Jets Select OLB DeMario Davis

The New York Jets ended their second day of the NFL Draft by selecting OLB DeMario Davis out of Arkansas State University with the 77th overall pick. This is an interesting pick, because there seemed to be players of higher value at positions of need for New York with Bobby Massie and George Iloka still on the board. However, Davis certainly plays Rex Ryan’s brand of football.

Other than the fact that Davis possess great strength (32 reps) and speed (4.53 40), he is extremely explosive, having posted a 124″ broad jump, coupled with a 38.5″ vertical, both of which set the bar for Outside Linebackers in the entire class this year. Over his past two seasons at Arkansas State, Davis had 132 tackles, 4 sacks, and 3 interceptions. Most importantly, Davis plays with some of the greatest tenacity you will see from any player selected this year. He repeatedly delivered punishing hits last season, leading ESPN’s Mel Kiper to deem him a man among boys at his level of play. Several analysts believe Davis would have been an earlier selection had he played in a major conference.

Davis is also a very versatile player. At 6’2″, 235 pounds, he can certainly afford to add a little weight, but he has the combination of strength, speed, and athleticism that will allow Rex Ryan to move him all over the box, and he could end up filling the void left at Inside Linebacker when Bart Scott eventually departs. Ryan certainly loves versatile players in his defense, especially at the linebacker position.

Davis does not necessarily fit the mold of the pass rushing OLB that the Jets desperately needed, but his versatility and intensity should make him a valuable piece of Ryan’s puzzle, while his outstanding speed leaves much room for improvement in his pass rushing abilities. Expect to see him delivering some highlight reel hits on special teams early in the season.

New York Jets Select WR Stephen Hill

The New York Jets have swapped 2nd round picks with Seattle to select WR Stephen Hill out of Georgia Tech. Hill gives the Jets the deep threat their offense has been lacking at Wide Receiver since the departure of Braylon Edwards.

At 6’4″ 215 lbs, Hill is an athletic freak, having run a 4.36 40-yard dash at the combine, which is remarkable considering his size.
A big play specialist, Hill had 820 receiving yards on only 28 catches in 2011, averaging a mind blowing 29.3 yards per catch. Of his 28 catches last season, 9 were for over 30 yards, 5 were for over 50, and 2 were for over 70. His season long was an 82 yard touchdown in Georgia Tech’s opener against Western Carolina. There is no doubt that he can make the big play, and with his impressive size and blocking experience (coming from a run first offense), he will contribute to the run game immediately.

The move to get Hill certainly gives New York much needed depth at Wide Receiver and he should be able to come in and compete for the starting spot opposite Santonio Holmes right away. Hill is still a raw prospect, especially coming from the option offense at Georgia Tech, but his tremendous upside gives him great value at this pick, and he should be able to open up the offense for the Jets as he develops. This move seemingly rules out any reunion with Braylon Edwards.

New York still has several needs at OLB, S, and RT, so keep an eye out for how the remainder of the night plays out. The Jets own the 77th overall pick in round 3 tonight.

A Positive Analysis Of Quinton Coples

Chris Gross gives a positive analysis of New York Jets first round pick Quinton Coples

Our resident defensive lineman and staff writer Chris Gross breaks down Quinton Coples and comes out with a more positive feeling than I have about the pick – JC

With the 16th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the New York Jets shockingly passed on coveted prospect Melvin Ingram for Defensive End Quinton Coples out of North Carolina. As the pick was announced, analysts and fans frantically began to point out why this was a terrible decision by the Jets. How could New York be so lucky to have Ingram fall into their laps and then opt to pass on him? To make matters worse, the Jets selected a player who arguably had more question marks surrounding him than anyone else they had reportedly been interested in.

The common flaws linked to Coples are that he does not posses the high motor, killer instinct, and relentlessness needed to be a dominant defensive lineman in the NFL. As many of these contentions may be true, they also are a bit exaggerated. There are, in fact, times in games when Coples seems unmotivated and takes plays off, but these moments are not as plentiful as they are perceived to be.

Game evaluation of Coples reveals him to be many things as a player. He is extremely big (nearly 6’6” 284 lbs), and uses that size to his advantage. Coples utilizes his hands and length very well. His reach allows him to create the separation between offensive linemen necessary for him to take control and dictate what he is going to do. He has a fantastic burst off the ball, among the best at his position, and closes the gap just as fast as any defensive lineman in the draft this year. Coples is also phenomenal against the reach block, displaying excellent ability to get his head to the outside and force every play back in. Very rarely is he caught out of position, giving up the edge.

In terms of his pass rush, Coples has fantastic maneuverability. He shows great bend and ability to dip his shoulder on his rushes, causing serious problems for any guard or tackle trying to block him. He displays excellent strength and explosion, having repeatedly run through blockers at the point of attack last year in his pursuit of the quarterback, while also showing ability to execute a double move, if necessary. He can do it with speed, strength, and technique, an immeasurable combination in a defensive lineman. Along with that, Coples plays with a serious mean streak at times shown through his aggressive style of play.

So, the obvious question is, why the harsh reaction to the pick? Although many of the negative assertions about Coples are exaggerated, they are not false. At times, Coples does take plays off and can appear lazy on the field. He tends to lose discipline, sometimes getting caught too far up field, allowing open running lanes on draws and screens underneath him. However, these flaws are nowhere near as frequent as assumed. These are aspects of his game, and character that do need to be worked on at the next level, but with an elite defensive coaching staff in New York, as well as quality veteran leadership in Sione Pouha on the defensive line, Coples can certainly eliminate them in his development.

During his senior year at UNC, Coples also suffered a drop in numbers from his junior season. In 2010, he compiled 10 sacks, while in 2011, that number fell to just 7.5. However, like any position in football, when a player has success, teams will notice that and begin to account for him. During his senior year, Coples drew the attention of every offense North Carolina faced, and for good reason. During the Miami game, in particular, the Hurricanes’ slid their pass protection to Coples nearly 100% of the time, while scheming double teams to account for him on run plays. This was very common among all of Coples’ opponents during his senior year, which was a great cause for his decreased statistics. Remember, a drop in numbers is not necessarily equivalent to a drop in production at any position along the defensive line. There are countless intangibles and contributions that do not show up in the stat line.

Along with the drop in his numbers, Coples has also somehow gotten the reputation of a selfish player. There have been several reports that he developed a “me first” attitude during his time at North Carolina. However, during his junior season, when multiple members of the Tar Heels’ defense were suspended for the year, Coples was asked to play more time at Defensive Tackle, rather than his natural Defensive End position, to account for the lack of depth. Coples did not complain, just simply went out, played, and tallied 10 total sacks that year. Prototypical “selfish” players usually don’t make such sacrifices and perform at a level like that.

The claim that Coples lacks effort, as I said, is exaggerated, yet realistic. In stretches, he has a habit of catching blockers, rather than attacking them off of the ball like he usually does. Although, these plays seem much more common late in games and at the end of long drives, which suggests that it may be more of a conditioning issue, rather than an attitude issue. This seems to make more sense, because the majority of the time, Coples does actually play with valiant effort and high motor. On one play in particular against North Carolina State in 2010, Coples chased down QB Russell Wilson on a 50 yard run, before he was forced out of bounds inside the 10. Normally, “lazy” players aren’t seen chasing anyone down from behind.

Other than his play, the largest factor that contributes to the idea that Coples was a bad pick for the Jets is that Melvin Ingram was still on the board. The common thought among Jets fans was that Ingram was the best option for New York in the first round, and to be able to stay at 16 and get him would be a huge victory. Passing on Ingram was most likely going to be an unpopular move by the Jets, so anyone else drafted in that spot was going face heavy scrutiny.

The bottom line on Coples is simple: He certainly has some question marks, but also has shown he can be a dominant football player, and his superior size and athleticism give him tremendous upside. Remember, this is the same player who drew comparisons to Julius Peppers following his junior season. If there is one coach capable of maximizing his talent and turning him into an asset in the NFL, it is Rex Ryan. Ryan, along with the veteran defensive leadership in Pouha, David Harris, and Darrelle Revis, could be just the supporting cast Coples needs to develop into a force in this league for years to come.

Final Thoughts On New York Jets & NFL Draft, Part 1

Chris Gross gives his final thoughts on the New York Jets heading into the NFL Draft tonight

In part 1 of our final thoughts on the NFL Draft, staff writer Chris Gross gives us a review of what to look for this weekend. Check back in a few hours for my final thoughts and a first round mock – JC

After extensive review and evaluation at Turn On The Jets all week, I have a few final thoughts regarding the Jets potential moves before Roger Goodell takes the podium at Radio City Music Hall tonight.

5 Moves I’ll Be Happy With

1. Stay put and draft Courtney Upshaw – By now its obvious that I feel this will be the best move for the Jets. I’ve gone over everything I love about Upshaw and how I think he will be a tremendous fit in Rex Ryan’s defense.

2. Trade Up for Mark Barron – Barron is another player I feel will be a great fit under Ryan. The Jets still need help at safety, and although Yeremiah Bell is on the radar, Barron could team with Revis to form a dominant secondary for years to come. Depending on the asking price, I think Barron is worth jumping ahead a few spots.

3. Stay at 16 and draft Melvin Ingram – I have not been very high on Ingram at all. I still feel Upshaw is the better player and should be taken over him if both are available. However, if Ingram can be had without making a trade and New York opts to select him, I will be all for it. As I have said, he has tremendous upside. He is strong, fast, athletic, and versatile and I have to believe that if Ryan takes him, it is for good reason. Rex can certainly get this promising prospect to fulfill his potential.

4. Somehow end up with Fletcher Cox – Odds are Fletcher Cox will be selected before pick 16, so if this were to happen, the Jets would likely have to trade up for him. However, like Barron, I think he is one of the few players worthy of the sacrifice. Cox will undoubtedly have an impact right away, and his explosiveness and tenacity will upgrade the D-Line to one of the best in football.

5. Select Michael Brockers at pick 16 – I would not be very fond of trading up for Brockers, simply because I do not think he holds high enough value at his position to be worthy of such a move. However, if he can be had at pick 16, or even by trading back a few spots, I would gladly be on board. Brockers has tremendous size and ability to be a great 5-technique on the Jets defensive line, and would provide a great interior pass rush playing opposite Muhammed Wilkerson. This would help to get pressure off of the edge with the amount of attention offensive lines would have to pay to the interior.

5 Moves That Will Have To Prove Their Worth

1. Trade Up For Melvin Ingram – As I said, if Rex sees something to take Ingram over Upshaw, I trust his judgment. However, from what I have seen on him, I don’t like the idea of sacrificing picks to get him.

2. Select Chandler Jones at any point – Whether they take him at 16 or trade back, Jones will have a lot to prove. I do think that he has the potential to be a fantastic player in this league. His size and athletic ability give him an extremely high ceiling.

3. Draft Quinton Coples – Like Jones, Coples has a very high upside as he is very athletically gifted and has great size. However, as much as I hate to say it, I see too much of Vernon Gholston in him to immediately support a move like this.

4. Trade Up For Trent Richardson – The only reason I put this move in this category is because of what it will cost the Jets. There is no doubt in my mind that Richardson will be an elite NFL Running Back, however if New York is going to sacrifice the necessary picks to obtain him, he better become that in a hurry. Giving up a first rounder next year is a serious gamble, and although I think it will pay off, I’d still need to see it happen.

5. Draft Michael Floyd – I do like Floyd, but with the holes on defense, and the Jets clear commitment to the run game, I’m not very fond of the idea of taking a Wide Receiver in the first round. Alshon Jeffery could be available in round two, and although he may not be as polished as Floyd, he could still develop into a great player.

2 Moves I Would Hate

1. Taking Dontari Poe  – As I wrote in my D-Line preview, Poe would not be a good choice for the Jets and they should not consider him at any point. He does not play up to what his combine numbers show, and he seems extremely lazy. I’m not saying he will not develop into a good player, I just think the Jets would be wasting their pick on him. This would be a terrible decision, and one that I would be shocked to see.

2. Taking an Offensive Lineman In Round One – I do realize the Jets need a Right Tackle, but there is so much talent at other positions of need in the first round. The Jets have neglected this position while there is decent talent still available on the free agent market (Vernon Carey), so to see them use their pick on a position they seem comfortable with would not be good.

Names to Keep An Eye On

Running BacksDavid Wilson, Lamar Miller, Doug Martin, LaMichael James. All of these players would be quality second round selections, and would all add speed and explosiveness to the Jets running attack. Each of them would bring a different dynamic to the table and would complement Shonn Greene well. Of the bunch, Miller is probably the fastest, Wilson is the most complete, and James has been the most productive at the college level.

Outside LinebackersVinny Curry, Jonathan Massaquoi, Bruce Irvin. Curry and Massaquoi have good size and average speed at the position. Conversely, Irvin has below average size, but excellent speed. Curry has the potential to be drafted the highest, but I don’t necessarily see him as being that much better than Massaquoi or Irvin. Irvin certainly has the highest ceiling, but comes with some baggage, having had multiple run ins with the law in his past. None of these players are comparable to the OLBs who could be obtained in round 1, but if the Jets opt to go in another direction, they all could develop nicely down the road.

Alshon Jeffery, WR South Carolina – Jeffery is reportedly on the Jets radar and for good reason. He has tremendous size at nearly 6’3” 216 lbs, and good speed to go with it, having run a sub 4.5 40 at his pro day. He would provide the Jets with the big target capable of stretching the field that they need opposite Santonio Holmes.

Vontaze Burfict, LB Arizona State – I’ve defended Burfict throughout the entire draft process arguing that his character was being unfairly judged and that his lackluster testing numbers do not hamper his abilities on the field. However, Burfict made me eat my words this week when news broke of a positive drug test at the combine. Although I do think he has some mental issues he needs to work out, I still stand by my assertion that Burfict has the ability to be a great linebacker in this league. He needs to get into the right situation, with the right people around him, and believe it or not, I think the Jets would be perfect for him. As much as the Jets are perceived to have a circus like atmosphere, I do think that Rex Ryan is one of the best player coaches in the league, and despite what happened last year, can still get his guys to buy in as good as anyone. It would do Burfict wonders to be around guys like Mangold, Revis, Harris, and Ferguson. If he could be had in one of the later rounds, which I think is very realistic, he would be a pick worthy of the risk for New York. He has the potential to form a deadly combination at Inside Linebacker with David Harris in the future.

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.

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.

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.

New York Jets: Linebackers Not Named Ingram or Upshaw

Chris Gross breaks down linebackers the New York Jets could target in the NFL Draft, not named Courtney Upshaw or Melvin Ingram

Previously at Turn On The Jets, we have evaluated the Safeties the New York Jets could target if they opted to pass on Alabama’s Mark Barron and draft one of the many DE/OLB prospects that they so desperately need. But what if the Jets do end up taking Barron, and pass on the chance to land Mark Ingram, Courtney Upshaw, Quinton Coples, Chandler Jones, etc? Although the value of these players will be extremely high in the first round, this is certainly a scenario that could play out. If the Jets do opt to take Barron, there are still several quality prospects that could be the answer to New York’s desperate need for an outside pass rusher.

Recent TOJ Draft Coverage

Nebraska’s Lavonte David is a popular sleeper on many boards, but at just over 6’0 230 lbs, he is much more suited as a 4-3 OLB and not the DE/OLB hybrid the Jets need in their 3-4 scheme. Andre Branch is certainly a possibility, but if the Jets are interested in him, they will most likely have to trade back into the 30-40 range. Branch has superlative size for the DE/OLB position at 6’4” 260 lbs. Although his strength is not ideal with only 19 reps on the bench, his speed is certainly adequate for his size with a 4.70 40-yard dash. Branch also has the explosiveness that you look for in evaluating a pass-rushing prospect, as he showed at the combine with his 10’ broad jump. The production is there as well. Branch posted 10.5 sacks last season including 4 against Virginia Tech, a game in which he also had 11 tackles, including 8 solos. If the Jets were to take Barron in the first round, Branch would certainly not be a bad consolation prize to losing out on Ingram or Upshaw, assuming that they could get him in the second.

Perhaps the most intriguing name to keep an eye on is West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin. With 22.5 sacks in his past two seasons at WVU, Irvin has proved to be one of the top pass rushers in the nation during his time as a Mountaineer. He also blew scouts away with his speed and agility posting a 4.5 40 yard dash and a lightning quick 4.03 short shuttle at this year’s combine. At 6’3 245 lbs, Irvin doesn’t have ideal size, but his talent and production help him overcome that.
So, the obvious question is, how could such a productive prospect not even be discussed as a possible first round selection?

The answer is character issues. Irvin is a former high school dropout who already has more than one arrest on his resume. This has been hanging over him for his entire collegiate career, despite his immense production, and he unfortunately did nothing to ease the minds of NFL teams on this issue after he was arrested following his pro day this year. Irvin’s character issues will almost certainly cause him to fall to at least the third round, where based on production and potential alone, he would be an absolute steal.

However, are his talents enough for the Jets, who are already mending their locker room image, to take such a risk? The answer lies with Rex Ryan. Although Ryan admitted he lost the locker room last season, he is still a coach who prides himself on being able to mold his players into strong characters. If it were up to Rex alone, there is little doubt that the Jets would take a shot on Irvin. However, after the events of last year, Rex will have to convince Mike Tannebaum to select the immensely skilled, yet controversial pass rusher. If Rex believes that he can aid Irvin to overcome the issues that have haunted him for so long, he may be able to talk Mike T into taking him, in the event that he is available in the later rounds. This could be a very interesting scenario to keep an eye on as the draft plays out.

New York Jets Draft Scenarios: What Are The Best Options?

Chris reviews the New York Jets options at number 16 in the first round of the draft

Check out Turn On The Jets most recent mock draft projection for the New York Jets by myself and then where Chris Gross argues about my undervaluing of Courtney Upshaw. Today Chris reviews the Jets primary options with the 16th overall pick. I will be publishing my updated mock draft this Friday and then a full first round mock draft next Wednesday.

Take it away Chris… – JC

When it comes to the New York Jets,  there is a number of ways they could go with their first selection. So who will it be? Here are the options the Jets might consider, ranking from top to bottom in terms of what I think they should do.

1A – Stay put at 16 and Draft Courtney Upshaw – I’ve said this before in a previous article, I think Upshaw is unfairly falling down draft boards. He has everything the Jets need as an outside linebacker: pass rush ability, every down capability, high motor, and plays his best football in big games.

1B – Trade Up for Melvin Ingram – In my defense of Upshaw, I made note that I do not think the Jets would be making a bad move in trading up for Ingram. However, these two players are similar enough for the Jets to not sacrifice the picks and stay put at 16. However, if Mike T and Rex love Ingram enough, I am on board for the move and would not hate to see them grab the South Carolina product.

2 – Jump Ahead of Dallas and Grab Mark Barron – It is no secret the Jets need help at the Safety position. Even with the signing of LaRon Landry, Barron is a high quality young prospect who could be a top tier Safety in this league for years to come. In a division where you play Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez twice a year, safety is one position you can never have enough depth at.

3 – Do Whatever it Takes to Get a Right Tackle – Whether this means trading into the top 10 and drafting Iowa’s Riley Reiff or trading down for someone like Cordy Glenn from Georgia or Jonathan Martin of Stanford, the Jets would not be killing themselves in selecting an Offensive Tackle. We all know how poor the play at Right Tackle was last season, which in my opinion was the biggest factor in Sanchez struggling at times. However, I still firmly believe that Gang Green has full intentions of entering training camp with Ducasse and Hunter battling it out, so I wouldn’t put a lot of faith into a move like this. Still, it cannot be ruled completely out.

4 – Move up into the top 10 and draft Michael Floyd – I am completely against this move, only because I think the Jets have too many needs to take a wide receiver that I am not completely sold on. In an offense that lacks a WR who has the ability to stretch the field, Floyd had only one catch over 35 yards last season, and has had some off the field issues. I am not saying that he will not be a good pro, but for what New York needs, I think this would be far too great a risk. However, with only Chaz Schilens and Jeremy Kerley opposite Santonio Holmes, this is not completely out of the question.

5 – Sell the farm and trade up for Trent Richardson – I know, on the surface this seems crazy. But if the Jets are truly committed to returning to ground and pound, what better way to do that then to pair this year’s top running back prospect with Shonn Greene and Tim Tebow, who is expected to see a lot of time at H-Back, for the toughest, most lethal backfield in the draft. Clearly, the Jets have too many other needs to make a move like this, but with Mike Tannenbaum, we can never say never. Ideally, the Jets make one of the other 5 moves, and address running back in the later rounds, possibly with Miami’s Lamar Miller or LaMichael James out of Oregon, but would anyone truly hate seeing Richardson in Green and White next year?

If I could have it my way, I’d have New York stay put at 16 and take Upshaw, while either trading back into the first round for S Harrison Smith, or waiting to grab Lamar Miller in the second, if available. Miller has the home run speed the Jets lacked on offense last year (4.38 40), which would be fantastic paired with Greene and Tebow grinding out the tough yards.

Why The Jets Would Be Foolish To Pass On Upshaw

Chris Gross makes the case for Courtney Upshaw, whose stock has fell recently in the NFL Draft

If you haven’t seen our updated mock draft yet, check it out from Friday. Today we have TOJ writer Chris Gross playing Devil’s Advocate to his editor and others out there who are aren’t high on Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw.

As the 2012 NFL Draft draws closer each day, prospects continue to see their stocks rise and plummet on what seems to be an hourly basis. One player in particular who has been extremely up and down since the end of the college football season is Alabama OLB/DE Courtney Upshaw. The last time scouts saw Upshaw with pads on he was celebrating the Crimson Tide’s National Championship victory over SEC rival LSU. After that game, the idea of Upshaw falling to the Jets at the 16th pick in the draft seemed extremely far fetched. Jets fans knew what Upshaw could bring to the team, but at that point, it just did not seem realistic that New York could obtain him without trading up.

However, as weeks have progressed into months this offseason, Upshaw has seen his stock dramatically fall, with fellow OLB/DE draft prospects Quinton Coples and Melvin Ingram jumping ahead of him in just about every analyst’s rankings. As is the case for every draft, this practice is expected. Countless analysts and scouts lose sight of production and focus heavily on testing numbers during this time of year. Since Upshaw did not blow anyone away with his pro day numbers in comparison to Ingram and Coples, he has been drastically plummeting down draft boards. Several draft experts currently have him available at pick 16 in their latest mock drafts with the Jets passing on him. However, passing on Upshaw would be a horrible mistake for New York, one that could end up being Kyle Brady/Warren Sapp like.

Ingram and Coples are both solid prospects. Although the Jets would be foolish to trade up for Coples, it would not be a bad move to do so for Ingram. As we all know, Mike Tannenbaum has yet to miss on trading up for someone, so if he does it, believe that it is in good faith and knowledge. However, there is no reason for them to sacrifice draft picks if it looks like Upshaw will be available at pick 16. Ingram and Upshaw have very similar career statistics. Both had minor injuries early in their collegiate careers and did not start playing significantly until their junior and senior seasons. During both of those years Upshaw had 16.5 sacks and 104 tackles. Ingram, on the other hand, had 19 sacks while recording 75 tackles.

Statistically, these players are both very close, and both would help the Jets tremendously at OLB, the position this defense is literally starving for. While Ingram is seemingly the more athletic, pass rushing type, one cannot argue Upshaw’s overall production. In his last two seasons at Alabama, he had only 2.5 less sacks than Ingram, while recording nearly 30 more tackles. Testing numbers certainly don’t account for on the field production.

Aside from overall statistics and numbers, Upshaw possesses the greatest intangible that gets left out of draft evaluations, the intangible that puts him above every prospect at his position in this year’s draft, the ability to play big in big games. Not only does Upshaw have the big game experience, playing on arguably the best defense in the best conference in college football the past two seasons, but he has also has risen to the challenge in every big game he has played in. This past season alone, 9 of his 9.5 sacks came against SEC opponents. 2 of those were against rival Auburn, while he recorded 1 in each of the matchups against LSU, which proved to be the best two defensive games college football has seen in recent years.

Upshaw has answered the calling when its mattered the most, and this should certainly not be overlooked. The bottom line is that Upshaw has the “it” factor that only few players in every draft posses. Although trading up for Ingram would certainly not hurt the Jets, it would serve them right to wait at 16 and take Upshaw, who has played his best football on the biggest stages. Not only is his position a dire need for Gang Green, but so are his intangibles. Other than Darrelle Revis and David Harris, there were very few members of the Jets defense who came up in big moments last season. New York could certainly use another guy like this to bring back the vaunted defense that helped them to two straight AFC title games.