INDIANAPOLIS, IN - The buzz around the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium may have belonged to Rex Ryan, who yet again announced a guarantee for his New York Jets to be Super Bowl Champions, but there is actually some work to be done in Indianpolis.
General manager Mike Tannenbaum and his team of scouts spent the afternoon soaking in the first day’s action, but not before taking time out with reporters to answer a few question about the Jets off-season plans.
To the satisfaction of Ryan, the Jets first pick will more than likely be devoted to defense. The only question is where? The uncertainty regarding the return of safety Jim Leonhard leaves a huge hole in a secondary that was not the same after Leonhard’s freak injury. But the lack of a pass-rush presence is also a main concern for the Jets, who rely on that quarterback disruption to create turnovers. So the question is, in which direction do the Jets go?
“We will certainly take the best player. We are going to stick to that philosophy. Could be a pass rusher, could be a safety, could be an offensive player, but we will try to stick to that philosophy as best as we can,” Tannenbaum said.
After the public jab from Kris Jenkins regarding the Jets handling of his rehabilitation process, nose tackle is also position that Tannenbaum has evaluated. Certainly the combination of Mike DeVito and Sione Pouha was more than serviceable, are there other options?
“We have started with [nose tackle]. For our defense, the depth is really important and we have tried to load up there with a few guys. There are some interesting guys (in the draft). We are going to sit down with some of them over the next few days and it certainly could be a possibility for us,” Tannenbaum said.
Early indications have the Jets targeting such prominent defensive line talents as Cameron Heyward DE – OSU, Allen Bailey DE – MIA, and Phil Taylor NT – BAY. As for the safety position, rumors have been swirling about UCLA’s Rahim Moore. Where there is less talent for the safety position, the Jets may look to strike early on a safety.
With the announcement of the free agency of All-Pro corner Nnamdi Asomugha, speculation began running rampant that the Jets would try to unite the game’s two best corners in New Jersey. That is still only speculation, however Tannenbaum did touch on the possibility of the Jets landing a high-priced free agent.
“We would like to keep as many of our own guys as possible. That has really been our goal. How many of those we will be able to keep is really going to be hard to say right now,” Tannebaum said. “We have a plan, that plan is in pencil, and we will see how things play out. We would like to keep as many of our guys as possible. Being as close as we were, we have liked what they have done for us, they bought in, Coach Ryan likes a lot of them, that certainly is a factor in the decision.”
Some guys who may not return, at least from an early stand point, are Jason Taylor, Vernon Gholston and, perhaps, Antonio Cromartie.
“We don’t have any resolution. He is one of those guys who did so much for us off the field” [regarding Taylor]. “I think there’s some lose ends we want to take care of before the year ends” [answer to question on the future of Gholston]. “Our plan is in pencil. It is really hard to make these decisions within a context because we are not really sure what that context is right now. We have a lot of different scenarios. This year more than others, there is a big priority to try to keep as many of our guys as possible” [when asked to speak on plans with Cromartie], Tannenbaum stated.
Clearly, due to the on-going negotiations, nothing drastic will occur until after the new collective bargaining agreement is handled. And until then, everything can be considered speculation, and certainly nothing is set in stone. Be sure to check in with the JetsInsider.com to be up-to-date on all things NFL lock-out and Jets off-season happenings.