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Sheldon Richardson Article - Versatility!


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Jets' draft pick Sheldon Richardson has long history of versatility

 
Conor Orr/The Star-Ledger By Conor Orr/The Star-Ledger 

on April 29, 2013 at 5:00 AM, updated April 29, 2013 at 5:01 AM

 
He was 275 pounds in high school and he returned punts."

The former coaches and teammates packed into the pub on Theresa Avenue, right along the West End of St. Louis where Sheldon Richardson is from.

That’s what they’ll say now, Jason Dulick, an assistant coach at Richardson’s high school, realized as a horde of strangers at the bar erupted when the No. 13 pick of the NFL Draft was announced on Thursday. This is Sheldon’s town, just like it was John Clay’s back in 1987, the last time a Public High League kid made it into the NFL.

As the highlight reels and video of the commissioner’s handshake shown across the flat screen TVs, Dulick and fellow assistant Shaun Pollard watched the mammoth 6-2, 294-pound defensive tackle that was molded through four seasons at Gateway Technical High School.

They thought about the kid who reminded them of Keyshawn Johnson when he said to just give him the damn ball.

The one who, despite the frame of a future defensive tackle, played tight end, wide receiver, running back, quarterback, fullback and defensive end on the sandy, pock-marked fields he chose not to leave for a county school, where exposure and conditions were more favorable.

They thought about how they came up with his on-field nickname: "Boss Hog."

"He was 275 pounds in high school and he returned punts," said Kelvin 

Williams, one of Richardson’s teammates. "What else were you gonna call him? He’s the boss."

Plenty has changed since then, but as the Jets coaching staff gushed about their new defensive tackle over the weekend, it sounded like they appreciated the same things about Richardson. They claim he is versatile and freakishly athletic. They remembered the time on film Richardson, then a defensive tackle at Missouri, spied the opposing team’s fastest player. They remember seeing him line up at five different spots on defense. They remember him picking up a fumble against Kentucky and returning it more than 80 yards for a score, legging out running backs and wide receivers nearly to the end zone.

"I really think any of the film you watch on him — first impressions, last impressions — it’s impressive," Kevin Kelly, the Jets area scout who followed Richardson, said yesterday. "You can feel his energy and his passion. He doesn’t turn it off."

The Jets envision a "Boss Hog" role for Richardson that can have him play anywhere along the defensive line. They could shift their personnel and throw him into a 4-3 scheme or swap him into a role similar of departed Mike DeVito.

After finishing out of the top 10 in sacks and rushing defense each of the past two seasons — the team also finished in the bottom third of Pro Football Focus’ pass rush metric, which measures a team’s effectiveness in creating pressure — they hope his addition will finally galvanize a unit years in the making.

"I don’t label myself as one type of defensive tackle," Richardson said. "I’m versatile, like I said, that’s one of my main points and that’s why I think they pulled the trigger on me and gave me the phone call. They figured that they could find a place for me to play and be productive."

The Jets have now selected defensive linemen or defensive ends with four of their last six first-round picks. Three, including Richardson, could be on the field at once this season.

It is the most significant first-round investment of any team drafting defensive ends, defensive tackles or rush outside linebackers in that time frame.

The selling point for Kelly, now in his second year as a Jets personnel scout, was a game against Texas A&M where Richardson dropped back to middle linebacker and spied quarterback Johnny Manziel, the eventual Hesiman Trophy winner and one of the most elusive quarterbacks in college football.

Manziel had his third worst rushing performance — 12 carries for 67 yards — of the season.

"He just chased him all over the field," Kelly said. "Then at times, they plugged in right in the A-gap in the SEC and they couldn’t block him."

Richardson finished the 2012 season with 75 tackles and four sacks.

Pollard and Dulick weren’t surprised by the evaluation. That was their wide receiver, defensive end, quarterback, fullback, running back and punt returner running around after Manziel. That was the Boss Hog standing at almost 300 pounds with the range of a defensive end.

"When his name was announced, we just got up and started cheering," Dulick said. "He can dominate."

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The kid is extremely talented and he literally would jump of the field at you when watching Mizzou.

 

He was an absolute monster vs. the Gators.  He was impossible to block.  The Gators had a couple of banged up guys on the OL, so they werent full force but Richardson was so disruptive that game, the Gators never got a rhythm going on offense.  They could run the ball for sh*t, because he was absolutely destroying the OL and I distinctly remember him spying on Driskel too, who really had a terrible game.  Richardson made a couple of plays behind the LOS and a force fumble.

The dudes a freak.  He's going to end up the best player we took in this draft.   Book it. 

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I just hope that we don't take this guy and try and turn him into a two gap player and turn him away from his strength which is knifing the one gap into the back field.  One of the hardest things to acquire are 300 lb guys that can move.  That's why when you have a chance to draft high enough to get one, you have to make it happen.

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I just hope that we don't take this guy and try and turn him into a two gap player and turn him away from his strength which is knifing the one gap into the back field.  One of the hardest things to acquire are 300 lb guys that can move.  That's why when you have a chance to draft high enough to get one, you have to make it happen.

 

I don't think Rex would do that.

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I cannot wait to see our D-line get after the QB's.  They are going to give offenses THE FEAR.  Penetration from the D-line is going to trump blitz packages over the long haul and, at the same time, make any blitzes that much more deadly.  The league has caught up with Rex's scheme's -- especially when he called blitzes out of necessity because they were the only way we could pressure the QB.  The Jets are going to lead the league in sacks.  You can book it right now.

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I cannot wait to see our D-line get after the QB's. They are going to give offenses THE FEAR. Penetration from the D-line is going to trump blitz packages over the long haul and, at the same time, make any blitzes that much more deadly. The league has caught up with Rex's scheme's -- especially when he called blitzes out of necessity because they were the only way we could pressure the QB. The Jets are going to lead the league in sacks. You can book it right now.

Adding a rookie DL isn't going to improve the passrush enough to jump us up that high. We couldn't get hardly any pressure last year and I don't see how they will this year.

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Up the Middle Pressure will make the classic pocket passers nervous...and that creates turnovers and three and outs. The combination of getting richardson and Wilkerson up the middle and Coples on the outside...in a 4-3, they are going to create matchup issues. Add in Milliner and Cro on the outside...that only leaves the slot and tight end as your safety valves. Rex will scheme to this.

 

I am not too worried about the defense, I think they will be fun to watch this year. I am worried about the Offense. I know that they will be better this year BUT they were PUTRID last year, so an improvement over Putrid is not that exciting. I think if they start Geno, its gives us something to look forward to. If they start Sanchez then this season will be a big snoozefest.

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Adding a rookie DL isn't going to improve the passrush enough to jump us up that high. We couldn't get hardly any pressure last year and I don't see how they will this year.

 

Mo and Coples will be even more of a factor -- both keep getting better and better.  Richardson is scheme versatile and Rex is the perfect guy to use him.   Minimally, we will have one of the top DL's in the league.   

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Mo and Coples will be even more of a factor -- both keep getting better and better. Richardson is scheme versatile and Rex is the perfect guy to use him. Minimally, we will have one of the top DL's in the league.

The DL is the best unit on the team but they'll be no outside pressure or safeties to cover dump off to the RBs or TEs.

I don't see this years team in the top ten in sacks much less number one or top five.

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A Sheldon can do your income taxes, if you need a root canal, Sheldon's your man... but humpin' and pumpin' is not Sheldon's strong suit. It's the name. 'Do it to me Sheldon, you're an animal Sheldon, ride me big Shel-don.' Doesn't work.

 

What nice feet you have Sheldon, might fly.

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Good player, very well worth being a low teen pick but don't see how it makes much sense for the Jets. Vaccaro or Eifert would have. But in he's going to be a good player but even when he does the pick isn't still going to makes much sense to me. Rex really missed Devito and did everything he could to pick a Pro-Bowl caliber version of him. Atleast Star can play NT if we go to a 3-4, Richardson on the other hand is a 1, 3 or 5 technique.

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Good player, very well worth being a low teen pick but don't see how it makes much sense for the Jets. Vaccaro or Eifert would have.  

 

He's probably a better grade than either of those guys. As for the scheme fit, who cares. they didn't draft him to run stuff on 1st down.  he's gonna make his money on 3rd down, when everyone is in nickel. 

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Good player, very well worth being a low teen pick but don't see how it makes much sense for the Jets. Vaccaro or Eifert would have. But in he's going to be a good player but even when he does the pick isn't still going to makes much sense to me. Rex really missed Devito and did everything he could to pick a Pro-Bowl caliber version of him. Atleast Star can play NT if we go to a 3-4, Richardson on the other hand is a 1, 3 or 5 technique.

 

I can understand pining a little bit for Eifert. No one would've complained about that pick, and he'd've been a huge addition to the offense. Great asset for the QB they took in the second round, too. I think TE is still the team's biggest need. 

 

But Vaccaro? After taking Milliner at #9? Nah. And like Bit said, Richardson probably had a much higher grade.

 

I'm reading about the Giants being praised for taking two DL in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, despite having needs at LB and CB, themselves. But it's the Giants, and they always take DL high, and they often work out, so they always get praise. Forget that the Jets last two high DL picks have been pretty damn good, and building one of the best DLs in football probably does as much to help the secondary as a top rated safety. At least that's what they're saying about the Giants. 

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