The number of question marks surrounding the New York Jets defense heading into the Draft is at a somewhat worrisome number. Rex Ryan is a great defensive mind, who has the ability to get more out of less, yet the Jets have holes to fill at all three levels of their defense if they want to remain among the league’s elite units.
Defensive Line – Even if the Jets decide to re-sign Shaun Ellis (which they should) and Trevor Pryce doesn’t retire. They still need both a defensive end and a defensive tackle to improve their depth and youth at the position. Phil Taylor out of Baylor has been a very popular pick for the Jets in mock drafts and his selection would likely allow Sione Pouha to get some work at end. However, spending a first round pick on Taylor or somebody like him shouldn’t stop the Jets from potentially adding another lineman later in the Draft or via free agency (if it ever starts).
Linebacker – The long term replacement for Bryan Thomas needs to be found as the Jets look to improve their pass rush. If the right defensive lineman isn’t available at number 30, Akeem Ayers and Justin Houston have been linked to the Jets. Both players have question marks surrounding them, yet they would have a year or two to function as only pass rush specialists behind Thomas as they learn to become full-time players. The Jets could also use depth at inside linebacker behind David Harris and Bart Scott. Josh Mauga and Jamaal Westerman don’t seem to be any more than special teams players at this point.
Secondary – It is time to accept the fact that the Jets will always need corners and safeties as long as Rex Ryan is their head coach. Everybody is worried about the Jets front seven, while forgetting three of their top four safeties are free agents, along with two of their top three corners. They need to decide what they are doing about bringing Antonio Cromartie, Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, James Ihedigbo, and Drew Coleman back, along with supplementing the position through the Draft and likely a free agency move or two. Personally, I think Pool will be brought back to start opposite Jim Leonhard and they will add a safety later in the draft to groom behind him. At corner, the Jets better pray Kyle Wilson is ready to take his game up about five notches if they let Antonio Cromartie leave.
AJ takes his first crack at projecting the first round in the NFL Draft…
1. Carolina Panthers- Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
People with more inside information than me seem to think Carolina is leaning towards a QB and a “face of the franchise,” Cam Newton would be both
2. Denver Broncos- Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
Another rumor floating around is that John Elway would love to draft a QB at this spot, but I don’t see that happening if Newton is picked #1overall. Dareus is a disruptive player that any team would love to have.
3. Buffalo Bills- Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
I don’t think I need to tell anyone how bad the Bills were against the run last year, they need an anchor for that new 3-4 they implemented, and Von Miller isn’t good enough against the run to warrant this pick.
4. Cincinnati Bengals- A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
If I am a Bengals fan, and thank god I’m not, I would be praying they take Green in this pick instead of Julio Jones. Green a natural born route runner who could provide an immediate impact. He also has the best first name in the draft.
5. Arizona Cardinals- Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Cardinals need to get their QB situation together; John Skelton might be a good story out of Fordham, but Larry Fitzgerald deserves better than him.
6. Cleveland Browns- Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Haden and Peterson at the corners? Scary.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
If I’m Von Miller I am not happy about dropping this far but this would give the 49ers a very good and young linebacker core, which they could build off of.
8. Tennessee Titans – Robert Quinn, DL, North Carolina
The Titans would obviously love for one of the top two QB’s to drop to them, or maybe they think about trading up, but at this point, they should pick the best player available, which is exactly what Robert Quinn is
9. Dallas Cowboys- Mike Pouncey, OL, Florida
Pouncey Tweeted that he would be surprised if he weren’t a Cowboy next season after he visited with the team. Hey, I’ll go to the Looney Bin with you bro.
10. Washington Redskins – Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
The Redskins have more holes than Augusta and should be happy to pick up a quality receiver here at #10.
11. Houston Texans – Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Once considered a top 5 pick, Bowers’ draft stock has taken a hit because of questions about his knee coming off surgery. But he’s got the talent, and a combination of Bowers and Williams would have Peyton Manning shaking in his boots.
12. Minnesota Vikings – Cameron Jordan, DE, California
Jordan has great ability and with the Vikings most likely set to lose DE Ray Edwards, they are going to need someone to fill his role immediately
13. Detroit Lions – Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
The Lions have been doing a funny thing lately, drafting quality players, they will continue the trend this year by drafting Amukamara who is flying under the radar a bit because of super-prospect Peterson.
14. St. Louis Rams – Corey Liuget, DL, Illinois
The Rams two biggest needs are probably WR and DL. They aren’t going to pick up Green or Jones, but should be very happy to pick up Illinois’ Corey Liuget who is good against both the run and pass
15. Miami Dolphins – Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
This has been a popular pick for sometime now, Ingram is the type of hard runner that Tony Soprano loves, but I mostly put Ingram here because I don’t want to think about him going to the other division rival with one of their two picks
16. Jacksonville Jaguars – Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
Aldon Smith is the physical lineman Jack Del Rio is looking for to solidify his defensive front. Smith could potentially transition to an outside linebacker, but the Jags would try to use his athleticism with his hand in the dirt.
Kerrigan is known around the league as a pretty safe pick. While his ceiling is not as high as some of the other prospects at the DE position, he is a proven football player who is smart on the field and was productive throughout his collegiate career.
18. San Diego Chargers – J.J. Watt, DL, Wisconsin
J.J. is flexible enough as a defensive lineman to play the 3 and 5 technique. A true Big Ten guy, Watt is a smart and high energy player who always seems to be around the ball.
19. New York Giants – Tyron Smith, OT, USC
The Giants get an absolute steal here with Tyron Smith, while they would love to get an interior linemen like Mike Pouncey, Smith is the best lineman available in the 2011 draft and at this point cannot drop any further, the Giants get a gem here and will find a place for him on the field.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Muhammed Wilkerson, DL, Temple
If you followed my Prospect Watch at all you know that I really like this guy and I think he should be at the top of the Jets wish list for this draft. Unfortunately it probably won’t happen as his stock has been steadily increasing since the draft season began.
21. Kansas City Chiefs – Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Another prospect out of Offensive Line U (BC) Castonzo is considered NFL ready. The Chiefs had a surprise season last year and they will attempt to form a foundation for future consistent success, and there is no better way to do that than sure up your OL.
22. Indianapolis Colts – Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
Carimi and Castonzo could flip flop these picks but either way, the Colts are going to have to improve a line that has been in steady decline for the last couple of years. The Colts will hope Carimi can improve a Colts run game that struggled all last year.
23. Philadelphia Eagles – Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
After a dormant first half of the draft OL lineman are coming off the board fast in the meat of the 1st round. The Eagles will want to make sure they protect Mike Vick as much as they can or he will only be around for one or two more years.
24. New Orleans Saints – Adrian Clayborne, DE, Iowa
Like the Jets, the Saints ran into problems getting to the QB without blitzing last year. Clayborne comes from a great program in Iowa and it shows in his discipline during the games and on the practice field. He drops a little because of a medical condition restricting movement in his arm, but it didn’t seem to bother him too much in college and he should be prime for a productive pro career.
25. Seattle Seahawks- Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Locker has had to work his behind off after having a sub-par season at Washington. The Seahawks’ QB problems are well documented, Hasselback belongs in a retirement home and the Whitehurst trade was one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen. A training camp competition between Locker and Whitehurst could be good for both players.
26. Baltimore Ravens- Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Smith could be a great fit for Baltimore, he has great speed and a high ceiling, with some teaching from a veteran Ravens defense, he could really shine in years to come
27. Atlanta Falcons- Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Ayers has dropped in this draft and it is very possible that if he slides this much a team could trade up and grab him. Nevertheless, the Falcons are looking for a future replacement for John Abraham and someone who could take some reps from him immediately.
28. New England Patriots – Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona
The Patriots spend another pick to improve their defense and they pick up another quality player in Brooks Reed. A pass rushing specialist with some serious size, Reed would fit perfectly in the Patriots defense.
29. Chicago Bears – Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
The Bears pick up a player who has got to be high on the Jets board. A prototypical NT, Taylor could potentially be a beast playing the 3 technique in the Bears 4-3 defense. They do need a OL but any prospect might be a reach at this point so the rich get richer as the Chicago defense improves tremendously with this pick.
30. New York Jets – Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Everyone knows that the Jets DL is in most need of an adrenaline shot, but Rex is creative and can get anyone to play hard for him. I think they should wait until their 3rd round pick to start working on the DL. This leaves us with pass rushing specialist Houston, who could excel in the role that Jason Taylor played last year until he is groomed enough to be a full time starter.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers – Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
Harris brings the speed and athleticism for a nickel/ dime package corner. If he can figure out some character issues and get serious about playing the game he could be a very good NFL player.
32. Green Bay Packers- Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
Here we go, the defending champs, The Packers pick up the best player available here in Heyward who suffered a bit of a drop.
Two players are emerging as front runners to be the Jets selection at number 30 in the upcoming draft.
TOJ at SB Nation NY begins his position by position preview of the NFL Draft for the New York Jets, starting with summarizing their top needs.
I also took a little informal Twitter poll of who a few other fellow Jets writers/bloggers have the team taking with the 30th overall pick, with the first round only three weeks away —
Manish Mehta (@TheJetsStream) “I think they trade up for OLB…. I’m going with [Akeem] Ayers.”
Brian Bassett (@Brian_Bassett) “I’ll go Baylor NT Phil Taylor.”
Deb B (@LilMissNYJet) – “Pending Taylor off the boards by #30…….I’m picking Brooks Reed. I want him over Akeem Ayers for OLB need.”
Jeff Capellini (@GreenLanternJet) “I still think Phil Taylor should be the pick if he’s available. If not, [Marvin] Austin or [Justin] Houston.”
Chris Celletti (@ChrisCelletti) “They have to go best DE available…likely Phil Taylor.”
Kiera Massette (@KieraMassette) “…I really like the idea of Marvin Austin.”
For the record, TOJ is taking Phil Taylor as of right now.
I also asked Jason La Canfora of NFL.com about the chances of the Jets getting Temple DT/DE Muhammad Wilkerson and he responded “looking doubtful. Things could change but low 20s could be lowest he falls.”
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.”
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.
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.
TOJ rounds up who recent mock drafts have the Jets selecting with the 30th overall pick.