Just don't tell that to Sapp.
The Hall of Famer delivered his own blunt assessment of the Jets rookie defensive lineman during Super Bowl week. Sapp didn't take too kindly to Richardson's late-season declaration that he'd "most likely" be the No. 1 overall pick in a draft do-over.
"As soon as that kid gets off the 'I think I was better and should have been drafted in a different position,' maybe he'll see his future," Sapp told the Daily News. "Let's not anoint this kid the next best thing since sliced bread yet."
Sapp may not agree with Richardson's tact, but the perceived draft-day snub (the Jets took him with the No. 13 pick) motivated the rookie.
"If something drives you, it drives you from inside, right?" Sapp said. "He's externally saying it. The draft is not going to be re-drafted. So as soon as he wakes up from this nightmare that's haunting him…. that's the whole point when we talk about football players not carrying baggage. One play at a time. Let that go. He hasn't let go of the draft. It was Week 15 and he was still talking about it. I was like, 'Really?'"
Richardson was one of the anchors to Rex Ryan's defensive line, but Sapp was thoroughly unimpressed with his statistics that included only 3-1/2 sacks. Ryan maintained throughout the season that the numbers weren't a true reflection of Richardson's value to his defense.
"The sack numbers do not always tell the true story. I agree with that," Sapp said. "But he's not that highly skilled of a pass rusher."
Richardson was the fifth-rated 3-4 defensive end by Pro Football Focus. Only Texans' Pro Bowler J.J. Watt was ahead of Richardson in run defense rankings. So, surely Sapp can concede that Richardson is a highly skilled lineman even with the low sack totals, right?
"You said that. I didn't," Sapp said. "So if you're highly skilled, you should be able to rush the passer, right?... Was he defensive player of the year in college? Was he an All-American? You're comparing him to a first-ballot of Hall of Famer?"
Sapp was downright offended at the notion that there are some elements in Richardson's game similar to him. He suggested a more apt comparison for Richardson might be Albert Haynesworth.
"What does he do well?" Sapp asked about Richardson.
Stuffing the run, he was told.
"Yeah. A run stuffer in a pass-first league," Sapp mocked.
Sapp was also unimpressed with Richardson's declaration after the season that he viewed himself as the Defensive Rookie of the Year whether he actually wins the award of not. The NFL will reveal Saturday night whether Richardson or Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso — the leading candidates — takes home the award.
"I heard Steven Jackson say he's going in the Hall of Fame, but he's not going," Sapp said. "There's a bunch of guys that walk around and say a bunch of things about themselves. That's not the truth."