NFL Draft: New York Jets Day Two Preview

The TOJ staff breaks down what to look for from the New York Jets in day two of the NFL Draft

The New York Jets have the 47th (2nd round) and 77th (3rd round) pick in tonight’s draft. Myself and staff writer Chris Gross tell you what to look for. Stay tuned throughout the night as we will be updating after each selection –

The best news coming out of last night is how much talent remains on the draft board, particularly in areas of need for the New York Jets. I am going to run down a few positions and who they could target –

Running Back – I don’t anticipate them taking a running back in round two. Maybe they would consider Lamar Miller or LaMichael James if they slipped near them in round three. However, I think it is more likely they will consider Robert Turbin with one of their late round picks.

Wide Receiver – I have a tough time seeing the Jets passing on Stephen Hill or Alshon Jeffery if they are at available at 47. The team is high on both players and both have the ability to be day one starters opposite Santonio Holmes.

Outside Linebacker – Apparently the Jets are not high enough on Courtney Upshaw to make any move to trade up for him. However, would they pass on him at 47? Upshaw, Vinny Curry, and Andre Branch could all be in play at 47 as the Jets look to continue building their front seven.

Safety – It would be frustrating to see the Jets pass on Trumaine Johnson is he somehow falls to 47 but apparently they love LSU’s Brandon Taylor who they could get after the 47th pick. The Jets are leaving this draft with a safety and I think it ends up being Taylor or George Iloka.

Offensive Tackle – Jonathan Martin, Cordy Glenn, and Bobbie Massie are all players talented enough to step in at right tackle to start day one. Isn’t that hard to ignore with New England adding Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower last night?

My prediction? They end up with Alshon Jeffery or Brandon Taylor…if they are feeling frisky, maybe both. Then again, who the hell would have thought they were taking Quinton Coples last night?

Here are five routes Chris could see the Jets taking –

1 – Trade up into the first five picks of round two and select Courtney Upshaw – Upshaw has slid into the second round, something that seemed impossible a few months ago. However, with a great need at OLB, the Jets could save face with the Coples pick by moving up and selecting the Alabama product. Having fallen this far already, Upshaw is going to be an absolute steal in this draft, and it is no secret as to how I think he could help the Jets.

2 – Get an OLB other than Courtney Upshaw – If the Jets opt to not select Upshaw again, there are two names that would also fill the void at OLB. Vinny Curry out of Marshall and Andre Branch out of Clemson are both still on the board. Although they are not quite as good as Upshaw, both of these players would still provide significant improvement on the edge for the Jets. Jonathon Massaquoi is another DE/OLB hybrid to keep an eye out for in round three.

3 – Select an explosive offensive player – Whether it is one of the remaining talented Running Backs in Lamar Miller or LaMichael James, or one of the Wide Receivers that can be used to stretch the field opposite Santonio Holmes in Alshon Jeffery or Rueben Randle out of LSU. Anyone of these players would add a very good dynamic to the Jets offense, while also giving them the home run threat they so desperately need.

4 – Select a Safety – Out of the remaining defensive backs, there are three appealing names that would improve the Jets depth at safety: Trumaine Johnson, Antonio Allen, and Brandon Taylor. All bring something a little different to the table, but would provide instant upgrade to the depth at the safety position. Of the three, Taylor may be the best, while Johnson may be the most intriguing due to his physical intangibles and versatility.

5 -Select a Right Tackle – There is still plenty of talent on the board here as well. Cordy Glenn, Jonathan Martin, Bobby Massie, and Mike Adams are all have first round talent, and with a need at RT, one of them must be considered if available at pick 47.

Noticeably, the top two ranked moves on this list are to select a pass rusher. Although the Jets selected Coples, he will play a 5-technique Defensive End in the Jets scheme, so they still need to get themselves someone to apply pressure off the edge. There is plenty of talent left at this position, and New York needs to do whatever it can to get their hands on one of these players. Here are some notable non-first round picks that have made a name for themselves getting after the quarterback throughout their careers: Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Jared Allen, Elvis Dumervil, Mike Vrabel, Joey Porter, and Adalius Thomas, just to name a few.

The Problem With Drafting Quinton Coples

TOJ looks at the problem with taking Quinton Coples in the first round of the NFL Draft

If you couldn’t tell last night, I was not happy about the Quinton Coples selection. Staff writer Chris Gross has me feeling a little better about it this morning but I still have many reservations, so let me explain why.

I love Rex Ryan as head coach and I like Mike Tannenbaum as a General Manager. Both individuals have been successful more than they have not since becoming employed by the New York Jets. However, part of what makes them good at their jobs is also what leads them to making occasional poor personnel decisions. Lately, the poor personnel decisions have been outnumbering the smart ones.

They are both head strong, stubborn individuals which leads to overestimation of talent and belief in their ability to salvage any situation. We have seen Tannenbaum neglect the offensive line, believing they would be okay with Anthony Clement and Adrien Clarke starting in 2007 instead renegotiating with Pete Kendall and signing a right tackle. He repeated the mistake last year by letting Damien Woody walk, installing backup Wayne Hunter as a starter and then finding no depth behind his starting offensive line.

Since Rex has taken over, he espouses the belief that he can make any player or situation work in his locker room and we have seen Tannenbaum’s draft and free agency mistakes gradually increase. What I am talking about? Let’s review the past couple of years –

–  Taking Division I-AA lineman Vladimir Ducasse in the 2nd round, switching his position immediately and expecting him to start. Ducasse has given the team nothing through 2 years.

– Bringing Derrick Mason into the locker room when he had a history of causing problems. Mason caused problems.

– Signing Plaxico Burress over brining Braylon Edwards back. Burress couldn’t get open in between the 20s and caused problems in the locker room.

– To a lesser extent, Rex pushing for another corner in round one back in 2010 when it wasn’t an area of need as the Jets took Kyle Wilson. Through two years, he has been average at best and made one impact play (an interception last year against San Dieg0). While it is too early to fully judge him, it is fair to be disappointed with his production thus far. Rex also went crazy for John Conner in the 5th round of the same draft and we have seen Conner be average at best last year when given a full time role (watch the tape).

– Last year the Jets took Kenrick Ellis in the third round. He basically redshirted his rookie year because he was nowhere near ready to play.

These recent choices factor in my judgement of the Coples selection. The Jets are coming off a poor off-season last year which led directly to a 8-8 record. They have many holes in a roster that currently resembles that of a 7-9 team, not a 10 or 11 win team ready to compete with New England. It was a smug decision to draft Coples. It was a decision that says, “we are a player or two away and we can risk it on a boom or bust prospect.”

What you need to remember is that Coples is a defensive end, not an outside linebacker. The team has already confirmed he will play with his hand in the dirt and compete with Mike DeVito for the starting end position. Instead of addressing a glaring area of need at outside linebacker, safety, right tackle, wide receiver or running back by drafting that spot or trading back to acquire picks to fill all those holes, the Jets drafted at a position where they had two capable starters (Wilkerson and DeVito and two capable backups (Dixon and Pitoitua). Beyond that, last year’s third round pick Kenrick Ellis was supposed to see reps at defensive end along with nose tackle, which he won’t have the chance to do as much anymore.

So what do you do now? Do you trade/cut Mike DeVito, start Coples and let your run defense suffer? Or do you have Coples be a rotational player on passing downs, where he would likely be most effective? Unfortunately, the Jets needed more than a rotational player in the first round, they needed a 3 down player.

The questions about Coples effort and motor are maddeningly frustrating to hear. However, if the proper veterans (Sione Pouha) stay on him and he is coached properly (pressure on Rex and DL coach Karl Dunbar), the talent Coples has is unquestionable. On physical attributes alone, he is the best pass rushing prospect in the draft. I do believe he has the skill set to be a double digit sack guy. I also believe he has the potential to be a complete non-factor this year.

The question is why do Rex and Tannenbaum need to keep rolling the dice? Why take the player with effort/attitude issues at a position where he could struggle to get reps on your roster when you could have taken a comparable player without the effort/attitude issues at a position of need? It is stubborn. It is headstrong. It is smug. It is Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum in a nutshell. The approach worked in 2009 and 2010 but came up empty last year. Let’s hope this spin of the roulette wheel ends up on the Jets number.

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.

Turn On The Jets First Round Mock Draft

TOJ with a full first round mock draft

I had to get at least one full first round mock draft in the books. There are a few trades factored in here –

1. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB – Big shoes to fill in a tough rebuilding situation.

2. Washington Redskins – Robert Griffin III, QB – A needed move by the quarterback desperate Redskins.

3. Minnesota Vikings – Morris Claiborne, CB – You need somebody to cover Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings, and Brandon Marshall.

4. Cleveland Browns – Trent Richardson, RB – They are idiots if they don’t take him.

5. Buffalo Bills (Trade With Tampa Bay) – Matt Kalil, OT – Fills a major need for them.

6. St. Louis Rams – Fletcher Cox, DT – Good value spot for a special talent.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Justin Blackmon, WR – They have needed receivers since Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell left.

8. Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill, QB – Matt Moore isn’t putting people in the seats.

9. San Diego Chargers (Trade With Carolina) – Mark Barron, S – Will the Jets call about moving up to take him instead?

10. Tampa Bay Bucs – Luke Kuechly, LB – Very good value for a player who should be a great three down linebacker.

11. Kansas City Chiefs – Michael Brockers, DE – A nice piece to add to an improving defense.

12. Seattle Seahawks – Quinton Coples, DE – They need help getting after the QB. Boom or Bust.

13. Philadelphia Eagles (Trade With Arizona) Chandler Jones, DE – Late riser will be nice addition to front seven.

14. Dallas Cowboys – David DeCastro, G – Tough interior blocker who Bill Callahan will love.

15. Arizona Cardinals – Michael Floyd, WR – Potential big play threat opposite Larry Fitzgerald.

16. New York Jets – Melvin Ingram, OLB – The pass rusher the Jets need falls into their laps.

17. Cincinnati Bengals – Stephen Gilmore, CB – Terrific value here. Could be better than Claiborne.

18. Carolina Panthers – Dont’a Hightower, LB – Nice piece to add to their front seven.

19. Chicago Bears – Riley Reiff, OT – They always need help protecting the QB.

20. Tennessee Titans – Whitney Mercilus, DE – He will pair with Kamerion Wimbley to form a nice pass rushing duo.

21. Cincinnati Bengals – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB – Needed addition to their secondary.

22. Cleveland Browns – Stephen Hill, WR – Pairs with Richardson to give offense needed playmakers.

23. Detroit Lions – Cordy Glenn, OL – Too good of value to pass up.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Dontari Poe, DT – Will develop behind Casey Hampton.

25. Denver Broncos – Doug Martin, RB – They need a legit number one back.

26. Houston Texans – Kendall Wright, WR – A threat opposite Andre Johnson.

27. New England Patriots – Courtney Upshaw, OLB – Good value here, could be immediate starter in Patriots defense.

28. Green Bay Packers – Shea McClellin, OLB – Pass rushing threat opposite Clay Matthews.

29. Baltimore Ravens – Peter Konz, C – Should be long time anchor for line.

30. San Francisco – Nick Perry, DE – Too much talent to pass up here.

31. New England Patriots – Harrison Smith, S – Just seems like a New England type player.

32. New York Giants – Jonathan Martin, OT – Should be immediate starter.

Turn On The Jets 12 Pack: Final Thoughts On The NFL Draft

TOJ with 12 final thoughts on the New York Jets heading into the NFL Draft

One last rant on the NFL Draft and a special 12 pack for you to enjoy as you saddle up for a great night of sports. Stay with us throughout the night, as I will be live blogging throughout the entire first round and updating the post after each pick. After the Jets make their selection, myself and Chris Gross will provide instant analysis. Tomorrow we will provide further analysis, along with breaking down the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Finally, the NBA playoffs do tip off on Saturday so look for a first round and Knicks preview at some point tomorrow.

1. No Trade, No Trent – It is being reported today that there is a “0.0” percent chance the New York Jets will trade up for running back Trent Richardson unless he begins to fall or they receive a “sweetheart deal.” Nothing is a 0.0 percent possibility with this team but unless Richardson unexpectedly escapes the top 5, it doesn’t sound like he will end up on the Jets.

2. He Is A Guard – There is also chatter picking up about Stanford Guard David DeCastro being a possibility for the Jets at #16. The problem is that they reportedly plan to move him to right tackle if they select him. I don’t like moving a guy out of his natural position to fit a need on your team. Don’t put a square peg in a round hole. If you want to address tackle in round one, go up and get Matt Kalil who could slide into the 7-10 range or stay put and take Riley Reiff.

3. Fighting Irish – If Michael Floyd is on the board at #16…the Jets are going to strongly consider him. If they pick him over Melvin Ingram, this website will riot in protest. I dislike taking a receiver in the first round as a “Ground and Pound” team, particularly when you badly need somebody who can get after the quarterback. Floyd over Courtney Upshaw would be slightly easier to stomach but I still would disagree with the move.

4. Trade Back – If the Jets miss out on Melvin Ingram, Mark Barron and Michael Floyd, and they feel they could still get Courtney Upshaw or Chandler Jones by trading back a few spots, I have no problem with that move. Unfortunately, that is likely a risky route because it sounds like Jones will be a top 15 pick anyway and the Bengals are reportedly high on Upshaw at #17.

5. Mid-Round Safety – Unless the Jets are going to trade into the top ten, they aren’t getting Mark Barron. Look for them to target LSU safety Brandon Taylor in the 2nd or 3rd round, unless Trumaine Johnson is available at 47…who I can’t see the Jets passing on there.

6. Lucky Break – It is starting to sound like there is a very good chance Melvin Ingram will slide all the way to #16. Keep an eye on Seattle at #12 but if he gets by them, the Jets should be in good shape. I’d be shocked if they passed on him at #16, if he was still available…shocked.

7. Day Two and Day Three – I don’t want to get too much into day two and three prospects for the Jets until I see how they handle their first pick but keep an eye on running back Robert Turbin and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.

8. The Other Outside Linebackers – If the Jets don’t end up with an outside linebacker today, look for them to make a strong push for Vinny Curry or Andre Branch tomorrow.

9. Veteran Trades – I am sure the Jets will float out a few veterans in trade offers but I don’t expect anything to happen, mainly because nobody wants Bart Scott, Calvin Pace (at his money), Wayne Hunter, or Eric Smith. The sleeper is moving Dustin Keller but that still remains a long shot.

10. Disaster Picks – Dontari Poe or Quinton Coples have bust written all over them.

11. Keep An Eye On – Buffalo trading up for Matt Kalil. San Diego trading up for Mark Barron. Tampa Bay trading up for Trent Richardson.

12. 7 Paths For the Jets…

  • Take Melvin Ingram at 16
  • Take Michael Floyd at 16
  • Take Chandler Jones at 16
  • Take David DeCastro at 16
  • Trade Up For Mark Barron
  • Trade Way Up For Trent Richardson
  • Trade Back For Courtney Upshaw

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: 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.

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.