Sheldon Richardson thinks he's the best defensive player in the league

Scott Cunningham

The rookie defensive tackle isn't short of confidence.

New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson believes in his ability, going so far as to call himself the best defensive player in the league.

Richardson was asked about teammate Muhammad Wilkerson, who said he was the league's best defensive player earlier this week:

"I don't feel like Mo's the best defensive player in the league ... I am," Richardson told the Daily News. "I'm dead-ass serious."

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Confidence is good, but Richardson's reaction is curious. Most players would support a teammate having an elite season like Wilkerson. He has amassed 31 tackles, 8.0 sacks as two forced fumbles in 2013, and should be a lock to make the Pro Bowl -- instead the rookie is electing to talk up his own game:

"I told him I ain't trying to be second to nobody ... even my own damn teammates!" Richardson said. "No! It's not going to happen!"

There's no denying Richardson isn't having a good season. He's in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year with 41 tackles and 2.5 sacks, but he's not at Wilkerson's level -- not yet. One scout believes he's a special player, but needs to keep working:

"He's a beast," said a scout, whose team had Richardson as one of the top-five players on their draft board. "There's no question that if he improves his work habits, he'll be a special player. Football means something to him. He loves it."

The New York Jets are one of the league's best defensive teams and hit when they selected Richardson with the team's first-round pick. Remaining humble will be the key to his development forward, as he wouldn't be the first player to have great success early and then flame out.

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