Archive for April, 2011

NFL Draftees unfazed by labor issues, just want to play

Friday, April 29th, 2011

NEW YORK, NY — All the glitz and glamor that New York City has to offer was on display on the corner of 51st st. and 6th ave. at Radio City Music Hall Thursday night. The first round of the NFL draft came and went and the draftees were all smiles, unfazed by uncertainty regarding their new job. The bright lights shined just enough to blind players from the reality that, despite Judge Susan Nelson’s ruling that the lockout has been enjoined, there is still no football being played.  The red carpet was rolled over the facts no matter what a U.S. court rules, there is still no current collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players.

Call it naivety. Call it being caught up in the moment. But whatever the case, the newly drafted players –  like number one overall selection and new Carolina Panther Cam Newton — didn’t have these pressing thoughts on their minds. Instead, they were more focused on how their abilities will improve their new teams.

“I’m really not focused on endorsements and money,” Newton said when asked about the labor dispute and the new capping of rookie salaries. “That’s really something that’s going to take care of itself. The one thing I’m focused on, and my number one priority, is getting in this organization and make steps as far as me becoming a better player.”

And to Newton’s credit, why should be worry about that stuff? At least not on his inaugural evening into the National Football League. After all, the draft is meant to be a celebratory event of a culmination of hard work and determination. Let him get his feet wet before pushing him off the deep end.

The Jets' Kyle Wilson enjoyed the glitz and glamor of the NFL Draft last year. But with the league still in limbo how long will these new players enjoy the spotlight? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Patrick Peterson, selected fifth overall by the Arizona Cardinals, was in agreement with Newton. “It is what it is. The decision is out of my hands. It has nothing to do with me [yet]. I still want to go out there and perform at the highest level.”

However, the there is a certain parallel that can be drawn to the uncertainty regarding the upcoming season and the hectic, anxiety-driven process that is the NFL Draft. While current NFL players are left waiting to hear whether they can merely work out at their team’s facilities, draftees patiently wait to hear their name called by commissioner Roger Goodell.

“I found out [about being selected number one overall] about 15 minutes ago. I didn’t know. I thought [the media] was going to tell me something, because I was out there for a long time. I haven’t been able to sleep,” Newton said.

Despite the certainty NFL Draft “experts” may hold after participating in a plethora of mock drafts, the player’s — for the most part — are left in the dark until they get that phone call. “My phone didn’t ring. I was like, maybe it’s not my pick and I looked up to my dad’s phone and it had the 303 area code. I know immediately who it was,” Von Miller, selected number two overall by the Denver Broncos, said regarding the process.

Most players invited out to the draft day experience hope to be selected early and avoid the possibility of looking like Brady Quinn (see also: Leinart, Matt; Rodgers, Aaron; Moss, Randy), who memorably fell to number 22 overall, but others — like Alabama receiver Julio Jones — kept an open mind. “I came here open, [it] didn’t matter where I went. Just because I didn’t want to be one of those guys to be disappointed to go to a team. It didn’t matter what team I went to,” Jones said. That’s pretty easy for him to say, as the Atlanta Falcons traded up to the sixth spot to select the stud receiver.

“Back in the Green Room, guys were scrambling around a little bit because I guess however it was supposed to go, it didn’t go that way,” J.J. Watt, eleventh overall selection by the Houston Texans, said. “But for me, I was just waiting for a phone call and extremely excited when I found out it was Houston on the other end.”

Certainly, Thursday night was a memorable evening for those selected in the first round. But soon enough the honeymoon with their newly found employers will be over and the reality will set in that, despite what occurred last night, the league still has a long way to go before these players can fulfill their dreams of playing in the NFL.

*Writer’s note: A special shout out and thank you is in order to Calvin Morrissey of  Big Fuel and GMC for their hospitality and VIP treatment at the NFL Draft. They took care of me in the VIP all-access room (free food and beer!) as well as in the interview room, getting me insider access.*

NFL’s lifted lockout held in limbo

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — On Monday, April 25, 2011, Judge Susan Nelson ruled in the favor of the NFL’s Player Union and ordered the owners to lift the lockout; thus beginning the league year 43 days late. However as players pulled up to their respected team’s facilities on Tuesday and get back to playing the game they love, they were met with the same locked doors that kept them out for the 43 prior days.

So what gives, Judge? I thought the lockout was lifted? How can the owners just blatantly ignore a U.S. court ruling? While, yes, Judge Nelson did rule in favor of the player’s union and ordered the lockout to be “lifted”, there are compounding dominoes that have fallen since the ruling was settled on.

The lawyers for the player’s union believe that football should be back in business immediately: which means signed players, like the Jets’ D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Mike DeVito, could return to voluntary workouts to get contract bonuses and free agents like Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes can begin testing the market. However for two straight days players around the league, and in particular Ferguson and DeVito, were denied access to their team’s facilities. Ferguson is owed a league-high $750,000 bonus for attending team workouts while DeVito is owed $350,000, respectively.

“I expect some clarity soon from Judge Nelson on when or whether the new League Season will begin,” Ferguson’s agent, Brad Blank, told the Daily News on Tuesday. “Until then, she has enjoined the lockout, plain and simple….and that means D’Brickashaw will abide by his contractual obligation to work out. In the meantime, if the Jets do not allow him to workout, I believe they are in contempt of Judge Nelson’s directive.”

Jets' owner Woody Johnson's and the rest of the NFL owners' request for a stay on lifting the lockout was denied Wednesday by Judge Susan Nelson. The owners will bring their case to 8th Circuit Courts of Appeals. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

The owners requested a stay from Judge Nelson to reinstate the lockout, which was denied Wednesday, which would have given the owners more time to get details on how to comply with the judge’s rulings. It is suggested by legal experts that the owners will file an appeal of the ruling to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. The NFL asked for guidance from the court about the scale of what teams are required to do to comply. Do doors have to open for players to work out? Or do signings have to be allowed before the N.F.L. has a chance to exhaust all possibilities for a stay?

James Quinn, a lawyer for Weil, Gotshal & Manges who argued the players’ case for the injunction doesn’t understand where this confusion is coming from. “What exactly is the mystery? She has enjoined the lockout. They should start the league year. If there is no stay in place, they should be starting the league year. To file for a stay is not equivalent to getting a stay.”

And the NFL was not granted a stay. In a note to the league following her denial of the owner’s request to freeze the lockout Nelson said that “the world of ‘chaos’ the NFL claims it has been thrust into — essentially the ‘free-market’ system this nation otherwise willfully operates under — is not compelled by this court’s order.”

The ‘chaos’ that the NFL and Nelson are referring to the notion that an immediate lift of the lockout would result in a free agency free-for-all that could create a mess that would be difficult to und0 should a new collective bargaining agreement lead to different rules.

“The league may choose to act in accordance with its expressed belief that the players remain a union and that they have reached a state of impasse, or the League may choose to chart a different course, implementing a version of the 2010 player system, or something different altogether,” Nelson wrote in her letter. “Like any defendant in any lawsuit, defendants themselves must make a decision about how to proceed and accept the consequences of their decision.”

So essentially, the NFL is back in business…just without any rules.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said earlier Wednesday that [the current situation] is one of the things I don’t think is healthy for the players, the clubs and most importantly our fans.” But also did stress the importance of removing any doubt from supporters and fans alike.

Both sides will again meet for mediation on May 16 in attempt to draw a conclusion to this on-going saga. The union and owners have already met 16 times with a mediator and four more through a federal magistrate. This is something that Goodell believes will work best for both sides.

“That’s how we’ve been successful. That’s how other leagues have been successful, and it should continue that way,” Goodell said.

So to clarify a story that was supposed to offer some clarity to an equally confusing situation: Someone better call Leonardo DiCaprio because, folks, we are still hanging in limbo (been waiting to write that all day).

Westhoff’s work ethic could show on draft day

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — With the NFL Draft fast approaching, the JetsInsider.com has devoted a lot of time to what the Jets have been doing behind the scenes and in preparations for the April 28th at Radio City Music Hall. Granted, the lockout has forced many of us to focus on the draft in fear of causing a deep state of depression among fans. But no matter the case we have taken a draft-first approach in recent weeks.

The Meet the Prospects segment has spotlighted potential picks that have been linked to the team with the 30th overall selection. We have kept you up to speed with visiting prospects as well. And when G.M. Mike Tannenbaum has spoken, we’ve listened; deciphering through the code-speak to bring you what he’s really saying between the lines.

As Tannenbaum spoke to the media Thursday, a pre-draft presser, he gave high praises to special teams coach Mike Westoff for his ability to evaluate players and see them beyond just offensive or defensive pieces.

“Mike is a great evaluator. I think [vice president of college scouting] Joey [Clinkscales] and [senior personnel adviser] Terry [Bradway] do a great job of facilitating discussions. They’ll always say, ‘Mike, how does he get into the game? Is he an R4 [fourth player on right side on special teams]?’ That’s a big tiebreaker in the middle-to-late rounds,” Tannenbaum said.

Considered one of the leading innovator’s in placing importance on special teams, Westhoff has made a career — and a damn good one, at that — off of heavy player evaluation, and a constant nose-to-the-grind work ethic. Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star Ledger highlighted how Westhoff took a forgotten aspect of football and turned it into the biggest game-changer in the sport.

Thanks to the saavy Mike Westhoff, Brad Smith and the rest of the Jets special teams unit have been regarded as one of the best in the league for the last few seasons. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

It is that same enthusiasm that Westhoff brings to the war room, and is something Tannenbaum and his team look to when making decisions in the mid-to-late rounds. A player’s ability to produce on special teams is what might separate him from another potential prospect. And that same ability may give said player the opportunity to get game-time experience while still refining the skills at his drafted position. “Throughout the draft, [Westhoff and special teams assistant Ben Kotwica] identified guys they felt could come in and contribute on teams,” Bradway said. “In certain rounds, whether it be the fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh round, the special teams could be a tiebreaker when we’re dealing with two or three names on the board.”

Leading up to the next week’s draft, Westhoff and his special teams unit has evaluated over 150 players — both offensive and defensive players alike — deciding who can block, play gunner, line up in the R6 or L3, etc. With the same meticulous work ethic that he uses approaching opponent’s special teams, Westhoff takes to the draft.

“He plays a big role because he looks at linebackers, he looks at safeties. His vision for a player may be different from the secondary coach,” Clinkscales said. “When we’re trying to build this thing, he is a part of helping us get the right player that not only get to the game as part of the 45, but also if he’s got a role on defense, that’s almost a plus for a guy that’s down the line.”

After 28 years in the league this may very well be Westhoff’s, who signed a one-year deal last season, last year in the NFL. With those 28 years of experience has come a priceless wisdom on a topic that he single-handedly redefined. Hopefully for the Jets, Westhoff will devote the same time as in year’s past. However, something tells me that will never be an issue with him.


Meet the Prospects: Brooks Reed

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — When Jets general manager Mike Tannnenbaum mentions you in a pre-draft press conference, you know you’re on their radar. Granted, his name was brought up by members of the New York media, but nonetheless “Trader” Mike and his team referenced Brooks Reed’s name not once, but twice on Thursday.

“For a guy that played down, like a Brooks [Reed], the first thing we’re looking for is can he rush the passer? For a rush linebacker, dropping in coverages is probably only 15% of what he does,” Tannenbaum said Thursday.

“A guy like Brooks or any other guy that may be a little undersized, hopefully you’ve seen them play linebacker a little bit, and he gives you an opportunity, or you see the opportunity to do a lot of different things with him, the versatility the player may have,” Joey Clinkscales, vice president of player scouting, added to Tannenbaum’s word.

That alone is worth putting the Official JetsInsider.com’s Meet the Prospects spotlight on him. A down lineman for his four years at the University of Arizona, Reed has seen his stock rise from a mid-second rounder to a low-end first rounder. His impressive numbers at the combine (see below) and his versatility as an down lineman or standing edge rusher has been the main reason for his sudden rise to first-round projections.

At the Combine Reed ran a 1.54 10-yard split, highest amongst all linebackers. The 10-yard split measures one’s explosiveness off the line and is considered to be one of the most telling statistics for an outside rusher. To match his speed, Reed put up 30 reps in the 225 bench press (1 less than Ryan Kerrigan, 10 more than Aldon Smith and Akeem Ayers). Of course Jets fans still have a sour taste in their mouths the last time their team took a chance on a player who had a great combine (cough-Gholston-cough). However as you will see, unlike the sack-master Gholston, Reed has produced more than one standout collegiate season.

Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona:

  • CLASS STANDING: Senior
  • HEIGHT: 6-3
  • WEIGHT: 262
  • NFL COMPARISON: Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers (more than just the hair)

Collegiate Career: Brooks Reed Career Highlights

  • 2010 — Started all 13 games; 1st-team All Pac-10 honors; 47 tackles (27 solo), 10.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 1 FF
  • 2009 — Played in 10 games, started eight; Team citation for defensive player of the week against ASU; In those eight healthy games (high ankle sprain) he recorded five tackles for loss and two sacks among 23 total hits; Season-high five tackles and two tackles for losses in Territorial Cup game against ASU; Entered year on Hendricks Award and Lombardi Award watch list.
  • 2008 — Started all 13 games; All Pac-10 honorable mention honors; Led the team in sacks (8) and forced fumbles (3); Had 9.5 tackles for losses of 50 yards among 37 total hits; Coaches’ awards for defensive player of the week honors against California and WSU.
  • 2007 — Worked himself into action in the final nine games of 2007, lettering as a backup end and special teams player.
  • 2006 — Red-shirted his freshman year.

The combination of Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas was good, but ineffective at times. Brooks Reed offers value and could pay immediate dividends. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Strengths:

  • Electric speed off the line to compliment a relentless motor. Can bend the corner very well. Getting after the quarterback is an understatement.
  • A wide array of moves in his repertoire — solid bull rush, can utilize both the spin and rip moves, great closing speed, ability to split double-teams.
  • Intense and tenacious getting after the ball carrier.
  • No off-the-field issues.

Weaknesses:

  • Size; needs to add weight or else bigger linemen will be able to body him.
  • Straight-line rusher –  weak lateral speed/movement.
  • Has been known to over-pursue the ball carrier.
  • Will be 24-year-old rookie in 2012.

Why the Jets?:

  • Their need for an edge rusher has been dually noted. And despite ESPN’s Todd McShay staying strong with Phil Taylor or another DT, DE/OLB is still the most pressing need for the Jets at this moment.
  • With the lack of depth for quarterbacks this year and the uncertainty regarding free agency, other teams may contact Tannenbaum to trade out of the first round so that they can get their quarterback. The plus for the Jets would be getting a better value for Reed — who is borderline first-rounder — and adding more picks either this year or the following years.
  • When Rex Ryan says he wants players to “play like a Jet” Reed may be the embodiment of that: A hard-nosed, relentless pass-rusher who isn’t easily strayed by outside distractions.

In his own words:

  • “I didn’t really have a position coming in –  I played fullback, tight end, was on the scout team — but eventually all my hard work paid off and I switched over to defensive end. It’s has been one of the best decisions of my college career.”
  • “I’ll play wherever they ask me to play. That’s the goal, play as soon a possible –  just keep working hard until I can play.”

With NFL Draft approaching, Tannenbaum weighs in

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — While many football expects may say there’s a start and an end to every season, Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum doesn’t take that same approach. The 2011 NFL Draft is not and has not been the first step in the off-season for him, and with his logic it never will. But whether the NFL Draft is the first step or final touch, there are still plenty of obstacles to climb before the Jets are on the clock.

“I’ve said this before, and I believe this sincerely, I look at the off-season as a big continuum,” Tannenbaum told a group of New York media members at the team’s practice facility in Florham Park Thursday. “From where I sit, I think Ari Nissim and Jackie Davidson in particular have done and outstanding job to get our 2011 off-season to a great start. Last year they extended D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Darrelle Revis and Nick Mangold. David Harris signed a one-year contract in February. The two of them spearheading our negotiations have started our off-season off in a tremendous way. The draft is just the next step. We’re going to continue to build our 2011 off-season based on what Ari and Jackie have started for us.”

While Tannebaum was outspoken in his praises for his staff, he was mums the word about releasing any real insight as to which direction they were going with their 30th overall selection in next Thursday’s draft. “We’re going to draft the best player available … We could add some depth, competition on the defensive side of the ball if the opportunity comes along … Maybe we’ll move up, maybe we’ll move back,” Tannenbaum said.

Jets G.M. Mike Tannenbaum spoke in front of New York media members Thursday for a pre-draft presser. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

That may be misdirection, but it may also be the truth. Due to the current lockout, there are a lot of issues regarding what the Jets want to do and what they are able to do come April 28th. With three of their top four receivers all restricted free agents, the level of uncertainty regarding the return of all of three is high. And unlike in year’s past, the free agency period will not begin until after the lockout ends and a new CBA deal is struck. Do the Jets draft a receiver as a contingency plan if they are unable retain Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Brad Smith or a combination of the three?

“Its the judgment of the best player on the board versus what’s going to happen in free agency. Even if you don’t get your first or second choice in free agency or the draft, there’s going to be other opportunities. If we feel like down the road we’re going to have trouble getting a player back, that may break the tie in the draft room,” Tannenbaum said.

The likelihood of the Jets trading to pluck a receiver from the top-15 (see Green, A.J.; Jones, Julio) is highly unlikely, but with “Trader” Mike at the helm nothing is out of the range of possibility. Tannenbaum has a propensity to swap picks with frequency to get the player that he wants (see Sanchez, Mark; Greene, Shonn; McKnight, Joe). However the new tier rule regarding the capping of rookie contracts based on draft positioning will add another wrench in the Jets game plan. There is uncertainty as to where the capping will be for top-tier draft picks, which may cause teams like to Jets to stay clear of moving into the top 15.  But Tannenbaum has left the door open to the situation as well as trading down, citing flexibility and an open-mind as the keys to a great draft.

“We’ve run a lot of different scenarios. When you’re at 30, there’s going to be a few trades before us. We have to be as prepared as possible, see if we can move up a few spots or back a few,” Tannenbaum said.

The addition of not being able to trade players in this draft is something that Tannenbaum and his team will also have to work around. In year’s past, that has been a good tool to execute the deals they’ve wanted. In avoiding throwing in their 2010 first-round pick in the 2009 draft day trade that allowed the Jets to take Mark Sanchez, they traded away Abram Elam, DB; Kenyon Coleman, DL; Brett Ratliff, QB. Unlike past drafts, however, the Jets hold six picks — which could make for a busy weekend in their war room.

“It’s nice to have six picks for a change, but we’ll see how long we have six picks,” Joey Clinkscales, vice president of college scouting, joked in reference to “Trader” Mike.

Other Notes:

  • The only two names mentioned by Jets personnel, although the names were first brought up by the media, were Brooks Reed — a defensive end from Arizona — and Phil Taylor.
  • In regards to what they are looking for in a conversion player, Tannenbaum said a player “needs to be smart, needs to have good hand use, needs to have quick feet and have a demeanor to be hungry to get to the quarterback”.
  • Regarding Taylor’s foot injury, they didn’t seem to be worried about it. “If you’re looking for a guy that can help you know, he and many others have a chance to do that,” Clinkscales said.
  • Scouting Staff  Statistics: Combined 223 years NFL experience, 166 with Jets. Over 5,500 scouting reports. Over 1,200 player evaluations, and roughly 250 schools visited.

Rex Ryan Speaks…

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — When Rex Ryan speaks, everyone listens. On Tuesday, Ryan spoke with members of the media via conference call to discuss a variety of issues, mostly due to the release of the 2011 NFL regular season schedule. The Jets, as the only team to be a part of the NFL’s final four two years running, feature five nationally televised games in prime time.

Despite reaching 39 days of the NFL lockout, the league released the team’s schedules perhaps in hopes of creating a positive buzz around a negative situation. No matter the case, Ryan opened up on a variety of topics including the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, the sibling rivalry between Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the off-season, and his take on the Jets’ 2011 schedule. So without further adieu, here are a few quotes from Ryan’s conference call. Enjoy.

Known for his gift of gab, Rex Ryan spoke with members of the NY media Tuesday on a variety of topics. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

On playing in 5 prime time games this season:

We hope this trend continues for a long time. If you have five prime time games, people want to watch you and people anticipate us having an outstanding season. And the fact that we’re the only team to make it to the final four two years in a row obviously speaks to that. This is to be expected, but it’s still exciting also.

On opening the season against his brother:

It’s going to be a littler different. The fact that the game is on opening night and the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 will put a little damper on [the trash-talking]. I certainly don’t want to do something that would take away from [honoring the anniversary of 9/11]. This game certainly won’t be about my brother and I. I think there probably won’t be as much trash-talking as maybe what’s gone on in the past.

To be honest, that team is going to be ready to go. He’s going to have them buzzing. He’s a tremendous coach and we know he’ll have his team ready to go. Our focus is going to be on us and not on them as much.

On playing the Cowboys, America’s team, on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11:

I feel honored that we’re going to playing, right there in our stadium. That’s fantastic. It’s obviously going to be an emotional night for everybody, not just in the New York/New Jersey area but in the whole country. I feel honored we’ll be opening up the season playing at home.

On playing three straight road games for Weeks 3-5:

You start off going to Oakland then come back and play at Baltimore and at New England. Quite honestly, that’s a difficult stretch, three road games in a row. But at the other end of it, you’re going to have other games at home. That’s a tough stretch but again, they’re looking at it like, ‘Oh man, we’re going to have to play the Jets.’ It goes both ways. We have no excuses, we’ve never made any excuses, and we’ll be ready to play anywhere.

On what the Jets have been doing to prepare for the draft:

We’re really dialed in on the draft. [General Manager] Mike Tannenbaum, [Vice President of College Scouting] Joey Clinkscales and all our scouts do an unbelievable job. The other thing that we do is we include our coaches. For instance, we did the secondary today, so [Defensive Backs Coach] Dennis Thurman, [Assistant Defensive Back/Quality Control coach] Jim O’Neil and [Defensive Coordinator] Mike Pettine were all in there as well and each guy has reports to do. I actually did about 30 reports, myself. Mike had me do some defensive players. For some reason I didn’t do too many reports on offensive players. You get everybody’s opinion, everybody reads each others’ reports. We feel like we have such a thorough process, we have [prospects] coming in, speaking to the coaches. We’re really prepared for this. We feel good about it. We just finished up our initial board where you go through all the positions today. We feel great about our process, and we feel great about our board.





Kerrigan, Houston highlight prospect visits

Friday, April 15th, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — On the fourth day of hosting potential collegiate prospects, the Jets brought out the big guns. Purdue’s DE Ryan Kerrigan and Georgia’s OLB Justin Houston headlined a linebacker heavy pack of players Thursday at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Facility. Three other linebackers, Martez Wilson (Illinois), Sam Acho (Texas) and Elijah “Peanut” Joseph (Temple), joined the two surefire first round picks as well as Tennessee WR Denarius Moore.

Kerrigan was just highlighted in the Meet the Prospects segment early Friday morning and may be the most promising player to come through the Jets practice facility thus far. Labeled as a early-to-mid first-round pick, he may be to costly for the Jets to trade up for. With the shorten free agency period and the amount of free agents the Jets must sign, G.M. Mike Tannenbaum may look to the draft to re-tool as this year is loaded with talent in the first three rounds.

David Harris may have some company at the linebacker position next season, as the Jets invited out five potential linebacking prospects today to their practice facilities. (JetsInsider.com Photo.)

I believe the man-crush I have on Justin Houston has been well acknowledged to this point. To be quite frank about, I think he’s all that and a bag of a potato chips. Yes…I went there. My corniness aside for a moment, he has potential to match production and has been projected as a mid-to-late first-round pick. ‘Nuff said.

Illinois’ inside linebacker Wilson has first-round potential but he missed the entire 2009 season with a neck injury. His 4.49 40-time was the fastest for his position at the Combine. He has good overall instincts and awareness with outstanding production as a run defender and part-time pass rusher. Has strong hands, upper-body strength and big-hit ability as a tackler. Shows the ability to rush from inside or the edge. So the possibility is there to convert him to an outside linebacker. The main concerns regarding Wilson are his durability issues, liability in man-to-man coverage and inconsistency on wrapping up would-be tacklers. Martez Wilson Illinois Highlights

Should the Jets decide the need for a nose tackle is more pressing than an outside rusher (which I wouldn’t tend to agree with), Wilson should be available in the late second-early third rounds.

Thus far the Jets have used 20 of their 30 out-of-region prospect invites.

Meet the Prospects: Ryan Kerrigan

Friday, April 15th, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Yes. The official JetsInsider.com’s Meet the Prospects segment is back by popular demand.

As we grow closer and closer to draft day, it becomes clear that some picks mentioned earlier are not as solid as others (sorry Rahim Moore). Purdue’s standout defensive end has been listed as ‘very high’ on the Jets’ wish list in 2011. A surefire first round pick, Kerrigan looks to be going in the mid-to-early picks within the first round. With the Jets holding the 30th overall selection, it would more than likely require a trade to acquire his services.

A three-year starter for the Boilermakers, Kerrigan is second all-time in career sacks (33.5), fifth all-time in career tackles for loss (57.0) and is tied for Football Bowl Subdivision’s all-time lead in forced fumbles (14). Certainly those are some gaudy numbers. However with the talent still on the board at the DE/OLB position, trading picks to get him may be detrimental to the rest of their draft plans.

Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue:

  • CLASS STANDING: Senior
  • HEIGHT: 6-4
  • WEIGHT: 263
  • NFL COMPARISON: Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings

Collegiate Career: Ryan Kerrigan Career Purdue Highlights

  • 2010 — Started all 12 games for the Boilermakers; Team co-captain; Received team’s Most Valuable Player Award for defense; First unanimous All-American at Purdue since 1980; Named first team All-America by the American Football Coaches Association, The Walter Camp Football Foundation, the Football Writers Association of America, the Associated Press and The Sporting News, SI.com first team All-American, Rivals.com first team All-American, Collegefootballnews.com first team All-American; Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year; Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year; First team All-Big Ten; Academic All-Big Ten; Led the Football Bowl Subdivision in tackles for loss in the regular season (26.0), tied for second in fumbles forced (5), third in the FBS in sacks (12.5); Had at least one sack in nine of 12 games, one TFL in 11 of 12 and multiple TFLs in eight games; His 70 total tackles were a career high and the most by a defensive lineman in the Big Ten during the regular season.
  • 2009 — Started all 12 games; Received team’s Pit Bull Award – Defense (exemplified and sustained tenacity and intense play) for spring practice … named to Ted Hendricks Award watch list (nation’s outstanding defensive end); second team All-American by Rivals.com, honorable mention All-American by College Football Insiders and SI.com, first team All-Big Ten by media and second team by coaches, second team Academic All-American, Academic All-District V and Academic All-Big Ten and team’s Most Valuable Player Award for defense. Led nation with school-record-tying seven forced fumbles; Seven forced fumbles are second-most in Big Ten history; Topped Big Ten and ranked third nationally with 13.0 sacks; Ranked fourth in Big Ten with 18.5 tackles for loss; Fourth on team with 66 tackles (41 solo, 25 assists).
  • 2008 — Started 11 out of 12 games. Honorable mention All-Big Ten by media; Academic All-Big Ten and Academic All-District V, Ranked seventh in Big Ten in sacks (7.0) and 10th in tackles for loss (11.5) — topped team in both categories; Shared team lead with two forced fumbles and ranked tied for 10th in Big Ten; Ranked fourth with 56 tackles (31 solo, 25 assists); Had four pass breakups and one interception.
  • 2007 — Appeared in 12 games; Had 18 tackles (12 solo, 6 assists), including 1.0 sack.

Shaun Ellis has been a model example of how to "play like a Jet". But his age is a concern. Could Kerrigan be his heir apparent? (JetsInsider.com Photo.)

Strengths:

  • Relentless motor
  • Uncanny knack for forcing fumbles
  • Has a good variety of pass moves
  • Reads plays quickly

Weaknesses:

  • May be too small to play DE in some systems — which is less of a worry as Rex Ryan may decide to convert him to an OLB.
  • Little experience dropping into coverage — which is more of a worry as Ryan may decide to convert him to an OLB.
  • Needs to improve straight-line closing speed.
  • Needs to bulk up — particularly in the lower body where he will be facing larger offensive linemen.

Why the Jets?:

  • By now, it’s been well documented that the Jets are looking for a player who can wreak havoc in the backfield from the edge and Kerrigan is amongst the best in the nation at that.
  • They’ve neglected the “conversion end” position since drafting Vernon Gholston 6th overall in 2009 and the glaring need for one was exposed this past year.
  • Kerrigan’s relentless motor and knack for creating turnover’s is something that Ryan loves in a defensive player. Plus, he’s proven — having two outstanding years for the Boilermakers.

In his own words:

  • “I’ve really been trying to improve at linebacker stuff and fine-tune the defensive line stuff. The more you can do, the more valuable you are.”
  • “Our motto at Purdue was it’s not enough just to get the sack or get the tackle, but you wanted to force a fumble and get the ball back for your offense.”

Star-studded receivers linked to Jets?

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — In an interview with Kristian Dyer of the New York Metro, Bart Scott understands why players like Chad Ochocinco (or is it Johnson, now? This is getting more confusing than deciding what to call Sean “Diddy” Combs.) want to play for the Jets.

The always outspoken Bart Scott shared his thoughts on the possibility of Chad Ochocinco joining the Jets in 2011. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

“I think that Chad and other guys recognize that not only are we playing hard and playing well, we have an affection for each other,” Scott told Dyer. “I’m really excited that he’s a player who would want to be here. We don’t care about personalities. Personalities like Chad we can handle. Santonio Holmes is an example of that. People didn’t think we can handle him, but he had only one problem in two years, and he’s been the model citizen here. I would welcome Chad here.”

Scott’s words emulate a well-accepted theory mentioned in my article about the great head coaching debate, that Ryan’s likability is ever growing amongst NFL players. He’s a player’s coach who gets the most out every one of his players. Now, if only they can end this lockout so the Jets can actually go after said players.

Ochocinco isn’t the only loud-mouthed, diva star receiver to be linked to the New York Jets in 2011. Former Patriot/Viking/Titan Randy Moss has also been on the radar of Ryan. He told Greg Bedard of The Boston Globe of his adoration for the 4-time All Pro receiver. “Randy Moss, I’ve said all along, is a great vertical receiver,’’ Ryan said, per Bedard.  “And you have to roll coverage.  Most teams would have to roll coverage to him.  We never did, but we got burned for a touchdown.  But he was a weapon.  A vertical weapon down the field.’’

If there is any sincerity behind Ryan’s kind words, perhaps he will be a cheaper signing (unbelievably) than Braylon Edwards or Santonio Holmes, should one or both decide not to re-sign with the Jets.

Jets continue to play host

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Continuing to refine their host skills, the Jets have invited a bevy of potential draft picks to their Atlantic Health Jets Training Facility center as they attempt to figure out who will be apart of their 2011 rookie class.

On Tuesday, the Jets welcomed Randall Cobb, WR (Kentucky), Kenrick Ellis, NT (Hampton), Martell Webb, TE (Michigan) and Abilene Christian, WR (Edmond Gates).

Despite spending a first-round pick on former Boise State player, Kyle Wilson, the Jets invited two cornerbacks to workout in Florham Park Wednesday afternoon. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

The big name, no pun intended, on the list is certainly Ellis. At 6-foot-5 and 346 pounds, he is one of the biggest defensive players in the draft. His size is absolutely prototypical for a nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme and his power and potential have never been in question. After starting out his collegiate career with South Carolina he was suspended the first three games of the season for violating team policy. The ensuing Spring he was dismissed from the team for further off-the-field issues. Rex Ryan and the Jets have been able to harbor problematic players without any issues in the past (see Cromartie, Antonio; Edwards, Braylon; Holmes, Santonio), and his potential may be enough to take a risk on Ellis with their 94th pick in the third round. Kenrick Ellis HS Highlights

With a need for both a nose tackle and an edge rusher, Ellis may be a better fit for the Jets in the third round as they should devote their 30th pick to an edge rusher (Hello Justin Houston?).

If the Jets decide not to devote big numbers to the versatile Brad Smith, Cobb may be a younger, cheaper substitute. At 5-foot-10 and 191 pounds, he posted complete numbers from the Wildcats. Last season, he caught 84 passes for 1,017 yards, rushed 55 times for 424 yards and completed five of 10 passes for 58 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. And yes, he can even return kicks too. Randall Cobb UK 2010 Highlights

On Wednesday, they welcomed a pair of potential first round picks in Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA and Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin. Ayers, as mentioned in the JetsInsider’s Meet the Prospects segment, is high on the Jets wish list and could still be available in the late first round. Carimi, due to a lack of standout offensive lineman (outside of Nate Solder and Anthony Castonzo), figures to be off the board by the 30th pick.

However Carimi, at 6-foot-7 and 327 pounds, is a massive man to anchor the right side of an offensive line. Playing with a tenacious mean streak, he attacks defenders with his hands and gets off the line very well. Run blocking is his specialty (something that Bill Callahan and Ryan love) and may only need to work on his footwork in pass protection. Gabe Carimi vs. Iowa 2010 (Left Tackle)

In addition to Ayers and Carimi, the Jets also invited out Chykie Brown, CB (Texas) Josh Thomas, CB (Buffalo), Sione Fua, DT (Stanford) and Bilal Powell, RB (Louisville). Just the possibility of a defensive line featuring Sione Fua and Sione Pouha is too titillating to pass up for me. I don’t care if it’s a wasted pick, take this guy!

Despite spending their first round pick in 2010 on cornerback Kyle Wilson, they still seem to be taking interest in that position. This is something to keep an eye on throughout the draft and free agency as Wilson had a tough time making the transition from college to the NFL in his first year. And the breakout year by Patriots’ cornerback Devin McCourty, whom the Jets were very high on as well, has placed a sense of urgency for Wilson to produce. While Ryan has no means of giving up on the soon-to-be second-year player, he may only be looking to keep his options open.