Ted Thompson's habit of drafting college left tackles to convert to other positions is well documented. This could be attributed to many things, but my favorite theories are that left tackles in college are often the best overall linemen on the team, regardless of where their best true fit on an offense line might be and that the Packers prefer the quicker feet and higher levels of athleticism found in college tackles in order to better execute their zone-blocking schemes. That being said, this is only a trend, and I suspect that Ted Thompson would jump on any line prospect regardless of what position he played in college if he saw value. One such player that could potentially break the left-tackle trend is Weston Richburg, a center from Colorado State University.
So, what's his story?
Weston Richburg started 50 consecutive games for a Colorado State team that finished 8-6 in 2013, defeating Washington State in the New Mexico bowl 48-45. Richburg has roots growing up on a farm in Bushland, Texas where fellow Ram Crickett Gillmore also grew up, attending Bushland High School. As a Senior, Richburg was voted a first team all-district offensive lineman.
Sounds promising, what are his measurables?
Weston stands at 6'3, 300lbs with 33 3/4 inch arms. Richburg ran a 5.10 forty yard dash at the combine, also putting up a solid 25 repetitions on the bench press, posting a 106 inch broad jump, a 7.93 second 3-cone drill, and a 4.63 second 20 yard shuttle.
What does the film say?
Richburg is very quick off the line and makes first contact on most plays. On pass plays, Richburg is quick into his set, keeping his base wide and hips low, moving his feet quickly to keep opposing linemen in front of him. He also possesses a decent punch to stunt the moment of opposing linemen and is very good at identifying when other linemen require assistance. Richburg plays with excellent technique against the run, firing out low and playing with good leverage. He is extremely good at getting to the second level and is equally adept at pulling on trap plays, using his explosive quickness to get out in front of plays before linebackers are able to get good angles.
That all sounds great, what's the catch?
Ah yes there's always a catch, isn't there? Despite his quick get-off and great feet, Richburg often lost at the point of attack on run plays against stronger defensive tackles. Though Richburg often made contact first and played with good leverage, he simply didn't show the necessary leg drive at times to avoid being driven a yard or two into the backfield. Additionally, although Richburg was very good at reaching the second level, he also had trouble latching onto linebackers and maintaining his blocks. There are several instances on film where a linebacker that Richburg was engaged with was able to shake him and make a play on the ball.
So, what does it all mean?
There has been some buzz surrounding Richburg that he is a potential first round pick, but I simply don't see it. Though he plays with a wonderful anchor as a pass protector and shows excellent feet and athleticism for a center, he's simply pushed around too much on run plays to be a first round pick. In this author's opinion, Richburg fits much better as a late second or early third round pick.
Bring on the highlights!
Yeah...so.....he's a center guys, he doesn't have any highlights. However, here's film of Richburg playing against Alabama. This film shows a good mix of Richburg's strength and weaknesses against top flight competition.
Weston Richburg vs Alabama (2013) (via Josh DB)