NFL New York Jets

5 Reasons Why Sheldon Richardson Deserved The 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year

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5 Reasons Why Sheldon Richardson Deserved Rookie of the Year

New York Jets
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award is one of the more revered honors among the NFL ranks. These first-year defenders not only have to adapt to different schemes and in some cases different positions in their first season, but they also are responsible for slowing down the game's best offensive players with the rulebooks clearly against them. For most players, they struggle early on with the rookie wall as these factors take a toll almost immediately. For a select few, these rookies can handle the pressure they're assigned while being key difference makers for their respective teams.

Despite the lackluster season that the New York Jets put together, rookie defensive linemen Sheldon Richardson from Missouri was one of the main reasons why the Jets were able to post a respectable 8-8 campaign in 2013 despite an anemic offense. Richardson's contributions this year made him the overwhelming and deserved choice as 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Richardson was the standout of a very deep defensive talent pool. With fellow rookies Kiko Alonso, Kenny Vaccaro and Tyrann Mathieu also producing solid first-year campaigns, Richardson stood apart as not just one of the best rookies on his team but one of the best players on his team period.

Alonso would've been the closest competitor to Richardson for this award, but it wouldn't have been very close. Richardson becomes the fourth Defensive Rookie of the Year in franchise history, joining Erik McMillan, Jonathan Vilma, and Hugh Douglas.

Even though Alonso, Vacarro and Mathieu each had solid cases as Defensive Rookie of the Year, here are five reasons why Sheldon Richardson without question deserved the award.

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5. Solidified A Dominant Run Defense

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Richardson joined a defensive front already field with talent in Damon Harrison and Muhammad Wilkerson. Richardson helped the Jets rank third in rushing yards allowed with only 88.6 per game.

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4. Effective in Both Phases of the Defensive Line

All Around
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While Richardson only had three and a half sacks, it is not easy to get sacks as a defensive lineman in a 3-4 scheme.

Richardson had 77 tackles, which was third among all defensive linemen in the league, proving that the position is more than just accumulating sacks and pressuring the quarterback.

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3. Contributed on Both Sides of the Ball

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Richardson was a presence on goal-line offense, scoring two rushing touchdowns on only four carries. He was crucial for a struggling offense and inconsistent running game.

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2. Became the Jets' Best Defender in 2013

Best Player
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

In an already loaded defensive unit that has players in Quentin Coples, David Harris and Wilkerson, Richardson turned this unit from good to great in only his first year.

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1. Proved He Was the Best Player of the 2013 Class

Best Player
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Richardson was a steal for the Jets at No. 13 overall and made all 11 teams in front of him wish they changed their minds.

The defensive end is only going to get better, and he will exceed his numbers from 2013 in 2014.