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Sheldon Richardson: Top 5 things to expect in 2015

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Nov 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets defensive end

Sheldon Richardson

(91) against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Sheldon Richardson is entering only his third year in the league and already has established himself as one of the best defensive linemen playing today. After making his first NFL Pro Bowl last season, what is next for one of the key members of the “Sons of Anarchy?”

Here are 5 things to expect from Richardson this upcoming season as he’ll only continue to make a name for himself.

Next: 5. First double digit sack season

Sep 12, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback

Tom Brady

(12) scrambles away from New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (91) during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

5. First double digit sack season

Every season thus far in Richardson’s young promising career, he’s improved his sack numbers. In his rookie campaign in which he won the coveted Defensive Rookie of The Year award he had 3.5 sacks, 78 combined tackles, 42 solo tackles and 36 assisted tackles. On top of that he was a threat on offense, particularly in goal line packages where he had two rushing touchdowns on the season.

Also, according to ESPN Stats and Info, Richardson’s touchdown count stands as the most in a season by a defensive lineman since Chicago’s William Perry matched that total in 1985. That’s pretty impressive in the grand scheme of things.

He’s an amazing talent and this past season he more than doubled his rookie sack total with eight sacks on the season. With all the new talent around him, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb saying two more sacks is out of the realm of possibility. But my bold proclamation would be that Sheldon gets north of 13 sacks this season.

He’s got the talent and hey why not? If you’re the opposing offense who are you going to double team? Muhammad Wilkerson? Leonard Williams? Damon Harrison? Good luck.

Next: 4. Another trip to the Pro Bowl

January 23, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New York Jets players Team Irvin defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (91) and center Nick Mangold (74) during photo day at The Arizona Biltmore. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

4. Another trip to the Pro Bowl

With my projected 13+ sack season comes more rewards! He was snubbed from the Pro Bowl his rookie year, but mostly everyone could agree he was going to many more in the future. In his second year he was a first-ballot snub. Rex Ryan and Richardson shared their displeasure.

“If it kept him out of the Pro Bowl because some guy had X amount of sacks, and that guy can’t hold (Richardson’s) jock, to be honest with you, as a player, I think that is kind of strange to me,” Ryan said. “I guess you guys will figure out who I am talking about.”

“Told you I was one of the best D-linemen in the game, so that’s how I feel,” Richardson said, who added that he was surprised he wasn’t picked “just because I felt like I was dominant in every game I played in.” (Pulled from the New York Daily News, Seth Walder)

Richardson has never been one short of confidence. But he’s earned it and with the Jets quite possibly having the best defense in the league on paper, he’ll get to showcase his talents again with even more supporting talent around him.

Next: 3. Top candidate for defensive player of the year

Dec 7, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (91) sacks Minnesota Vikings quarterback

Teddy Bridgewater

(5) for a safety in the first quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

3. Top candidate for defensive player of the year

You see how all these things are connecting? Needless to say, Richardson is in for a big season. His versatility is unmatched and a big reason why he will be in the running for the defensive player of the year.

Actually, Muhammad Wilkerson, Leonard Williams, and Richardson all have the ability to play any position along the defensive front which will cause nightmares for opposing teams. This will allow Richardson to attack from any side, whether he rushes off the edge, up the middle from the defensive tackle spot, or even from a stand-up outside linebacker role.

We saw these kind of defensive schemes last season as many expect he’ll continue to be put in a position to thrive. This will only increase his statistics and continue to put his name out there as a candidate to be the best of the best this upcoming season.

Next: 2. Playing in his first NFL Playoff game

Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; A member of the New England Patriots hoists the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2. Playing in his first NFL Playoff game

You may be asking yourselves why the heck is there a picture of the Vince Lombardi trophy then? Well I’m glad you asked. Here’s a did you know question and answer impromptu. Since the defensive player of the year award has been handed out (started in 1971), a little over 25% of those teams won the Super Bowl. And over 83% of those teams made the playoffs that year.

I came up with these statistics by looking up all the winners over the last 40+ seasons and what their respective teams did in each season and just did the math. So if in fact Richardson wins the defensive player of the year award, it’s quite likely we’ll see the Jets end their postseason drought in 2015.

A lot of the new players on this team who weren’t on the back-to-back AFC Championship teams will get their first playoff experience. This Includes Richardson who like many of the Jets, are hungry for a championship to add to their careers.

Next: 1. His final 2015 stats will be incredible

Aug 1, 2013; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (91) and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) stretch during training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

1. His final 2015 stats will be incredible

With the numerous accolades this past season, I believe Richardson will improve in every major defensive statistical category. I think he will end up with 75+ tackles, 13+ sacks, three forced fumbles and his first career interception. If Richardson is able to put up these kind of numbers he’ll put himself near the front of the line for his next contract extension.

One of which that will pay him amongst the elite defenders playing today. With Wilkerson due for a contract extension as well, things on One Jets Drive are going to get real interesting over the next few years.

The Jets have had a habit of letting their home-grown draft picks leave town. To really send a message to the fans that they’re committed to developing their own talent like with Wilkerson and Richardson, they need to get these major cogs extended for the long term.

If they’re able to keep this defense together, the Jets are going to be in the thick of the AFC East division race for many years to come. With Richardson most likely posting some pretty impressive stats this upcoming season, he’ll solidify the team as a contender again.

Next: New York Jets: Is rebound year coming for Brandon Marshall?

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