Eric Weeks, TheJetsBlog.comIf the Jets’ selection of Dee Milliner at #9 left some fans surprised, then what they would do at #13 would leave many in shock.
With guys such as Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper off the boards, the general train of thought drifted toward possibilities that included Star Lotulelei, Shariff Floyd, Tyler Eifert, Jarvis Jones and Cordarrelle Patterson. While the Jets would go defensive line, it was not the player everyone expected… or had heard of much for that matter. As general manager John Idzik would reveal, Sheldon Richardson, along with Milliner, had been one of their top four prospects on their draft board. Despite a report from Jason La Canfora that the Jets had tried to trade down, they decided to take Richardson 13th overall.
So, Who Exactly Is He?
Weight: 294 pounds
225-pound Bench: 30 reps
40-yard dash: 5.02
20-yard shuttle: N/A
Birthday: c. 1991
Much like Milliner, football has been a dominant part of Richardson’s life. He was named the #1 defensive tackle by Rivals.com coming out of high school, and was ranked 4th overall in the nation. Richardson attended the two year College of the Sequoias in California, where he continued to develop his abilities and was considered one of the best junior college prospects, despite a wrist injury that hampered his 2010 campaign. He returned home after achieving academic eligibility to play for Missouri in 2011. He only made two starts and played through the year with a shoulder injury, but earned an All-Big 12 honorable mention. Missouri’s transition to the SEC came at an opportune time for Richardson, who despite being consistently double teamed, was a dominant presence on a struggling Tigers team. He led all defensive tackles in the conference with 75 tackles. He also notched 4.5 sacks.
For his size, Richardson can change direction on a dime, he’s agile and has plenty of range. He’s able to handle double teams without much issue, he can get into the backfield in a hurry, he’s adept in zone coverage and covering receivers, he can read and react well, and he’s always hustling until the final whistle blows.
However, all of this doesn’t come without some concerns. He tends to play too high at times, which allows blockers to get under him and push him out of plays. He needs to use his hands more in terms of shedding blocks and wrapping up runners. Overall, he could stand to gain a few extra pounds of muscle.
“This is an explosive, freakish athlete at 310 pounds,” Mike Mayock said. “The Jets fans are not really excited, however, about this particular pick.”
My initial reaction to this pick last night wasn’t so much shock or anger, as it was curiosity. I’ve had a good 12 hours to come to terms with it, and while I’m still working on it, here’s what I have so far: Given that the Jets did just lose Mike DeVito and Sione Po’uha, they needed someone to come in and replace one of the two. While it’s still surprising the Jets skipped Lotulelei and Floyd, Jack Bauer, the team’s head college scout, raved about Richardson’s athleticism last night and he certainly has a high ceiling. The fact that he was able to handle markedly superior competition on a struggling Tigers team makes his resume even more impressive.
You also need to consider that the Jets struggled to defend the run last season, and the large part of that started up front with their defensive line. Granted, Richardson has his share of struggles holding up at the point of attack, but by adding some strength, you plug in another big body with the likes of Kenrick Ellis and Antonio Garay not to mention Mo and Q. I’m salivating at the possibilities. Karl Dunbar has had a successful history of building strong defensive lines, and I think we saw his work with the late season development of Coples and the dominant overall performance by Wilkerson last season.
I know an offensive player would have been preferred with the 13th pick, but Idzik isn’t going to select a player for the sake of it. And with Richardson being one of their top four players, I think the Jets made a smart pick here. They immediately beef up and already devastating defensive line, and while only time will tell, I feel we’ll be very pleased with this selection when they’re all dominating opposing quarterbacks in the very near future.