Tyrell Richards overcomes mistakes to become likely first overall selection in 2022 CFL Draft

Photo courtesy: Charles Wainwright/Syracuse

Tyrell Richards was arguably the best player at the 2022 CFL Combine, showing why he is firmly in the mix for the first overall selection in the upcoming draft.

The six-foot-four, 232-pound defender is extremely versatile, taking reps as a defensive lineman, linebacker, defensive back, and on special teams. He also tested very well in the speed and quickness events, running a 4.60-second forty-yard dash, 7.01-second three-cone drill, and 4.25-second shuttle.

“I think I am very versatile and can run with the best and I kinda showed that. I still have my cover skills. Growing up I played safety and then went to linebacker and defensive end, so I have the reps and the skillset to play all three. I think that’s a big advantage,” said Richards in an interview with 3DownNation.

“The best thing I do is be physical. Even when it comes to coverage, get your hands on guys. In pass rush, get passed guys, get your hands on guys, get their hands off of you. I have heavy hands, so it’s just being physical.”

Team interviews are a critical component of the combine for all prospects but particularly for a player like Richards who has faced adversity in recent years. He interviewed with all nine teams and strove to show how he’s grown since making mistakes in his past, including an arrest in August 2020 for driving while impaired.

“I just explained the whole situation, what happened from morning until night that whole day and what I was doing,” said Richards. “I feel like when you go through things in life it just makes you smarter and a little bit more mature. That’s all you can do. As long as you keep on learning and don’t keep making the same mistakes then you can be pretty successful in life.”

Richards played three seasons at Syracuse and recorded 55 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, six sacks, two knockdowns, two fumble recoveries, and one interception over 23 games. He left the program under mysterious circumstances ahead of the 2021 season and declined to reveal the details of why he left the program.

“Stuff happens. Everything happens for a reason,” he said. “Things didn’t end up panning out the way I wanted them to. I just tried to move on, keep training, stay ready for all opportunities and this one came knocking. I can do this and finish my schooling in the off-season.”

The native of Brampton, Ont. was studying human development and family science but transferred to sociology midway through his tenure at Syracuse. He has one year of courses left to take and hasn’t ruled out doing so during the CFL’s next off-season.

In the meantime, it’s clear that Richards has a strong chance of being the first overall selection in the 2022 CFL Draft. Edmonton Elks’ head coach and general manager Chris Jones covets athleticism and versatility and, per sources, had dinner with Richards well before the combine even got underway.

The 2022 CFL Draft is slated for Tuesday, May 3.

John Hodge is a CFL insider and draft analyst who has been covering the league since 2014.