Sheldon Richardson, defensive end for the New York Jets, has won the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.
Richardson finished the season with 77 combined tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 12 tackles for a loss. Sheldon Richardson emerged as one of the top run stoppers in the entire NFL, and helped lead the Jets to becoming the 3rd best run defense in the league.
However, Richardson’s success didn’t just consist of defensive contributions. Richardson was occasionally used as a running back for the Jets on the goal line, and he even compiled 2 rushing touchdowns this season.
Sheldon Richardson beat out Buffalo Bills LB Kiko Alonso for the Rookie of the Year honors, who finished in second place. Fortunately, Richardson’s incredible season was recognized by the voters. If it were not for Richardson’s contributions to the team, the Jets may have been even worse off than they are now.
When Richardson was drafted 13th overall in last year’s draft, many skeptics and critics questioned this decision. Although there was no doubt that the Missouri product had talent, people questioned how Richardson would fit in with the 3-4 defense. Also, it had to be pointed out that the Richardson selection marked the third year in a row that the New York Jets drafted a defensive end in the first round of the draft.
After moving Quinton Coples from DE to OLB, Richardson was essentially in the position to start at defensive end alongside former first round draft pick Muhammad Wilkerson, who was recently selected to the NFL’s All-Pro team. Together, Wilkerson and Richardson dominated the league, invoking fear and terror in most opposing quarterbacks, running backs, and especially offensive lines. Richardson cast away his fears of being a disappointment and excelled this season at the professional level.
[I] wasn’t a bust. That’s the only thing I tried to do is not be a bust and live up to my first round [draft selection].”
Sheldon Richardson finished the voting with 23 out of 50 votes, while runner-up Kiko Alonso finished with 19 votes. Richardson also joins Jonathon Vilma, Hugh Douglas, and Erik McMillan as the only New York Jets to ever win this award.
After earning this well-deserved recognition, one can only expect great things for Sheldon Richardson in the future.