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NY JETS DRAFT REVIEW: Jets may have hit another homerun!

By Glenn Bernardi
Jets Insider.com Fan Correspondent
April 26th, 2005
The Jets hope that Ohio State kicker Mike Nugent will solve their kicking problems for the next decade or so.
The Jets hope that Ohio State kicker Mike Nugent will solve their kicking problems for the next decade or so.
So far as I can tell this Jets draft is being met with mixed reviews.

Some commentators have offered a poor grade while a few, and it seems like a very few, have been a bit more generous.

Well I have come to praise Caesar and not bury him, fore what you are about to read is perhaps the most glowing endorsement of Jets GM Terry Bradway, his scouts, and this draft in-particular that you have heretofore encountered from any one of these former journalism majors masquerading as football experts.

Yes, let me first dare to suggest that these folks are not the burning bush and their word is not final. They have their opinions and I have mine. Only I have forgotten more about football than many of these frauds can ever hope to know. And while I’m being so bold I would also point out that where it pertains to the draft, which has been a life-long passion of mine, most of these former journalism majors cannot even play in my sandbox.

And lastly, before we get started on evaluating this Jets draft, I would also wish to make clear that I am no unabashed homer who waves the pom-poms at every turn. I am one of those fans who prides himself on calling it as I see it, good or bad, and I have often encountered hostility from the Jets faithful for pointing out the perceived miss-steps, mishaps, and faux-pas. But alas this is not one of those occasions. Much like one year ago the Jets had yet another very fine draft, and unlike many of these so-called experts who are quick to trash something they know very little about, namely football and the draft, I will now proceed to back that declaration up with facts and an informed opinion, the operative word being informed.

NEEDS PRIOR TO THE DRAFT

TE, PK, CB, DT, S, P/KOR, RB, WR, OT

Now you really want to keep this in mind because as we move along it will only further illustrate the abject stupidity of far too many journalism majors, whom to their credit have found a way to steal money at a job they are no more qualified to perform than my six year old niece.

THE TRADE

The Jets trade the 26th Overall Pick in Round One and a 7th Round Pick to the Oakland Raiders for tight-end Doug Jolley (a former 2nd Round Pick), a 2nd Round Pick (47 Overall), and two 6th Round Picks

This was an act of sheer audacity on the part of Terry Bradway, and one that paid off in spades as you will soon learn. As you well know by now, this trade secured for the Jets a twenty-six year old tight-end who can actually makes plays in the passing game. Needless to say it’s been a long time since we have seen one of those floating around at Hofstra. So before the draft even kicked-off the Jets had already secured the tight-end they so desperately needed, and this despite Bradway’s every attempt to turn Chris Baker into Tony Gonzalez in his pre-draft smoke-screen/press-conference. But it really did take courage to swing this deal because it took the Jets out of Round One, 26 Overall, and landed them squarely in Round Two with the 47th Overall Pick.

If unsuccessful this set-up a scenario which second guessers can only dream about, and lord knows there is no shortage of second guessers in New York.

Fans, media, you name it … had this trade backfired on Bradway there would have been a line of peasants with pitchforks from here to Timbucktu, and they were coming for his head on a stick.

So you can say whatever you will about Bradway, and I say he’s an inherently decent man and proving to be a damn good general manager as well, but don’t ever say that man is lacking in the onions department.

You better believe he knew the stakes. This was the type of trade that turns general managers into former general managers if unsuccessful, and especially in this town, but the man tossed his chips in the pot, rolled the dice, and I’ll be damned if he didn’t roll a lucky seven. I believe the rest of this column will bear that out.

THE DRAFT

2a. PK Mike Nugent, Ohio State

Okay, if you didn’t have a heart attack when Bradway passed on Justin Miller at 47 please raise your hand?

Just as I suspected, not very many hands being raised.

I confess when we passed on Justin Miller in that spot I was bitterly disappointed, but not yet suicidal because I knew full well that we had just tabbed one of the best PK prospects to come down the pike in decades. There may have been one or two of his stature over the past twenty years, but this cat was more than a Kicker and I knew that full well. I also knew he was practically a mortal lock to the Vikings at 49 had we taken a pass, and it sure was nice to stick it to the Vikings for a change.

And speaking of the aforementioned Doug Brien, after missing out on Mike Nugent by two measly picks (man I love saying that), word has it the Vikings are now eyeballing “Mr. Shank a Trip to the AFC Title Game Down the Toilet” as a possible alternative … now that would be some serious payback!

But I digress.

Point being, Mike Nugent was really a terrific pick. Who better to know the importance of a “money in the bank” kicker than the Jets faithful, who when last using the word Kicker in a full sentence it was laced with four million expletives that are not fit for public consumption?

And if that wasn’t enough to make you realize the importance of a money kicker, you may wish to consider if our friendly neighbors from New England would be wearing that dynasty label today if not some kicker named Adam Vinatieri?

And if you think the answer to that question is YES, that the Patriots would have achieved dynasty status without Adam Vinatieri, then I’m afraid you know as much about the game of football as, well, your average journalism major masquerading as a football aficionado. Oh yeah, and you might want to check with Bill Belichick on that one as well, and ask him why he has now slapped some hump PK with the franchise tag not once, but twice?

Are you beginning to see the wisdom of this selection now?

No sweat, it took me a few minutes as well. Not necessarily to see the wisdom of selecting Mike Nugent at 47 Overall because I actually projected that selection to the Jets in a mock draft I had submitted only the night before the draft, but to get over my disappointment for passing on Justin Miller who I never dreamed would be there for the Jets in that spot. I’m not going to lie; I was even saying novenas for the Jets to trade up for Justin Miller once he slid deep into Round One. At that point I was fully prepared to give away whatever the draft trade value chart dictated if it meant trading up for this particular player. And once he slid to 47 and I forgotten all about my Nugent projection, just knowing we would pull-off the drafts first major heist when we tabbed Justin Miller, a 1st Rounder on damn near everyone’s board including my own, in the middle of Round Two.

But Bradway pulled the trigger on Nugent anyway, and yes, to my dismay, even having projected that pick only the night before … but I knew it was a good pick and I knew it filled a major need, so I sucked it up and accepted the fact that Mike Nugent would be kicking game-winners as a Jet for the next decade or so, but Justin Miller would have to be the one that got away …. Ah, but not so fast!

2b. CB Justin Miller, Clemson

Wholly Mackerel, did this really happen?!?!

I don’t know about you but I’ll never forget the day Gene Washington stepped to the podium with that smirk on his face, looking like the cat that swallowed the canary, and knowing full well that what he held in his hands was sure to cause an eruption of joy from the Jet fans up in the peanut gallery who only a little while earlier and been chanting like lunatics for Justin Miller at 47 Overall, only to boo what I believe was not the selection of Mike Nugent per-say, but the passing on Justin Miller who they so had their hearts set on when he slid to 47 for the Jets.

But now they were chanting again, loud and proud, so as to make sure they were heard all the way in the Jets war-room … JUSTIN MILLER!! JUSTIN MILLER!!

Yes my friends, the miracle of miracles had actually happened. After passing on Miller at 47, there he sat again at 57 Overall, and you best believe that every Jet fan from the peanut gallery to Brooklyn knew it. And as we would soon learn to our everlasting joy, Terry Bradway and the Jets contingent knew it as well.

So there strolled Gene Washington to the podium, finding it impossible to hide that smile when he glanced at the card he was had-delivered only seconds earlier. In retrospect I can actually read his mind when he saw the name on that card … Man oh Man alive, now this one is going to bring down the house!

So caught up in the moment was the normally deadpan Gene Washington that he actually let his guard down and decided to have some fun with the pick … “With the 57th Pick in the draft, the J-E-T-S JETS select … from the University of Clemson (and that right there brought down the house) … Cornerback, Justin Miller.”

Wholly Mackerel and mother of all that is decent, I still can’t believe that actually happened!!

You talk about gambling and winning, Bradway passes on Miller at 47, opts instead for the much needed PK as well, and then walks away with Justin Miller at 57 anyway!

Seriously folks, does this guy have a horseshoe up his BLEEP or what?!?!

As I said when the pick went down, Bradway is either the smartest GM in the league or the luckiest … not sure which … but I suspect it’s a little of both and with some divine intervention mixed in for good measure as well.

And as I also said right after that pick went down, if it was making a racket a week before the draft and getting arrested for causing a public nuisance that ultimately resulted in such slippage, right into the waiting arms of the NY Jets at 57 Overall, someone tell Justin Miller that I am more than obliged to pick up his legal fees pertaining to that case … Just my way if saying THANK YOU.

Anyhow, here the Jets walked away with a terrific Cornerback and a world-class return man in one fell swoop, filling not one but two major areas of need, and with a player who possesses 1st Round talent not only on the boards of the draft Guru’s, but former NFL bigwigs such as Gil Brandt (one time architect of the doomsday defense) as well.

So let’s do the math thus far, shall we?

So far Terry Bradway and his staff have filled four major needs, TE, PK, CB, and Return Man … and we are not even out of the 2nd Round!!

Goodness Gracious man, what does a GM have to do to get high marks for his draft … work for the Patriots, who these media hacks and frauds dare not criticize, and reach for Logan Mankins at 32 Overall?

Trust me my friends, if the Jets made that same pick (and all of the Patriots subsequent picks) they would be getting crucified by the media … absolutely crucified.

But lets face it, the Patriots can draft my bartender with the #1 Overall Pick and these media nitwits would be calling him the steal of the century … the next Jimmy Brown … and the only skill he has ever mastered is to mix one hell of a strawberry daiquiri.

What the heck, at this rate the Patriots can sit out the draft entirely, fail to even submit a pick, and they would probably garner praise from their media sycophants for saving money … and that is no joke.

And I say this only to point out the nature of the beast, those who would have you believe the Jets had a poor draft, only so you will stop and consider the source.

It’s a pack mentality with these nitwits. They simply regurgitate what the other guy said. There is scarcely an original idea to be found amongst them. What one of them says must be true, or so they assume, because lord knows one of their own can never be wrong, or stupid, or both. So they all copy from one another in one form or another, perhaps not words but certainly ideas, and soon you have a general consensus from the media … Jets had a poor draft, while the Patriots can do no wrong.

Anyway, as you can plainly see so far we have concluded only two rounds of the draft (one for the Jets} and already the Jets have addressed four major needs with a solid young veteran tight-end and two bona-fide blue-chip prospects, one of whom serves a duel role with equal flair.

3. DT Sione Pouha, Utah

Notice how many media nitwits have been quick to label this pick a reach?

Notice how many of these media dimwits are the same fanny-kissers who would never dare use the words Patriots and Reach in the same sentence?

Well let me tell you what this is really all about. They are acting on two basic assumptions here.

1. When there is a discrepancy between the NY Jets and the draft Guru’s, the Guru’s were right and the NY Jets were wrong.

2. When there is the same discrepancy between the NE Patriots and the draft Guru’s, the Guru’s had it wrong and the Patriots are right.

And there you have it in a nutshell. If the Patriots grade a projected 2nd Rounder as a 1st Rounder, then that player was a 1st Rounder … case closed.

And if the Jets grade a projected 5th Rounder as a 3rd Rounder, what you have here is a major reach by the sorrowful NY Jets … case closed.

Only it’s not case closed and I intend to prove it, because unlike the pack mentality nitwits you read on a daily basis it is my intention to provide some actual reasoning behind my assumptions other than, because the Guru’s said so.

First off, and not to toot my own horn but only to point out that none of this is after-the-fact stuff coming from me, I actually projected Sione Pouha to the Jets in the 3rd Round of the final mock I submitted … and yes, that does make two picks I hit on the nose.

But that aside, what made me believe from the outset that the Guru’s had under-valued this player and they he was really a 3rd Round prospect all along?

Well for one thing he was one of the select few defensive tackles in this entire class who possessed the size and style of play to be labeled a bona-fide nose tackle.

In a draft almost bereft of truly talented big men, or mountain-man DT’s as I like to call them, Pouha was one of the very few and in my judgment (prior to the draft) the best pure NT of the lot. Folks, we’re talking 6’ 4” and 325 Pounds of beef with this wild Samoan, and that there is a lot of beef.

And this beast can play too, so don’t be thinking he was just some big/fat man who took up space at the University of Utah. This big man was beloved by his teammates and called one of Utah’s very best players and team leaders by none other than head coach Urban Myer himself. Make no mistake about it, Meyer loved this young man as both a player and a person, and a simple yahoo search will confirm both of those declarations. Pouha was a beast for the undefeated Utah Utes on the interior of their defensive line, and by all accounts I have read just a beloved figure off of the field as well, by coaches and teammates alike.

Now you factor in an impressive performance at the combines, where by all accounts he displayed impressive athleticism for such a mountain of a man, and what you have is a 3rd Round player at the very least. Yes, at the very least, because I happen to believe that IF ANYTHING Sione Pouha was exceptional value late in Round 3 and about as far from being a reach as the east is from the west.

And lastly, this player is actually a perfect fit for the Jets and a player they almost had to draft for three reasons.

1. As we already discussed, he was one of the few pure NT’s in the draft, and perhaps the only one truly worth having after Travis Johnson, so thin was the DT crop this year in terms of real quality, especially if you came searching for a NT to find mostly tweeners and barely 300 Pound DT’s

2. Don’t look now but with the departure of Jason Ferguson and with the exception of last years practice squad DT, Tim McGill, the Jets DID NOT have what can be termed a NT on the entire roster … not one they can actually bank on … with the exception of McGill, all of their DT’s were of the under-sized variety … so the Jets needed to somehow secure a true NT in this draft in the worst possible way, a draft almost bereft of pure NT’s, so this was going to take one hellacious stroke of luck.

3. LB Jon Vilma, who is quickly becoming the face of the NY Jets on defense, is a terrific talent and an all-pro caliber middle linebacker, but not the biggest guy in the world and one who needs to play in space to be at his very best … and that means running around and making plays without having to spend entire Sunday afternoons fighting off interior offensive lineman … and that means a couple of defensive tackles, the bigger/stronger the better, who can keep those interior offensive linemen occupied while Jon Vilma is allowed to do what he does best, run around and wreck havoc.

So as you can clearly see, Pouha offered something so few DT’s in this draft were able to offer, he’s been a heck of a player and an even better man, and what he had to offer (bona-fide mountain-man) is something the NY Jets (and Jon Vilma) needed in the worst possible way.

You still want to tell me this player was a reach in Round 3?

No doubt the media will stick to that story. Far be it from these idiots to ever admit they may have been mistaken. But to the Jets faithful I once again implore you to consider the source, and revel in your new found mountain-man. THE BIG MAN FROM UTAH … THE GRAND POOBAH.

4. FS Kerry Rhodes, Louisville

True to his promise prior to the draft, Bradway came looking to increase the overall team speed in the secondary. He did that in Round 2 with CB Justin Miller, and he followed suit again in Round 4 by tabbing a 6’ 3”, 210 Pound FS who runs in the 4.4’s. Rhodes is also a terrific athlete overall who possesses a 42” vertical leap, and in plain English that means he can damn near leap out of the building. Basically this player possesses a package of size, speed, and athleticism that most FS’s who play in the NFL right now can only dream about. So there is no doubt Bradway found the type of player he came searching for, at least in terms of his measurables and overall athleticism, and Rhodes really came into his own as a player in 2004 when he recorded a career high six interceptions and became one of the Cardinals best players. Rhodes is a true FS in every sense, a center-fielder who has the size and speed to stay with most WR’s and the ability to leap with darn near anyone. He’s raw and his biggest hurdle in my opinion will be the mental part of the game. Gets beat on occasion because he bites on various chicaneries, but this player comes with an outstanding set of tools that you cannot teach, so if he works hard and puts in the necessary time he has a chance to become a very good player in the NFL.

5. SS Andre Maddox, NC State

As much as Kerry Rhodes is a FS in every sense, Andre Maddox is a SS in every sense. So while it may have seemed to the layman that the Jets spent back-to-back picks on two prospects who share the same position, that obviously being Safety, these two kids play the same position about the same as Jon Vilma and Eric Barton play the same position because they both play linebacker. The aforementioned Rhodes is a true center-fielder while Maddox is an in-the-box SS who loves to hit people in the mouth. What is unusual for a player like Maddox is his speed, and there is that word again. Not often do you see such a bona-fide in-the-box SS who also runs in the 4.4’s, but in the case of Maddox he apparently ran a 4.45 which I am certain caught some folks by surprise. So again Terry Bradway continued to add speed to the secondary as promised, and is this case he even managed to add a SS (in every sense) who runs in the 4.4’s. As for coverage, the challenge for Maddox will apparently be far different than the challenge facing Kerry Rhodes. While Rhodes needs to concentrate on the mental part of the game, not biting on pump fakes and things of that nature, Maddox will need to prefect his technique as he was relied upon as more of an in-the-box SS at NC State and one who could, and did, assist in stopping the run. But in the meantime, as Maddox works on his coverage technique, it should also be noted that he is a terrific special teams player and a kid who, as Bill Parcells likes to say, is not afraid to stick his face in the fan. I would look for Maddox to make an immediate impact on special teams and possibly develop into a nice addition to the secondary in due time as well. Almost forgot, Maddox is also six feet tall so again we are talking about a nice size/speed ratio. Is anyone beginning to see a new trend?

6a. RB Cedric Houston, Tennessee

Houston has been injured often, nothing serious but your standard pulls, tweaks, and injuries of that variety. But these nagging injuries have often kept him off the field and in the trainers’ room, and that accounts for his being on the board in Round 6. Trust me on this one; it is not his level of talent that pushed him this far down the board. Had he remained healthy throughout his stay at Tennessee there is really no telling how much higher he would have been drafted, but I can assure you that it would have been a hell of a lot higher than Round 6. Let’s make no bones about it, this kid has talent, and maybe serious talent, so this pick can just as easily turnout to be a massive heist as it can a complete flop. It will all depend on health with this player, that and work ethic. Houston has excellent size for a RB, 5’ 11”/225, and while not a 4.4 guy he hits the hole quick and plays faster than he clocks. Some have actually compared him to Curtis Martin, sort of a slasher, and what makes that comparison ironic is that Curtis Martin also slid in the draft, though not nearly as far, for pretty much the same reasons … often injured at Pittsburgh.

In short, Houston is a really interesting pick. Should he make a real commitment to conditioning and thus avoid the constant procession of injuries that plagued him at Tennessee, this is a selection you could look back on a few years from now and wonder how the hell this player ever lasted till Round 6?

And of course if the commitment is not there, or the procession of injuries continue, this could also be a player who possessed some serious talent but never amounted to anything in the NFL, thus justifying his selection as a 6th Round Pick.

Much of this will be up to Houston himself, or at least the conditioning part of the equation. On that count he could not have landed in a better place. Cedric would be well advised to adopt Curtis Martin as a mentor, and when Curtis says jump, don’t ask why … ask how high?

He does that and he has a chance to become a genuine steal, because you cannot go wrong if you follow the lead of Curtis Martin.

6b. TE/H-Back Joel Dreessen, Colorado State

I hate to sound like a broken record but this was yet another outstanding value pick late in Round 6.

Dreessen was arguably the best small school TE in the draft, a kid who can really make plays in the passing game, and he also doubles as a terrific long-snapper (James Dearth, beware).

6’ 4”, 260, and he really does possess some outstanding skills as a receiver. And perhaps the drafts best long-snapper as well. I mean what more can you really ask for from a late 6th Round Pick?

I almost feel like I’m being too generous here, but what can I do other than call it as a truly see it?

I love this pick … I really do … and I have had my eye on Dreessen for the Jets since long before they secured Doug Jolley.

Now I did sort of dismiss Dreessen as a possibility following the Jolley trade, not thinking we would tab another TE, but with Chris Baker having just one year remaining on his contract and with James Dearth being a long-snapper and who wears the tag of TE in name only, I really have to applaud Bradway and Company for having the foresight to tab this player anyway, even after the addition of Jolley, and not letting such outstanding value fall to some other team instead.

BTW, is anyone beginning to see why my impressions of this draft are far different than that of your average media hack, who wouldn’t know Joel Dreessen from a hole in the head?

7. WR Harry Williams, Tuskegee

“I told the Jets that whoever drafts me is going to get a steal … and the Jets got a steal."

Those are the famous words of Harry Williams himself, and while that may seem outlandish for a 7th Round Pick from the middle of nowhere, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not telling the truth.

As the folks on the JI message board know all too well, I have long been an advocate of shunning the big school leftovers at this point in the draft and opting instead for the small school studs, who at least have a chance, in Harry Williams’s own words, to become a possible steal.

The reason I have advocated this philosophy is simple, too often I have seen other teams employ this very same strategy only to walk off with, well, a steal in the later rounds, and simply because they had the foresight to try their luck with a small school stud and leave the big school leftovers for someone else.

So while the odds and the deck are obviously stacked against Harry Williams from ever becoming what he purports to be, once again I must applaud the Jets for employing the right approach in my view. Win or lose, I always believe this is a wise approach in the later rounds and one that will eventually result in a big hit.

I also like the fact that Harry Williams is big and fast, 6’ 3” and was also a world-class sprinter in the NCAA, because in my opinion that only makes this a more intriguing pick worth keeping an eye on.

So while I admittedly know very little about Harry Williams, other than he’s big, fast, and sure as hell isn’t lacking for confidence, he sure does have me curious to take a look now … and I do applaud the logic behind selecting this type of player in Round 7 and at 240 Overall.

SUMMARY

As we listed near the top in the section titled Needs, the Jets went into this thing with nine needs in total, some obviously more than others.

The Jets came out of this process having addressed eight of those needs in this draft, with the only exception being offensive tackle. But it should be noted that the organization seems very high on Adrian Jones who is slotted to takeover at RT, so it remains to be seen if this was as big a need as we initially suspected?

Anyhow, they came away with a new PK and one who is about as good as a prospect gets, who has also proven to be a money kicker in an outdoor stadium and in a cold weather city (Ohio State), and he was drafted to replace what had really threatened to become a severely damaged kicker from a mental standpoint after his now two infamous shanks in Pittsburgh.

The Jets came away with one of the drafts better Cornerbacks all the way at 57 Overall … no doubt he slid due to some character issues, but in this case that only makes me thankful for character issues, boom boxes, and whatever else may have led to his slippage.

The Jets came away with one of the more explosive return men in the draft … Same Guy.

The Jets came away with a 325 Pound NT in the form of a Samoan beast from Utah … Some call it a reach, but I call them nuts.

The Jets came away with two Safeties, one free and one strong, who both stand 6 feet tall {or above} and both run in the 4.4’s

The Jets came away with RB who possesses a world of talent and slid due to issues other than his aforementioned skills … could be a steal in Round 6

The Jets came away with arguably the best small school TE in the draft who is also possibly the best long-snapper in the draft … along with the trade for Doug Jolley who I failed to mention at the top of the summary section, they have actually turned a team weakness into team strength.

And lastly the Jets added a 6’ 3” sprinter to the WR core, kid from a small school in Round 7, but one who is not lacking for confidence and may emerge as the steal he has so boldly labeled himself upon being drafted by the Jets. At the very least he will be interesting to keep an eye on now.

GRADE: B+

Had the Jets also landed an OT this would have been a slam-dunk “A” in my book, but that one omission makes it a solid “B+” with some serious potential to jump right back up to an “A” should some of these later round picks emerge as steals, which is entirely possible with every last one of them because the Jets really did draft the right types of players in this draft … all high upside kids who can emerge as an outstanding pick.

I would also add in closing that the Jets must hit on one of those middle round Safeties as well. Two would be gravy, but they have to hit on one. And again, they certainly drafted the right types of players for that to happen there as well. These are not your over-achiever types who will be lucky to make a decent career on special teams only. Both of these kids have size, speed, and a genuine chance to make a splash as DB’s somewhere down the road.

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