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 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.
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.