New York Jets Set For Big Draft

The New York Jets have ten picks in April’s draft and plenty of holes to fill

The New York Jets will head into April’s draft with 10 picks. They have a first round selection (16th overall), second round selection (47th overall), third round selection (77th overall) and then a fifth round selection, three six round selections and three seven round selections. It is worth noting that they cannot trade their compensatory picks, two of which are in the sixth round and two of which are in the seventh round.

So what can we expect from the Jets? Throughout Mike Tannenbaum’s history, he has aggressively pursued trades to acquire starting caliber players using the draft. Whether is was Thomas Jones, Kris Jenkins, Antonio Cromartie, or Santonio Holmes, he isn’t shy about parting with picks to fill needs with veteran players. Tannenbaum also has a history of trading up to acquire players the organization has targeted like Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Dustin Keller, Mark Sanchez, and Shonn Greene. Generally, it would be wise not to expect the Jets to stand pat with their ten selections.

The Jets still have holes on both sides of the football, most notably in three locations: right tackle, free safety, and outside linebacker. Outside of that, they could use help at wide receiver, running back and inside linebacker.

The early chatter about the draft has the Jets targeting a pass rusher with their first pick. Melvin Ingram and Quinton Coples will both likely be gone by number sixteen, so if the Jets want either badly they will need to trade up into the 7-10 range. Courtney Upshaw could fall to them and if he does, expect them to snap him up. I also wouldn’t be shocked if they moved up a few spots to grab him if he slides into the 12-14 range. Finally, they have taken time to individually work out Clemson’s Andre Branch. He is a player the Jets could trade back into the late 20s to grab and acquire another pick in the process.

Mark Barron, the top safety in the draft, is also likely to be picked somewhere in the 25-35 range and the Jets could consider coupling a trade back for Branch with a trade up from their second round pick to grab Barron. The team could also choose to stay put and target Notre Dame’s Harrison Smith, the second ranked safety in the draft on most boards, with their 44th pick.

Overall, with three picks in the top one hundred and ten picks overall, the Jets need to find 2-3 new starters, whether it is through the draft and, trading picks for veteran players, or going back over the free agent market. There are upgrades out there to Wayne Hunter, Jim Leonhard, Bryan Thomas, and Chaz Schilens, it is just a matter of Mike Tannenbaum pulling the trigger.

New York Jets: Moving Forward From Tebow…

The aftermath of the Tebow press conference and where the New York Jets go from here

Tim Tebow’s press conference didn’t leave us with anything we didn’t already know. He is a class act and easily handled the 40 minutes of questions hurled at him by the media. Unless you are surprised by hearing him say that him and Mark Sanchez have a great relationship, he is going to work his hardest to do whatever the coaches ask him to do, and that faith is a big part of his life, there wasn’t anything newsworthy said today. Tebow said all the right things, which is a good start for him with the New York media.

So now we move on. Tebow is on the Jets. He will either be a successful or unsuccessful role player, push Mark Sanchez to meet his potential or lead to an ugly quarterback controversy…only time will tell. As a Jets fan, I hope it works and I will be rooting for it work. That being said, can we shift to the discussion to the NFL Draft being exactly a month away and the Jets still having many holes to fill?

Perhaps their off-season strategy will be worked around draft weekend and looking to make moves in the dust that settles after that weekend. I do know this team can’t be comfortable with a current depth that boasts Tracy Wilson as the starting free safety, Chaz Schilens as the starting split end, Wayne Hunter as the starting right tackle, and Bryan Thomas, Bart Scott, and Calvin Pace all still starters at linebacker.

Mike Tannenbaum needs to find starters by using his draft picks (the team currently has six and will likely get a few more via compensatory picks), remaining cap space, and whatever trade assets the team has.

When you look at this team needs, you would hope they are building to beat the New England Patriots. They are the team who has owned the division the past decade. They are who represented the AFC in the Super Bowl last year. They are who is preventing the Jets from getting home playoff games on a yearly basis.

From what I have seen, you beat New England by hitting Tom Brady and slowing down their tight ends. Buffalo got the memo and signed Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. It is time for the Jets to beef up their pass rush and add a safety who has some type of hope of slowing down their duo at tight end. Beyond that, it is time to make sure other teams can’t batter Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow by improving their offensive line.

I welcome Tebow to New York but I soon hope to be welcoming an outside linebacker, safety, and right tackle to join him.

Don’t Panic Jets Fans, NFL Draft Is Deep At Safety

After losing out on Reggie Nelson, Chris breaks down the safeties the New York Jets could pursue in the NFL Draft

With the Jets getting spurned by Reggie Nelson after hosting the free agent safety for a weekend long visit, it seems as though LaRon Landry is the only viable option left. But if Landry happens to politely decline an offer from the Jets as well, Mike Tannenbaum and Co. will most likely need to address this need via the draft. Many “experts” view this year’s crop of safeties to be shallow in comparison to other positions. However, when taking a closer look, this may not be the case at all. There are three safe picks that the Jets could make in one of the early rounds this year that may save their safety situation for the upcoming season.

The first, and probably most popular, of the bunch is Alabama’s Mark Barron. By now, Jets fans know who Barron is simply because his name has been linked to the team in countless mock drafts. Having played his entire career under the tutelage of defensive backs guru Nick Saban, Barron was a cornerstone to the nation’s top defense this past season, making him the safest pick at his position this year. Barron certainly has the skills and big game experience that will make him an immediate impact player on whatever team selects him.

However, the Jets are starving for a dominant pass rusher, something Rex Ryan has never had since coming to New York. The first round is poised to be filled with game changers at outside linebacker, so Tannenbaum and Ryan may opt to pass on Barron for the likes of Courtney Upshaw, Melvin Ingram, or Nick Perry.

So if not Barron, then who else? The two most quality under the radar safeties this year are Antonio Allen of South Carolina and Notre Dame’s Harrison Smith. Allen is more of an in the box type strong safety, having played the Rover position for the Gamecocks last year, but his ability to make big plays in big games should be noted. Last season, Allen’s two best games came at Georgia, where he had six tackles and a 25-yard interception returned for a touchdown, and home against Auburn in which he totaled 13 tackles, including 9 solos, and an interception. His combine numbers aren’t flashy, having run only a 4.67 40-yard dash, so Allen may be a day two option for the Jets.

Smith, on the other hand, has blown away scouts with his athletic ability. At 6’2” 213 pounds, combined with a 4.57 40 yard dash, 19 reps on the bench, and a 34 inch vertical leap, he has all the tools to be a force in both the pass and run games. A 4-year starter and Captain last season at Notre Dame, Smith has also proven to have the durability, experience, and leadership skills that should make him an asset if drafted into the right system. There is a good chance the Jets will give him a look if they choose to pass on Barron. However, at the rate his stock is expected to rise closer to draft day, Tannenbaum may have to resort back to his “Trader Mike” days and work a deal to get into the back end of the first round to grab him.

With Nelson seemingly using the Jets as leverage to obtain more money from Cincinnati, there is certainly cause for concern among Jets Nation. However, there is no reason to panic. As TOJ noted, Nelson is a good, not great, safety. Although he surely would have been an upgrade to New York’s current safety situation, he does not possess the upside of any of these three young players. Rest assured all is not yet lost for Gang Green.

Black Spring – NFL Combine & All Star Clownery

Justin breaks down the NFL Combine and what we learned from the NBA All-Star Game

Tequila is not for the faint of heart. Neither is getting whipped with a belt about 20 times as a crowd of drunken lunatics scream for more. Both things happened in conjunction Friday night at the always classy Coyote Ugly, so my attempt to cover the start of the 2012 NFL Combine was simply reduced to me trying to put enough meat in my body that blinking felt like an Olympic exercise while I heard Mike Mayock and Bucky Brooks ramble on about Indy without Peyton, the beauty of the 3 cone drill, and the various difficulties of switching guards to tackles and back again.

Still, I carried on. The best thing about the combine is the back and forth that ex-players and analysts have about the combine being worthless, pointless, having nothing to do with football, yet glancing over the fact that the newest iteration of the hideous workout uniform combined with super HD cameras create an almost uncomfortable level of voyeurism as GM’s and coaches stare in the stands like they’re at some bizarro slaughterhouse or bull auction, scanning each player for body fat, wobbly knees, nose hair, tattoos, and for the Raiders – telekinetic ability. And when they’re done looking from afar, they bring them into a room with various astrological charts, gypsy psychics, polygraphs, Rorschach blots and Friendly’s style color ins.

That’s the process. So who WON the combine? RG3! The great hope for whatever god awful franchise he goes to. While Griffin can run, throw, run, run, and throw a deep ball pretty good, he played at BAYLOR. Baylor. You know what I know about Baylor? That Phil Taylor is from Baylor. And they play against some of the worst defenses in college football. Not the biggest challenge for a quarterback who is going against corner backs, linebackers, and defensive lineman that aren’t even being invited to the combine.

Before going further, I’ll admit I’ve developed an SEC bias when it comes to skill players. AJ Green, Julio Jones, Trent Richardson, Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne, Mark Ingram etc. etc. Why the bias? Because it’s been proven time and time again that the new conference of power is the SEC, and it’s not even close. The PAC 12 is great except for the fact that they have Washington, Utah, Arizona, Arizona State, and Oregon State. The Big 12 is full of “traditional” powers that have weakened substantially and the Big 10 is old power that may or may not see some sort of resurgence in the next 10 years. Go watch Michigan State vs. Alabama in their bowl game two years ago.

But does the combine even matter any more? The combine, like the NBA and NFL all star games, is slowly being taken over by player agents, as many agents for prospective first round picks advise their players not to even bother with running or throwing. There is no upside they say, except to satisfy a bunch of analysts that have absolutely no effect on that players draft status. Too much money to risk, too little incentive to perform.

So concerning the combine, what’s the counterargument against the pro day passing against the combine passing for quarterbacks specifically? Think about this. Is a quarterback prospect going to have his college players to throw to when he gets to training camp? Is said player going to tell his offensive coordinator “I’ve never really thrown back shoulder throws, so let’s just keep things simple and maybe I can work on that stuff in the next off season”? Having something that tailored to a players skill set is almost comical when you talk about a guy who is going to be a first round pick, so he sure as hell better be able to make every throw, even if it’s with a set of scrubs in a flag football game.

So the freakshow is over, and it’s time for the truly insane to come out with 4398 mock drafts, but before that, a brief note on the NBA All Star Game. I don’t care if it is a clown-show at heart, things got SERIOUS in the 4th quarter. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook made me weep tears of joy as they drained 3’s from the corner and dunked like they were in the Colosseum scene from Escape From LA. And to cap off my childlike joy Lebron James FAILED. Again. But I’ll say this, it’s the All Star Game, not the Finals. Oh, about that.

I’m still trying to come to terms with the perceived mental weakness of James coupled with the most athletic physique to ever play basketball. Maybe he will win 2 or 3 championships, but the Kobe and Jordan era is over for good, and no one will ever challenge them again, especially when the best players are on a team consisting of 3 of the top 10 players in the league that was artificially created to win a championship in the cheapest and most sacrilegious method in the history of sports. CHEATING THE SALARY CAP SYSTEM.

As I’ve said all along, Miami has no soul. So if they want to ever get to that mountain of the immortals, they better win 7, and they better start this year.

Early New York Jets Draft Thoughts

TOJ with a collection of early thoughts on what the Jets could do in April’s draft

The NFL Draft is still a few months away but with the Combine kicking off today, let’s discuss some of the early chatter about what the Jets might do this April.

1. There has been an alarming amount of talk about the Jets selecting a guard in the first round, which I am pretty sure would lead to a storming of the stage at Radio City. Listen, I understand the value of the offensive line but the Jets had three Pro-Bowlers on their line last season. They need to improve one spot on it and that is right tackle. Yes, Matt Slauson is coming back from surgery and Brandon Moore is into his 30s but if they draft a lineman in round one…it better be a right tackle and it better be after trading down.

2. So my preference is clear, I want the Jets to address their pass rush in round one even if that means moving up a few spots to get their guy. Courtney Upshaw is the most complete, ready to go player available at outside linebacker and if gets anywhere near #16 Mike Tannenabaum needs to move.

3. Mark Barron was a player originally being heavily associated with the Jets at the 16th overall pick. However, he is now recovering from double hernia surgery which will likely cause him to fall down most team’s boards. If he gets within close range of the team’s 2nd round pick (47th overall), would they consider moving up for him…especially if they stay put or trade down in the first round?

4. I am aware about the Jets having depth issues from having a limited number of picks in recent years, so it might seem crazy that I am discussing them moving up with their first two picks. However, if you get the guys you want…and need, it is the right move. Do you remember 2007? The Jets traded up for both Darrelle Revis and David Harris. I do not think the Jets will move up in both round one and round two but if they netted a duo like Upshaw and Barron by trading one or two of those picks it will be hard to complain.

5. Mike Tannenbaum has selected four running backs over the past three years and I don’t think anybody would be surprised if he added another one in the middle rounds. The Jets still need depth at the position thanks to Shonn Greene not truly proving himself as a lead back, Joe McKnight having injury issues, and Bilal Powell looking thoroughly average in limited opportunities last year. I am not throwing in the towel on any of the Jets three backs but they need insurance via free agency or the draft.

6. The Jets also need a wide receiver, particularly one with some size. Tannenbaum struck out looking for a big receiver when he selected Marcus Henry. He has had success in later rounds with smaller, slot receivers like Chansi Stuckey and Jeremy Kerley (hopefully). Now he needs to find a player to be a long term split end, unless he address the need in free agency.

New York Jets Draft: Mark Barron Out Until July With Hernia

New York Jets draft prospect Mark Barron is out until July with a sports hernia. Is this a blessing in disguise?

It has been reported today that Alabama safety and frequently mock-drafted to the New York Jets safety Mark Barron will be out until July or August with a double sports hernia. Owch.

At initial glance, this would seem to continue the recently never ending cycle of bad news for the Jets who had to be planning to give strong consideration to Barron at number 16. He is the type of athletic safety Rex Ryan’s defense desperately needs and was without question the top prospect at his position heading into this April.

However, considering the Jets equally…if not bigger need for a pass rushing outside linebacker perhaps this injury will be a blessing in disguise. How about the Jets grabbing Courtney Upshaw or Melvin Ingram at number 16 and then maneuvering up from their 2nd round pick to grab a sliding Barron? That would be a hell of a start to retooling this defense in proper manner.

The Jets have the 47th pick overall pick after their first pick at number 16. Barron was originally projected to go in the 15 – 25 range but with this injury, it isn’t crazy to think he could drift close enough to number 47 where it would be too tempting to ignore the urge to trade up for him.

A nice perk for the Jets this year is that they finally have a selection in every single round.

Reviewing Mike Tannenbaum’s Draft Picks

Most New York Jets fans are appropriately big supporters of General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, his aggressive nature has kept off-seasons entertaining and helped shape the Jets into one of the league’s best teams. With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, let’s take a look at every selection Tannenbaum has made since taking over as GM in 2006 —

2006

  • Round 1, Pick 4 – D’Brickashaw Ferguson
  • Round 1, Pick 29 – Nick Mangold
  • Round 2, Pick 49 – Kellen Clemens
  • Round 3, Pick 76 – Anthony Schlegel
  • Round 3, Pick 97 – Eric Smith
  • Round 4, Pick 103 – Brad Smith
  • Round 4, Pick 117 – Leon Washington
  • Round 5, Pick 150 – Jason Pociask
  • Round 6, Pick 189 – Drew Coleman
  • Round 7, Pick 220 – Titus Adams

This was one hell of a draft for Tannenbaum to start his career with. It was a bold move to take two offensive lineman in the first round for a first-time GM, especially deciding to pass on quarterback Matt Leinart, who would have been an extremely popular (but in hindsight an extremely stupid) selection. Ferguson and Mangold have developed into the foundation of the Jets offensive line and are both Pro-Bowl caliber players.

Yes, Kellen Clemens never panned out and the highlight of Anthony Schlegel’s career was muffing an onside kick, but he compensated for it by getting Eric Smith, Brad Smith, Leon Washington, and Drew Coleman in later rounds, who all turned into major contributors on playoff teams.

2007

  • Round 1, Pick 14 – Darrelle Revis
  • Round 2, Pick 47 – David Harris
  • Round 6, Pick 177 – Jacob Bender
  • Round 7, Pick 235 – Chansi Stuckey

Another terrific draft for Tannenbaum who traded up to get Darrelle Revis, who is now the consensus best corner in football and David Harris who is a Pro-Bowl caliber inside linebacker. Bender never amounted to anything but Stuckey turned into a quality player who was an important part of the Braylon Edwards trade.

2008

  • Round 1, Pick 6 – Vernon Gholston
  • Round 1, Pick 30 – Dustin Keller
  • Round 4, Pick 113 – Dwight Lowery
  • Round 5, Pick 162 – Erik Ainge
  • Round 6, Pick 171 – Marcus Henry
  • Round 7, Pick 211 – Nate Garner

Without question Tannenbaum’s worst draft and probably worst overall few days as the Jets GM. Gholston was a complete bust, Ainge had serious drug problems and was suspended multiple times, Henry and Garner never played a regular season snap for the team. Dustin Keller has obviously been an important part of the offense and Lowery has been a serviceable role player but the Gholston pick hurts.

2009

  • Round 1, Pick 5 – Mark Sanchez
  • Round 3, Pick 65 – Shonn Greene
  • Round 6, Pick 193 – Matt Slauson

Two more trade ups that have paid early dividends for the Jets. Say what you want about Mark Sanchez, he certainly has looked the part of the franchise quarterback the Jets drafted him to be by winning four road playoff games in his first two years. Greene was a disappointment in year two but his terrific playoff stretch in his rookie year helped carry the Jets to the AFC Championship Game. Matt Slauson is now the starting left guard and was steady in that role last year.

2010

  • Round 1, Pick 29 – Kyle Wilson
  • Round 2, Pick 61 – Vladimir Ducasse
  • Round 4, Pick 112 – Joe McKnight
  • Round 5, Pick 139 – John Conner

The jury is still very much out on this draft class but the early returns weren’t very good. Wilson struggled heavily his rookie year and barely contributed. Ducasse was beat out by Matt Slauson for the left guard spot and will now compete to be the starting right tackle. McKnight showed up to camp out of shape and didn’t give any meaningful reps all season. Conner showed potential and will be the starting fullback this season.

Concern About The Jets Front Seven

And now back to football…

Appropriately there is a general consensus that the New York Jets need to improve their defensive front seven this off-season, which has been spearheaded by most mock drafts pairing them with a defensive lineman or outside linebacker.

At defensive line and linebacker, the Jets are a little bit old and a little bit slow. Outside of David Harris, all three starting linebackers are over 30 and none (including Harris) have great speed. On the defensive line, Sione Pouhaand Shaun Ellis (if he returns) are both into their 30’s and if you saw Mike DeVito trying to cover Danny Woodhead last year, you know he didn’t run track in high school or college.

The depth isn’t great at either position, Jamaal Westerman and Josh Mauga don’t project as future starters at linebacker. On the line, Marcus Dixon, Ropati Pitoitua, and Matt Kroul have potential but still a long way to go to prove they deserve regular spots in the rotation.

Where will the help come from? At a minimum, the Jets need a long term replacement for Bryan Thomas at outside linebacker, a defensive end to replace Shaun Ellis (even if he ends up coming back), and another interior lineman to boost the rotation and maybe eventually take over for Pouha.

The draft could only solve so much, especially with the Jets missing a second round pick. Hopefully, Mike Tannenbaum’s first round pick can contribute immediately and he finds another later round prospect or two that contribute at defensive line or linebacker. The Jets will likely be handcuffed in signing new players in free agency, as they will be limited by the same “Final Eight” rules they were last year, if an injunction is granted as expected on April 6th.

In reality, it is going to take multiple off-seasons to get the defensive front seven where it needs to be. The Jets can take a big step in the right direction this year by having a strong draft, hoping a few of their developmental players (Dixon, Pitoitua) contribute, and maybe swinging a deal or two via free agency or trade.

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.