By Chris Leyden (Correspondent) on April 6, 2011 - East Ruthersford
The New York Jets have six picks in this year's upcoming NFL Draft and will likely look to add the missing pieces that held them back from reaching the Super Bowl in last year's playoffs.
The Jets have a single pick in every round but the second, which they lost to the San Diego Chargers in the trade for Antonio Cromartie.
Obviously, the Jets biggest need is a pass-rusher, but with the pending free agency of Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes, the Jets may go after a wide receiver early on.
Another option is for the Jets to trade up for one of the premier players in this year's class, or trade down to add more picks.
Although both fans of the team and the Jets organization themselves likely won't know what they are doing until they are on the clock, this is what I think will happen in all seven rounds for the Jets. To keep from confusing trade situations, I have assumed the Jets make no moves during the draft.
First Round (#30)- Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
All signs are pointing towards the Jets going after a down-lineman with their first pick and if Phil Taylor is still around, it will be hard for the Jets not to draft him.
Taylor possess both the size and strength to play nose-tackle, a position that has been a weak spot the past few years with Kris Jenkins going down with injuries.
Now, Jenkins is off the roster and even though the Jets could resign him or could be content with the play of Sione Pouha, it seems more likely that they will select a big man in the draft.
Taylor may not be the best defensive tackle in the class, but he is the player best built to play nosetackle and would fit into the Jets scheme perfectly.
Other options here include DE Cameron Heyward of Ohio State or OLB Akeem Ayers of UCLA.
Third Round (#94)- Chris Carter, OLB, Fresno State
With the Jets not having a second round pick, most of the top outside linebacker prospects may be off the board. One that could hang around until late in the third round is Chris Carter from Fresno State.
Carter actually played defensive end for the Bulldogs, but because of his smaller size, he is better suited to play outside linebacker in the NFL.
Carter will give the Jets a great pass rusher from the edge on third and long situations, but will not be an every down player for them.
Some experts say that Carter's biggest weakness is his consistency, but if the Jets were to use him only in certain situations, they may avoid that pitfall.
Other options at this slot include DE Allen Bailey of Miami and WR Edmond Gates of Abilene Christian.
Fourth Round (#126)- Chris Culliver, FS, South Carolina
By selecting Chris Culliver in the fourth round the Jets accomplish two things, they add a safety to their roster and also gain one of the best kick returners in the draft class.
The Jets have a lot of questions at safety, with Jim Leonard recovering from a broken leg and Brodney Pool a pending free agent.
Culliver is coming off a torn-pectoral, but should be ready once training camp arrives. With an abnormally weak class of safeties, Culliver may or may not be NFL quality, but it is a position the Jets need to draft and the later they go, the less talented the players get.
Culliver will add a lot of value in the kick-return department, as he set the South Carolina record for most career kick return yards.
Other options here include K Alex Henery of Nebraska and WR Terrance Toliver of LSU.
Fifth Round (#161)- Austin Pettis, WR, Boise State
After the Jets go defensive with their first three picks, it will be time to tend to a position that may be in trouble depending on free agency.
The Jets could potentially lose both Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes, which would leave them with Jerricho Cotchery and Brad Smith, a free agent, playing receiver. Although it seems unlikely the Jets will lose both these players, they need to draft as if it is a possibility.
One of the bigger sleepers in the draft at receiver is Austin Pettis, and if he is still around at the end of the fifth round I would strongly advise the Jets to select him.
Pettis is a bigger receiver with great hands, but one who lacks great speed and route-running skills. That being said, he is Boise State's all time leader in both receptions and receiving touchdowns.
Other possible picks in this final slot for the Jets are RB Da'Rel Scott of Maryland and OT Chris Hairston of Clemson.
This is the third article in my 32 part Draft Take series leading up to the NFL Draft.
The Jets made it all the way to the AFC Championship game as a number six seed for the second season in a row, yet for the second straight year, they fell just short of making it to the big game. Mike Tannenbaum has done a pretty solid job so far in New York, and Rex Ryan is quickly becoming a top head coach in the NFL. They will have a lot of big decisions to make on free agents this season, but they have enough talent that they can still contend for a title next season even if they lose a couple of their big free agents.
Mark Sanchez can be inconsistent at times, but not many quarterbacks can say that they took their team to the conference championship game in their first two seasons. Sure, he’s been helped by the talent around him, but he still has the raw talent and intangibles to lead his team to greatness. LaDainian Tomlinson is starting to slow down, but he can still be effective in a tandem backfield with Shonn Greene. Joe McKnight could take over for L.T. in a season or two, but he wasn’t very impressive in his rookie year. The receiving core could look very different next season, as Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, and Brad Smith are all free agents. I expect Holmes to be back, but I doubt that you will see all three of these guys back in New York next year. Dustin Keller is one of the better young tight ends in the league. The offensive line is pretty solid all round, and are led by pro bowlers D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. The one question mark is at right tackle, where Damien Woody was recently released.
The defense was pretty impressive last season, but there are some question marks heading into next season. Shaun Ellis is nearing the end, and Kris Jenkins was released after missing most of yet another season. Sione Pouha played well last season, but the Jets may look for a long term option at nose tackle. Look for the Jets to take, at the very least, one defensive lineman in the upcoming draft. The Jets are set at inside linebacker, as David Harris is one of the top linebackers in the NFL and Bart Scott is still playing at a high level. The problem is at the outside linebacker positions, where Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas are expected to be the starters. The Jets could obviously do a lot worse at this position, but they need to find some long term options, especially after the release of big time bust Vernon Gholston. The Jets have one of the top cornerback tandems in the league in Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Kyle Wilson struggled in his rookie season, but he’s got a lot of potential. Jim Leonhard and Brodney Pool make up a solid, yet unspectacular safety tandem.
ESPN draft gurus Todd McShay and Mel Kiper have released the latest version of their mock draft (Insider content), and here's how they see the Jets (No. 30 overall):
McShay's pick -- NT Phil Taylor, Baylor
McShay's reasoning: "The Jets' search for a 3-4 nose tackle could follow the same logic as Chicago's for a 3-technique. Taylor is thick and can anchor against the run and he moves well for a big guy, but he also comes with some character baggage and his motor runs hot and cold. He would end up with a very good defensive coaching staff in New York, though, and the Jets have a need to groom the next centerpiece for their front seven. It's either Taylor with this pick or taking a chance on someone like Hampton's Kenrick Ellis in the third round.
Analysis: I agree. If Taylor is there for the Jets, it would be awfully hard for them to pass. Sione Pouha did a nice job as Kris Jenkins' replacement, but Pouha is 32 and they need to start grooming an heir apparent. Taylor could be the kind of disruptive force they need in the middle of their 3-4 defense.
Kiper's pick -- DE Cam Heyward, Ohio State
Kiper's reasoning: "We've discussed the possibility of taking a safety at this spot, but I don't think the Jets would be wise to neglect early talent at a position they really need to address. Heyward is a player that holds up against the run, has shown a decent repertoire of pass-rush skills, and can play through pain. Rex Ryan needs to infuse some talent to his defensive front, because he has to blitz to get any pressure on opposing quarterbacks at this point, and you never want that to be the case."
Analysis: Wise move by Mel to get off the Rahim Moore bangwagon. I'd be stunned if the Jets took a safety at 30. Heyward fits the scheme as a 5-technique, but I think there's more value with a nose tackle or pass-rushing linebacker.
Kiper and McShay produce a three-round mock. In Round 3 (the Jets don't have a second-round choice), McShay has them taking WR Jerrel Jernigan (Troy) and Kiper has them grabbing WR Greg Little (North Carolina).