Ex-Tigers look to forge NFL future, NFL Draft updates

With the NFL draft fast approaching, Missouri alumni Sheldon Richardson, E.J. Gaines and T.J. Moe look to make a splash. The Maneater breaks down the chances of each of the ex-Tiger prospects:

Sheldon Richardson UPDATE: Richardson jumped a spot in the draft and the Carolina Panthers missed out on their top prospect. The New York Jets selected Richardson with the 13th overall pick, their second in the first round.

Richardson is another update for New York as the Jets reshuffle their defense. With the ninth pick in the draft they selected Alabama corner Dee Milliner then traded up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to select Richardson No. 13.

The Jets shipped star corner Darrelle Revis to the Buccaneers earlier this week in exchange for pick 13.

After a momentous senior season, Richardson had equally impressive performances at the Scouting Combine and various workouts. Most scouts have him projected to go No. 14 in the first round to the Carolina Panthers.

Richardson, who averaged 6.8 tackles per game in 2012 with four sacks and three forced fumbles, could play in either a 3-4 scheme or 4-3 scheme and the Panthers are mulling a switch.

Should Carolina pass on the St. Louis native, he could drop to No. 18 and the Dallas Cowboys who could use another defensive lineman to group with DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff.

Bottom line: Richardson will hear his name called tonight — if not by Carolina, then by Dallas, if not by Dallas then in the coming selections soon thereafter. Richardson would be too big of a steal for the rest of the league to let slip away.

E. J. Gaines An agile cornerback from Independence, Mo., Gaines ranks in the middle of the pack with other defensive backs, a position that runs rather deep in this year’s draft class.

Alabama’s Dee Milliner leads this year’s class with Texas free safety Kenny Vaccaro not far behind. Gaines won’t go in the opening rounds of the draft, but might hear his name called over the weekend.

Predicting where picks might land in the third round and on is premature, considering teams often draft based on the best player available and trades abound.

Bottom line: Gaines will have an NFL career. He’s a decent tackler with a nose for the football and teams will value that. But in terms of draft stock, teams have no incentive to take defensive backs early, even Milliner will have to wait his turn, since the draft class is so deep.

T. J. Moe Missouri fans tend to believe Moe earned and deserves a spot in the NFL, but team executives might not feel the same way.

Wes Welker seemingly carved a niche for smaller receivers to fit into professional offenses, but that is a crevice inhabited by few and to call Moe Welker-esque is beyond inaccurate.

At best, Moe lines up with Dallas’ Cole Beasley, a poor man’s Danny Amendola.

Speaking of Amendola, the fifth-year receiver/kick returner out of Texas Tech darted from St. Louis to New England after Welker ditched the Patriots for a big payday in Denver.

If general managers actually do give Moe a chance, it could come in later rounds with the Rams, who could score some major PR points by giving the O’Fallon native Moe a shot at his dream close to home.

Bottom line: Missouri’s defense was consistently able to keep the Tigers in most games last season. The offense, however, was squarely unable to claw its way back to the lead against top Southeastern Conference defenses. That’s a major knock against Moe, who had 40 receptions in 2012, compared to 92 in 2010. With the odds stacked against him, Moe could very well go undrafted, then sign as a free agent and try to make a team in mini-camp.


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