Richardson says he's among top DL

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- One year after being named the NFL's top defensive rookie, New York Jets standout Sheldon Richardson believes he's just as good as any defensive lineman in the league, including J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans.

"J.J. Watt, he's got a few more sacks than me, but it's the same type of disruption," Richardson told ESPN.com on Thursday. "He's a little more active, I'll give you that, but we have the same type of determination, same heart, same skills. He scores touchdowns, I score touchdowns."

Richardson, one of the few bright spots in the Jets' dismal season, leads the team with 6.5 sacks. He scored two rushing touchdowns in 2013, but hasn't received any offensive "touches" this year.

Watt, the 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, is the favorite to win the award again. He has 16.5 sacks and five touchdowns, including three on offense. Nevertheless, Richardson considers himself among the best. In addition to Watt, he also mentioned the Detroit Lions' Ndamukong Suh and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Gerald McCoy as elite defensive linemen.

"The same people you see mentioned every day, getting big contracts, I'm on the same level," Richardson said. "I don't put them over me, I don't put them under me. Most definitely, it's the same comparison, really.

"You name it, I'll put myself up there. I'm not scared to say it. You don't get to this point not being confident. If somebody calls me cocky, oh well, they'll get over it."

Richardson, who has started every game in two seasons, said he deserves to make his first Pro Bowl. The rosters will be announced Tuesday.

"It would mean a lot to me," he said. "It would be one more step to what I'm really trying to get to -- and that's the Super Bowl. Hoisting up that trophy would mean a lot more, but being a Pro Bowler is being recognized among the top guys at my position.

"That's big in my eyes. I want to be recognized as a great, and the Pro Bowl is the way to do it."

The Jets have slipped in most defensive categories, but they're still ranked fourth against the run -- in part due to Richardson's strong play at the point of attack.

"There's nothing but upside there," defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said. "He's a fantastic young player and he's only going to get better."