There was no hesitation from Sheldon Richardson when asked where the Jets want him to line up this season.
Richardson, taken by the Jets at No. 13 over, was a standout defensive tackle for Missouri in their 4-3 scheme, earning All-SEC accolades during his final season with the Tigers. When he was drafted by the Jets, it was presumed he would play the 5 technique in their 3-4 defense. It especially held true when the news hit Quinton Coples would be moved to outside linebacker this offseason. But the Jets aren’t tied to Richardson playing at end.
In fact, ask Richardson where the Jets ideally want him to play and the answer was clear and concise.
“They want me at the 3 for sure,” Richardson said, referring to lining up inside on a guard as opposed to a tackle.
Richardson is an explosive athlete who showed well from the interior on Friday as the Jets opened their rookie minicamp. He had 75 tackles for the Tigers last season as he played inside, on the edge and even in a special package where he was a linebacker.
He’s also an enthusiastic player who clearly loves the game.
“One thing we saw was explosiveness, effort to the football,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “One thing you can tell is that the guy loves to play. You could have doubled that practice; he would have been fine.”
He has a unique skillset which made him one of the Top-4 players on the Jets' draft board. But now they have to find a position for him.
He said he’s comfortable playing the 3 technique with the Jets, even if it is a different role than his responsibilities in college. In most 3-4 systems, the player in the middle tends to be a space eater who can stuff the run and occupy at least two blockers. The Jets have recently had success with the likes of Sione Pouha and Kris Jenkins in that role. Both players have significantly more bulk than the 6-foot-3, 294-pound Richardson. In many ways, Richardson looks more like an end.
The Jets might be looking at him another way.
“Right now, they’re just testing me out, seeing where I best play, best fit,” Richardson said. “They had me at the 3 technique. We’ll see, they want me to learn.”
Jets notes ...
» The Jets signed four free agents on Thursday morning, inking tackle Oday Aboushi, fullback Tommy Bohanon, guard Will Campbell and guard Brian Winters. In addition, they signed 14 undrafted free agents including Boston College tight end Chris Pantale and former Rutgers wide receiver K.J. Stroud, who transferred to Bethune-Cookman.
»Ryan didn’t highlight too many players but he had praise for former Rutgers cornerback Mason Robinson, who is attempting to make the team as an undrafted free agent.
“The coaches at Rutgers said no one wanted to fight this guy,” Ryan said.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.