Archive for April, 2011

Jets Draft DT Kenrick Ellis From Hampton

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Florham Park, N.J.- In a draft with so many bold, interesting and some might even say crazy trades, it seems odd that the Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum decided to sit still, but it would appear the waiting game strategy has served the Jets well this time around.

Tannenbaum is known for his draft day trades, but with a lack of trade ammo he tried to stress to reporters before the draft that he might not be shaking up the first few rounds with trades this year. No one listened of course, but it’s easy to understand why he was thinking that way now.

Rex Ryan and company were thrilled to have Muhammad Wilkerson fall to them at number 30 yesterday and they were just as excited about selecting the massive defensive tackle from Hampton University, Kenrick Ellis, with the 94th pick in the draft.

In round 3, the Jets select versatile DL Kendrick Ellis out of Hampton University.

“In the third round taking Kenrick, we were excited to get him, obviously a bigger man. (He) started off at South Carolina, he was dismissed from there, enrolled at Hampton.” Tannebaum said, “Played well this past year, very big man, good athlete for his size and we really feel like with that and the addition of Muhammad we’ve added youth and athleticism up front to a group that we thought was good and now will hopefully make that position even better.

“We may move Marcus Dixon to tackle as well and now we have two young guys that can rotate through. Over the last few years, as we talked about with Muhammad, we thought we were a little short and a little concerned about the depth upfront, so both these players are going to help us. We expect them to play and we’re excited to have them.”

Ellis is a 6′5″ 346 lb. space eating monster, but he does come with some off the field baggage that reportedly caused some teams to take him off their boards completely. Hence the reason such a disruptive talent was still on the board at pick 94.

Ellis was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school and originally played for South Carolina, but after redshirting his first year and only playing sparingly as a backup his second year Ellis was dismissed from the school for, “violating university policy.” Otherwise translated into, he failed some drug tests. Ellis then transfered to Hampton where he went on to dominate the competition, but he wasn’t done escaping trouble as he was arrested in april 2010 for assault after he reportedly broke a man’s nose and jaw in fight.

Ellis is still facing a felony charge for that assault and a possible 20-year-bid if he is convicted on the charge according to the Daily Press in Newport News Va., but Tannenbaum said, “With any player we take we are comfortable with (character-wise.) We did rigorous background on him, we’ve met with him and based on all the information we have we were comfortable taking him.”

When Tannenbaum was pressed about the possibility of Ellis being found guilty and doing any time he again said, “Based on all the information we had we feel good about the player. (We) feel it was appropriate to take him where we took him and we will move forward from there.

“(He’s) very transparent, very honest, very accountable. Those were all very impressive attributes and he’s going to come in here with a clean slate and we are going to move forward together.”

Ellis himself said, “The stuff that I got into is in the past now. I was young. I have learned from my mistakes. I was praying that hopefully I would be picked up.

“Yes I am. I am very confident (that he’s issues are behind him). A lot of things happened when I was younger. I am not proud of it, but I have learned from it. It was a learning experience and I have learned from my mistakes.”

No one seems to question the talent this kid has and one look at the game tapes will tell you why that is, but the questionable character issue obviously scared plenty of teams off. However, when looking for an impact player with the 94th pick you don’t really have the luxury of writing off a 23-year-old player because of some questionable character issues.

“I believe he was the 38th or 36th player on our board.” Vice president of college scouting Joey Clinkscales said, “So we felt like he’d be able to come in and contribute. I mean he can play nose, he’s one of the two true nose tackles that was in this draft this year.”

Was the other nose tackle one Phil Taylor many people believed the Jets would target with their first round pick? “Umm, that’s one of the other guys (laughs,) yes.” Clinkscales said. And many scouts say talent and athletic-wise Ellis is every bit as good as Taylor.

Still Tannenbaum wasn’t done fielding questions about Ellis’ off-the-field issues as he spent the majority of the 10 minute presser explaining how he is very comfortable with the pick.

“Any pick has risks, but again we did a lot of research on the player, we met with him several times.” Tannenbaum said, “Our staff looked into him and based on the information we have we were comfortable taking him, does every pick have risk? Absolutely, but I understand his risk is more, but if we didn’t feel like there was a path for him to be successful here, we wouldn’t have taken him.”

“He’s a big strong kid, he’s 6′5″. He played this year at about, close to, 350 (lbs.) When he was here on his visit he was 333. Another guy with long arms, plays really hard.” Clinkscales said, “Any tape you watch you’ll see a guy hustling all over the field. More of a run-stopper, but again he was very productive. He was also a guy that had 94 total tackles this season and he injured an ankle in the second game of the season so, basically he played with a bum ankle for part of the season and was still very productive.”

So Ryan and Tannenbaum decided to roll the dice and they rolled up a bunch of talent for sure, it will be interesting to see if the character matches up. If it does the Jets might have just got themselves a hell of a nose tackle with the 94th overall pick.

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Other news and notes:

With the 62nd pick the Chargers selected Jonas Mouton OLB from Michigan with the pick the Jets sent them in the Cromartie trade.

Can someone give a sane and reasonable explanation of just what exactly is Bill Belichick doing in New England these days? More on that after the draft is complete, in the draft recap.

Speaking of the draft not being done, the draft continues tomorrow at noon with the Jets picking four times. Fourth round 126 overall, fifth round 161 overall, sixth round 194 overall and a seventh round pick 208 overall, they got from the Cardinals that shipped “Hollywood,” (Rex’s words) Kerry Rhodes off to exile in Arizona.

Jets Draft Muhammad Wilkerson DE From Temple

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Florham Park, N.J.- The Lockout has been lifted, for now at least. But we still have awhile to go before games start being played, in the meantime fans were happy to digest the greatest offseason sporting event in the history of time.

The NFL Draft.

For Jets fans a lot of patience was required to have to wait for 29 other players to come off the board, but when it came time for that 30th pick the fans finally had something to cheer about for the first time since that disappointing game in Pittsburgh a few months back.

That pick was a New Jersey product, from Temple University, 6′4″ 315 pound defensive end, Muhammad Wilkerson.

Needing some freshness on their defensive line, the Jets picked Temple DL Muhammad Wilkerson with their first round draft pick.

And Wilkerson was not surprised in the least, saying, “I thought it was going to happen. I had a great visit when I went to visit the Jets and did the workout for them and when that 30th pick came around, I just had that feeling that they were going to pick me up.”

The 30th pick is always extremely hard to predict, but it seems (thanks to some reaches, trades and quarterback envy) the Jets lucked out and had one of their top targets fall right into their lap. The general consensus before the draft was that the Jets would be elated to get either Baylor’s Phil Taylor or Wilkerson, Taylor went to the Cleveland Browns, but Wilkerson was still there for the Jets to snatch and Rex Ryan couldn’t have been happier to rush to make the pick.

After the pick was made an absolutely giddy Ryan addressed the New York media saying, “Oh we definitely were excited about that (Wilkerson being available) and really with Muhammad being there, it’s interesting just watching the whole thing, I’m like ‘Oh yeah, turn it in, turn it in,’ but we’re really excited to have him here and obviously there’s a lot of good football players going to the teams in front of you and behind you, but we think this young man is really going to do some great things for us.”

As insanely happy as Ryan was, he was not alone.

Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum and vice president of college scouting Joey Clinkscales joined Ryan at the podium and they took turns gushing about how special of a player this kid is and what a great fit he should be for this Jets defense.

Wilkerson fills two of the Jets biggest needs in one player, he helps give them a boost in the pass rush and he gives the team much needed depth along the defensive line and the Jets higher-ups were thrilled to talk about just that.

“He was a guy we have identified for awhile, thinking he would come in and give us depth and versatility on the defensive line, 6′4″ 315 pounds. He had earned a single digit at Temple, which means he had a very successful offseason.” Tannenbaum said, when asked when they seriously started to consider picking Wilkerson.

Tannenbaum then went on to expand on an interesting connection to another recent Jets draft pick. “It’s interesting I had a really good talk with Al Golden (now the coach of Miami,) who coached him at Temple and Al was at Virginia with D’Brickashaw (Ferguson,) I thought they had a lot of the same, similar atrributes as far as work ethic, demeanor.

“I think he’s one of those players who, in Rex’s defense, is going to do whatever it takes to be successful and in building our team, this is something Rex and I have talked about the last few years, we feel like depth at the defensive line position was a concern, so to get somebody with his ability we’re really excited about that.”

As it got closer to the 30th pick a debate broke out in the media room about whether or not the Jets should draft Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers, who a month or two ago was projected to possibly be the number overall pick, but then he received the injury mark of death that sent him spiraling out of the first round with knee problems. Considering his ridiculous amount of talent many were thinking the Jets should roll the dice and draft Bowers, (I can’t lie, I got caught up in it too) but he is more of a 4-3 DE and the Jets felt Wilkerson was the better fit with their defense and rightfully so.

“I think, number one he (Bowers) is a outstanding player, I think Muhammad really fits what we want to do defensively.” Ryan said, “He’s a guy that can play head up on a tackle and kick back in, in passing situations over guards and centers, so really he was an outstanding fit for what we do defensively.”

One of the other reasons the Jets were so high on the kid is, well he is quite versatile of course. You don’t think Ryan would have it any other way do you?

“I don’t see him as a nose tackle, but this young man can play defensive end in our system and tackle as well, I see him as a possible three-down contributor for us, but we’ll see.” Ryan said, “He’s work ethic, you know, he’s going to have to come in here and earn his reps and everything else, but we think he’s going to be an outstanding player for us.”

Wilkerson agrees and he made sure to let Jets fans know he was here to play and be productive. Wilkerson said, “Pretty much just very versatile, I can move along the line (and) play any position (on the) defensive line. That’s a credit to Temple playing in a 4-3 and a 3-4. It helped me out and I can fit in with whatever they need to be done at any position.

“Pretty much just playing physical and playing strong, pretty much just be very destructive. At the end of the day I am just going to work hard every play.”

One of the concerns people have expressed about Wilkerson is the fact that he played in a smaller conference at Temple, but that clearly was no concern to Ryan. Ryan said, “No, I mean he went up against Penn State and all those other teams, you watch that game and you have no concerns.”

Ryan isn’t the only one who is worry free about the transition. Wilkerson sounds like one confident young man himself.

No wonder why Ryan likes him so much.

Wilkerson said, “I think it’s no problem. Guys are very successful now coming from the MAC. The talent level is just as good as any other conference. Coming into the National Football League, it wouldn’t concern me coming from the MAC.”

Clinkscales added, “Muhammad is great, he’s athletic, a guy like coach said can play a couple of positions. He had nine and a half sacks this year, I think 17 and a half for his career. Strong inside, great hands, we brought him in for our local day for the workouts and he performed well. So we were excited to get Muhammad.”

So what else is there to love about this kid? Obviously plenty if you let Ryan tell it.

“Well you love to have a pass-rusher, whether from the inside or outside and this young man certainly can do it, Mike already talked about his pass rush numbers and Joey did, so obviously he has a lot of production.” Ryan said, “When you look at that as an interior pass rusher, that’s hard to do. Clearly we’re excited about it, he’s got a huge wingspan, I think his arms are like 35 1/4″, that’s up there, that’s D’Brickashaw type arms so we’re excited about that from an inside pass rusher that’s really what you look for.”

Wilkerson knows what he is walking into, he knows the Jets defense is already among the league’s elite and he wants in. “That’s a tremendous defense that they have over there and I’m glad to be a part of it. I think I can come in and help the defense be even more destructive than it is.”

Being a Jersey kid, Wilkerson was asked if he grew up a Jets fan to which he said, “I didn’t grow up a Jets fan, but right now I am a Jet. I am proud. I’m happy.”

And now, like Ryan loves to say, it’s time for him to ‘play like a Jet.”

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Other notes:

Tannenbaum said they listened to offers to both move up and down in the draft, but once they realized Wilkerson was likely to be there, they happily settled on him as their target.

The second and third round starts tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. and as of right now the Jets don’t have a second round pick, but with all the defensive talent still on the board (Ayers, Reed, etc. etc.) don’t be surprised if trader Mike does what he does best and works some draft magic to get the Jets back in the second round.

I realize Mel Kiper isn’t a lot of people’s favorite draft “guru” but Jets fans have to love this line he delivered after the Jets pick of Wilkerson. “You can make an argument that this is the best pick in the first round.” Jets fans have got to love that. Fans better make sure they don’t take Tannenbaum for granted, after all this franchise has come along way since the days of automatic draft day booing from Jets fans.

Lucky Jets Fan to Announce Jets 2011 Fourth Round Draft Pick

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Florham Park, N.J.- With the lockout still looming the majority of fans know that the draft at the end of this month might be the last football related activity they get to enjoy for awhile.

So to make the draft a little more interesting, the Jets announced today that they will select one lucky fan to announce the Jets fourth round draft pick and be the first to welcome said player to his new team. (more…)