The New York Giants need to continue to add to their offensive line, that much is plain to see. Not only do they need to find a starter or two for the interior, but they could also do with adding depth to their line as well.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Giants take a lineman high in the draft, nor would it be a surprise to see them circle back and take a player who can be a depth piece or developmental player.
North Carolina offensive tackle Asim Richards has some tools that could catch a team’s eye. And the Giants might have more insight on him than most after drafting two of his linemates a year ago.
Prospect: Asim Richards (72)
Games Watched: vs. Notre Dame (2022), vs. Miami (2022), vs. Wake Forest (2022), vs. Clemson (2022)
Weight: 307 pounds
Arm length: 34⅛ inches
Hand size: 10 inches
Games Played: 42 (12 in 2022)
Best: Arm length, play strength, initial quickness, leverage
Worst: Foot speed, hand technique, athleticism
Projection: A utility lineman with potential positional versatility
(Richards is UNC LT number 72)
Richards has good length, natural leverage, and play strength for the position at the NFL level.
Richards primarily aligned at the left tackle position for the North Carolina offense. And while he is a bit short for the position by NFL standards, he makes up for it with 34-inch arms. With those relatively long arms, Richards’ height could be restated as “natural leverage”. He has a fluid lower body and is a natural knee bender with the ability to maintain good hip and pad level early in the rep. Richards has smooth footwork and is able to get in position without compromising his balance or leverage.
Richards has very good play strength which allows him to match up well with bull rushers. His strength also allows him to recover and stay engaged with defenders. He also flashes good initial quickness off of the snap, allowing him to deal with speed off of the edge.
He is also a capable run blocker with the ability to contribute to both man-gap and zone runs. He’s athletic enough to get and stay ahead of the play as a puller, or stay in phase in zone blocking schemes. Richards is able to generate movement off of the snap when he maintains leverage, and flashes a nasty streak.
Richards struggles with his hand usage, creating several problems for himself. He has a bad habit of carrying his hands low and is late to bring his hands to bear. That tends to expose his chest plate and open him up to power rushers getting under his pads. It can also force his hands to land outside of defenders’ framework.
And while he has solid initial quickness and smooth footwork, Richards lacks good foot speed and range. He struggles when he needs to expand the pocket and is vulnerable to speed rushers off the edge. Likewise, he struggles badly against schemed pressures that force him to redirect (either inside or outside). His issues with hand usage are compounded against speed, as it allows defenders to easily transfer speed into power.
Overall Grade: 6.2
Richards likely projects as a depth piece and utility lineman at the NFL level.
He has good natural leverage, long arms, and smooth footwork, all of which NFL coaches can work with. He has the tools that should make coaches comfortable with him as a depth piece. Richards ceiling might be highest transitioning to the interior, where his issues with foot speed and range would be limited. That said, his hand usage would remain a significant issue on the inside, and he will need to make a concerted effort to improve that at the NFL level.
While his play strength and competitive toughness did help him recover and stalemate rushers when initially beaten, Richards struggled badly against athletic or technically sound rushers. He might have the potential to grow into a starting lineman with work, but even dependable and versatile depth is necessary for NFL teams to have.