Sheldon Richardson has not forgotten. He remembers the pre-draft talk, the rankings and all of the talk.
Richardson, the Jets rookie defensive tackle, remembers being ranked below Florida’s Sharif Floyd and Utah’s Star Lotulelei by ESPN’s draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. and he could not believe he was considered the No. 3 player at his position. In Richardson’s mind, he was the No. 1 player overall.

“[I was] a little bit irritated, felt a little unappreciated,” Richardson said Wednesday. “If you compare numbers, they didn’t match up. I got over it and kept working. That was what the [NFL] combine and private workouts were for — make sure I put myself over the hump and I think I did that.”

Richardson will see Lotulelei on Sunday when the Jets face the Panthers. The Jets took Richardson with the 13th overall pick and the Panthers grabbed Lotulelei with the 14th. Both are candidates for Defensive Rookie of the Year, but most NFL observers believe Richardson will win the award.

The 23-year-old has been everything the Jets could have asked for when they took him with the draft pick they received from the Buccaneers in the Darrelle Revis trade. He has been a force against the run and disruptive for opposing quarterbacks. Richardson has the confidence of a 10-time Pro Bowler even though he’s only been in the NFL for a few months.

Asked if the Jets made the right decision by making him the first defensive tackle drafted, Richardson’s confidence showed. He said he should have gone No. 1 overall.

“I think 13 was 12 picks late actually, if you ask me,” Richardson said.

Richardson has 85 tackles this season, third most on the team. He has just 3 ½ sacks, but is credited with 27 quarterback hits, third highest on the team. His play is remarkably consistent for a rookie with him rarely having a bad game or even a bad play.