I Dreamed A Dream – The 2011 Draft and How To Survive The Doldrums

After checking about 4,200 mock drafts, ranging from the cracked out enthusiasm of the schizophrenic Mel Kiper, the “fatdudewithablog.com” mock draft, and even the lowly ESPN stat boy who has created entire formulas of efficiency regarding the maximum upside of every draft pick. I have learned absolutely nothing about potential draft choices. Actually less than nothing, I believe this is what I am trying to illustrate:

Nothing  >  What I learned

Who would have thought that all our collective energy could go to something so utterly useless? I hereby declare silence unto the stat dorks, the combine creeps and the game tape goons, all you proclaim is dressed up fantasy, and my logic will no doubt be forced to lead us through these murky waters.

OK, the Jets draft at 30, which means that if any of those teams before them decide to trade picks up or down, the entire draft becomes, in scientific terms, an exponential clusterf*ck. Let me just ask now, who predicted the Leon Washington trade and grabbing McKnight in the 4th round my dear soothsayers?

Let us imagine the doomsday scenarios, those are more exciting anyway. What if Belichick went completely insane and traded his two second round picks for a 1st and 3rd, which would leave them with “potentially” (I do not know the exact point formulas) three 1st round picks. Do you think THAT would affect how the Jets draft?

What if the grand face of slate nabbed both Julio Jones and Mark Ingram? Tannenbaum would undoubtedly be forced to recognize the unholy alliance of size, speed, and brains that would make quick work of 90% of the NFL. Unless the Jets somehow managed to get  my “dream defense”, which would require the intervention of various holy men and deals so underhanded they scoop mud, it would nearly be impossible to compete.

Let’s think about this for a second. Does anyone honestly think that Mark Ingram wouldn’t be the best Patriots running back in the last 10 years? Or that Julio Jones isn’t the receiver Tom Brady dreams of when he lays his head upon the soft linens? Its awful to think of. Which is why we need my dream defense. Debate it as you will.

THE DREAM DEFENSE – TO BE IMPLEMENTED AT START OF 2011 SEASON……IF THERE IS ONE

Defensive End – I’m gonna go out on a limb and think that Rex would like to keep Trevor Pryce for one more year, just as a sort of mentor and rotation player. 6’5 290lbs doesn’t lie. He may be old, but you know he would lift up a train if Rex Ryan asked him nicely. I think Mike Devito would be a great second rotation player. To be specific I like Pryce at Left End. I think there are few things are essential as Shaun Ellis on this team, because as we know Rex, we know he loves the big men. Also, who doesn’t love that Wikipedia picture of him? Priceless. So Ellis at Right End.

Defensive Tackle – Here is where we crank the “FREAK O METER” up to 11. Ok, so you think, old man and old man at Defensive End. Big shit. Ok, how about this. A HEALTHY Kris Jenkins at Nose Tackle. Yes, you have all seen him make those bear swipes on centers and guards, you have seen the Sport Science episode, it’s completely terrifying. Kris Jenkins wants to hurt your quarterback, like they say….”he makes noises”. Oh, and because I love Nose Tackles…..how about we put my favorite Nose Tackle in the 2011 draft Marcell Dareus next to him. So we have a polar bear and a lion. Kris Jenkins lands on you. Marcell Dareus hits you. They both have claws, and they would undoubtedly have contests to see who could inflict more damage. And to top it all off we got Sione Pouha rotating in when the opposing team is down to their 4th quarterback.

Outside Linebacker –  Calvin Pace is the worst pass rusher in football according to certain statistics, like when he had 3 sacks against the Raiders in 2009, which is why I am starting him as my first outside linebacker. He can stand up and spin in circles for all I care, just don’t let those halfback tosses get past ya friend. Yell things, knock tight ends off their routes….be that last note on a blitz chord….remember….”wont start no stuff wont be no stuff”. So that leaves my second draft pick, Sam Acho to creep around and pick up scattered body parts of fullbacks and skinny running backs with dreadlocks. Acho is a DE/OLB hybrid but I think Rex Ryan likes to….um….move people around. I’m still waiting for Kris Jenkins to play fullback…..just one play.

Inside Linebacker – The mouth and the motor. Bart Scott is now a certified flight attendant, and so he is going to use those wings to fly on towards a QB scrambling for his life. Imagine this if you will, Calvin Pace coming off the edge, Dareus and Jenkins right up the middle, and this screaming banshee coming from somewhere in the shuffle. Oh, dear me, I believe since we run a 3-4 half the time we get another linebacker. Meet David Harris. He is the bruiser of the gang. He once broke a truckers entire hand thumb wrestling. He is a fan of sacks, forced fumbles, and key interceptions in things like the playoffs.

Cornerback – There is no doubt in my mind that at some point in his life, Darrelle Revis had Kill Bill style Ninja training. Have you seen some of those interceptions? They will never be recreated, duplicated, or contested. Despite my tendency to get a little crazy, I think Cromartie will get better in terms of technique with another year under his belt. He is still relatively young, and learning the Jets defense takes at least a year, just look at how confused Kyle Wilson was when he wasn’t a nickel corner. I think Cromartie is great for deep threat receivers, but he still acts like a punter when it comes to contact, despite the fact that he can smash faces in via Twitter. Lets just say Coleman, Cole and Wilson will all compete for third and fourth string corner spots, but I think Wilson will take the top of the heap, come on Boise State!

Free Safety – I am not alone in thinking Dwight Lowery would end up better at free safety than cornerback. He thinks he would be better at safety too. He keeps his eye on the ball more than the man he is covering, and thus is better at assisting than having to guard in man to man coverage. I also think Brodney Pool would make a great rotation player, and seeing what he can do with a full year under the defensive coaches would make their free safety tandem quite good.

Strong Safety – Jim Leonhard is a little ball of defensive genius. Shame he didn’t have another 50 lbs and 6 inches to his height, because I could see him being a pro bowl caliber player at that size. Which is why I have added another little touch of beauty to our safety rotation. Quinton Carter. This guy is a freak. He scares receivers. The Jets need a bruiser to add to Jim Leonhard, so Quinton fills the relative lack of size. And you know you are going to love him because quarterbacks are going to be forced to chuck a few up there and say a prayer, which is where Carter lines up your receiver from 20 yards out and…

If we were to then translate this into a “46” defense, we would have our front line consisting of Ellis, Dareus, Jenkins and Pryce followed by Pace, Scott and Harris at linebacker, occasionally subbing any of those three out with Sam Acho. Quinton Carter creeping down at Strong Safety and Jim Leonhard over the top, and now that I think about it, I would probably want to rotate Lowery and Carter every few plays, or even have both of them  start up front and drop back to cover the middle. Last but not least, our two corners, Revis and Cromartie in man to man coverage, which could get dicey with guys like Tom Brady and Peon ytManning, but as Joe Theismann once said, “it is very hard to get to your receiver in man to man when you are laying on your back.”

To recap:

Draft Picks

1) Marcell Dareus, Alabama (2010 BCS Championship Defensive MVP)

2) Quinton Carter, Oklahoma (2010 All Big 12 Team)

3) Sam Acho, Texas (2010 Wuerffel Trophy & Campbell Trophy Winner)

To be clear, the Jets would have to make a few trades and give up their 5th, 6th & 7th round picks, maybe parting with Damien Woody, Eric and Brad Smith as well. Obviously I couldn’t legitimately work out the exact solutions but it’s more fun to make an insane defense than balance a team….that’s for the coaches.

Prospect Watch: Stephen Paea

Fear not, back from the dead, but most definitely back is TOJ’s Prospect Watch.  This time around we will dissect Oregon State defensive lineman Stephen Paea, yes, the guy who benched 225lbs 49 times at the combine.  Paea, originally from the Kingdom of Tonga, an archipelago of 176 islands in the South Pacific Ocean, moved to the United States at age 16.  He played only one year of high school football, his senior year, before he attended Snow Junior College; so for those you have been keeping track at home, he only completed 3 years of organized football before he enrolled at Oregon State.

Some cite Paea’s lack of experience as a knock on him, while others can’t imagine his potential once he gets a full feeling for the game. One place his lack of experience has hurt him is his pass rush, where he has not been able to develop a full repertoire of moves.  This confines him to pretty much being a one-trick pony as far as getting in the backfield, however his one-trick, an overpowering bull rush, is one hell of a weapon and he has been disrupting Pac-10 Offensive Linemen since he put on a Beaver jersey in 2008. 

Like most late first round interior lineman prospects, Paea’s statistics don’t jump off the page. He is the two time defending Morris Trophy Award winner, which is an award for the best defensive lineman in the Pac-10 voted on by the offensive lineman in the conference, which shows a lot more than a stat line could.  He fires low off the ball and uses leverage from his, “bowling ball” frame to plug gaps and blow up plays in the backfield. 

As his combine numbers would indicate, he is considered one of the strongest players in the country, again, because of his leverage, he is able to translate weight room strength to on-the-field strength easier than other players who put up gaudy combine numbers.  His well above-average strength becomes blatant when watching him take down ball carriers, a stat that should raise the ears of the Jets front office is his forced fumbles, a career total of nine, which is an Oregon State record.

Paea’s run defense is absolutely where he will earn his playing time wherever he goes in the NFL.  He is a heady player who will engage and lock on a defender, but also knows when he is beat and will cause a pile before he gets blown up by a double team.  His pass rushing, however, is a different story.  As I said earlier, he lacks any real pass rushing moves other than a straight bull rush, and also will have a hard time tracking the QB down if the QB has any sort of athleticism. 

Paea plays a pure power game and is not very effective sideline to sideline.  However his biggest concern, unfortunately, is his durability.  He had a bursa sac in his knee during his junior year, and although he played through it, it is still a concern for NFL teams; especially when considering he suffered another knee injury at the Senior Bowl this year, which has limited his draft-season preparation and has hurt his stock a little as well.

It will be interesting to see what happens if Paea is still on the board when the Jets are picking.  If the Jets want to go the defensive lineman route in this draft it might make more sense to address the end position.  But Paeacould be the best lineman available at this time, in which case I would have all the confidence in the world in Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine to find a place for Paea to succeed.

Rex In Effect – A Brief Guide to the Buddha Wisdom Of The Largest “Personality” In Football

TOJ would like to introduce another writer to our staff, Justin Fritze, who will occasionally be providing us with some feature material and a unique look at our New York Jets. Justin is an arts and culture writer who graduated from Baruch College, here is his debut piece for TOJ —

“No, we don’t fear anything”

Rex Ryan

Head coaches have nightmares about it. Offensive lineman spend hours trying to figure out how to block it. Offensive coordinators respect it. It is a Rex Ryan defense, and it would like to meet your quarterback.

Rex Ryan takes pride in his defense. If you don’t believe that, take a look at the cover of Sports Illustrated after the Jets beat the Patriots in the playoffs. A quarterback with three Superbowl rings is not supposed to look like that. However, when Calvin Pace is attempting to rip your shoulder completely out of the socket, walking off the field under your own power starts to take precedence over passer rating.

Rex Ryan, unlike his father, was not a sergeant in the army, but he spent enough time with the ’85 Bears to understand what it takes to lead men. Buddy was part general, part inspirational speaker. In a sense, magical. How else could you explain Mike Singletary playing like he was 10 feet tall? How else could you explain 7 pass rushers, that in certain situations, eerily resembled the hounds of hell?

To all this chaos, this sheer destructive force, there was a formula of efficiency. Work them hard, work them until they do not miss a single step, until you can call their audibles, until the defense OUTSCORES the opposing offense.

There was a certain point that Buddy would let off, like the scene in Full Metal Jacket where Gomer Pyle transformed from slow and dumb to a complete killing machine. Except there was no insane bathroom scene involving rifles and major malfunctions.

“Rookies get you beat, I don’t play with rookies”

Buddy Ryan

When Dave Duerson was drafted to the Bears in the 3rd round of the ’83 draft, Buddy Ryan was forced to cut one of his players, and gave Duerson fair warning that he was not happy about it. “I had to cut a hell of a kid to keep your ass on this team, I didn’t want to, and I hope you prove me wrong, but I’ll tell you this, if you don’t, I’ll be one sad son of a bitch”. It can be assumed then, that Buddy Ryan had little respect for college players, even if they did play at Notre Dame.

When you look at it, the NFL is a completely different game than college football. The purpose of most college football programs, in simple terms, is to develop a system that best hides the glaring weaknesses of its formations, and simultaneously makes the coach look like a genius so he can get a winning record and thus move on to a bigger and better job. Despite a term like “pro style offense” , no team in the NCAA is even close to a professional caliber offense/defense. Because of this, rookies, especially defensive rookies, can cost you the game. (See Kyle Wilson v. The Ravens).

“When we gave up 31 to Miami, we knew Buddy couldn’t walk tall, and we wanted Buddy to walk 6’8

 – Dan Hampton

It’s no secret the Ryan family likes to talk about their team. With a fanbase as prideful and cynical as the Jets, praise is boasting and failure is expected. Things like playoff victories over the Patriots cause grown men to embrace and weep tears of joy all over the five boroughs. We do, of course, live in the age of the headline, the tweet, the misquote, and so when Buddy Ryan told his players, on the eve of the 1985 Super Bowl, “you’ll always be my heroes”, it is not much different than Rex Ryan saying “I believe we have the best defense in football”

It’s the same because they know that their players have heart, that they have pride, that they believe there is a duty to go out an play like someone is disrespecting their coach. That is why the Ryan family is great for football, because they understand the importance of every game, the importance of every play.

“I’m confident. There is no question about it. We’re going into the game expecting to win. I’d be shocked if we don’t. Absolutely would be.”

Rex Ryan

If Rex Ryan had the social demeanor of Bill Belichick people would assume that his method is that of a cryptic genius, but then he wouldn’t have guys like Kenny Phillips or Antrel Rolle slobbering all over him like 16 year old girls at a Justin Bieber concert. That is the inherent duality of the New York coach persona. There is the guy on the practice field, in the locker room, and then there’s the guy who has to appease the media in the press conference.

Despite the overblown quotes, the absurd amount of attention paid to offhand remarks, games are not lost and won amongst members of the media. Rex Ryan knows football and the press, he watched his dad become beloved and a villain. With that sort of run through, he plays it until fact and fiction are blurred into some strange inter-zone. What you read in the paper may sound real, but seeing and hearing are two different senses.

Case in point, when Darrelle Revis was questionable to return after a strained hamstring, the transcript read “no, I don’t think were going to play him at all”. The video of course shows a beaming Rex trying to choke back a smile.

Sometimes I thank god Rex Ryan is a football coach and didn’t end up as something like…um…..well let’s say a right wing political speechwriter. Imagine it…war hawks being unable to suppress their massive excitement….political parties forming around him…he would make Oliver North look like a punk. Yes, Rex Ryan is a 21st century renaissance man.

Should the Jets Trade Down in the Draft?

There is no shortage of needs for the Jets this offseason.  In an ideal world, the Jets could improve at DE, DT, OLB, FS, WR, and depth at the ILB, OLB, and QB positions.  However, come April 28 the Jets are going to have to work with 6 picks:

NYJ 1st round,

NYJ 3rd round

NYJ 4th round

NYJ 5th round

NYJ 6th round

Ari 7th round

So the question is, with an excess of needs and only the draft to fill these needs because of the lockout, should the Jets think about trading out of the 1st round and getting more picks?  It sure would go against the Jets drafting tendencies of the last couple of years; but this is a different year .

If the Jets are not guaranteed to land their top guy, they might want to get as many picks as possible and play trial and error with this year’s draft class.  Especially since Defensive End, Defensive Tackle, Free Safety, and a 3rd WR can be found in rounds 2-4 fairly easily.

By looking at the trade value chart, the Jets could trade:

Their 1st round pick (30th overall), 6th round pick (190th overall), and 7th round pick (222nd overall)

For the…

Jaguars 2nd round pick (48th overall; 16th in the 2nd round) and 3rd round pick (80th overall; 16th in the 3rd round).

This is just a random scenario I cam up with but it begs a couple of questions.  Is having a mid 2nd rounder and two 3rd rounders better than a 1st and two late selections? Do you think we would lose “our guy” by trading back?  Is this draft too deep to give up late round picks like that?  Give your opinion in the comment section.  You also can create your own concoction here, and see what dream scenario you can come up with.

Prospect Watch: Rahim Moore

You may have heard the word, “value” mentioned on ESPN once or twice; it becomes a buzz word for draft enthusiasts like ourselves come spring time, however value is nothing to scoff at, getting the right value with your picks will make or break your team’s draft.  In the past, my method for picking prospects has been pretty straight forward, the Jets need interior lineman, and a pass rusher; so, we’ve looked at a couple of dudes who love to eat, and Akeem Ayers.  Today, we are going to take a look at Rahim Moore, a player who would bring great value at the 30th pick, and a player that I feel the Jets might take, the more and more I think about it.

Rex has made two things pretty clear in his short tenure as the Head of PR head coach of the Jets; one, he does not value 3-4 ends very much, and two, he loves feet his secondary, and wants to build his defense from the back up.  He showed this by drafting Kyle Wilson with the 29th pick last year, and do not be surprised if he “surprises” us again with another pick for the secondary.  If this is going to happen, the pick will be Rahim Moore; Moore played at UCLA for three years starting every game at safety before deciding to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

As of now, the Jets are trying to squeeze three strong safety’s into free safety and strong safety roles; they need a ball hawking free safety and Moore could be that guy.  He likes sitting back and playing “center-field,” and even models his game after Ed Reed.  Moore has great coverage skills and flies to the ball once its in the air, at first glance, his career numbers blow you away (180 tackles 14 interceptions) but a closer look reveals a unbelievable sophomore year and then average junior year.

After receiving All Pac-Ten Honorable Mention recognition his freshman year, Moore tore up opposing offenses with 10 interceptions and 45 tackles during his sophomore campaign, good for most in the country that year.  However, without the help of future NFL players Brian Price and Alterraun Verner, Moore’s production dipped and while he racked up 22 more tackles his junior year, he didn’t show the ball hawking capabilities that had scouts drooling over him his sophomore year, intercepting only one ball all year.

Moore is pretty good against the run when considering his size, he isn’t afraid to stick his nose in the play and will come up to make tackles.  Still, his size is a detriment to his run stopping ability and his coverage is far and away his greatest contribution on the football field.  Still his aggressive nature helps him in all aspects of his game, and most definitely contributed to him being named UCLA team captain his junior year.  Fortunately, he tends to keep his aggressive nature on the field, while off the field he is known as a good student without any team or legal violations.

Value is exactly what the Jets would be getting if they picked Rahim Moore with the 30th pick.  He is the number one rated safety on basically everyone’s board, and while this is a weak safety class, it might be wise to pick up Moore and worry about a linemen in the 3rd round, as the DL class is the deepest of this draft.

Prospect Watch: Akeem Ayers

The arrow has been pointing down on Akeem Ayers draft stock after his sub-par performance at the combine, however the Jets are probably still going to have to cross their fingers and toes for the 3-4 OLB to drop to the 30th pick.  Nevertheless let’s take a look at the SoCal native.

Ayers jumped on NFL scout’s radars with his exceptional sophomore campaign that saw him rack up 55 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 4 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and a partridge in a pear tree.  His numbers dipped a bit his Junior year but he recorded more tackles and still had 10 TFL, and 4 sacks.

Ayers is expected to translate fairly well into the NFL, however it is hard to find his true calling card once he reaches the next level.  He is a good pass rusher, good run stuffer, good in coverage, and has good versatility.  The “great” aspect of his game has yet to be conceptualized, but that does not mean the right NFL coaches won’t be able to get something special out of him.

Ayers had the athleticism and technique to play standing up and with his hand in the dirt while in college; he gets low and likes to dip and rip through the tackle on his way to the quarterback.  The best aspect of his pass rush is his initial jump off the ball, which allows him to get into the right position when trying to rush the QB.  Where Ayers gets in trouble is finding a counter move if he doesn’t get to the edge before the tackle does.  When dropping back in coverage, Ayers has definitely had some success in his college career, picking off six balls and returning two for touchdowns.

However, according to my research, scouts believe he relies on watching the QB’s eyes too much and that he can be fooled by play action.  The good news is if the Jets draft him, he will probably have at least a year to work on his pass coverage skills, and would primarily be used in pass rushing situations.  One of my favorite things about Akeem Ayers is even though he has the speed to get to the edge, on running situations he is not afraid to use his size, take on blockers, and play physical football; like a Jet. He also shows good pursuit to the ball from what I have seen, and doesn’t seem to take plays off.  As far as intangibles go, he has never had any off the field problems, and is a noted hard worker on the practice field and in the weight room.

Like I said, his combine numbers, hurt him last week, (4.8 40, 18 reps of 225, 31’” vertical jump) but it seems that would be a positive from the Jets point of view, as he will most likely fall a bit come draft day; will he fall all the way to number 30? Who knows, but Ayers is definitely someone to keep an eye out for, and will no doubt tempt gun slinging Mike Tannenbaum to trade up if Ayers starts to drop beyond pick 25.

Prospect Watch: Phil Taylor

Next up, Baylor nose tackle Phil Taylor.  The big man from Washington DC had an up and down college career but finished strong with his best collegiate season as a senior. 

At 6’3’’ 334 lbs, Taylor is a space eater who can anchor a defensive line.  Primarily a run stopper, Taylor is an above-average tackler who’s 62 recorded tackles his senior season were the most by a Baylor interior lineman since 2002.  He is strong and demands double teams because of his initial punch.  Taylor is generally successful in double teams and is almost impossible to blow off the line.  One of his greatest strengths is his violent hands.  Combined with his jump off the ball, he can push a line backwards, and will collapse a pocket from the middle if the QB holds onto the ball for too long.  His footwork is also good which helps him in his pass rush.  While he isn’t an overpowering pass rusher, that is to be expected.  He has a nice powerful swim move, and can rip through double teams if he can establish leverage. 

He showed this ability at the Senior Bowl. He was disruptive, taking on double teams and freeing up his linebackers.  His footwork and frame is probably good enough to move to the 5 technique at some point, but I don’t think he has the stamina or technique to stay outside for more than selective schemes/situations. 

Throughout his career Taylor’s conditioning was one of the main critiques of his game, however, like I mentioned yesterday, he looked strong throughout the day at the combine. Finally, a number of sources have noted his maturation and change of character since he was arrested on assault charges stemming from a fight at a frat party at Penn State.  I think it’s a safe assumption that he won that fight.

On the negative side of things, concerns over weight management always follow players at this size.  Another common problem that Taylor shares with other big men is his lack of speed and quickness, again this will probably keep him on the inside of the line.  Additionally, his size prevents him from making many tackle outside of the tackle box.  Other than weight concerns, questions about his height and lack of leverage follow Taylor around as well.  At 6’3 he can come to high and has some issues if a center is able to get under his pads.  To this point, he also has a hard time generating momentum if he is stopped at the initial point of attack.  While a decent pass rusher for his size and position, he will need to improve his collection of moves.

I like Phil Taylor, I really do; he will be an interesting prospect to keep an eye out for as Draft Day inches closer.  While “raw talent” is something that the Jets may want to stray clear of this draft, especially in the first round, this guy could become the second coming of Kris Jenkins.

12 Pack of Combine Thoughts

AJ truly embraces the TOJ way by contributing his first 12 pack…of thoughts on the NFL Combine —

1. First and foremost, props to Rich Eisen for keeping me interested in 300 pound linemen running the 40 yard dash.  He was always one of my favorite guys at ESPN and he continues to do an awesome job over at NFL network

2. What are those Under Armor things?  They literally look like something Tony Starks would wear.  Nevertheless, it is really sweet they are measuring the Mph and G force of these guys, but did you see the Under Armor representative? Hisveins were popping out of his neck, I thought he was going to have a heart attack. 

3. Von Miller is a BEAST.  He ran a 4.53 and looked absolutely yoked up in the weird under armor spandex.  He is going to be everything that Vernon Gholston wasn’t.

4. Another defensive player that looked good was Phil Taylor (Prospect Watch will be arriving soon). He looked like he was in pretty good shape for his size, and didn’t tire out as the day went on, something you can’t say about many nose tackles his size.

5. Maybe not a thought on the combine but I am jumping off the Nick Fairley train quickly.  Do I think he will be a good player? Yeah, but I would not take him with the number one pick.  He doesn’t have the best attitude and is known to take plays off, two characteristics I would not want to give $50+ million guaranteed.  Plus, with Carolina running a 4-3, I would want a dominant pass rushing DE to replace Julius Peppers.

6. Do you really think I would get half way through this without mentioning Cam Newton?  I thought he looked really good as far as workouts go, but that was more than expected. 4.59 40 yard dash at 250 pounds, are you kidding me?  Not to mention his 10’6’’ broad jump that just screams explosive.  There was the interview controversy where he called himself a, “an entertainer and an icon,” but I thought he addressed the situation pretty well to the NFL network and apologized for the statement about three times in two minutes.  As far as his throwing drills goes, I wouldn’t be too concerned, wait for his pro day so he can get his timing with his own receivers.

7. Ryan Mallet has a drug problem? I had no idea, I have been rooting for this guy ever since he was going head to head against Jimmy “Bitter Beer Face” Clausen for being the #1 recruit coming out of high school.  Nothing has been confirmed and Mallet is obviously denying the allegations but the story is coming from sources inside Arkansas so it will be interesting to see how this develops.

8. Another player I really like is Mark Ingram and I hope he doesn’t get scooped up by the Dolphins.  His running style reminds me of Ronnie Brown and he is the type of hard nose player Tony Soprano would love to have. He ran slow at 4.62 but there is no denying his production in college and he will be successful in the pros, unfortunately it is going to be for a team not spelled J-E-T-S.

9. Going into the 2010 college football season I was really excited to watch the defense Butch Davis put together at UNC, but all that great work Butch did went down the drain when every defensive starter and their mother was suspended for the season.  The player I was most upset about not seeing was Marvin Austin; but Marvin has had a great lead up to the draft so far playing well in the East-West game and being equally impressive at the combine.  Hey, a man can dream the Jets are able to pick him up in the 3rd round right?

10. Another prospect I would love to pick up in the 3rd round is Jarvis Jenkins out of Clemson.  Like Joe mentioned, the Jets are going to have to commit at least 2-3 draft picks to the front seven and I would not be upset at all if they used their first two picks on the DL.  Jenkins, no relation to Kris as far as I know, has good size and is a known run stopper.  It would be great to let him develop under Sione Pouha for a year or two, but I believe this guy has a relatively bright future at the next level.

11. It was a bitter sweet combine for Jets fans concerning Justin Houston, on the one hand he looked great at the combine, showing exceptional quickness for his size and good instincts during LB drills.  But he might have looked too good and could potentially be off the board before the Jets are on the clock.  Worse news, AFC rivals New England and Baltimore could fall in love with him and take him at number 17 and 26 respectively.

12. Last but certainly not least, I want to say that Damien Woody is handling his release exactly as everyone expected him too, with the utmost class.  He was one of my favorite players on the team and he will be missed.  But that’s the business of the NFL as much as I love it sometimes, it also breaks my heart at times.  Woody will be fine though, just like Alan Faneca last year he will find a team.

Prospect Watch: Muhammad Wilkerson

Another day, another 3-4 defensive end to dissect here at TOJ: this time around we are going to look at Muhammad Wilkerson, the 6’5 305 pound freak that looks like he could be one of the Mon-Stars in Space Jam.  Muhammad hails from Linden, New Jersey and played his college ball at the newly rejuvenated Temple football program.  He is comparable to Cameron Heyward in position (both would be best suited as a 5 technique) and size (both are big boys). However, Heyward tends to use his brute strength to overpower offensive tackles, while Wilkerson uses his tremendous agility and footwork to plug holes and find the ball carrier.

There is no question Wilkerson has some things to work on, but what he lacks in initial bursts and explosion, he gains in his strength and ability to create separation.  These skills allow him to beat blockers even if they manage to engage him initially.  His nimble feet are a main reason why he is so effective using his signature swim move, and is a good sign that he will be able to expand his pass-rushing repertoire once in the NFL.  Just as good, if not better than his pass rushing technique is his ability to shed blockers.  Wilkerson is able to engage his blocker, create separation, identify the play and attack the ball carrier very quickly. Wilkerson is excellent at using his long arms to swallow up RB’s and QB’s alike.  Against the double team, Muhammad is better at slipping the blockers and getting the QB than standing his ground and eating up blockers but is well above average at both.  He understands what gap he is responsible for and more times than not fills it before the back can get through; additionally he has a knack for the forced fumble which would be a nice addition to a Jets defense that could use some more forced turnovers. 

Perhaps Wilkerson’s biggest asset coming into the NFL, and the reason I believe he will be able to overcome the weaker parts of his game, is his unquestioned work ethic and character.  Muhammad makes a ton of hustle plays and you can always see him running after the play if he isn’t in on making the tackle.  He was also elected team captain as a junior, demonstrating his leadership and his teammates respect for him.  Furthermore, he is well spoken during interviews and has already promised to return to Temple to finish out his degree down the road. 

What I am concerned with is his lack of explosion coming off the ball combined with his tendency to stand up out of his stance.  While his stack and shed technique works wonders against offensive linemen in the MAC, it is not going to translate as well into the NFL, where tackles are going to throw him around if he doesn’t learn to fire off the ball harder.  On top of this he needs to get stronger and learn to use his hands with more force at the next level.  Against stronger competition like Penn State, he got overpowered sometimes, especially when double teamed and his lack of strength and hand-work became a little too obvious.  However, like I said earlier, I think these are all things that are fixable and will be corrected based on his work ethic and commitment to football.

In case you can’t tell I like Muhammad Wilkerson, I like him a lot.  I think the Jets would be very lucky for him to drop to them and would be pretty hard pressed to find a better player if he is still available.  There are definite questions with him, just like any prospect that’s expected to be picked at the end of the 1st round, but I think these are all off-season issues that can be worked on and fixed before the season, especially with the all powerful motivator Rex at the helm.  Wilkerson’s athleticism is too much to pass on if given the opportunity, I say take him.

Prospect Watch: Cameron Heyward

As far as needs are concerned, defensive line is at the very top of the Jets list this year.  Depth and youthare both concerns on the inside and outside of the line, and after skipping over the position the last two drafts, it is time Mike Tannenbaum pulls the draft day trigger on a defensive end.

The first Big Ugly we are going to take a look at is Cameron Heyward, a strong defensive end who has had a ton of hype throughout his college career but did not have as strong of a senior season as he might have hoped for.  Not lacking in experience, Heyward has started on the defensive line since his Freshman year.  Additionally, he is the son of Craig “Ironhead” Heyward. Lauded for his off the field leadership, Heyward has become a perennial run stopper, yet has never fully developed into a dominant pass rusher.  While he shows flashes of dominance, Heyward gets beat by seemingly inferior talent at times, especially when he cant get initial contact.

Heywards biggest strength is his size and….strength.  At 6 foot 6, 287 pounds he is pretty much already ideal size for a 3-4 end.  He has very powerful hands and is able to extend his long arms and create space when he makes initial contact.  Heyward has above average instincts, which comes from him playing all four defensive line positions at one point while in college.  He is able to stay low at the line and drive, which helps him on double teams, something he will see a lot of while at the 3-4 end spot.  All of these traits make Heyward a force to be reckoned with stopping the run, however his pass rush has never fully developed and will need some work, especially at the next level.

Perhaps the biggest concern with Heyward is his lack of athleticism.  He is pretty much a one trick pony, he engages and reads the play, a process that is far to slow to translate to the NFL.  Aside from his lack of pass rush moves, he doesn’t seem to move fast enough to get to the QB.  The combine should be huge for Cameron as he has the chance to show he is quick enough to pick in Round 1, or slow enough to wait for the second day.  Aside from that, Walter Football’s evaluation states he takes entire games off, which is never a good sign.

I don’t think taking Heyward with the 30th pick would be a good move for the Jets.  His name has been linked to the Jets because of their need for DE, but as we have seen, Rex does not put a premium on 3-4 ends, especially ones who can’t get to the QB.  If the Jets had a 2ndround pick I would use it on this guy, but the front office has pressure on them to get 2 rounds worth of value with their first pick, and getting a run stopper akin to ­­­Mike Devito would not be great value.  The Jets first pick must be able to make an immediate impact, Heyward needs to be coached up, and his immediate impact would be just as much as a Rent-A-Veteran while costing the team a lot more.