NFL Draft: Jets Could Target Cornerback In The Later Rounds

Chris Gross looks at what cornerbacks the New York Jets could target in the middle and later rounds of the NFL Draft

With the departure of Donald Strickland and Marquice Cole, the New York Jets have a need to find more depth at the cornerback position. Here are some names to keep an eye on that Gang Green could target in the middle rounds.

1 – Trumaine Johnson, Montana – Of the bunch, Johnson is the least likely to be available past the second round. However his lack of elite top end speed, combined with the fact that he did not play his college football at the highest level of competition could cause him to fall into the early third. Johnson is a very big (6’2” 204 lbs) corner who has reportedly been in for a visit with the Jets. What could make Johnson so appealing to New York would be his ability to play both corner and safety. At 6’2” he certainly has the size to make the transition if necessary, while displaying impressive strength at the combine with 19 reps on the bench press. Johnson would give the Jets their fourth corner, while providing depth at the safety position, something that may be appealing enough for New York to spend their second rounder on him, depending on how everything plays out in front of them. On film, Johnson shows very good ball skills, with above average route recognition. He also played a big role in Montana’s return game, so there are a number of spots he could be utilized at.

2 – Brandon Boykin, Georgia – Boykin had a very impressive career at Georgia with 9 interceptions, 17 passes defended, and 143 tackles in his 4 seasons as a Bulldog. He proved to be very promising during his week of practice leading up to the Senior Bowl, however a leg injury in that game has caused his draft stock to plummet. He was unable to participate in drills at the combine, and his lack of testing numbers, combined with concerns over how healthy his leg will be at the start of the season are causing Boykin to fall down draft boards. However, he could end up being a steal in the third round or later. He shows great range on film, and has proved to be a very versatile weapon, having seen time on both special teams and offense at Georgia.

3 – Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech – Hosley posted an above average 40 time (4.47), and decent numbers at Virginia Tech last season (59 tackles, 3 INTs, 2 Forced Fumbles). Although these numbers certainly aren’t head turners, they may be a result of his very impressive 2010 campaign. As a sophomore, Hosley had an impressive 9 interceptions and 7 passes defended, so quarterbacks most likely tried to stay away from him the majority of the time last season. At 5’10” 178 lbs, he has decent size and could be a nice fit as the Jets fourth CB, where he could develop tremendously under the tutelage of Darrelle Revis.

4 – Ron Brooks, LSU – Of the five players discussed here, Brooks is easily the most athletic. At 5’10” 190 lbs, he showed tremendous speed at the combine for his weight, running a 4.37 40 yard dash. Brooks had 2 interceptions at LSU last year, both of which were returned for touchdowns. Having played his entire career in the SEC, he has faced some of the best athletes in college football during his 4 years as a Tiger. Although his statistics aren’t mind blowing, Brooks’ elite speed combined with his decent size fit well with his impressive ball skills, giving him the potential to be a quality-starting corner down the road. With the Jets, he has the potential to play as the fourth cornerback right away, while contributing on special teams.

5 – Josh Norman, Coastal Carolina – Norman is an extremely impressive player who has had a very good career at Coastal Carolina (196 Tackles, 35 Passes Defended and 13 Interceptions). He is another big corner (6’0″ 197 lbs) with very impressive stats from a smaller school. He does not possess the elite speed (4.66 40), but like Johnson, his size gives him the versatility to line up at multiple positions in the secondary. He will likely have to improve his speed to be a starter in the future, but he could develop into a solid role player immediately. On film, Norman has arguably the most impressive ball skills out of the five players discussed here. He has remarkable closing speed, showed an excellent ability to locate and make a play on the ball, and displayed tremendous range. Norman also has 4 career blocked kicks, so he could be a special teams contributor right away as well.

New York Jets: The Case For Trading Up For Trent Richardson

TOJ make the case for the New York Jets to trade up for running back Trent Richardson

Let me start off this article by saying I believe the New York Jets will end up with Melvin Ingram in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday and that I support the move, even if it involves trading up a handful of spots. However, stranger things have happened and I do think the Jets will be watching the top six picks very closely with an eye to potentially make a blockbuster move to acquire running back Trent Richardson.

There is increasing chatter that the St. Louis Rams are looking hard at moving up to #3 to take Richardson and that if they don’t Cleveland will take him with the 4th pick. At this point it would be a shock if Richardson slides out of the top five, meaning that if the Jets want him, it is going to cost them.

Basically you are looking at swapping your first round pick, giving up a third rounder this year and your first rounder next year to get into the necessary position to take Richardson, the consensus third best player in this draft and without question the best running back available. Is it worth it?

The initial reaction by nearly everybody I have discussed this with is no. The Jets have glaring needs at safety, linebacker, right tackle and wide receiver that need to be addressed. You are giving up a valuable middle round pick this year and an important building block next year with your first round pick to acquire one player.

Yet, let’s think this through a little further. The Jets attempt to portray themselves as a “Ground and Pound” team. The problem is that they don’t have an elite running back. With Richardson, you are arguably getting the safest bet in this draft. A player who can step in immediately, play on all three downs and give you 20 carries a game. You want a 1,500+ yard back to spearhead your offense and make defenses fear your running game to help protect Mark Sanchez, now you have him. Beyond that, could you imagine attempting to defend Tim Tebow and Trent Richardson in the same backfield in short yardage situations? Good luck.

There is a trickle down effect to drafting Richardson. Shonn Greene now rolls down into the supporting back role he thrived at earlier in his career. He can give you 10-12 carries a game against defenses worn down by Richardson and finally begin popping some of the big runs he did earlier in his career when he was behind Thomas Jones on the depth chart. Joe McKnight can focus on becoming one of the league’s elite return men and be used on a specific package of plays that utilize his speed.

The Jets shortcomings on the offensive line will be minimized to an extent. Richardson is a good enough prospect to compensate for the occasional breakdowns in run blocking because he can make people miss. There will also be fewer pass attempts on offense with Richardson, Greene, McKnight and Tebow all there as rushing options. Beyond that, when you do throw, the play action will hold defenses more with a big time threat at running back in Richardson. Let’s face it, defense aren’t that scared of a potential handoff to Shonn Greene.

What about the rest of the holes? When you take Richardson, you are making that much more of a commitment to the running game, lowering the importance of the #2 wide receiver spot. Sign Braylon Edwards to the veteran’s minimum and spend one of your many compensatory picks on a prospect to develop behind him. Use your second round pick on a safety and sign Yeremiah Bell for depth. Linebacker? That is a tough one but maybe you give up Dustin Keller to acquire a middle round pick to draft one. Or you hope Bryan Thomas, Calvin Pace, and Aaron Maybin can hold the fort for a year. Your defense will be better as a byproduct of a dominant running game.

There are inevitable issues with trading for Richardson but a minimum you should have one of the league’s best running games, that in turn will make your quarterback, who thrives off play action, that much better. Even if the Jets make zero additions to their current defense, they will be decent on that side of the ball. They could pair that defense with an offense that actually strikes some fear into their opponents by adding a blue chip player like Richardson.

NFL Draft: Seven Picks For The New York Jets

Justin Fritze gives his guess who the New York Jets will take with their top seven selections in the NFL Draft

We will be going a little mock draft crazy here at TOJ in the final days leading up to the NFL Draft. Today, guest contributor Justin Fritze kicks it off with his projections for who the New York Jets will take with their top seven picks in the draft. Stay tuned for my final mock draft for the Jets and for the entire first round, along with Chris Gross’ mock draft. – JC

Let’s assume that Mike Tannenbaum doesn’t completely lose his mind and mortgage the future of the Jets in the 2012 draft. A move up of two or so spots in round one might do the trick, but nothing too out of the ordinary this year.

6th round – Brandon Lindsey, Outside Linebacker, Pittsburgh – Think about this scenario. 46 defense against a 2 tight end, 2 wide receiver set. AKA The Patriot formation. The Jets can roll out this package as a 4-3 speed rush while clogging up the middle against the draw. Lindsey on the left end, Kenrick Ellis and Sione Pouha as the Nose Tackles, and Muhammad Wilkerson sitting on the right edge as the other defensive end. Fill in the linebackers with David Harris/Bart Scott/Calvin Pace and you’ve got a pretty serious pass rush if you bring 6 and let Harris drop back into coverage.

6th round – Ryan Miller, Guard, Colorado – Sure he’s slow. Sure he needs to get down to 300 lbs to be effective in Tony Sparano’s offense. But this guy can smack around linebackers with the best of them. You know for a fact that Tony Sparano is going to have an open competition for all offensive line spots other than Center and Left Tackle, so it will be good to add some competition to guys like Matt Slauson, Wayne Hunter and Vlad Ducasse.

6th round – Jeff Adams, Left Tackle, Columbia – A good backup to Ferguson who hopefully learns right tackle so Wayne Hunter can spend less time getting our quarterbacks killed. Sparano is going to want to go to camp with no less than 15 offensive lineman, and most likely use 6-8 throughout the regular season, knowing injuries to offensive lineman are going to pile up with this new run heavy offense.

5th round – Robert Blanton, Cornerback, Notre Dame – One of my favorites in the list, Blanto  saved 6-10 touchdowns this season for a dreadful Notre Dame team. Again, scenario time. Dime formation. Jets love it against pass happy offenses. Cromartie and Revis one on one, Kyle Wilson taking the third receiver, and a safety covering the fourth receiver as Blanton rushes the QB along with the 4 defensive lineman. He can add pressure up front and also drop back while a safety blitzes from the edge.

3rd Round – Juron Criner, Wide Receiver, Arizona – He’s got size and length, but he’s going to need some serious coaching and consistency to compete at the next level. He’s a project, but in the red zone he can be a big help on the naked bootleg. Please come back Tom Moore.

2nd Round – David Wilson, Running Back, Virginia Tech – The antidote to the Jets lack of running success. Wilson, coupled with the previously mentioned additions to the offensive line, will fill the void left by LT and complement the speed of Joe McKnight and the Shonn Greene power running game. He’s a counter play machine, and he’s good for the occasional power sweep that will keep defenses honest if Tim Tebow lines up out of the spread option.

1st Round – Mark Barron, Safety, Alabama – The worthy (much improved) successor to Jim Leonhard. They’re probably going to keep Leonhard for one more season, and they should use it to have Leonhard teach Barron everything about the Rex Ryan defense. Add him to a 46 with Laron Landry and you could at any point have a safety blitz, a corner blitz or two linebackers blitz. A pick of Barron would be giving Ryan security in the secondary for the next 5 years.

NFL Draft: How Will Risers And Fallers Impact New York Jets?

The rising and falling of certain draft prospects could alter the New York Jets draft plans

It is a familiar process to anybody who follows the NFL Draft. Players skyrocket up draft boards, while simultaneously players who were popular months ago begin to see their stock steadily decline. Look at the case of three pass rushers associated with the New York Jets. A few months ago, it appeared South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram would be well out of reach for them with the 16th pick. Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw was a popular pick for the Jets but some questioned whether they’d need to move up a few spots for him. Syracuse’s Chandler Jones was considered a second round prospect who the Jets could trade back to target if they focused on a different position in round one.

Take us to today, where there is talk of Courtney Upshaw falling out of the first round, Ingram being available for the Jets at 16 and Jones potentially being taken even before Ingram.

Jones is 6’5, 247 pounds and has the long arms teams desire in their pass rushers. Many teams, including the Jets if they take him, believe he could make the transition from being a college defensive end into being a 3-4 outside linebacker. He has more explosiveness off the ball than Courtney Upshaw and most believe he has a higher upside. I am not sure if he actually will end up leapfrogging Ingram on draft day but if the Jets miss out on Ingram, it would no longer be a surprise if they took Jones over Upshaw.

Due to his versatility, Ingram has to be the top pass rusher on the Jets draft board. While many teams wouldn’t be happy with Ingram’s lack of a clear cut position, Rex Ryan loves it and would relish the chance to turn him into an improved version of Adalius Thomas during his Baltimore years. Ingram would likely see time at four different spots in the Jets defensive scheme and give them much needed explosiveness in their front seven.

The question for the Jets now becomes, can they risk waiting until #16 for Ingram? Most people seem to agree that Ingram is going to fall out of the top ten but there is increased chatter that Seattle could target him with the 12th pick. A move from #16 to #11 should’t be cost prohibitive for the Jets as they may be able to hang on to their 2nd round pick this year in the process.

Ultimately, it will come down to how badly the Jets want Ingram in comparison to other pass rushers in the first round. I think his versatility sets him apart enough that they will do what it takes to get him, even if it requires moving up a handful of spots. Jones is a tempting fallback but I still think he is valued too high at number 16. The Jets will hope Mark Barron is available if they miss out on Ingram but if he isn’t, it could come down to staying put and taking Jones or Upshaw.

New York Jets Considering Needed Veteran Additions In Secondary

The New York Jets are wisely exploring making veteran additions to their secondary

The New York Jets are having both veteran free agent safety Yeremiah Bell and cornerback Chris Johnson in for visits today. While it is doubtful either will be signed before the draft, it is a smart move to prepare contingency plans depending on what happens this weekend.

We have already discussed the reality that the Jets need more than one player added to their safety depth chart. While he isn’t the Pro Bowl player he was a few years back, Bell is a productive, reliable player who would provide needed insurance for LaRon Landry at strong safety. Beyond that, he has more size and athleticism than Jim Leonhard at free safety, if the Jets end up starting a veteran at that position. Bell is familiar with the Jets through offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. He would be a low cost addition that would provide much needed piece of mind to a depth chart at safety that is currently paper thin and one injury away from being a complete disaster.

Chris Johnson saw his role decline greatly in Oakland last year but he has starting experience and would fill the hole the Jets currently have at their fourth cornerback spot. Donald Strickland isn’t coming back and was average at best last year. Marquice Cole has left for New England. Johnson would have a small role on the Jets defense in their dime package, provide depth if one of the top three corners got hurt and be a quality special teams player. He should be a nice upgrade over what Strickland gave them last year.

Unless the Jets leave the draft with two safeties they feel very good about, look for Bell to be signed in the coming weeks. Similarly, unless they add a corner in the middle rounds, I would look for Johnson to be signed sooner rather than later in the days after the draft. Both players would be needed veteran additions at positions that could used improved depth. Don’t be surprised to see the same approach taken at wide receiver. If the Jets don’t add a player in the first three rounds, they will likely add Braylon Edwards at some point in May if his knee checks out.

NFL Draft: Will New York Jets Add To Defensive Line?

Chris Gross breaks down a handful of defensive line prospects the New York Jets could target in the NFL Draft

While the Jets have glaring needs at OLB, Safety, Wide Receiver, and Right Tackle heading into Thursday’s draft, one position few people are talking about is Defensive Line. Although the Jets are somewhat stable on the defensive front, having drafted promising DE Mohammed Wilkerson with their first pick last year, and extending NT Sione Pouha this offseason, there is a tremendous amount of depth at defensive line in this year’s draft that could provide great value to the Jets. As the Giants showed during each of their past two Super Bowl wins, quality depth along the defensive line can be a deadly weapon.

1 – Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State – Cox is head and shoulders above every other defensive lineman in the draft this year. At 6’4” 298 lbs, not only does Cox possess the ideal size to play any position in any defensive line scheme, but he has the intangibles to do so as well. Cox is extremely fast for his size, having run a 4.79 40-yard dash, while also showing great strength posting 30 reps in the bench press. It is always difficult to judge a defensive lineman by statistics because many schemes are not designed for their defensive tackles to be playmakers, but Cox was not hampered by that notion at Mississippi State.

Last season, he posted 56 tackles and 5 sacks, while registering back-to-back multi-sack games against South Carolina and Kentucky. However, while all of these numbers are great, it is Cox’s film that makes him truly impressive. He plays with an extremely high motor, arguably the highest out of the entire class this year. He shows great explosion off the ball, while proving to be both aggressive and disciplined, which is a lethal combination when it comes to defensive linemen. His hands and feet are constantly active, and he shows his tremendous athleticism with his ability to scream down the line of scrimmage on toss sweep and bootlegs. Cox also seems to have an elite conditioning level, as he comes off the ball with the same tenacity and ferociousness on every play. He would be a tremendous fit as a 5-technique in the Jets’ system, and would create one of the scariest three man fronts in football alongside Pouha and Wilkerson.

His value is likely too high to be had at 16, and it is doubtful that the Jets will trade up for him. However, make no mistake if he is available when the Jets are on the clock, there is a good chance he will be taken. Mike Tannenbaum has already said the Jets will look to take the best available player this year, and if Cox is there at 16, he will be just that.

2 – Michael Brockers, LSU – Recently, ESPN’s Mel Kiper wrote that he sees Brockers as the best value pick for the Jets at 16. While that remains to be seen, Brockers is certainly a very appealing prospect. At 6’5” 316 lbs, Brockers has ideal size as a 3-4 defensive end, and certainly has the college football experience you’d want in a defensive lineman, having played in the SEC. He has shown he has a very high work ethic as he improved his combine numbers (5.36 40, 19 reps) to his pro day numbers (5.15 40, 21 reps). Brockers has a high ceiling and could prove to be an excellent NFL player if drafted in to the right system. With 54 tackles, 2 sacks and an interception last season, he has shown he can be a playmaker.

He posted 7 tackles in the National Championship game against one of the strongest power running attacks in college football last season in Trent Richardson and the Alabama Crimson Tide. Brockers is another high motor player, with excellent hand and foot speed, but tends to come off the ball high at times, something he will have to improve to be successful at the professional level. He shows great aggression, and is very explosive when he stays low. He could be a great fit with the Jets, but his best value would be in the lower 20s, so New York would be smart to trade down if they decide to target Brockers.

3 – Kendall Reyes, UConn – Reyes is one of the most under the radar prospects that could be a late first/early second rounder this year. Seemingly overshadowed by his two SEC counterparts, Reyes has quietly had a very good career at Connecticut. A two year captain, Reyes not only posses great leadership ability, but he is also one of the smartest football players in the draft this year. At 6’4” 299 lbs, he proved to be extremely versatile both physically and mentally at UConn, having seen time at both Defensive Tackle and End. He has shown an ability to learn various schemes and positions, something that is vital as an NFL prospect. Coaches like Ryan love versatile players that can be moved all over the field, and Reyes is just that. He is extremely strong (36 reps), while also demonstrating tremendous athleticism having run a 4.95 40 at the combine. Reyes also proved to have exceptional ball skills for a D-Lineman, recording 8 passes defended and 2 interceptions in his past two seasons at UConn. Reyes will be an excellent fit as a 3-4 defensive end, and if he is available in the early to mid second round, it would not be surprising to see New York jump up a few spots to grab him.

4 – Dontari Poe, Memphis – Poe was the hero at the combine this year, having run a 4.98 40 yard dash at 6’3” nearly 350 lbs, while getting the most reps on the bench (44) among all participants, displaying tremendous strength. However, unlike many prospects high on draft boards, Poe does not have the production to go with it. Last year at Memphis, Poe had only 22 tackles and 1 sack. Again, it is hard to judge a defensive tackle by statistics, but one would think that a player who has shown as much strength and athleticism as Poe would have been more of a playmaker on the field. Poe also seems to disappear in some games. Last year, there were 5 games in which he recorded only one tackle. His combine numbers scream difference maker, but his statistics show role player.

On film, Poe’s value is even lower. He does not show the motor that Rex Ryan values in his defensive lineman, and he seems to be very undisciplined. Against Arkansas State, Poe was caught up field countless times, creating open running lanes that led to big gains. Unfortunately, he has bust written all over him. If anything, he is more of a 4-3 style defensive tackle, and would not fit well in a 3-4. The Jets should not consider Poe at any point in the first round.

5 – Derek Wolfe, Cincinnati – Wolfe is a very big (6’5” 295 lbs), athletic (5.01 40, 33 reps), and productive (70 tackles, 9.5 sacks in 2011) player. His numbers are astronomical for a defensive lineman, and he would provide a great interior pass rush as a 5-technique lined up opposite Wilkerson. Wolfe had 3 multi-sack games last year, and posted linebacker like numbers against Louisville with 11 tackles and a sack. He shows great block recognition on film, plays well against the double team, and absolutely demolishes the lead blocker on traps and pulls. Wolfe also seems to have very good football sense, showing great ability to make pre-snap reads. He tends to slow down during long drives, which could be a conditioning issue, but let’s not forget he is carrying nearly 300 lbs. Under Ryan, he could be a very productive player, and would be a fantastic late day two value if he were to fall that far.

NHL Playoffs: This Physical, Beautiful Game On Ice

Justin Fritze discusses the violent beauty of the first round of the NHL playoffs

As both the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils head into decisive Game 5’s tonight, Guest contributor Justin Fritze discusses the violent beauty of the first round of the NHL Playoffs so far…

For as long as I can remember, I have had some sort of connection to hockey. My Uncle used to play ice hockey religiously growing up and even into his 20’s in an amateur league about a mile down the road from my grandma’s house. In the summer he would play deck hockey, and at the end of games he even used to ask the guys who ran the place to let him stay late and shoot around with me for about half an hour.

My Dad’s best friend growing up was a guy named Matt Janney, whose brother was Craig Janney, a first round pick of the Boston Bruins in 1986, and who according to the NHL Alumni board had the “softest hands in hockey”. To say he was a legend in Enfield was an understatement. He was pretty much god in that small Connecticut town, and despite being 6 years old, I still remember the insane party he had at his house after getting selected in the NHL Draft.

After that, I pretty much had hockey ingrained in my psyche. I went to Bruins games, went to Whalers games…that’s right. Look it up. Hartford Whalers. Pretty much the coolest jersey to ever exist. I watched every Craig Janney game I could, and the Bruins recent bruising of the Canucks on the way to the NHL Stanley Cup brought a smile that only a kid who grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts could understand.

I never did make it into ice hockey, but I did play roller hockey. Outdoors. In January. On Long Island, where the average nightly temperature was around 20 degrees. Not so fun getting checked into the boards when you’re having trouble feeling your fingers.

I also benefited from a next door neighbor whose father was a firefighter and brought us to the yearly NYPD vs. FDNY hockey game that took place in the hellhole that is Nassau Coliseum, where fighting was so rampant that the two fan-bases were literally separated on opposite sides by barricades. At one game I counted 12 fights on the ice, and probably about 6 more in the bathrooms. It was one of the greatest sports events I have ever been to.

And so, this year’s NHL Playoffs. Did the NHL make a mistake in not coming down “hand of god” style a la Roger Goodell against all this blatant violence? I’m not someone with a horse in the race, so to say I don’t like the violence of the NHL would be an outright lie.

You know what the best part of NHL 94 for Sega Genesis was? Watching some poor bastard come up the side from their own blue line, getting a head full of steam, and knocking him through the glass. That’s right. Through the glass. Oh yeah, and the inevitable 2nd period throwdown. THIS IS HOCKEY. Even the video games were preprogrammed with checking, guys getting carted off, and literal Mike Tyson Punchout matches in the middle of the ice.

Now, to play devils advocate, would I be able to sit comfortably if I was related to the leading scorer on any of the playoff teams? Of course not. I would be terrified. Everyone is one severe hit away from a concussion that could last months. But this is the ancient element of hockey. No escape. Locked in. And they’re coming from all directions. Even the goalies aren’t completely safe.

For the sake of objectivity, I will admit that hockey fans are a different breed. A guy who may be a corporate lawyer will turn into a Hell’s Angels when it comes to playoff hockey, especially when it’s a matchup like Flyers/Penguins. If the Bruins and Rangers make it to the next round, I’m going to have a dilemma so deep, because of the Boston roots and the teenage years in New York (remembering Messier/Richter/Leetch/Graves and that whole insanity of 94) I may just have to wear a different jersey every single night to help the balance.

But I’ll be damned if someone doesn’t admit playoff hockey is exciting unlike any other sport in the world. It’s what soccer should be. Goals/Saves/Hits at a rate that turns your nerves into downed power lines in a hurricane. Your blood boils and your brain is on the edge of adrenaline overload. Your eyes can’t keep up, and you’re beginning to scream for no reason other than the eventual hit that is about to send someone backwards or into the boards with the force of two Mac trucks hitting each other at 35mph.

Thank You NHL. Now shorten the season, and let’s hope no one gets seriously hurt.

TOJ 12 Pack: Nobody Likes Mark Sanchez Edition

The TOJ 12 pack runs down Mark Sanchez’s doubters this off-season

Today’s TOJ 12 pack is dedicated to those who have already decided Mark Sanchez will be benched for Tim Tebow. A quarterback who isn’t half the quarterback he is and who didin’t accomplish half as much as he did in his first two years. I see positives in the Tebow addition but I do not think the Jets would be anywhere near better off with him under center full time than Sanchez, who I believe is a far superior quarterback. Anyway here is a little extra motivation for you #6 –

1. Amani Toomer, Good Receiver, Awful Analyst (Seriously, have you ever heard his color commentary?)“I don’t see Sanchez being the starter for the entire season,” Toomer told reporters, including the Daily News’ Eb Samuel, at the launch of the league’s new apparel partnerships. “(Sanchez) is not a great quarterback. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that.”

2. Von Miller, Wayne Hunter’s Biggest Fan, Cheap Shotted Sanchez Last Year – Miller said: “I think everybody’s mistaken if you think he’s just going to go over there and be a wildcat quarterback or a situational quarterback. The Tebow that I know is going … to be able to compete for that starting job.”

3. Michael Irvin, Great Receiver, Predicted Mark Brunell Would Take Over For Sanchez Last Year – “You can have a plan,” the always-animated Irvin continued. “Brad Smith, all of that stuff is a whole different thing. Because when Tebow makes a play and everbody starts hollering ‘TE-BOW! TE-BOW!’ They never hollered ‘BRAD SMITH! BRAD SMITH!’ That’s going to affect Mark Sanchez. And I don’t care if you lose that Buffalo Bills opener and then Pittsburgh knocks you around, he will be starting by the Miami Dolphins game…. That’s the third game of the season. Sanchez: put your petal to the metal. Get going!”

4. Heath Evans, Okay Fullback I Guess, Commentator on NFL Network – “Tebow will start by week 3…of the pre-season” – NFL Network

5. Vince Wilkfork, Defensive Tackle, 3 Losses To Sanchez, Zero Losses To Tebow – ”I’d start Tebow. He’s a winner. He’s proven.

6. Percy Harvin, Noted For Migraines and Choking His College WR coach, Former Tebow Teammate – “For anybody to think he’s not going in there to win the starting job, you’re fooling yourself. “

7. Mike Lombardi, The Smartest Fired GM Who Can’t Get Hired Again – “For all the talk of being a leader, Sanchez never operates like one. No matter what the Jets claim publicly, they don’t really believe in Sanchez.”

8. Gregg Rosenthal, Mike Florio’s Former Employee – If New York can’t stay above .500 during their five-game stretch to start the season, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Tebow was the team’s starter before the Jets head to Foxborough in Week 7″

9. Bill Barnwell, Said Chad Henne Was Second Coming Of Drew Brees – Sanchez has failed to launch since 2009, but he was able to duck the criticism during his first two years with playoff runs that saw him raise his level of play and the team enjoy an inordinate amount of luck.”

Let’s stop with the negativity for a second and finish up with some encouragement for our quarterback

10. Joe Montana, Kind Of Understands This Quarterback Thing – “Mark is a better player right now and that’s it,” he said in an email to the Daily News. “As long as Mark believes in himself and plays, it’s not an issue. It’s more of an issue for those of you who write, or blog or tweet and all the other methods of delivering content.”

11. The Smartest City In The World – The poll, released Monday, showed both general New York residents and the state’s football fans felt strongly that Sanchez is the best option at quarterback.

12. The Playoff Game Sanchez Started In New England Versus The Playoff Game Tebow Started In New England –

TOJ New York Jets Mock Draft 3.0

TOJ rounds up all the recent mock drafts and gives his prediction for what the Jets will do in the NFL Draft

The NFL Draft is now only 6 days away. Here is an updated look at what multiple mock drafts have the New York Jets doing with the number 16 pick in the first round, along with our current prediction. Here at TOJ, we are looking to make it three years in a row of predicting the Jets first selection correctly, previously calling it right on Kyle Wilson and Muhammad Wilkerson.

Before we get into our third mock draft. Check out our previous draft coverage, led by myself and staff writer Chris Gross

To the mock drafts…

Don Banks, Sports Illustrated – Courtney Upshaw, Outside Linebacker, Alabama

Peter King, Sports Illustrated – Dontari Poe, Defensive Tackle, Memphis

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports – Courtney Upshaw, Outside Linebacker, Alabama

Evan Silva, Rotoworld –  Melvin Ingram, Outside Linebacker, South Carolina

Walter Football – Chandler Jones, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Syracuse

ESPN NFL Blog Network – Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame

Charley Casserly, NFL.com – Nick Perry, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, USC

TOJ – Melvin Ingram, Outside Linebacker, South Carolina

Analysis – The picks for the Jets are starting to move all over the place. A few weeks ago the consensus seemed to be Courtney Upshaw or Mark Barron but with Barron’s climb up most draft boards and Upshaw’s decline, it would be far from a surprise if the Jets ended up with neither. There is now talk that Upshaw could slide all the way out of the first round while Barron has stabilized himself as a top 15 pick that the Jets would be lucky to see available at #16.

More rumors have been linking the Jets to Melvin Ingram, who seems to be the most logical fit on the Jets roster. Many coaches could be scared away by Ingram not being a perfect fit in any one position, while Rex Ryan would embrace that versatility to line him up at outside linebacker, inside linebacker, defensive end and even defensive tackle. Considering Jacksonville’s apparent lack of interest in Ingram, there is starting to be some talk that he could slide to #16 which would be the best case scenario for the Jets, allowing them to get the player they really want without having to sacrifice any picks.

If the Jets were to trade up, Carolina is the most logical trade partner at #9. Mike Tannenbaum and Panthers GM Martin Hurney have worked together on draft day before when the Jets moved up to get Darrelle Revis. They also worked together on the Kris Jenkins trade. Unfortunately such a move would likely cost the Jets their second round pick this year.

One other option that is a little far fetched, if Trent Richardson somehow slips out of the top six. I would not be stunned if the Jets traded up to 7 to grab him. He is good enough and fits well enough with their identity that it would be worth it.

At the moment, here are my projections for the Jets first round pick in descending order of likelihood:

5. Trade Up For Trent Richardson – Crazier things have happened on draft days. If somehow he slips past #6, the Jets could look to trade with Jacksonville and take the draft’s unquestioned top back.

4. Stay Put And Take Michael Floyd – I don’t think the Jets would trade up for Floyd but if he falls to 16, depending on who else is available they would strongly consider him.

3. Stay Put Or Trade Back For Courtney Upshaw, Dont’a Hightower, Chandler Jones or Andre Branch – If the Jets miss out on Ingram, one of these players would be their next target at linebacker. Hightower is an inside linebacker but would provide the best value at 16. The Jets may now be able to trade back a few spots and still get Upshaw. If they want Branch or Jones, they should look at trading back into the mid 20s.

2. Stay Put Or Trade Up For Mark Barron – Unless Ingram is still on the board, there is nobody the Jets would be happier to see at #16 than Mark Barron. The Jets could also consider hopping over Dallas to try and snag him.

1. Stay Put Or Trade Up For Melvin Ingram – If Ingram falls to 16, the Jets are taking him. If they don’t think that is likely, they are going to make a strong push to move up to grab him.

NFL Draft: New York Jets Could Target Inside Linebacker

Chris Gross breaks down what inside linebackers the New York Jets should consider in the NFL Draft

With so much focus on who the Jets could target at Outside Linebacker, Safety, Wide Receiver, and Running Back in this year’s draft, little attention has been paid to the idea of New York selecting an Inside Linebacker in one of the early rounds. Many people forget that before the start of free agency, the Jets were reportedly shopping Bart Scott. No deal was ever made for Scott, but the intention to move the aging ILB shows that the Jets will be ready to get a younger player to pair with David Harris in the near future. There are three players worthy of the Jets taking in one of the early rounds.

1 – Luke Kuechly, Boston College – Kuechly is undoubtedly the cream of the crop of this year’s Inside Linebackers. With 516 career tackles at Boston College, including an astounding 191 this year alone, the 2011 Butkus Award winner is simply a tackling machine. Not only does Kuechly have ideal size at 6’3” 242 lbs, but his speed (4.58 40) and strength (27 reps) combined with his phenomenal football IQ and instincts to make him the prototypical Inside Linebacker. He would be a great fit with New York, but his value is likely in the top ten, and it is doubtful that the Jets would trade up to draft a position that is not its greatest need. However, if he somehow falls to them at 16, don’t be shocked if they pull the trigger on the BC product.

2 – Dont’a Hightower, Alabama – Hightower is one of the most intriguing players in the draft this year. With 83 tackles, 4 sacks, and 1 interception this past season, his numbers aren’t as impressive as Kuechly’s, but let’s not forget that he was on a defense with 3 first team All-Americans. Simply put, there was no room for one player to post huge numbers. Aside from statistics, Hightower’s measurables are what make him so interesting. At 6’2” 265 lbs, a 33 inch arm length, and great speed for his weight (4.68 40), Hightower is a player than can be moved all around the Jets’ scheme. He has the ability to play inside, while also possessing the intangibles to be a situational pass rusher off the edge. Rex Ryan could certainly be creative with his abilities, and this could possibly solve two needs in one, while grooming him to take over for Scott when the time comes. He should be available when the Jets pick at 16, and this has the potential to be an eyebrow raiser next Thursday night.

3 – Mychal Kendricks, California – Kendricks’ stock is rapidly rising as draft day approaches, and he is likely to be an early second rounder. At 5’11” 249 lbs, he certainly has the size needed to take on the double teams as a 3-4 ILB, while also possessing amazing speed (4.47 40) to make him a pass rushing threat from the inside (14 career sacks at Cal). The question with Kendricks will be if the Jets are willing to move up in the second round to get him. We have seen this act before when New York moved up in round two to grab David Harris in 2007, a move that was one of Mike Tannenbaum’s best decisions as GM. Expect the Jets to take a hard look at Kendricks if they don’t take Kuechly or Hightower. If he is available to them in the second round without having to trade up, it will be almost impossible for Gang Green to pass on a talent like this.

If the Jets do opt to pass on ILB in one of the first 3 rounds, there are several late round prospects they will take a look at. The top two late round prospects are Bobby Wagner of Utah State and Nevada’s James-Michael Johnson. However, despite being very quality, productive players, these two are a bit undersized to play 3-4 ILB, and will be much more suited to play MLB in a 4-3 scheme. I do not see either of them fitting into the Jets’ draft plans.

Audie Cole out of North Carolina State has a very high ceiling, but would be a work in progress. At 6’4” 246 lbs, he has great size and the production to go with it, posting 107 tackles and 5.5 sacks last season. However, his strength is well below average with only 15 reps on the bench press. This certainly will not cut it at the NFL level, especially in a 3-4 scheme, but his late round value may make him a worthy pick as a developmental type player.

Finally, New York could, and should, target Arizona State’s Vontaze Burfict in rounds 5-7. Burfict has been missing in action in every mock draft after a horrible combine, in which he weighed in at 248 pounds and ran a very below average 4.93 40-yard dash.

However, after the season, Burfict was a projected first rounder by several analysts including ESPN’s Todd McShay. Since then, his attitude issues and poor testing numbers have dropped him so far down draft boards that Mike Mayock of the NFL Network recently wrote that he sees Burfict going undrafted. That may be a bit extreme, especially when noting Burfict’s production at Arizona State the past two seasons, where he had 158 total tackles, 5 sacks, and 1 interception. His aggressive attitude that has seemed to scare many scouts away would fit perfectly with the Jets. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and has the swag that Rex Ryan looks for in his linebackers. If New York can grab Burfict in one of the last three rounds, it would produce a low risk, high reward scenario, and they should not hesitate to take a chance on him.