NFL Draft

Mizzou’s Richardson lands with the Jets

Updated: 2013-04-26T05:52:52Z

By BLAIR KERKHOFF

The Kansas City Star

Missouri’s first-round NFL Draft run continues.

Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was taken No. 13 by the New York Jets and became the sixth Mizzou player to be taken in the first round since 2009.

Richardson took the call from Jets’ coach Rex Ryan.

“You ready to get after it?” Ryan asked. “That’s a dumb question, I know you are. With your mentality, you’ll fight right in here.”

Asked by reporters in New York to describe his game, Richardson said, “I’m a Sheldon Richardson kind of player.”

He was an effective player in his two seasons at Missouri, where he played for two seasons after transferring from College of the Sequoias in California.

Last season, he recorded 75 tackles, tops among interior linemen in the Southeastern Conference. He was credited with 30 tackles on third and fourth down, earning a reputation as a drive stopper. Richardson’s quick first step made him one of the most difficult tackles in college football to block.

Richardson was the first defensive tackle drafted, but his selection didn’t meet with the approval of ESPN analyst Jon Gruden.

“He’s one of the one-hit wonders we talked about at the beginning of the first round,” Gruden said. “… He’s got a long way to go if you ask me.”

Richardson was one of 12 Southeastern Conference players to be selected in the first round, by far the most by one conference, and matching the league record of 11 set in 2007.

Alabama, the two-time defending national champion, led the way with three, selected in succession. Cornerback Dee Milliner went ninth to the Jets, offensive guard Chance Warmack 10th to the Titans and offensive tackle D.J. Fluker 11th to the Chargers.

The dominance reflects the power structure in college football today. The sports’ best athletes, especially on the defensive side, play in the SEC.

Teams winning national championships — seven straight — and players wearing out a path to grab a baseball cap and shake NFL commissioner’s Roger Goodell’s hand are the gifts that keep giving in the SEC.

“When we sell the brand of the SEC, all these things are very attractive to kids who want to play at the next level,” said Vanderbilt coach James Franklin on Wednesday during the league’s spring coaches teleconference.

Next week, the SEC and ESPN will announce its new network, and the league will take another victory lap.

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