Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson recently declared himself to be the defensive rookie of the year.
We’re not inclined to tell him he’s wrong. And so Richardson is the 2013 PFT defensive rookie of the year.
Drafted with the first-round pick acquired from the Buccaneers for Darrelle Revis, Richardson has emerged as one of the best young defensive linemen in the NFL. Richardson started 15 games, appeared in all sixteen, and notched 3.5 quarterback sacks.
He also pulled a Refrigerator Perry, carrying the ball enough times this season to create a Jerome Bettis late-career single-game stat line: four attempts, four yards, two touchdowns.
The other finalists were Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso, who started 16 games, made 159 tackles, picked off four passes, and notched two sacks; Panthers defensive lineman Star Lotulelei, who started 16 games and helped make a good defense in Carolina even better; Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, whose stellar first season was cut short by a torn ACL; Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro, who started 14 games before breaking an ankle; and 49ers safety Eric Reid, who started 16 games and helped the team turn the page on the Dashon Goldson era.
Cast your own ballot below and/or share your views in the comments.