The New York Jets rookie minicamp began this Friday morning—getting closer to the start of the NFL season—and all eyes will be on rookie quarterback Geno Smith and, of course, there will be tons of coverage on him. Why wouldn’t there be? So while the rest of the world has Smith under the microscope—besides, EWB has already covered Dee Milliner and Geno Smith—we will take a look at the other first round pick: former Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, drafted by the Jets with the 13th overall pick.
With other spectacular defensive players on the board, it was a shock to see the Jets go with the big man, but after announcing that they would move Quinton Coples to the outside linebacker position, it sort of makes sense. The Jets are looking for Richardson to be the opening day starter, taking over Mike DeVito’s old position, which would work because he can bring more athleticism than DeVito.
The defensive tackle’s game is more than just about stats, if you’ve seen him play, you know how disruptive he can be. If you haven’t, we’ll take a look at his stats: In two FBS seasons and one in SEC, Richardson totaled 112 tackles, six sacks, four forced fumbles and four passes defended. And this he did against some top competition (read: Alabama game).
The big man can penetrate the gap with quick speed and strength to blow past any blocker. Richardson can sift through blockers, including double-teams, with his high motor. He always keeps his eyes on the ball to make plays anywhere on the field. He is also a great space defender, capable of moving from sideline to sideline with enough speed to make the play, which is impressive for a guy his size.
Richardson is agile and can back into defense on screen passes and can drop in zone blitzes. Although he played in the one-gap, 4-3 scheme in college, he has the skill and athleticism to play in the 3-4 front. Perfect for the Jets. He just needs to learn the scheme.
Sheldon Richardson has a great overall skill set and is versatile, and can be an impact player for the New York Jets.