Prospect Watch: Phil Taylor

Next up, Baylor nose tackle Phil Taylor.  The big man from Washington DC had an up and down college career but finished strong with his best collegiate season as a senior. 

At 6’3’’ 334 lbs, Taylor is a space eater who can anchor a defensive line.  Primarily a run stopper, Taylor is an above-average tackler who’s 62 recorded tackles his senior season were the most by a Baylor interior lineman since 2002.  He is strong and demands double teams because of his initial punch.  Taylor is generally successful in double teams and is almost impossible to blow off the line.  One of his greatest strengths is his violent hands.  Combined with his jump off the ball, he can push a line backwards, and will collapse a pocket from the middle if the QB holds onto the ball for too long.  His footwork is also good which helps him in his pass rush.  While he isn’t an overpowering pass rusher, that is to be expected.  He has a nice powerful swim move, and can rip through double teams if he can establish leverage. 

He showed this ability at the Senior Bowl. He was disruptive, taking on double teams and freeing up his linebackers.  His footwork and frame is probably good enough to move to the 5 technique at some point, but I don’t think he has the stamina or technique to stay outside for more than selective schemes/situations. 

Throughout his career Taylor’s conditioning was one of the main critiques of his game, however, like I mentioned yesterday, he looked strong throughout the day at the combine. Finally, a number of sources have noted his maturation and change of character since he was arrested on assault charges stemming from a fight at a frat party at Penn State.  I think it’s a safe assumption that he won that fight.

On the negative side of things, concerns over weight management always follow players at this size.  Another common problem that Taylor shares with other big men is his lack of speed and quickness, again this will probably keep him on the inside of the line.  Additionally, his size prevents him from making many tackle outside of the tackle box.  Other than weight concerns, questions about his height and lack of leverage follow Taylor around as well.  At 6’3 he can come to high and has some issues if a center is able to get under his pads.  To this point, he also has a hard time generating momentum if he is stopped at the initial point of attack.  While a decent pass rusher for his size and position, he will need to improve his collection of moves.

I like Phil Taylor, I really do; he will be an interesting prospect to keep an eye out for as Draft Day inches closer.  While “raw talent” is something that the Jets may want to stray clear of this draft, especially in the first round, this guy could become the second coming of Kris Jenkins.

12 Pack of Combine Thoughts

AJ truly embraces the TOJ way by contributing his first 12 pack…of thoughts on the NFL Combine —

1. First and foremost, props to Rich Eisen for keeping me interested in 300 pound linemen running the 40 yard dash.  He was always one of my favorite guys at ESPN and he continues to do an awesome job over at NFL network

2. What are those Under Armor things?  They literally look like something Tony Starks would wear.  Nevertheless, it is really sweet they are measuring the Mph and G force of these guys, but did you see the Under Armor representative? Hisveins were popping out of his neck, I thought he was going to have a heart attack. 

3. Von Miller is a BEAST.  He ran a 4.53 and looked absolutely yoked up in the weird under armor spandex.  He is going to be everything that Vernon Gholston wasn’t.

4. Another defensive player that looked good was Phil Taylor (Prospect Watch will be arriving soon). He looked like he was in pretty good shape for his size, and didn’t tire out as the day went on, something you can’t say about many nose tackles his size.

5. Maybe not a thought on the combine but I am jumping off the Nick Fairley train quickly.  Do I think he will be a good player? Yeah, but I would not take him with the number one pick.  He doesn’t have the best attitude and is known to take plays off, two characteristics I would not want to give $50+ million guaranteed.  Plus, with Carolina running a 4-3, I would want a dominant pass rushing DE to replace Julius Peppers.

6. Do you really think I would get half way through this without mentioning Cam Newton?  I thought he looked really good as far as workouts go, but that was more than expected. 4.59 40 yard dash at 250 pounds, are you kidding me?  Not to mention his 10’6’’ broad jump that just screams explosive.  There was the interview controversy where he called himself a, “an entertainer and an icon,” but I thought he addressed the situation pretty well to the NFL network and apologized for the statement about three times in two minutes.  As far as his throwing drills goes, I wouldn’t be too concerned, wait for his pro day so he can get his timing with his own receivers.

7. Ryan Mallet has a drug problem? I had no idea, I have been rooting for this guy ever since he was going head to head against Jimmy “Bitter Beer Face” Clausen for being the #1 recruit coming out of high school.  Nothing has been confirmed and Mallet is obviously denying the allegations but the story is coming from sources inside Arkansas so it will be interesting to see how this develops.

8. Another player I really like is Mark Ingram and I hope he doesn’t get scooped up by the Dolphins.  His running style reminds me of Ronnie Brown and he is the type of hard nose player Tony Soprano would love to have. He ran slow at 4.62 but there is no denying his production in college and he will be successful in the pros, unfortunately it is going to be for a team not spelled J-E-T-S.

9. Going into the 2010 college football season I was really excited to watch the defense Butch Davis put together at UNC, but all that great work Butch did went down the drain when every defensive starter and their mother was suspended for the season.  The player I was most upset about not seeing was Marvin Austin; but Marvin has had a great lead up to the draft so far playing well in the East-West game and being equally impressive at the combine.  Hey, a man can dream the Jets are able to pick him up in the 3rd round right?

10. Another prospect I would love to pick up in the 3rd round is Jarvis Jenkins out of Clemson.  Like Joe mentioned, the Jets are going to have to commit at least 2-3 draft picks to the front seven and I would not be upset at all if they used their first two picks on the DL.  Jenkins, no relation to Kris as far as I know, has good size and is a known run stopper.  It would be great to let him develop under Sione Pouha for a year or two, but I believe this guy has a relatively bright future at the next level.

11. It was a bitter sweet combine for Jets fans concerning Justin Houston, on the one hand he looked great at the combine, showing exceptional quickness for his size and good instincts during LB drills.  But he might have looked too good and could potentially be off the board before the Jets are on the clock.  Worse news, AFC rivals New England and Baltimore could fall in love with him and take him at number 17 and 26 respectively.

12. Last but certainly not least, I want to say that Damien Woody is handling his release exactly as everyone expected him too, with the utmost class.  He was one of my favorite players on the team and he will be missed.  But that’s the business of the NFL as much as I love it sometimes, it also breaks my heart at times.  Woody will be fine though, just like Alan Faneca last year he will find a team.

Prospect Watch: Muhammad Wilkerson

Another day, another 3-4 defensive end to dissect here at TOJ: this time around we are going to look at Muhammad Wilkerson, the 6’5 305 pound freak that looks like he could be one of the Mon-Stars in Space Jam.  Muhammad hails from Linden, New Jersey and played his college ball at the newly rejuvenated Temple football program.  He is comparable to Cameron Heyward in position (both would be best suited as a 5 technique) and size (both are big boys). However, Heyward tends to use his brute strength to overpower offensive tackles, while Wilkerson uses his tremendous agility and footwork to plug holes and find the ball carrier.

There is no question Wilkerson has some things to work on, but what he lacks in initial bursts and explosion, he gains in his strength and ability to create separation.  These skills allow him to beat blockers even if they manage to engage him initially.  His nimble feet are a main reason why he is so effective using his signature swim move, and is a good sign that he will be able to expand his pass-rushing repertoire once in the NFL.  Just as good, if not better than his pass rushing technique is his ability to shed blockers.  Wilkerson is able to engage his blocker, create separation, identify the play and attack the ball carrier very quickly. Wilkerson is excellent at using his long arms to swallow up RB’s and QB’s alike.  Against the double team, Muhammad is better at slipping the blockers and getting the QB than standing his ground and eating up blockers but is well above average at both.  He understands what gap he is responsible for and more times than not fills it before the back can get through; additionally he has a knack for the forced fumble which would be a nice addition to a Jets defense that could use some more forced turnovers. 

Perhaps Wilkerson’s biggest asset coming into the NFL, and the reason I believe he will be able to overcome the weaker parts of his game, is his unquestioned work ethic and character.  Muhammad makes a ton of hustle plays and you can always see him running after the play if he isn’t in on making the tackle.  He was also elected team captain as a junior, demonstrating his leadership and his teammates respect for him.  Furthermore, he is well spoken during interviews and has already promised to return to Temple to finish out his degree down the road. 

What I am concerned with is his lack of explosion coming off the ball combined with his tendency to stand up out of his stance.  While his stack and shed technique works wonders against offensive linemen in the MAC, it is not going to translate as well into the NFL, where tackles are going to throw him around if he doesn’t learn to fire off the ball harder.  On top of this he needs to get stronger and learn to use his hands with more force at the next level.  Against stronger competition like Penn State, he got overpowered sometimes, especially when double teamed and his lack of strength and hand-work became a little too obvious.  However, like I said earlier, I think these are all things that are fixable and will be corrected based on his work ethic and commitment to football.

In case you can’t tell I like Muhammad Wilkerson, I like him a lot.  I think the Jets would be very lucky for him to drop to them and would be pretty hard pressed to find a better player if he is still available.  There are definite questions with him, just like any prospect that’s expected to be picked at the end of the 1st round, but I think these are all off-season issues that can be worked on and fixed before the season, especially with the all powerful motivator Rex at the helm.  Wilkerson’s athleticism is too much to pass on if given the opportunity, I say take him.

Prospect Watch: Cameron Heyward

As far as needs are concerned, defensive line is at the very top of the Jets list this year.  Depth and youthare both concerns on the inside and outside of the line, and after skipping over the position the last two drafts, it is time Mike Tannenbaum pulls the draft day trigger on a defensive end.

The first Big Ugly we are going to take a look at is Cameron Heyward, a strong defensive end who has had a ton of hype throughout his college career but did not have as strong of a senior season as he might have hoped for.  Not lacking in experience, Heyward has started on the defensive line since his Freshman year.  Additionally, he is the son of Craig “Ironhead” Heyward. Lauded for his off the field leadership, Heyward has become a perennial run stopper, yet has never fully developed into a dominant pass rusher.  While he shows flashes of dominance, Heyward gets beat by seemingly inferior talent at times, especially when he cant get initial contact.

Heywards biggest strength is his size and….strength.  At 6 foot 6, 287 pounds he is pretty much already ideal size for a 3-4 end.  He has very powerful hands and is able to extend his long arms and create space when he makes initial contact.  Heyward has above average instincts, which comes from him playing all four defensive line positions at one point while in college.  He is able to stay low at the line and drive, which helps him on double teams, something he will see a lot of while at the 3-4 end spot.  All of these traits make Heyward a force to be reckoned with stopping the run, however his pass rush has never fully developed and will need some work, especially at the next level.

Perhaps the biggest concern with Heyward is his lack of athleticism.  He is pretty much a one trick pony, he engages and reads the play, a process that is far to slow to translate to the NFL.  Aside from his lack of pass rush moves, he doesn’t seem to move fast enough to get to the QB.  The combine should be huge for Cameron as he has the chance to show he is quick enough to pick in Round 1, or slow enough to wait for the second day.  Aside from that, Walter Football’s evaluation states he takes entire games off, which is never a good sign.

I don’t think taking Heyward with the 30th pick would be a good move for the Jets.  His name has been linked to the Jets because of their need for DE, but as we have seen, Rex does not put a premium on 3-4 ends, especially ones who can’t get to the QB.  If the Jets had a 2ndround pick I would use it on this guy, but the front office has pressure on them to get 2 rounds worth of value with their first pick, and getting a run stopper akin to ­­­Mike Devito would not be great value.  The Jets first pick must be able to make an immediate impact, Heyward needs to be coached up, and his immediate impact would be just as much as a Rent-A-Veteran while costing the team a lot more.

A New Member Joins the TOJ Team

As always, follow us on twitter at, www.twitter.com/TurnOnTheJets and on facebook at www.facebook.com/TurnOnTheJets to get your up to the minute TOJ news.

TOJ would like to welcome a new member to our writing team, AJ Malvisi from Bucknell University, making the Patriot League well represented here (I went to Lehigh for graduate school). AJ will be leading our coverage of the NFL Draft, but first here is a chance to get to know him a little better…

My name is AJ, and I’m going to be the new contributor at TOJ, I’m really excited about this opportunity to talk New York Jets football in the coming weeks with you guys, but first let me clarify a few things.  No, that isn’t a young Darrelle Revis you see on your screen, that’s me, and the beginning of my sometimes great, sometimes miserable life as a Jets fan.  The gang green gene was passed down to me from my Dad, and I have been bred to a life in Green and White (and Blue and Orange, unfortunately). How many years have I been rooting for the Jets? That’s hard to say, there are real time years, and then there are Jets fan years (rough conversion 1yr=2.25 NYJ yrs) so while I still may be in glorified summer camp college, I feel like I am having my mid life crisis as a Jets fan.

My first memory related to the Jets was nagging my dad in his room one morning as I was attempting to conceptualize how any fully functional human being could root for a team that had only won 1 game the entire season.  As he climbed into bed he looked at me and said, “Son, I just don’t know how we do it.”  But such is life when rooting for the Jets, they make you scream at your TV, rip your hair out, bite your finger nails, and start chain smoking, but when they win, when they give back the effort and passion that you give in each and every day, its euphoric.  It is the Yin and Yang of being a Jets fan, for every time Doug Brein misses two game winning kicks with less than two minutes to go in a playoff game leaving you sitting dumbfounded holding hands with your uncles asking God why you go to church on Sunday; Shonn Greene runs over Chargers FS Eric Weddle and into the end zone in the divisional playoffs prompting you to start screaming and hugging random people at a bar in Spain where you are the only Jets fan within a 4,000 mile radius; but I digress.

The decision to write on this blog was an easy one, I’m passionate about my team and I’m relishing the chance to talk to other smart, enthusiastic, and opinionated fans.  Until the end of April, I will be bringing you NFL draft coverage to feed you your off season needs.  I cant wait, see you next time.

Boldin? Cromartie? Marshall? Jones Coming Back? The Rumors Are Swirling

Photobucket

Shame on me for talking about how slow the Jets off-season news was yesterday, because last night it began to pick up. Let’s sort through some of the talk that is flying around on the day before free agency starts.

Anquan Boldin/Kerry Rhodes – Last night Adam Schein reported the Cardinals were interested in Kerry Rhodes because of the impending departure of Antrel Rolle. Apparently, they are offering either Anquan Boldin or a third round pick in exchange for Rhodes. First off, I never thought the Jets could get a third round pick for Rhodes, thinking that they would have to settle for a 4th our 5th round pick. Even at a third roundpick, I am not crazy about the deal but it is somewhat more acceptable because the Jets may have a little more flexibility to make a move to fill the spot left by him. I think the Jets would probably do this deal because Rex Ryan likely believes Eric Smith and James Ihedigbo could get the job done if the Jets can’t acquire anybody else.

Despite writing about how the Jets don’t need a receiver, it is hard not to get excited about Anquan Boldin and Braylon Edwards split out wide, with Jerricho Cotchery in the slot. Are the Jets trying to turn into the greatest show on turf? It doesn’t really fit into the Jets identity to release Thoams Jones, give Leon a tender that could be matched and then swing a trade for a big time receiver for the second time in 6 months, but who knows? Anquan Boldin is a better player than Kerry Rhodes, and we know the coaching staff isn’t crazy about Rhodes, so I could absolutely see Tannenbaum pulling the trigger on this offer.

PhotobucketAntonio Cromartie – Mike Lombardi of the National Football Post reported last night that the Jets are “very interested” in Antonio Cromartie and are currently his most likely suitor. I am not crazy about Cromartie because of his occasional lack of effort and struggles the past two years but the guy obviously has serious amounts of talent. The Jets number two corner is going to see alot of balls thrown his way because of that Revis guy on the other side, and you are talking about a guy who had 10 interceptions in a single season back in 2007. I am sure Rex Ryan is enamored with his talent level and believes he can get the most out of him, but there would still be some risk associated withit. If San Diego is so anxious to get rid of Cromartie  that they will part ways with him for a late round pick, like say a 5th rounder this year and a 6th rounder next year, than go for it but let’s not do anything crazy and give up a pick in the first two or three rounds for this guy.

Restricted Free Agents – The Jets placed a tender on 8 of their 11 restricted free agents:

  • Braylon Edwards – 1st and3rd Round Picks
  • Leon Washington – 2nd Round Pick
  • Brad Smith – 2nd Round Pick
  • Kellen Clemens – Original Round(3rd) because the Jets already used their second round tenders on Washington and Smith
  • Eric Smith – Original Round (3rd)
  • Wayne Hunter – Original Round (3rd)
  • Drew Coleman – Original Round (6th)
  • James Ihedigbo- Original Round (FA)

Wallace Wright, Marques Murrell, and Howard Green were not given a tender and will become unrestricted free agents at midnight. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wright and Green were eventually brought back, if they don’t receive that much interest on the free agent market. I don’t see anybody offering Leon a contract, regardless of what his agent says.

PhotobucketMarshall and Marshall – There has been some talk about the Jets having a potential interest in Panthers corner Richard Marshall, who was only given a second round tender. I know DMB on the Jets ESPN message board was all over this last night and then Rich Cimini of the Daily Newsalso pointed it out today. Honestly, it makes alot of the sense for the Jets to investigate Marshall who is only 25 years old, started every single game for the Panthers last year, and put together a very productive season (88 tackles, 4 INTs, 9 PDs). The Jets could get a proven starter opposite Revis, without Cromartie’s baggage, for a second round pick and then focus on a different area of need in the first round. It almost makes too much sense for Mike Tannenbaum to ignore.

An ESPN Insider report and Rich Cimini both discussed the possibility of the Jets pursuing Brandon Marshall, who was given a first round tender by the Broncos. I would still be surprised to see the Jets go after him, unless they found a way to move Braylon Edwards for some value. They aren’t going to give up a 1st rounder or even a 2nd rounder, if they could talk Denver into a trade, unless they are going to get a quality draft pick for Braylon.

Thomas Jones – PFT is reporting the Jets are planning an attempt to bring back Thomas Jones. They cut him to avoid paying him his 3 million dollar bonus but depending on the interest he receives in the open market, may be able to bring him back under a new deal. The same thing happened with Brandon Moore last season so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Anybody who regularly reads this site knows how I feel about Jones. I think it would be a great move if they could get him back on the roster for 2010.

Other Guys – The beat writers were all over the Jets pursuing Saints running back Mike Bell, who received the lowest tender (no draft pick compensation). Bell is a hard, inside runner who had five touchdowns and 654 yards last season for the champs. Corey Ivy has also been mentioned as a nickel back. Adalius Thomas seems destined to endup with the Jets after he is cut by the Patriots. There is still some talk about Nnamdi Asomugha, but I just can’t see that happening.

Stay tuned, the next few days should be interesting…

If I had to make some predictions as of right now, here is what I would say:

  • The Jets trade Rhodes for a third round pick because they don’t want to give Boldin a big contract.
  • The Jets match the offer sheet for Richard Marshall, if this doesn’t work out, they look to trade the third round pick acquired from the Rhodes deal for Cromartie.
  • The Jets sign Adalius Thomas.
  • The Jets sign Corey Ivy.
  • Donald Strickland is released.
  • Jay Feely signs with another team.
  • Marques Douglas comes back.
  • Tony Richardson comes back.
  • The Jets match the offer sheet for Mike Bell.
  • Leon is back next year.
  • Thomas Jones signs with another team for more money than the Jets are willing to pay him.