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Thursday, April 25, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Jets pick Richardson 13th

By Rich Cimini



PICK: First round (13th overall)

PLAYER: Sheldon Richardson

SCHOOL: Missouri

POSITION: Defensive tackle

HEIGHT: 6-foot-2½

WEIGHT: 294 pounds

What this means: Rex Ryan apparently still has some influence in the draft room, as the Jets used their two first-round picks on defensive players. This marked the third straight draft in which they chose a defensive linemen in the first round. Richardson is a terrific talent, but many believe he's best suited to be a penetrating lineman in a one-gap scheme. That's not how the Jets play defense, but they could be planning to play more 4-3 fronts. Richardson had only one impact season, recording four sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss last season. He's a junior college transfer who played only two years at Missouri. He was suspended one game last season for violating an unspecified team rule. He's explosive and light on his feet, capable of blowing up blocking schemes.

How he fits the defensive scheme: It'll be interesting to hear Ryan's explanation of Richardson's role. With Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples, the Jets have the makings of a formidable front. And don't forget about NT Kenrick Ellis. It sure looks like Ryan and new coordinator Dennis Thurman will be calling more 4-3 fronts. In a 3-4, Richardson has the size to hold up as a 5-technique end. He also has the athleticism to be a third-down rusher. Ryan has options.

Projected impact: The Jets' run defense plummeted to an embarrassing 26th last season -- and that was with Mike DeVito and Sione Po'uha. They cut Po'uha and lost DeVito in free agency, signing veteran Antonio Garay as a stop-gap measure. But do you really want to go into a season with Garay and the still-unproven Ellis as your top interior linemen? Not really. Richardson should help immensely on first and second down, possibly on third. If Richardson, Wilkerson and Coples reach their potential, the Jets will have a premier line.