Biography of a Jet: Sheldon Richardson

USA TODAY Sports

Biography of a Jet: DT Sheldon Richardson

Earlier we shared a college profile of #9 pick CB Dee Milliner with you, our dear readers. More in depth information on the Jets defensive back will be forthcoming, but first as is tradition we bring you the biography of our very newest JET, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.

Sheldon Richardson was born in St. Louis, Missouri on November 29, 1990 to parents Michael and Zelda Robinson-Richardson. Richardson spent his high school career playing at Gateway Tech High School in St.Louis, becoming a top-5 high school prospect and considered the top defensive tackle prospect by colleges when he graduated.

Richardson originally intended to stay in Missouri and play for the Tigers right away, but academic issues prevented this and Richardson went out to Visalia, California to study and play for the College of the Sequoias. Two years later he transferred back to the University of Missouri, playing one standout season that propelled him to a top NFL prospect. It wasn't so much Richardson's stat line in his junior year as it was the tapes that scouts couldn't stop gushing over.

Richardson's NFL profile describes him as 6-foot-2", 294 lbs with 34' and 1/2" arms and 10' 1/2" hands. He's given an overall draft grade of 90.7. Sheldon's combine results were as follows: 5.02 40 yard dash, 30 bench press reps, 32 inch vertical jump and 116 inch broad jump. The NFL describes his strengths as agility, quick steps, solid tackling, and impressive athleticism in general. They also make note of his weak upper-body strength, injured shoulder, and tendency to miss in open spaces. Richardson is favorably compared to Cullen Jenkins by the NFL.

Stuff people had to say about Richardson that you probably will like:

Doug Farrar

In two FBS seasons and one SEC campaign, Richardson totaled 54 solo tackles, 112 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, four passes defenses, and four forced fumbles. However, Richardson's game is about more than stats -- you have to watch him play after play to see how disruptive he can be, and against some of the most practiced and powerful offensive lines in the nation.

Rob Rang

STRENGTHS: Possesses a naturally large frame with proper weight distribution throughout his arms and legs. Has a thick trunk conducive to standing his ground in short-yardage situations.

Is quick off the snap, demonstrating the burst to slip through gaps before trap blocks can be effective. Possesses a short area burst to close and surprising flexibility to adjust and make tackles in space. Shows good balance and recognition against cut blocks. Active hands to handcuff offensive linemen attempting to get into his pads and control, demonstrating a quick, fluid arm-over swim move and good strength to rip free from his opponent.

WEAKNESSES: Has only had one dominant season at the FBS level (just 13 starts in 24 games) and there is some concern about how motivated he'll remain once he signs a big NFL contract. Has a tendency to stand up out of his stance and lose the leverage battle, occasionally struggling to break free until it's too late in short-yardage situations.

Stu Durano

"This has been my dream ever since I was a little kid," Richardson said in a statement. "It’s still not easy leaving Mizzou like this, but I know I’m ready."

Richardson also had 10½ tackles for loss, four sacks, seven quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles.

He is No. 16 on ESPN analyst Mel Kiper’s "big board" and generally has been projected as a middle first-rounder by several early mock drafts.

"I’ve always said that when guys have opportunities like these, if they’re ready to go then they should go," Pinkel said in the statement. "I have no doubt that Sheldon is ready to play in the NFL, and while we’d love to have him for another year, the important thing is that this is the right decision."

There were also some low points this season for Richardson. He was suspended for the game against Syracuse at a time when the Tigers needed a win to become bowl eligible. He was not allowed to talk to reporters for several weeks after his now-famous comment about Georgia playing "old-man football."

Doug Farrar, again.

Pros: Absolutely marvelous gap penetrator with the quick-twitch speed and hand movement to upset any blocker. Has a very quick first step off the snap and propels himself through the action. Keeps his feet moving and will wear double teams down. Keeps his eye on the play and will disengage from blockers quickly to make plays downfield. Has the pure agility to back into defense on screen passes, and the ability to drop in zone blitzes.

Excels at multiple positions -- could be an impact player at one-tech, three-tech, and possible a five-tech role in a 3-4 defense. There isn't an NFL team that wouldn't benefit from his skill set. Redistributes to open gaps and spaces almost as a running back would -- has a tremendous sense of how to get free to disrupt. Laterally agile enough to excel in stunts and loops.

Cons: Richardson is not a consistent physical "winner" in that he will get stoned by more powerful blockers, especially in the run game. Will also tend to get boxed out if he's moving to the side and into the pocket. Comes off the snap too high at times, leading him to lose leverage and angle battles he should win.

Perhaps most encouraging is how much scouts were gushing about Richardson's versatility, saying the young DT would have the ability to play multiple positions spanning both 43 and 34 schemes. Scouting reports say Richardson is a force to be reckoned with and was a disruptive backfield presence both as a pass rusher and run stopper. If at all true, the reports of Richardson's abilities are encouraging and provide some insight into why the Jets may have drafted him despite a surplus of young talent at the line.

It looks like the Jets have gone the athletic freak standout route once again, taking a unique specimen with minimal tangible school production because of what they see on his tape. It's disconcerting to see John Idzik make a selection many liken to a "Rex pick", and it solidifies earlier impressions among GGN writers that the same scouting staff is making the bulk of choices for the Jets with Idzik merely acting as administrator. But make no mistake, Sheldon Richardson was a consensus pick to go in the 1st round right around where we took him, this was not a reach.

You can argue about how appropriate the pick was but the sheer versatility of the Jets new DT should alleviate some of those concerns. Most of the big name draft gurus and analysts think that Richardson has the tools to succeed and make an immediate impact in the NFL. If anybody can utilize a player like Sheldon Richardson, I expect Rex Ryan and Karl Dunbar would be two of the best people to have do it.

Join me in welcoming the newest New York Jet, Sheldon Richardson. Here's to a long, dominating, productive career in Jersey.

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