With the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft (a pick the New York Jets obtained when they let Darrelle Revis go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), the Jets selected the defensive lineman out of Missouri, Sheldon Richardson — a move that was heavily criticized and wasn’t too popular among Jets fans and analysts alike.
At Missouri, Richardson played in a 4-3 defensive scheme, so how would the lineman fit in the Jets’ 3-4 scheme? He wasn’t supposed to. But that’s where we were all wrong. In order to contribute on defense, Richardson was going to have to learn a whole new scheme and be limited on how much he could play and be effective until he understood the defense. Again, we were wrong; Richardson is an every-down player, playing a significant role in the Jets’ defense.
Coming out of college, his athleticism was no secret, and maybe that’s why the Jets were so high on the defensive tackle. He was supposed to be a project that, in time, would take over Mike DeVito‘s old position, full time. Richardson was a disruptive force in college. With the big man’s high motor, he could penetrate the gap with quick speed and strength to blow past any blocker; he showed that he was great in space, capable of moving from sideline to sideline with enough speed to make a play, which is impressive for a 6-foot-3, 295-pound guy.
Well, with Richardson’s raw talent and athleticism, the lineman has proven doubters wrong. He has made an instant impact on defense and has landed him in consideration for Rookie Defensive Player of the Year — and has given the Jets organization and its fans hope for the future. In nine games, Richardson has shown his prowess in the pass-rush with 15 quarterback hurries, three QB hits, 2.5 sacks and on run defense with one forced fumble and 41 tackles (18 stuffed runs).
Richardson’s high motor level of play, athleticism, production and consistency is more than enough reason for the lineman to be considered for Defensive Rookie of the Year. He will continue to grow and be able to be a force for the Jets’ defense for years to come.