With Jenkins out the door who will step in?
FLORHAM PARK, NJ — At this point in his career Kris Jenkins’ only goal is to get back in the NFL with a new contract and, more than likely, a new team. Kristian Dyer of the New York Metro reported yesterday that Jenkins has been working out with personal trainers and plans on meeting up with brother and Green Bay Packer Cullen Jenkins in Florida to continue his rehabilitation process.
Jenkins, who suffered two brutal injuries to his left knee in the past two years which caused him to miss 29 games over that span, was cut by the New York Jets earlier this off-season. He was entering the fourth year of a contract worth $30.25 million. A favorite in locker room and out in the stands, Jenkins received personal messages from teammates as well as team management, who all expressed their hope for a new deal.
“After it all happened, I had a great conversation with Rex, Mike [Tannenbaum] and even Woody [Johnson] called me,” Jenkins said of the Jets head coach, general manager and owner. “I was surprised, because I didn’t know that Woody saw me as one of ‘those’ guys on the team. He talked with me honestly and said that he’d be in touch to see where things go down the road. It was a nice way to end things.” If you are into sports betting, you would have to think that the odds of Jenkins actually making a Jets comeback based on his history is probably low.
With the air cleared of the speculation surrounding the return of Jenkins, the only question that remains is who will fill his mammoth role as the run-stuffing nose tackle? In the earlier JetsInsider.com’s segment Meet the Prospects, we profiled Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor as a possibly player Tannenbaum and the Jets might be interested in. While Taylor’s frame (6-4, 334) is ideal for Ryan’s prototypical 3-4 nose tackle, his potential outweighs his production.
Additionally, the Jets have a greater need for an edge rusher than an inside run-stopper. I had their wish list as the following: 1. Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia 2. Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA 3. Cameron Heyward, OLB/DE, OSU 4. Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor 5. Rahim Moore, S, UCLA. The need for a 5-technique player is that dire.
However, should Trader Mike decide that the importance of a stout presence to anchor the defensive front outweighs the need for an edge-rusher, there are a few options he could toy with. As we all know, Tannenbaum is not afraid to trade picks and players to advance in the draft and pluck the player he desires. Having said that, the league has come out and said that the 2012, 2013 and 2014 draft picks are all eligible to be traded this year, despite the possibility of not having future drafts. So while the Jets have a lot of players to re-sign, Tannenbaum still has the luxury to trade future picks if necessary. And to take any of the players mentioned below, it just might be necessary.
- Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois – Quick enough to beat lesser linemen off the snap at three-tech, uses his hands to free himself from block when there is enough space to do so. Gets his man on skates or pushes through a block (or double) to the quarterback to get pressure. Also strong and quick enough to play on the nose in obvious passing situations. Stout defender who plays with a strong base. Penetrates into the backfield with quickness. Lines up at three and five-technique spots. Corey Liuget Highlights vs. OSU
- Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple - Overwhelms college tackles with size and strength, then chases down quarterbacks with his length and nimble feet .Agile five-technique who lines up on either side of the formation. Patient and keeps his eyes in the backfield to contain; very solid in his outside assignment. Comes off outside path or double teams inside to spin/shed, catching back running through the hole. Muhammad Wilkerson Highlights
And if the Jets decide to package their 3rd-round pick with some other sort of compensation to get into the second round, which would be ideal as the need for an edge-rusher is that important, they might be happy selecting this guy.
- Allen Bailey, DT, Miami – Enough speed to challenge the offensive tackle’s outside shoulder. Flashes some counter moves, including a swim technique. Has good upper- and lower-body strength to hold up at the point of attack against the run. Good stack and shed defender capable of disengaging from blocks quickly due to good hand strength and lateral agility. His versatility allows him to have played linebacker, defensive end, and defensive tackle for the Hurricanes. Allen Bailey vs. Wake Forest
Clearly, the loss of Jenkins leaves a glaring hole for the Jets to fulfill before the 2011 season commences. Luckily for them, this year’s draft is chock-full of potential replacements.