Despite new management and the league’s 30th ranked offense, the Jets were back to their old tricks on Thursday night, taking defensive players Dee Milliner and Sheldon Richardson with both of their first round selections.
“You can’t blame this one on me,” Rex Ryan joked, lightly rebuffing the idea that he was the mastermind behind both picks.
The selections do seem to suggest that Ryan, who is widely considered to be a lame-duck, still wields a lot of power in the personnel department. Since trading up to take Sanchez in 2009, the defensive-minded Ryan has had a hand in drafting current defensive starters Kyle Wilson, Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples, all in the first round.
And the offense has paid dearly.
Regardless, both Ryan and new general manager John Idzik maintain that sticking with defense was a joint venture and based solely on the talent available. According to Idzik, the Jets had both Milliner and Richardson as two of the top four players on their board.
“You’re tempted,” said Idzik about taking an offensive player, “but you’re not going to succumb to temptation.”
Many thought the Jets would target a pass rusher like LSU OLB Barkevious Mingo or an offensive weapon like West Virginia WR Tavon Austin but both were snatched up before the Jets got their chance. The Browns took Mingo with the sixth overall pick, while the Rams, perhaps sensing the Jets were smitten with Austin, traded up with the Buffalo Bills to take the speedy wide receiver eighth overall.
The Jets did have an opportunity to take premier offensive guard Chance Warmack with the ninth pick, but they opted for Milliner instead.
For better or worse, the Alabama cornerback must now face an endless barrage of Darrelle Revis comparisons, as he will take Revis’ spot across from Antonio Cromartie in the secondary. In a twist of fate, Milliner, who many considered to be the best defensiveback in the draft, slipped to the Jets, probably due to injury concerns after undergoing labrum surgery in March.
The real head scratcher, though, came with the Jets selection of Richardson, a defensive tackle out of Missouri, with the 13th overall pick. Instead of trading down to stock pile picks, or trying to improve the anemic offense, Idzik decided to stay put and take a defensive lineman for the third straight year.
It’s no secret that the Jets have more than a few major roster holes (Tight end, anyone?). Yet, defensive line is probably not on that list.
Although the trio of Richardson, Wilkerson and Coples now represent the foundation of a premier defensive line, the Jets (once again) stole from the poor and gave to the rich. Not to mention the fact that the Jets play a lot of 3-4 defense and Richardson will be out of position as a defensive end.
The draft isn’t over, but taking Richardson and Milliner certainly doesn’t help Mark Sanchez (or whoever is playing quarterback next season).
Brace yourselves, because there are going to be many more low scoring games at MetLife next season. Unless, of course, you’re watching the Giants.