13th Overall Selection by the New York Jets
Overview: After using the 9th overall selection in the first round on Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner, New York Jets general manager John Idzik turned his attention to the 13th overall pick which he acquired in the Darrelle Revis trade from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite a roster filled with needs on both sides of the ball, the Jets went with the best player available according to their draft board and selected Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. It was an interesting move to say the least when considering the fact that the Jets spent their first round picks in both 2011 and 2012 on defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples. Richardson is one of the more explosive and disruptive defensive tackle prospects in recent years and will immediately upgrade the interior pass rush for the Jets. He will line up as a defensive end on first and second downs before lining up inside at defensive tackle when the team moves to a four man front. Richardson is one of many young players slated for a key role in the 2013 Jets defense as part of a youth movement implemented by Idzik since he took control of the roster. 2012 3rd round pick Demario Davis will take over for Bart Scott at the “will“ inside linebacker spot, 2011 3rd round pick Kenrick Ellis will step in for the departed Sione Pouha at nose tackle, Quinton Coples will move to the outside linebacker position vacated by Bryan Thomas, while Dee Milliner and 3rd year pro Jaiquawn Jarrett will replace Revis and Yeremiah Bell at cornerback and free safety. The Jets defense will be fast and physical in 2013 and as has been the case since head coach Rex Ryan took over in 2009, it will carry the team on the field.
Position Battles: Richardson is already listed atop the depth chart at first team defensive tackle and had a solid first pre-season game against Detroit with 3 solo tackles while showing the ability to penetrate throughout. Budding superstar Muhammad Wilkerson is entrenched in the starting line-up at 5-tech, leaving only veteran Antonio Garay for Richardson to hold off for the starting spot at 3-tech now with Quinton Coples shift to outside linebacker. The real intense competition will come in the sub packages, where Richardson, Wilkerson, and Coples will all compete to line up at defensive tackle when the team shifts to a 4 man front in passing situations. Coples versatility will allow him to line up inside at defensive tackle and outside at rush end which would allow all 3 successive first round picks to be on the field at the same time. Regardless of the depth chart or position battles, Sheldon Richardson was drafted to be a big part of the defense in 2013 and his play in OTA’s, training camp, and now the pre-season has done nothing to change that.
Notable Match-Ups: Sheldon Richardson will begin his career as a New York Jet at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who feature one of the NFL’s rising offenses led by quarterback Josh Freeman and running back Doug Martin. The week 2 match-up with New England will pit Richardson against Patriots All-Pro left guard Logan Mankins who will try to keep him away from quarterback Tom Brady while creating room to run for running back Stevan Ridley. The Jets may use the athletic Richardson as a “shadow” for games against dual threat quarterbacks Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker, and Buffalo Bills first round pick E.J. Manuel. Richardson will face a large contingent of the leagues top quarterbacks in 2013, joining Brady and Newton will be Pittsburgh Steelers 2 time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger, 2009 Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, the Baltimore Ravens 2012 Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco, and emerging franchise quarterbacks like Ryan Tannehill of the Dolphins and 3rd year Cincinnati Bengals starter Andy Dalton. The week 4 match-up against Tennessee will likely see Richardson face off against Titans first rounder Chance Warmack, the two first met last October in a SEC battle where Warmack and the Crimson Tide ran over Richardson’s Missouri Tigers 42-10.
2014 and Beyond
One of the biggest issues on John Idzik’s 2013 NFL season agenda will be deciding what to do with Rex Ryan as head coach. Ryan has been successful in New York for the most part but is coming off of a very disappointing 2012 and it is safe to say “the bloom is off the rose” when it comes to some of his antics with the media. Any change in the coaching ranks will have little effect on Richardson’s future as a Jet. He is a young and talented player with scheme versatility and should quickly adapt to any system potentially brought in. The NFL is evolving to a faster and more wide open game than ever before, and versatile players like Richardson who can generate pressure on the quarterback will always be held in high regard. If there is a coaching change, it will be very interesting to see which scheme they decide to go with and that decision could be influenced by where the Jets wind up drafting. Jets fans do not want to hear this, but they are one of the top contenders for the first overall selection in the 2014 draft. A pick that is universally considered to come down to Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and South Carolina defensive phenom Jadeveon Clowney. Hypothetically, a move to a 4-3 with a four man front of Clowney, Richardson, Wilkerson, and Coples could be a nightmare for the NFL offenses.