Sheldon Richardson ready to surprise critics

Sheldon Richardson has had a good off-season so far in his rookie campaign with the New York Jets. He had a minor bump in the road after undergoing oral surgery, missing the first few days of training camp. In his first day back in action, it was time to put full pads on and time to hit. See how the rookie fared and how he plans to answers his critics this upcoming season.

Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson out of the University of Missouri was drafted with the No. 13 overall pick by the New York Jets in the 2013 Draft. The big man in the middle originally went to the College of the Sequoias, a junior college in California, before transferring to Mizzou.

While the St. Louis native was back home in Missouri, he earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors and then second team All-SEC honors. His resume also says that he led all defensive tackles in the SEC with 75 tackles and 4.5 sacks. In just two years, the ex-Tiger racked up 112 tackles and 6 sacks, numbers players can't achieve in 4 years of college football.

At 6-foot-2 and 310 pounds, Richardson is very athletic, has quick feet, and can play in different positions due to the complex defensive schemes at Missouri. He has great upside and very little down. With his quick feet, he can cover more than one gap and can pursue after the ball. He is quick off the ball and has a natural advantage of gaining leverage on his blockers due to his 6-foot-2 stature.

Richardson's one weakness is that he doesn't possess the upper body strength to shed off blocks quickly and he can get turned out of the gap. This weakness is primarily due to offseason shoulder surgery, so look for his strength to return. <>As the ailments continue for Richardson, he missed the first few days of camp due to root canal surgery. The surgery was minor and simple compared to his shoulder surgery, but it still caused him to miss reps. In his first day of practice, his tackling went well but he said he had a few mental errors.

Not only did he have mental errors, but he said the defense had some as well. Blown coverages on the goal-line were an issue for the team but they're only minor errors that can be fixed easily. Sheldon wasn't sought out to be the best defensive lineman in this year's draft and the Jets fans didn't seem too excited about the pick with plenty of other big names available. However, this rookie fits the complex Rex Ryan defense perfectly. At Mizzou, Richardson was seen standing up, down in a stance, and moving from gap to gap, all before the snap. He would start off in one gap and at the snap of the ball, be 2 gaps down the line. Also, Richardson has the capability of retaining Ryan's detailed playbook and can be a good "under-the-radar" weapon for the defense.

Richardson wasn't one of the top defensive players in the draft, but that isn't bothering him.

"That's good," noted the rookie. "I mean hopefully they sleep on me the rest of the season. I'll just surprise them towards the end of the season so that's good for me, I don't mind it."

He's using this as fuel and motivation to prove that he belongs here and that he can be a great player.New York takes pride in its defense and there are always high expectations for Gang Green's "D." This year, the potential is present and the defensive line is expected to be one of the best groups in the NFL. Richardson thinks they can be as well.

"We've got the potential," admitted the former Missouri standout. "We just have to make sure we bring our work and the consistency every day, practice and in the game. We'll see in pre-season."

Preseason will be a good indication but the consistency has to carry throughout the regular season as well; in order to live up to the expectations.

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