We continue our evaluation of the Kansas City Chiefs roster by taking a look at RT Barry Richardson.
Richardson is a bit of a curios case. He was a sixth round draft pick but has shown some nice flashes of potential at times. The Chiefs actually released Richardson at one point, then brought him back and later, made him their starting RT.
A lot of credit was given to the Kansas City offensive line for the team’s success this season. Matt Cassel wasn’t sacked very much at all until the end of the year and KC’s running game was the very best in the league.
The problem with evaluating an offensive line is that you can often find yourself in a chicken and egg argument. Are the QB and RB doing well because of the offensive line or are the QB and RB making the offensive line look good?
In 2009, a lot of Matt Cassel’s shortcomings were blamed on the lack of a quality RB and a poor offensive line. In 2010, the Chiefs added Casey Weigmann and Ryan Lilja and Cassel suddenly stopped getting sacked and the Chiefs had a running game.
So it was because of the improvements on the line, right?
Not so fast. I think, like anything else, the improvement of the KC offense this season happened because of a mix of things. The additions of Weigmann and Lilja certainly helped but Matt Cassel was also working on dropping back faster, getting rid of the ball faster and avoiding sacks. The line got a little better but Cassel got a lot better and that certainly helped matters.
Then you have Jamaal Charles who could make an offensive line consisting of 4th graders look like Pro Bowlers. Remember, Larry Johnson, a poor running back, couldn’t get squat behind the 2009 offensive line but Jamaal Charles could. It wasn’t the line that improved in the second half of ’09, it was the running back.
Lastly, the Chiefs were in the second year of running a zone blocking scheme and the extra practice obviously helped them. Mike Shannahan successfully plugged crappy offensive lineman into his zone blocking scheme for years and made them look good. That isn’t to say that all of KC’s linemen are crappy because the Chiefs use a zone scheme. A zone scheme does favor athleticism over strength. Casey Weigmann, for instance, could probably only play in a zone blocking scheme at this point, given his age. He knows the scheme well and is still athletic enough to be useful in this system.
The problem is that the KC line is small and lacks strength. This might explain why they often passed and ran toss plays when they were in 3rd and short situations. It may have angered some fans but in some cases, especially when going up against big and physical defensive lines, the Chiefs coaches may have felt their best way to convert was to play to their scheme. I’m not saying they were always right, just pointing out there may have been a method to the madness.
So where does Barry Richardson fit in? Is this a guy the Chiefs should keep as a starter and continue to try to develop or is a nothing more than a solid backup who needs to be replaced?
We are going to try to find out. Let’s take a look at how Richardson really played this year and as always, we’ll be using Pro Football Focus and their grading system to evaluate Richardson’s play. Read this if you have questions about how PFF evaluates and grades players.
Run Blocking: +4.4
Pass Blocking: -13.8
Sacks given up: 5
QB hits: 8
QB pressures: 32
I am labeling Richardson as an ascending backup, meaning he needs to be replaced at some point. Richardson has been around for a while now and while I think he is improving I don’t feel confident he will improve enough to be a full time starter for the long haul.
These numbers are not encouraging for Richardson. Yes he excelled in his run blocking and that is great and all but his pass blocking was horrid. 32 pressures is just too many, especially for a team that ran the ball so much.
Richardson could still develop but the Chiefs can probably get themselves a RT that can run block well in the zone scheme and also be able to stand in and protect Matt Cassel when needed.
RT is often not given enough credit as an important position. LT gets all the glory because it protects the QB’s blind side but RT can be equally as important. The Chiefs often lined Tamba Hali up against the opposing team’s RT, particularly when the Chiefs were going up against a team with a top LT.*
*I’m not sure how many teams implement this strategy but is a painfully obvious move to make and it is pretty brilliant to boot. Why have Tamba go up against Joe Thomas all day when you can just move him over to Vrabe’s position (not like Vrabel was doing anything with it) and have him go up against the weaker blocker.
Richardson is big at 6-6, 319 but that isn’t helping him in the pass blocking department.
If I am the Chiefs I would seriously look at upgrading this position there is a guy available and that guy might be Anthony Castonzo out of Boston College.
Scott Pioli was seen talking with Castonzo at the Senior Bowl this week. Castonzo weighed in at 305 pounds and is apparently sported the best build of all of the tackles at the weigh in. By impressive build, I mean this kid has a six pack.
Castonzo also had the biggest reach of all the tackles, coming in at 35.5″ arms and 11″ hands.
Sounds kind of perfect for the Chiefs blocking scheme doesn’t he? Fast, athletic, big reach. Can you imagine having a guy like that running in front of Charles to help spring him on the edge?
Castonzo is currently projected as a mid/late first round or early second round pick.
If the Chiefs are looking to draft a tackle, Castonzo could be their guy.
What do you think Addicts? Is Barry Richardson the future at RT or the future backup at RT? What do you think about this Castonzo guy. Please keep in mind that if the Chiefs do draft Castonzo, we will have a treasure chest of Seinfeld related George Costanza available to us for years to come.
Chiefs Roster Evaluation: