Will the Jets finally take a pass rusher with their first round pick? For Jets Nation, that’s the million dollar question.
After a big swing and miss with their 2008 first round selection on the Combine darling, Vernon Gholston, it’s been a position that is necessitated yet neglected. Not since John Abraham’s 10.5 2005 season have the Jets had a pass rusher post a double-digit sack total. Gholston was supposed to be the solution, but turned out to be a bigger problem. Since Mike Tannenbaum used his sixth overall selection on the Buckeye bust, the team hasn’t come close to sniffing a double-digit sacker (2008 – S. Ellis 8, 2009 – C. Pace 8, 2010 – C. Pace 6, 2011 – A. Maybin 6).
With the 2012 NFL draft class stocked with talented pass rushers to fit a pivotal position in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 scheme, the Jets using their 16th overall selection on one seems conventional. The Jets front office people, led by Tannenbaum and senior VP of college scouting Joey Clinkscales, have been on record that the 2008 draft debacle won’t contribute in this year’s decision. This team, however, has been known to throw conventional wisdom out the window (see Tebow, Tim; Smith, Hayden; Burress, Plaxico).
South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram, Syracuse’s Chandler Jones and Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw have all been linked to the Jets. The lust for Ingram has been well noted and Jones has benefitted from a late-rising stock thanks to draft experts. Upshaw, while limited by scheme restrictions, may be the best fit for the Gang Green — with him excelling as a true OLB in Nick Saban’s pro-style 3-4 defense.
Speculation has been swirling that they are interested in exploring a trade with the Cleveland Browns and draft RB Trent Richardson. The thought of adding a workhorse of Richardson’s caliber to Tony Sparano’s run-oriented offense with Shonn Greene has many chomping at the bit to make this dream a reality. The problem is, what will they have to give up to fill a position that isn’t a top priority? The Jets still have glaring holes at safety and the right side of the offensive line. It sounds like a gluttonous move that would leave other positions starving.
“Could we slide up or back? We’re certainly going to be open to all scenarios,” Tannenbaum said. “We’re happy at 16. Those are the cards we’ve been dealt, and we’ll maximize those opportunities.” If we are to take him at his word, we won’t be seeing Richardson wearing Hunter Green any time soon.
And finally we have the mysterious misdirection of the smokescreen — leaking “insider” information from a “team source” or picking up on a general manager’s subtleties and non-verbal cues. I give you Exhibit A: “There’s a Jeremy Lin story in the NFL, and why can’t it be in that locker room? Why can’t it be Caleb Schlauderaff?” – Tannenbaum. Was that single statement (and several other Schlauderaff references) the subtle tell that the Jets will go offensive lineman in the first round? Probably not.
Aside from filling the most glaring hole for the team, drafting a pass rusher sets the team up nicely for their second round selection. Here are some names the Jets could focus their attention on after nabbing a DE/OLB.
- Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers (6-2, 211) – PROS: SIZE, GOOD HANDS, EXCELLENT BODY CONTROL, CAN PLAY THE X, Y, OR SLOT POSITIONS & WILDCAT, SOLID RUN BLOCKING, QUALITY LOCKER ROOM GUY. CONS: INJURY HISTORY, NOT A NATURAL DEEP THREAT. PRO COMPARISON: MARQUES COLSTON, NO SAINTS. Sanu Rutgers Highlights
- Markelle Martin, S, Oklahoma State (6-1, 198) – PROS: BALL HAWK, 3-YEAR STARTER, PLAYS THE BOX WELL, BIG HITTER. CONS: GAMBLES TOO MUCH, NEEDS WORK ON MAN COVERAGE. PRO COMPARISON: DANIEAL MANNING, HOU TEXANS. Martin Cowboys Highlights
- Kelechi Osemele, RT, Iowa State (6-5, 333) – PROS: PHYSICAL BRUTE, 84-INCH WINGSPAN, GREAT STRENGTH, GOOD CHARACTER, GRITTY. CONS: NEEDS TO PLAY LOWER, LACKS QUICKNESS TO PLAY LT IN NFL, LATERAL SPEED. PRO COMPARISON: JEFF OTAH, CAR PANTHERS. Osemele Cyclones Interview
Got any other questions regarding the Jets and the looming NFL Draft? The JetsInsider.com is clearing the rumor mill of all the smoke. Stay tuned!