When the New York Jets traded Darrelle Revis this offseason, the main prize they got in return was the 13th overall pick in this year’s draft. They used that pick on Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson, who would move from a 4-3 tackle to a 3-4 end in the Jets’ scheme. There were some concerns that Richardson might not be a great fit in the Jets’ defense, but he has erased all doubt.
Richardson has been absolutely outstanding to start this season, and yesterday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons was his best yet. Richardson recorded 5 tackles, 1 sack and 1 pass deflection, and most of those 5 tackles involved him stuffing Atlanta’s running backs at or behind the line of scrimmage.
The Jets hit a home run with this pick, and Richardson is showing that he will be a star. He is near the top of the list for Defensive Rookie of the Year, and this nationally televised coming out party will definitely help. Richardson has a had a huge impact on one of the NFL’s highest ranked defenses, and his play is a big reason the Jets are a surprising 3-2.
Richardson’s main competitors for the award at this early stage are Buffalo Bills LB Kiko Alonso, Carolina Panthers DT Star Lotulelei and New Orleans Saints SS Kenny Vaccaro. Each has their merits, but Richardson has had the biggest impact on his team.
Statistically, Alonso is the clear choice, but his position makes it much easier to rack up stats than Richardson’s or Lotulelei’s, as neither’s real impact can be found in the box score. Richardson’s presence has helped turn the Jets defensive front into a dominant one, and they are tied for 5th in the NFL in sacks and rank 2nd in the league in rush yards allowed per game.
Richardson has had a huge role in this outstanding play, and his individual performances are only going to get better. Richardson is one of the best young defensive linemen in football, and he deserves to be recognized for that.