Sheldon Richardson capped off a stellar rookie season on Saturday night when he was announced as the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. The outspoken young star had famously been quoted as saying that he would probably be the number one pick if the draft were redone. The voters have spoken and it looks like they agree that he was a steal at the 13th overall pick.
Richardson was one of the mainstays in a tough Jets run defense. They were third in the league in 2013, routinely shutting down opponents' ground games. On the season Richardson logged 77 total tackles, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
Prior to the awards being handed out, Richardson had said that in his own mind he was the defensive rookie of the year. Hardly surprising considering the immense confidence that the defensive lineman has in himself. Given his performance it is difficult to fault him as he consistently backed up his brash words with dominating play.
Surprisingly, after winning the award Richardson pointed to others for helping him to achieve his high level of success. "With Rex, just knowing how to put us in position to make plays and letting me be me, not putting shackles on my talent," said Richardson praising head coach Rex Ryan. He also had good things to say about his defensive line coach Karl Dunbar.
Richardson was the first Jet to win the defensive rookie of the year award since Jonathan Vilma in 2005. The honor came in the midst of a minor controversy as Warren Sapp responded angrily to comparisons between himself and Richardson. Sapp was critical of the young lineman's outspoken demeanor and also his being a run stopper in what is now a passing league. When asked about these comments, Richardson responded, "I have no idea (what Sapp thinks), I really don't care at the moment."
The Jets future looks bright with the young talent that they have accumulated. Richardson and his teammates will look to build on their success and make a run for a playoff spot next year. Although not all of the Jets draft picks played to the level that the team might have hoped they have a great deal of potential giving management cause for optimism.