N.C. State’s final 11 games.
Richardson was credited with not allowing a sack or quarterback pressure while starting at right tackle for what proved the ACC’s best pass-blocking line. Richardson also helped pave the way for running back Nyheim Hines to rush for 1,113 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Richardson’s play and upside could help him get selected as early as Day 2 of April’s draft.
Richardson said his 2017 showing reflected the “mad approach” he took toward his summer workouts knowing he would be forced to miss N.C. State’s opening contests against South Carolina and Marshall.
“I wasn’t mad at anyone else but myself,” Richardson admits. “I took my anger out in the weight room, on the field training and on all the things that would do nothing but make me ready for the season.”
Richardson has carried over that determination to his training for the NFL Combine, which will be held later this month in Indianapolis. The 6-6 Richardson said he is currently weighing 306, which is down 22 pounds from his 2017 playing weight.
“I’m really a lot leaner so I’ve gotten a lot faster,” said Richardson, who is aiming to run the 40-yard dash in 5.0 seconds at the Combine. “I have to give props to APEC training facility down here in Fort Worth for doing that.”
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Richardson will be receiving kudos if his prior issues are indeed a thing of the past. Being unable to play during the season-opening loss to the Gamecocks is what cemented Richardson’s resolve to never let down his teammates — or himself — again.
“It made me more mature for sure and it definitely has made me a better man to this day,” Richardson said. “I can say that I went through something and I came out at the end being successful.”
Whether NFL teams feel that success can continue will go a long way toward determining when and where Richardson ultimately gets drafted.
Alex Marvez can be heard from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET Monday through Thursday on SiriusXM NFL Radio.