NFL Draft: Melvin Ingram vs. Courtney Upshaw

We debate the value of Courtney Upshaw verus Melvin Ingram

Despite my belief and desire for the New York Jets to take Melvin Ingram in the first round, staff writer Chris Gross has remained adamant on his preference of Courtney Upshaw. Considering that he played defensive end and linebacker in college, I set Chris loose on the game film to make his argument. Here is what he came up with, followed by my rebuttal – JC

From the surface, both players are similar. Both stand around 6’2 and weigh around 270 pounds. Their statistics are close, Ingram with a couple more sacks, Upshaw with more tackles. Yet after breaking down full game footage, I came up with the following conclusion – Courtney Upshaw is head and shoulders above Melvin Ingram as a football player.

Courtney Upshaw – I’ve previously discussed all of Upshaw’s statistics, measurables, and testing numbers, all of which may not be mind blowing, but are impressive. Some of the biggest knocks on Upshaw, and why he seems to be falling down draft boards, are that he did not test well in position drills at his pro day and that he does not possess the arm length that you look for in an elite pass rusher. On film, Upshaw shows tremendous explosion of the ball, some of the best I’ve seen out of any prospect this year. Although the assertion that he does not have elite reach is correct, he uses his hands extremely well and undoubtedly plays with the best leverage I’ve seen out of any defensive player in this year’s class. He is not hampered by his lack of reach because he makes up for it with elite technique.

Another knock that I have heard on Upshaw is that he has reached his potential, and does not have a high ceiling. This is another assertion that his game film proved false. As much as I love Upshaw’s game, there are several areas where he needs improvement, which can certainly be done under a coach like Rex Ryan. At times last season, Upshaw tended to drop his head causing him to miss tackles and lose outside contain when lined up at defensive end. There were also times when he shot too far up field on his pass rush, and ran completely by the quarterback. On three step drops, Upshaw needs to react quicker by either getting his hands up or executing a faster pass rush move. If he can improve this at the next level, he will register even more sacks and will establish himself as a premier pass rusher, as well as a fantastic all around player.

Upshaw also proved to be very physical, and most importantly, plays with an extremely high motor. This is an asset that cannot be measured, especially at the position he will be asked to play if he is drafted to the Jets. This past season against Florida, he repeatedly ran down players on pass plays at the second level after rushing the quarterback. In that same game, he also showed fantastic awareness. On one particular play that stands out, he realized he was beat off the ball, and instead of tussling with the tackle, he immediately located the quarterback, tracked where he was going with the ball, and made an interception at the line of scrimmage, proving to be a very intelligent player.

The main things about Courtney Upshaw that stand out on his game film are his physical play, his high motor, his violent hands, and his power at the point of attack. When you watch this kid on film you can just feel his confidence on the field. He knows what he is doing in every situation, and his ability to react and redirect are on another level. Upshaw is going to be an elite player in the NFL, regardless of which team he ends up on.

Melvin Ingram – Ingram’s athleticism on film is obvious. When he plays to his potential, he is fast, explosive, and strong. However, in all of the film that I watched on him, he rarely lived up to that potential. Ingram has several flaws in his game, which he was able to mask with his athleticism in college, but will not be able to do so in the NFL. Some of these flaws are very fixable by good coaching. He tends to turn his back to the sidelines at times, giving up the edge, and he does not show a wide arsenal of pass rush moves, instead relying solely on speed and strength to get to the quarterback. He also has a habit of getting lost in the shuffle, seemingly focused on making plays rather than executing his assignment. Again, these are fixes that can be made by good coaching, and if there is one defensive coach in the league that I would trust to do so, it is Rex Ryan.

However, there are some things about Ingram that even the greatest coaches may not be able to fix. He does not display a very high motor at all. At times, he tends to look lazy and disinterested. He gets pushed around on drive and down blocks way more than a person with his strength should, which tells me he does not play with good leverage, and does not come off the ball with enough authority. Ingram is also the furthest thing from a sure tackler and has trouble staying on his feet in stretches.

I tried to look for any possible reason as to what was causing these flaws that I saw, and I actually came up with a good rationale. The defense that Ingram played in at South Carolina last year seemed to ask him to do too much. Many times he seemed to be worrying about numerous jobs, which could be a result of the team giving him too many responsibilities. Perhaps this is because he was one of the only players on the defense they felt they could trust with certain tasks. However, if that is the case, it hurt his play tremendously.

Ingram also drew many more double teams than Upshaw did, primarily because he lined up inside more, and Upshaw had 3 other all Americans playing alongside him that teams needed to account for. That being said, I do not think Ingram was the best player on South Carolina’s front seven. True Freshman Jadeveon Clowney overshadowed him, and one would think that if anything, teams would be accounting for him rather than Ingram. Maybe it was the other way around, which was a cause for Clowney’s success.

My rebuttal –

I don’t dispute many aspects of your evaluation of both players. Yet, my film analysis hasn’t changed my perspective. Courtney Upshaw is going to be a good NFL player. I saw a guy in college surrounded by immense amounts of talent who produced at a high level but a player who is better suited to spend the bulk of his reps at defensive end, not outside linebacker. I have no doubt he would improve his craft under Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine’s coaching but at his ceiling, I see a very good starting outside linebacker. A player who would be an improved version of Calvin Pace, setting the edge for the run and bringing in 6-8 sacks per year. Upshaw isn’t going to be a bust and he can start immediately, both enticing aspects of him as a prospect.

You can view Upshaw playing for Alabama, the best team in college football as both a positive and a negative. In the positive, he performed well on the biggest stage possible at his level and played against elite competition. In the negative, he was supported by a stacked lineup, including fellow soon to be first round picks Dont’a Hightower, Dre Kirkpatrick and Mark Barron.

Mark Ingram didn’t have any other first round picks on his defense, despite the scary potential of freshman Jadeveon Clowney and still produced at a comparable, if not higher rate than Upshaw.

Is Ingram as consistent as Upshaw? Probably not. Yet, there are two things that jump off the page and put him ahead of him, big plays and versatility. Last season, Ingram had 10 sacks to go with 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries and 3 touchdowns. He has a nose for the football and an ability to make something happen with it when it gets into his hands.

Ingram is going to give the Jets more than an outside linebacker. He can line up at inside linebacker, defensive end, and even defensive tackle. His ability to move around the formation will allow the Jets to get the most out of his pass rushing skills and explosiveness. I disagree about his lack of motor with Chris but do agree he needs work on being a more consistent tackler against the run. The Jets will still have Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas to slow down the run and help groom Ingram, while he is moved all over the formation by Rex to get after the quarterback.

Rex Ryan is going to see a more athletic version of Adalius Thomas who can become the double digit sack artist his defense desperately needs. Beyond that, he is going to remember what Jason Pierre-Paul did for the Giants last year and the benefit of having a player who can line-up “outside either tackle, move to tackle on third down, and rush the passer standing up inside or off the edge.

The Jets have run stopping linebackers. When they need new ones, they will be easier to find in the draft or free agency than an elite pass rusher. Now is the time for the Jets to finally get a player who can get after the quarterback so they don’t have to overextend themselves with blitzing.

TOJ New York Jets Mock Draft 4.0

TOJ rounds up all the final mock drafts and gives his prediction for what the New York Jets will do with their pick

Christmas Eve. The NFL Draft is finally upon us, starting with the first round in primetime tomorrow night. Here is a look at a collection of final mock drafts and our selection for what the New York Jets will do with the 16th pick. We can’t promise we will be right but it certainly wouldn’t be unprecedented if we were.

Mock Drafts

Don Banks, Sports Illustrated – Dontari Poe, Defensive Tackle, Memphis

Michael Lombardi, NFL.com – Melvin Ingram, Outside Linebacker, South Carolina

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

Rob Rang, CBS Sports – Courtney Upshaw, Outside Linebacker, Alabama

Pat Kirwin, CBS Sports – Nick Perry, Outside Linebacker, USC

Walter Football – Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame

Charley Casserly, NFL.com – Quinton Coples, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, North Carolina

Chad Reuter, NFL.com – Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa

Pro Football Talk – Melvin Ingram, Outside Linebacker, South Carolina

Chris Gross, Turn On The Jets – Courtney Upshaw, Outside Linebacker, Alabama

Justin Fritze, Turn On The Jets – Mark Barron, Safety, Alabama

Joe Caporoso, Turn On The Jets –  Melvin Ingram, Outside Linebacker, South Carolina

Analysis The opinions of what the Jets will do has only got cloudier in the days leading up to the draft. There is no player who is anywhere near being a consensus pick and no clear cut favorite of the team. Courtney Upshaw, Mark Ingram and Quinton Coples have watched their draft stock fall, while Mark Barron and Michael Floyd have been steadily rising.

I am not abandoning my belief that Ingram will end up on the Jets now. However, could they get him without trading up? It doesn’t sound like he will be a top ten pick, so the only real threat is Seattle at #12. Could the Jets move up to #11 without having to give up their second round pick or should they risk staying put and hoping Ingram falls into their laps?

At this point, it seems like Upshaw should be available at #16, while there is no chance Mark Barron will be. If the Jets want the clear cut top safety in this draft, they are going to have to move up a few spots…maybe even as high as #9, where Carolina remains a logical trade partner given the team’s history of working together.

One last point, do not write off the Jets trading up for Trent Richardson. If you think it is crazy for them to trade up into the top five and make that big of a splash, you haven’t been watching Mike Tannenbaum the past 6 years.

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

5. Stay Put Or Trade Up For Michael Floyd – If he is there at 16, he will be very tempting. If he gets near 16 and the Jets miss on Ingram and Barron, they could consider doing what it takes to get him.

4. Trade Up For Mark Barron – He isn’t getting to number 16. The Jets could swap picks with Carolina at #9 to have a shot at the draft’s top safety.

3. Stay Put And Take Courtney Upshaw or Chandler Jones – If the Jets miss out on Ingram and Barron, I don’t think they risk trading back. They will take whomever they have rated higher, Upshaw or Jones with their pick.

2. Trade Up For Trent RichardsonThe mega deal that Mike Tannenbaum is known for. The Jets get themselves an elite back to lead their Ground and Pound. It will cost them but if Richardson turns into an All-Pro, isn’t it worth it?

1. Stay Put Or Trade Up For Melvin Ingram – Ingram may fall to the Jets at 16 but they could avoid the risk of losing him by trading up to #11.

NFL Mock Draft: What Pick Each Team Should Make

Chris Gross gives his first round mock for the NFL Draft, based on what selection each team should make

Staff writer Chris Gross submits his mock draft, based on what pick he thinks each NFL team should make in round one. Stay tuned later for my mock draft 4.0, rounding up recent mock drafts and giving my final prediction for what I think the Jets will do – JC

With countless mock drafts surfacing over numerous media outlets leading up to Thursday night, the common theme seems to be predicting what every team is most likely to do. However, there are so many aspects that are impossible to predict for every NFL team during the draft. Therefore, that will not be my approach in this mock. Instead, I will actually play GM for every NFL team and select which player each of them should pick, rather than who I think they will pick. I will not account for trades, other than ones that have already been made, because if I get into which teams should make trades and to where, it will get far too sticky. Again, this is not how I think the draft will play out, but rather how I think it should play out.

1 – Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB Stanford – The Colts have already told Luck that he will be the first overall selection on Thursday night, and rightfully so. They took one of the biggest gambles in NFL history this offseason, agreeing to part ways with the man that rebuilt the franchise from the ground up. They need to be extremely smart with this pick, because if it flops, the fan base in Indianapolis will likely form a mutiny against Jim Irsay, especially if Manning proves to be healthy and effective in Denver. That being said, Luck is easily the most logical, and safest choice at number one. Sure, Robert Griffin III is appealing for all of his intangibles, but Luck not only has the ability to be an elite NFL quarterback very soon, but he also possesses the confidence and leadership qualities that will help make the transition from Peyton Manning in Indy much less difficult.

2 – Washington Redskins – Robert Griffin III, QB Baylor – Washington made this trade to get Griffin, and that was exactly what they needed to do in this draft. Griffin will give the Skins the face the franchise has been starving for. Owner Daniel Snyder has made a name for himself by overpaying veteran free agents that have rarely worked out. However, Washington has drafted well recently (Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Roy Helu). He has begun to build this team the right way, through the draft, and selecting RGIII will be the most significant step in that process.

3 – Minnesota Vikings – Justin Blackmon, WR Oklahoma State – I realize Matt Kalil is probably the safest pick for a team that needs more lanes for Adrian Peterson, and protection for their young quarterback, Christian Ponder. However, other than Peterson and Percy Harvin, who is constantly hampered by migraines, what other playmakers does this team have on offense? Minnesota hasn’t had elite talent at WR since the departure of Randy Moss, and I believe Blackmon is too great a talent for them to pass on. He will give Ponder another much needed weapon, while spreading out defenses more, which in turn, will help Peterson and the run game.

4 – Cleveland Browns – Trent Richardson, RB Alabama – Offensively, the Browns are a disaster. They have massive questions at Quarterback, and their best offensive player, Running Back Peyton Hillis, bolted for Kansas City. The only bright spot on this offense is Tackle Joe Thomas. Not only is this a smart pick for Cleveland, because they should be doing nothing but selecting the best player available here, but it also fills a great need. Richardson is going to be elite at the next level, and there is no better way to rebuild an offense than with a strong running game.

5 -Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Luke Kuechly, LB Boston College – Everyone loves Morris Claiborne here, and rightfully so. Claiborne is the best CB in the draft, and the Bucs are a little light in the secondary. However, can anyone name Tampa’s starting inside linebackers? Kuechly is the best in this year’s class, and new coach Greg Schiano, a former linebacker at Bucknell, should not hesitate to draft the potential Quarterback of his defense for the next decade. Some might consider this a reach, but do you really see any reason 500+ career tackles should fall out of the top 5?

6 – St. Louis Rams – Matt Kalil, OT USC – The Rams could address their need at WR with Floyd here, but it is time for them to start considering the future of their young Quarterback, Sam Bradford. Jason Smith hasn’t turned into the elite protector they thought he would be when they took him with the 2nd overall pick in 2009. Bradford played in only 10 games last season due to injury, but in those 10 games, he was sacked an astounding 36 times. The Rams need not to hesitate on taking Kalil to prevent Bradford from becoming the next David Carr or (gasp) Chad Pennington.

7 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Michael Floyd, WR Notre Dame – Jacksonville could easily address its much needed pass rush here, but the idea of giving second year quarterback Blaine Gabbert a big target like Floyd is too great to pass up. As much as the defense is in need of help, so too is the offense in need of a playmaker outside of Maurice Jones-Drew and Mercedes Lewis. New owner Shahid Khan needs to find a way to prevent blacking out games in Jacksonville, and there is no better way to put people in the seats then grabbing a high profile offensive player. This move makes both football and business sense.

8 – Miami Dolphins – Morris Claiborne, CB LSU – I realize that the Dolphins greatest need is at quarterback, and I am actually a fan of Ryan Tannehill, just not at this pick. If the Dolphins trade back and grab him that could suffice, however Claiborne’s value here is extremely high, and Miami would be foolish to pass him up. Claiborne has elite talent and would provide an instant upgrade to a secondary that struggled last season. If Miami is smart, it passes on Tannehill, who I feel is a boom or bust prospect, takes Claiborne, and holds hope of landing Matt Barkley next year, whom they’ve wanted all along.

9 – Carolina Panthers – Fletcher Cox, DT Mississippi State – I’ve said before, I think Cox is on another level in terms of defensive lineman in this year’s class. Defensive Tackle is the greatest need for Carolina, and this is great value for this year’s top dog. Cox is fast, strong, explosive, and aggressive and should be able to make an impact immediately.

10 – Buffalo Bills – Riley Reiff, OT Iowa – Buffalo has needed an elite left tackle for years now, and Reiff has to potential to provide that down the road. The Bills made the big splash this offseason with the Mario Williams signing, now it is time to address its most pressing need. Reiff will provide stability to help Ryan Fitzpatrick get the ball to the playmakers (Jackson, Spiller, Johnson) on offense.

11 – Kansas City Chiefs – Dontari Poe, DT Memphis – Although I am not sold on Poe, and do think his skill set will serve him much better in a 4-3, rather than the 3-4 scheme that Kansas City runs, I feel his intangibles and potential as a NT are too much for new head coach Romeo Crennel to pass up. Although Poe is very much a boom or bust product as well, Crennel and KC should take a chance on this one. Poe has the size (348 lbs) and strength (44 reps) to develop into an elite NT in this league. This will certainly take time, but if it works out, Poe will be another building block in Kansas City establishing an elite defense.

12 – Seattle Seahawks – Melvin Ingram, DE South Carolina – Although I think Ingram is better suited as a 3-4 DE/OLB hybrid, there is no doubt in my mind his abilities will allow him to excel in any scheme. Seattle is another team in need of a pass rusher and Ingram is arguably the best available here. He has the ability to move around the defense and will be an asset for years to come in Seattle.

13 – Arizona Cardinals – Quinton Coples, DE/OLB North Carolina – To me, Coples hasn’t been consistently productive enough throughout college. This does not mean he won’t succeed at the next level. His intangibles give him tremendous upside, and he could become a dominant pass rusher in the right system, especially in the NFC West. Some view Coples as a better fit in a 4-3, however his speed and athleticism could make him a perfect fit as a DE/OLB hybrid.

14 – Dallas Cowboys – Mark Barron, S Alabama – It is no secret Dallas needs help in the defensive secondary. Safety is the biggest need, and Barron is the best of the bunch this year. Jerry Jones should not hesitate on taking the Alabama product because if he doesn’t, division rival Philadelphia will be waiting at pick 15 right behind them.

15 – Philadelphia Eagles – David DeCastro, G Stanford – Philly has more pressing needs at defensive tackle and outside linebacker, but no one can deny the beating that Michael Vick took last year. Vick certainly doesn’t help his own cause with the amount of running he does, but DeCastro should provide more stability on the offensive front, allowing Vick to sit in the pocket just a bit longer. Tackle could be addressed, but the Eagles just signed free agent Demetress Bell.

16 – New York Jets – Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB Alabama – I’ve said it all along, and I am sticking with my pick until the end, if Upshaw is available, he should be the Jets’ pick. His experience, ability, and leadership skills will make him an asset in Rex Ryan’s scheme, and he will fill the need that the Jets have had on defense since Ryan’s arrival. How could you not want the Defensive MVP of College Football’s National Championship game?

17 – Cincinnati Bengals – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB Alabama – Cornerback probably isn’t the biggest need for Cincinnati but pairing Kirkpatrick with Leon Hall will greatly bolster their secondary. The Bengals just resigned S Reggie Nelson, and at pick 17 the value is far too high to pass up the first team All American.

18 – San Diego Chargers – Chandler Jones, DE Syracuse – Jones’s stock is rapidly rising as draft day approaches, and some don’t see him making it past the Jets at 16, so his value here could be fantastic. San Diego has not had an elite pass rusher since Shawn Merriman’s “Lights Out” Days, but Chandler could finally revitalize that. He has the physical tools and size to develop into an elite OLB/DE in San Diego’s system.

19 – Chicago Bears – Michael Brockers, DE, LSU – Defensive Line is a big need for the Bears, and Brockers is the best available here. His physical intangibles and violent play will make him a great fit in front of Urlacher and Briggs.

20 – Tennessee Titans, Dont’a Hightower, ILB Alabama – Tennessee made a great move to improve their defense this offseason by signing Kamerion Wimbley. They have solid youngsters in the secondary between Michael Griffin and Jason McCourty, while Akeem Ayers still has potential to develop into a good OLB. Now they just need someone to be the foundation in the middle. Hightower’s value is amazing here, as I said I think he is worthy of a top 15 pick. Tennessee would be adding to a quality, up and coming defense.

21 – Cincinnati Bengals – Kendall Wright, WR Baylor – The Bengals overhauled their offense last year, and for the better. Andy Dalton and AJ Green have the makings of a deadly combo for years to come. Now it is time to add some speed opposite Green to really open the offense up. Cincinnati was smart in adding Benjarvus Green-Ellis this offseason to sure up the run game, and Wright will add another dynamic to the passing attack.

22 – Cleveland Browns – Ryan Tannehill, QB Texas A&M – As I said earlier, I like Tannehill, just not as a top 10 pick. Here, his value is so much higher, and the Browns are reportedly in love with him. Odds are Tannehill’s inflated stock will have him picked well before here, but if he is available at 22, you can bet everything that the Browns will take him, as they should. Let’s face it, Colt McCoy is not the answer, and Tannehill’s ceiling is through the roof.

23 – Detroit Lions – Stephon Gilmore, CB South Carolina – Detroit has one of the most, if not THE most, dominant Defensive Lines in all of football. Adding a true number one corner to their secondary could put them among the NFL’s best defenses. Chris Houston is decent, but he needs help opposite him. Gilmore would start immediately, and has the potential to make a significant impact as a rookie.

24 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Cordy Glenn, G Georgia – Pittsburgh needs help up front, and pairing Glenn next to Center Maurkice Pouncey would give them a dominant interior in front of Roethlisberger and Co. Running Back could be another option, with Mendenhall hampered by the ACL injury, however, that can be filled in one of the later rounds.

25 – Denver Broncos – Coby Fleener, TE Stanford – Peyton Manning loves a good, athletic Tight End and Fleener is the best of this year’s class. If you haven’t already, check out this kid’s “Sports Science.” Strong, fast, explosive, and huge. His physical tools are scary, and having come from Stanford, he shouldn’t have a problem adjusting to Peyton Manning mentally.

26 – Houston Texans – Nick Perry, DE/OLB USC – Houston lost both DeMeco Ryans and Mario Williams this offseason, so they are a little light at the linebacker position. Their defensive line is extremely young and talented. JJ Watt proved he will be a force for years to come with an impressive rookie campaign last year. Putting Perry next to fellow USC LB Brian Cushing will give Wade Phillips one of the youngest, most athletic front sevens in the NFL.

27 – New England Patriots – Harrison Smith, S Notre Dame – Is it just me or is the safety play in the AFC East among the worst in the NFL? Like the Jets, New England struggled immensely at safety last year, even to the point where Ross Ventrone began to see time. Smith provides immediate upgrade, and is the big, physical, athletic safety that this defense has been missing since Rodney Harrison.

28 – Green Bay Packers – Shea McClellin, OLB Boise State – Other than Clay Matthews, there is no one on the Packers defense capable of rushing the passer. Putting McClellin (7 sacks in 2011) opposite Matthews could give Green Bay one of the best edge rushing defenses in all of football. McClellin is still somewhat raw, but will benefit from teams constantly game planning around Matthews.

29 – Baltimore Ravens – Peter Konz, C Wisconsin – Baltimore just resigned Matt Birk to a 3-year deal, but they need to plan for his retirement. Grooming a young center will provide a seamless transition when Birk finally decides to hang them up. Konz is the best available, and has good value at this point.

30 – San Francisco 49ers – Janoris Jenkins, CB North Alabama – San Francisco is returning 11 starters on defense, which is unheard of in the NFL. There is a need at WR, but the team just spent a lot of money at that position in Free Agency, so they should improve the only shallow spot on their defense. Jenkins has the potential to be an absolute steal here, and could learn a lot under the veteran leadership of Carlos Rogers.

31 – New England Patriots – Kendall Reyes, DT/DE UConn – Reyes reportedly has a great relationship with Bill Belichick, who frequents visits to UConn, and for good reason. Reyes is a perfect fit in a Belichick type system. He is a very smart, very versatile player, with tremendous upside that can play multiple positions along the defensive front. New England lost DE Mark Anderson to Buffalo this offseason, so this is a position of need as well.

32 – New York Giants – Jonathon Martin, OT Stanford – Although the Giants are the defending Super Bowl Champs, they struggled to protect Eli Manning at times last year. Kareem McKenzie is gone, and I do not think the Giants are too fond of the idea of Will Beatty (AKA Wayne Hunter 2.0) entering the season as the starting RT. Martin should play immediately and will learn a ton from New York’s veteran offensive line.

Turn On The Jets 2012 NFL Draft Hub

Your one stop for everything you need to know about the New York Jets and the 2012 NFL Draft

Here at Turn On The Jets we have taken the time to break down every position the New York Jets could target in the upcoming NFL Draft, from the areas they could focus on with the 16th overall pick to what they will do with their compensatory picks in the 6th and 7th round. We have also argued the merits and faults of numerous prospects frequently associated with them, talked about trading up to as high as number three along with trading out of the first round altogether. Basically, yes…we have it all covered…and we won’t be stopping anytime soon. Make sure you are following both myself and staff writer Chris Gross on Twitter and of course here on the site.

Positional Analysis

Mock Drafts

Specific Prospects

In the coming days, I will publish our Mock Draft 4.0, rounding up all the updated mock drafts and giving my final projection on what the Jets will do in the first round. Chris Gross has a mock draft for the entire first round. We will both offer finals thoughts/updates/observations, along with have one last debate on Courtney Upshaw versus Melvin Ingram. Finally, I will be live blogging the first round of the draft here on the site along with giving instant analysis of the Jets selection and then Friday Chris and myself will prepare you for round two and three.

Stay tuned…

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.