Miami LB DJ Williams or teammate Jonathan Vilma would be a big mistake at 12.
As Jets fans get ready for the big day, the question everyone's asking is who's it gonna be at the 12th pick? What's gonna happen?
Names are shooting around, and the masses tout a new one every day it seems... one day it’s Vilma, the next it’s Dunta Robinson, the next its DJ Williams - however from where I’m sitting, the most accurate choice will be D: None of the above.
At this stage of the game anything coming out of team headquarters is pretty much guaranteed to be a lie and a smoke screen. They have to realize that a lot of what is going to be choice at 12 will come down to what goes on before 12... What elite players will be picked, what wacky bust pick will be made by Al Davis…etc.
Rarely at this late stage of draft season has so much is yet to be nailed down. Will USC WR Mike Williams be allowed by the Supreme Court into the draft? Will Texas WR Roy Williams go top 10? Will 3 QB's go off the board before 12? Will teams get scared of the recent shoulder surgery rumors of USC DE Keniche Udeze and take him off their board? Will teams like the Giants, Redskins, Browns or others trade up, and how will that affect the board? At this point, its all up in the air.
With all that in mind these are the DraftDaddy odds on who the JETS will select when the rubber meets the road on Saturday.
4-1: DeAngelo Hall - CB - Virginia Tech
I have to believe this is one of the top guy's on TB's board - and for good reason. Hall wants to shine under the big spotlight and fears absolutely no one-on-one matchups. With the Jets coaching staff additions of defensive back gurus Donnie Henderson and Paul Gruber the team would love to bring in a guy like Hall and develop him into the shut down playmaker that every elite team needs. In addition the JETS could employ a double-punt returner formation, which would force the other team to kick into Mike Westoff's dangerous scheme, or kick it out of bounds. The problem with Hall to the Jets isn't if the Jets will want him, its if he will drop to 12 (not likely) and whether GM Terry Bradway is willing to leapfrog a couple picks to make it happen. In light of his last two tradeups, plus cryptic statements when asked directly of this scenario, a small draft day trade up would not surprise us that much.
7-1: Vince Wilfork - DT – Miami
Again, similar to Hall in the sense that he will probably not be there, as he will likely be the first man off the board at his position, a top 10 pick. However the general logic behind the Jets picking another DT is as follows: Jason Ferguson is one of the highest paid DT's in the league, and he's a free agent next year. Josh Evans is one pee test away from his second consecutive lifetime drug ban. Chester McGlockton is retired (thank goodness). This basically leaves last year's pick DeWayne Robertson, James "Tank" Reed and a few others who aren’t even worth mentioning. DT is a very tough position to fill with free agency or late round picks so if you have to fill it, might as well fill it right. The foundation of many Super Bowl caliber teams has been a fearsome front four and with another dominant 1-gap run stuffing/pass rushing DT along side DRob, the opposing OL will have more trouble figuring out who to double team. I know fans will complain dearly with another D-Line pick but the fact of the matter is that the corp is one of this team's few out and out strengths and the addition of one more impact player could make it a super unit. History is kind to this selection as the last three 12 overall picks were defensive tackles. Besides Wilfork other candidates this draft include Randy Starks out of Maryland and Marcus Tubbs out of Texas.
8-1: Trade down
The Jets could see a top flight QB such as Miami (OH) QB Ben Roethlisberger or NC State’s Phillip Rivers fall into their laps and work some sort of deal to move out of the slot go and deeper into the round. It’s possible but unlikely that a team would move up to 12 for a WR (since there are many great ones to be had). If the above guys are gone and there's no one at 12 who absolutely shouldn't be there (such as Miami FS Sean Taylor or Miami TE Kellen Winslow) Bradway might be able to work a trade-down. That would be a very good thing for the Jets as in this draft some of the second and third round picks would have been first round picks last year. Also, the Jets used their second rounder in getting WR Justin McCareins from Tennessee and would love to get it back. It’s a deep draft and there are legitimate studs to be had elsewhere in the round and elsewhere in the first day. No shame in stockpiling if there's nothing at 12 that's appealing.
9-1: Reggie Williams - WR – Washington
If the above guys are gone and Bradway and friends feel that its too early to "reach" for a DT like Starks or Tubbs - this could very well be the pick. Teams from 13 to 18 are drooling after this kid, and with good reason. He's got a very real shot of becoming the next Terrell Owens, the guy who gets picked later than several prospects but three years later turns out to be the best of the bunch. He's 6-4 230 and runs a 4.4. When a guy like this makes it, he's literally uncoverable. He's a leader, he wants the ball and he wants to win. His ego is big but with his skillsets, he will need it to be. A guy like this hits and his upside is he could easily be an All-Pro wide-receiver - unlike Mike Williams (who we also love) Reggie has that extra gear to break tackles and then take it to the house. Teams love his explosion, route running and Yards After Catch potential - all of which are West Coast Offense WR staples.
I can already hear the criticisms: The Jets need defense, our WR’s are fine….ect. However, there are several factors to consider: First, is the concussion history of Wayne Chrebet. Frankly it would be a surprise to me if Wayne played much longer in the league - once a guy starts getting concussions like that, it becomes easier and easier to get another with each incident. The NFL is a contact league and he plays in the same division as Rodney Harrision. Another factor is the emergence and injury of Jonathan Carter - will his speed be the same? And although the Jets did acquire McCareins, the last 3 Super Bowl champions won starting 3 WR’s, exploiting the nickel back matchup at key times – Santana Moss as a slot reciever? Drool. Also, it’s worth noting that Moss wants a new contract and drafting Reggie Williams gives the Jets both options and leverage in the negotiations. Not to mention that the Jets' best asset is QB Chad Pennington and it got ugly last year watching him operate without legitimate weapons. Injuries happen all the time and the worst that can happen is the team will finally have an amazing WR corp. The final justification for this pick is he's an elite prospect who probably would have gone top 5 in 2005 had he stayed in another year. If the board shakes out with the elite DT and CB prospects gone by 12, Reggie Williams would be the best value at the slot.
11-1: Dunta Robinson - CB- South Carolina
Obviously the secondary needs a playmaker and at least in workouts, Dunta(Pr:DON-TAY) Robinson really fits the bill. He's blindingly fast and strong, loves to hit. He won't make a ton of INTS and in many ways a similar player to two-timing-using his wife as a bargaining tool-Vikings CB-Antoine Winfield. However I would venture that Robinson is more fast than he is quick (his three cone drill was good but not amazing - USC WR Mike Williams ran it faster at 6-5 235) and his "hip switch" isn't really fluid enough to allow him to be a true shut-down corner in the league. As a FS or a number two guy, we like him a lot more but you don't draft guys like that at 12. It’s likely a voluminous smoke screen coming from the Jets on this guy.
12-1: Either Miami LB (Jonathan Vilma or DJ Williams)
A case can be made that if the board doesn't shake out in the Jets favor regarding elite prospects, the player that the team would target would play LB for the University of Miami. There is two things wrong with this theory: One, is that the Jets have revamped their LB corp - with Victor Hobson, Sam Cowart and recently signed former Raider, Eric Barton (also, adding DE John Abraham as LB in the 3-4) whoever the Jets draft at the position would be relegated to bench duty for this season, maybe far longer. Two, is that neither of these guys are elite prospects worth the 12 slot. Without getting into it too deeply Vilma has size/speed questions and Williams has instincts/character questions. Neither are really ELITE prospects - if the Jets were picking at 22 instead of 12 we could have the talk about "looking past" certain factors and taking a shot at one of these guys. However with Bradway’s job on the line, and the linebackers looking MUCH better with the addition of Barton and the cuts of the “dinosaurs”, the chances are slim to none that the team takes a Miami linebacker at 12. It’s my opinion that this is the biggest smokescreen of the pre-draft season - that the Jets would actually draft LB at 12. I salute the guys at Weeb Ewbank Hall for pulling the wool over the eyes of most of the mock draft world.
Forced to choose a single outcome to Saturday's mess I'd lay my money on the trade down at 8-1. As much as I want DeAngelo Hall in green it’s too good of a fit for Jets for it to actually happen. Nothing comes that easily for Bradway and Co. Wilfork will go top 10. Only 2 QB's go off the board and someone will want the third. No, trading down is my prediction. Something along the lines of 12 to the Dolphins (for Ben Roethlesberger) then the Jets use the # 20 pick on DT Marcus Tubbs and the second rounder on a sleeper CB like USC’s Will Poole, Arkansas’ “Batman” Carroll or Tusculum’s Ricardo Coclough. Another possibility is the Jets trading with the Niners at 16 who will need to leap frog the WR-needy Bills or Bucs to get Reggie or Mike Williams. Jets fans will bemoan the 5th first round defensive line pick in 4 years but hardcore fans see the wisdom.
For all this speculation about the first round pick, Jets fans really shouldn't worry about their team's performance in the first round. Bradway has never “busted” with his first pick like many other GMs. He's taken Moss, DRob and DE Bryan Thomas (for whom the jury is still out and even at even at his worst will not be a Ron Dayne-level bust). As a Jets fan I’m far more concerned with the 3 comp picks in the 7th then with who the team drafts on Saturday. If you could combine Bradway’s first day prowess with Giants GM Ernie Accorsi's second day prowess NY would have one hell of a drafting GM.
One last prediction: There's going to be a lot of trading up and down prior to the Jets pick and each time that happens the clock resets and the new team gets their full 15 minutes to decide. Due to this fact, the Jets won't actually likely pick at 1:50 or 2PM, but more like at around 2:40 to 3:00.
Matthew Bitonti is publisher of Draftdaddy.com. A website that covers all aspects of the NFL Draft. Check it out at www.draftdaddy.com.