With the thirteenth overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected Sheldon Richardson, defensive end from the University of Missouri. The team received that pick as part of the compensation package for cornerback Darrelle Revis, and so far, the pick looks like it could not have been used any better. All statistics mentioned in this breakdown come from ProFootballFocus.
In six games, Richardson has played in 324 snaps out of 430, or 75.3%. Compare this to Muhammad Wilkerson, who played 239 out of 417 (57.3%) snaps in the first six games his rookie year, or Quinton Coples, who played 191 out of 426 (44.8%) snaps. During those plays, Richardson spent the bulk of snaps rushing the passer (56.4%), although he was given a significant amount of run-stuffing responsibilities (39.5%). Richardson spent just 13 snaps, or 4%, in coverage, although this isn't surprising considering he's just south of 300lbs. In that time, Richardson has been flagged for just two penalties, one of which was declined.
For basic statistics, Richardson has 2 sacks, 2 quarterback hits, 9 quarterback hurries, 2 batted passes, 20 tackles, 5 assisted tackles, 2 missed tackles, and 18 total defensive stops.
But let's put that in perspective. Richardson is third in defensive stops on the team, and first among defensive linemen, with the aforementioned 18 total stops. Richardson leads the team in batted passes, and is tied for second on the team in pass rushing productivity.
As a 3-4 defensive end that played 50% or more of the team's snaps, Richardson is third in the entire league for his run defense, with 14 stops on 115 snaps for 12.2 stop percentage. A "stop" constitutes a loss for the offense. Richardson is ranked slightly lower as a pass rusher, at 21st in the league among 3-4 defensive ends that played 25% or more of the team's snaps. This ranking is based on Richardson's sacks, hurries, and hits, compared to his total number of snaps.
Perhaps most notably, ProFootballFocus ranks Richardson as the top contender for Defensive Rookie of the Year through five weeks, edging out Kiko Alonso of the Buffalo Bills.
Many people questioned the selection of Richardson, considering the team had selected two defensive ends in the first round the two preceding years. However, as Richardson is demonstrating a third of the way through the season, it really can't hurt to have too much talent at one position, especially if the player was the best player available when he was drafted. When you have a defensive coach like Rex Ryan, he'll find a way to use that talent, and you can turn a position that used to be a liability into easily the team's biggest strength.