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Jets Make Gholston Top Pick

By Andrew Scharff
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
April 26th, 2008
Ohio State DE Vernon Gholston will look to make an immediate impact on the Jets' defense in 2008.
Ohio State DE Vernon Gholston will look to make an immediate impact on the Jets' defense in 2008.
With both QB Matt Ryan and RB Darren McFadden off the board the Jets took the next best player by selecting Ohio State LB/DE Vernon Gholston with the #6 pick.

Gholston, a specimen at 6'4" and 264 Lbs is a Detroit, Michigan native who compiled 14 sacks during his senior season with the Buckeyes and is a perfect fit for the Jets 3-4 defensive scheme.

The Jets next pick is the #5 choice in round 2 (#36 overall).

JETS GET A STUD WHO CAN MAKE THE 4-3 HUM

Around 3:00 on Saturday afternoon Ohio State DE/LB Vernon Gholston was sitting inside the green room at Radio City Music Hall. Hours later, he was still sitting in a green room, but this green room was located in the Jets' facilities at Weeb Ewbank Hall on the campus of Hofstra University.

With the other five top college prospects invited to attend the draft off the board as the Jets took their turn, fans who assembled at Radio City Music Hall roared when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that Gang Green had selected Ohio State’s pass rushing defensive end.

“We are excited about Vernon joining us,” said General Manager Mike Tannenbaum. “We spent a lot of time with Vernon on and off the field and we think he will fit in very well here”

“He can help in all phases of our defense," Tannenbaum added. "He can rush the passer; I think he does a good job of setting the edge in the run game. He plays over the tight end as well, so there's a lot of different things he can do and that's why we're excited to have him."

The GM said he did receive the normal draft day phone calls from other teams but in the end he and the rest of the Jets coaching staff decided to stay at six and pick Gholston. He declined to comment if he placed a call to Oakland in hopes of moving up to select the play-making Arkansas' RB Darren McFadden.

Gholston will bring his blazing speed (he recorded a 4.56 in the 40-yard dash), superb athleticism and his commitment to the game to the big apple. In a press conference shortly after the Jets selected Gholston, Tannenbaum and head coach Eric Mangini said they were really impressed with his seriousness and his approach to the game.

“We think his best football is ahead of him," Tannenbaum said. "We think in our program, he'll have a chance to develop and get better.”

Mangini said he was unsure about the role Gholston would play. He is expected to battle with LB Bryan Thomas for playing time as the weak side outside linebacker. Free agent acquisition Calvin Pace will be the outside linebacker on the strong side. Mangini loved the flexibility that Gholston brings to the Jets. He was impressed by his ability to rush the passer on one play then the next play he is able to be up in pass coverage.

At Ohio State, Gholston played what is called the “Leo” position. That position incorporates Gholston to drop into pass coverage and rush the passer on either side of the field.

"He’s very powerful at the point of attack. He had 37 reps on the bench which gives some indication of the kind of sheer power that he has and then he’s got good edge speed as well," Mangini said. "So he’s got a lot of different attributes as to how he’s going to play at the true outside linebacker position versus other guys."

But not everything about Gholston is positive. Just hours after his drafting, question marks about his work ethic have already come up. Gholston would be at times dominating, but then he had some stretches were it looked like he was taking plays off.

“I'm always happy with sacks in bunches," Mangini said. "If that's the way they're going to come, then that's great, too. There were a lot of games where he may not have had a sack, but he affected the quarterback quite a bit. And you saw that throughout the course of the season."

Before the draft Tannenbaum spoke to Gholston’s college coach Jim Tressel about his work ethic. In that conversation, Tressel told Tannenbaum that his players were given a day off before traveling to New Orleans for the National Championship game. Instead of taking the night off, Gholston asked Tressel for the keys to weight room so he can work and keep training on his off day.

Tannenbaum and Mangini dismissed any concerns they had with Gholston, who didn’t start playing football until his sophomore year in high school. Gholston attended Cass Tech High School in Detroit. After graduating high school Gholston, a Michigan native was planning to attend the University of Michigan. Instead he spurned the Wolverines and chose to attend Ohio State.

“I think with a lot of college players you see things you want to improve and you want to adjust based on the way you play defense. In talking to Vernon and the people that know him very well he is a conscientious, hard-working, real young guy, that I think will continue to mature and as already shown [he has a] real mature work ethic,” said Mangini.

Vernon Gholston-By the numbers

He compiled 22.5 sacks during his time at Ohio State and ranks fifth in school history. He played in 34 games during his collegiate career (started 25). He registered 87 tackles (47 solos). He returned one interception and one fumble for touchdowns as well.

In 2007, he earned All-American honors and was named a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award (nation’s top defensive end) for totaling 37 tackles (25 solos), 15.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 14 sacks.

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