Jets’ Richardson: I’d go No. 1 in NFL redraft

Updated: December 12, 2013, 2:03 PM ET


By
Matt Ehalt | Special to ESPNNewYork.com


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — If the NFL were to redo the 2013 draft, rookie defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson doesn’t believe he’d be with the New York Jets.

The way he sees it, the Jets — who took him 13th overall and also owned the ninth pick — wouldn’t even have a shot at grabbing him.

“Probably No. 1, most likely,” Richardson said of where he’d go in a redraft. “Kansas City? Yeah. I went into the draft thinking I’d be the No. 1 pick. I had a shot.”

While there was little scuttlebutt ahead of the draft in April about Richardson being a potential No. 1 pick, his play this season certainly makes him as valuable as any other rookie, and he would warrant consideration for the top pick in a draft redo. Richardson has been a stalwart on the Jets’ defensive line, and he will be one of the top candidates for the league’s defensive rookie of the year award.

Coach Rex Ryan believes Richardson deserves the honor.

“I just look at the film. Base it on production. Production’s a huge part of it,” Ryan said. “But the way he plays, he’s got that relentless motor, and for a defensive tackle being as productive as he is — it doesn’t necessarily show on the sack total (he has 3.5), but he’s got [27] hits on the quarterback — and [there’s also] the way he’s played the screen game. His tackles are probably among the league leaders for defensive linemen.

“Tape doesn’t lie.”

With the ninth pick, the Jets selected cornerback Dee Milliner, who has struggled and has been benched multiple times.

Richardson said he interviewed with the Chiefs at the combine, but Kansas City was interested in drafting an offensive tackle, and although Richardson was productive at Missouri, he had some off-field issues.


He’d likely be in play for the top pick in a redraft, however, as no rookie quarterback has shined and many of the other top picks haven’t stood out, either. Richardson has been one of the few standout rookies from the start.

One player who was talked up as a potential top pick, and has delivered thus far, is Carolina Panthers defensive lineman Star Lotulelei. Teams were wary after he had abnormal heart test results at the scouting combine (later attributed to a likely viral infection), and he slipped to No. 14. The Jets decided to go with Richardson because of his athleticism and their faith in the young interior lineman, according to Ryan.

“Both those guys are playing extremely well,” Ryan said. “For us, as much as I like the big guy, I think [Richardson] fit us better and I like the pick there of Sheldon. He’s had a tremendous year and he’s got a great future here.”

While a Richardson-Lotulelei debate can last all day, there’s no denying Richardson has been a grand slam of a pick for the Jets. He has 66 tackles (12 for losses), the most by any Jets defensive lineman.

Richardson believes the Jets made the right call in selecting him over Lotulelei.

“Most definitely. I still think I’m 13, 12 picks late if you ask me. Just playing,” he said with a laugh. “It’s all fun and games, and I’m glad he’s balling, too. Thirteen, 14 and now we’re both going for defensive rookie of the year. Can’t ask for much better than that.”

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