Originally written on Turn On The Jets  |  Last updated 10/30/14
The Jets’ second first round pick last night left a lot of people scratching their heads.  The concern wasn’t focused on Sheldon Richardson’s talent, but focused on the fact that they selected a defensive lineman in the first round for the third straight year despite more urgent needs at other positions. No matter what you think about the selection, it’s important to take a look at what Richardson could bring to the Jets defense before completely passing judgment. The mainstream draft gurus commonly had Richardson ranked behind Sharrif Floyd and Star Lotulelei at the Defensive Tackle position.  However, several of the respected lesser known draft gurus like Bleacher Report’s Ryan Lownes had him ranked as the top defensive tackle in the draft and a top 5 pick.  Obviously, the Jets shared the opinion of the lesser known draft analysts.  Reports indicate that the Jets had Richardson ranked in their top 4 prospects and for good reason. Richardson is an excellent one-gap defensive tackle; arguably the best in this draft.  He is best when the scheme allows him to fire off the ball through the gap he is responsible for.  It allows him to get off the ball extremely quick and eliminates the hesitation that comes with taking on blocks and reading the play.  Because of playing in this scheme, he has really developed some of the moves you need to be a penetrator.  He has an excellent rip move and a good swim move that he uses both to stuff the run and put together a pass rush. Richardson’s athleticism is astounding.  He was a 3 sport star in high school and was a tight end before exclusively playing defensive line in junior college.  When watching film on Richardson, it is rare to find a kid that can pursue the way he does from the defensive tackle position.  The amount of tackles he makes down field and outside the tackle box is incredible.  Once he realizes that a running play is not coming inside the tackle box, he plays like a middle linebacker.  He can cover the field sideline to sideline from the defensive tackle position. His main weakness comes through when he is taking on blocks, particularly double teams.  He is savvy when there are holes in an offensive line’s double team technique, but when a solid double team comes at him, he has trouble holding his ground.  Although he played at 310 last year, he looks a lot lighter than that on the field and doesn’t have a great anchor.  As with any penetrating tackle, he can get caught on down blocks and knocked out of the gap he is responsible for. While the Jets are considered a 3-4 base defense, they really play a multiple defensive front.  They will run 3-4, 4-3, 4-4, and the 46 among other fronts.  In 2012, they played more 4 man fronts than I can remember.  The drafting of Sheldon Richardson could be the next step in this shift to using 4 man fronts.  It is clear than Richardson cannot be a two gap nose guard in a base 3-4 defense.  He would be more of a five technique.  But his strength is still as a penetrating 3 technique in a 4 man front.  With the departure of Mike DeVito they lost their 3 technique in the 4 man front.  Richardson was needed to fill that spot.  Quinton Coples struggled against the run on the inside at times, but showed a lot of promise at the end of the season when asked to bump outside. Kenrick Ellis is too big and slow to play in the Jets’ 4 man front packages. With this move and the Jets hinting that they weren’t even thinking about a 3-4 OLB type pass rusher at 9 or 13, they may be ready to make the full transition to a predominantly 4 man front. The 46 is also still a major part of the Jets defensive scheme.  While Richardson can’t be a nose guard in a base 3-4, he can play nose guard or the 3 techniques in the 46.  The inside 3 in the 46 could be a dominating group with Richardson, Wilkerson, and Ellis covering up the center and guards.  A penetrating 4 man front could be special with Coples, Wilkerson, Richardson, and Calvin Pace, Ricky Sapp or someone they take later in the draft.  If nothing else, the Jets could now have a deep, young collection of defensive linemen that could progress into one of the top groups in the NFL, particularly in the middle. While it was a confusing pick for a lot of Jets fans, it may be because the Jets have made a shift in defensive scheme right under our noses.  The pick of Richardson gives them more versatility up front as they continue to stock talented, versatile defensive linemen.  It will give Rex Ryan even more flexibility to run the multiple fronts that he wants to run in 2013.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Madison Bumgarner pitches Giants to World Series title

Giants fans get rowdy celebrating World Series win

Roy Williams' response to criticism over academic scandal

Jerry Jones challenging Tony Romo to play Sunday?

Wizards make rapper Wale new 'creative liaison' for team

Report: Joe Maddon to become Cubs manager

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Rockets Harden and Ariza visit Julius Randle in the hospital

Dan Gilbert asked if he 'deserved' to have LeBron back

Brady: Maybe at Manning's age I'll be playing that well

Dolphins LB brings kid from stands to field before each game

NFL and MLB spending big money on mid-term elections

High school football player reportedly stabs teammate

WATCH: Chevy guy bombs World Series presentation

WATCH: James Ennis throws down dunk of the season

Kris Humphries shares nasty photo of gruesome finger injury

WATCH: Joe Panik makes play of the game in Game 7

Russell Westbrook wears aluminum foil-like outfit

WATCH: Capitals' Chimera suffers nasty broken nose

Robert Griffin III to start against Vikings

WATCH: Navy raps about Notre Dame, set to ‘Anaconda’

Rulon Gardner selling Olympic memorabilia to pay $3.9M debt

Mike Pettine says he ‘can sense’ Johnny Manziel’s frustration

WATCH: Unreal ending to H.S. game; QB forgets to finish play

Five NBA teams set to surprise in 2014-15

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Williams' response to criticism

WATCH: Chevy guy totally bombs

Bumgarner pitches Giants to title

Report: Cubs to hire Maddon as manager

Tom Brady talks Peyton Manning

Best Game 7s in World Series history

NFL, MLB spend on mid-term elections

Gurley suspended four games

Gordie Howe suffered stroke

WATCH: Kobe and Dwight get into it

Notre Dame WR will not be punished

Jose Canseco shot off his finger

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.