It’s no secret that one of Gang Green’s most glaring needs this off-season is an impact pass-rusher. The league’s leading defense registered only 32 sacks all of last season, with the majority coming from blitz packages. In order for the Jets’ defense to reach an elite level, they must acquire some more talent on the edge or in the linebacking core. Since the NFL CBA’s “Final Eight Rule” prevents the Jets from acquiring a Julius Peppers or Elvis Dumervil through trades or free agency, the team must lean heavily on April’s Draft for personnel upgrades.
Here are some possible draftees that could help the Jets bull-rush the backfield in 2010:
1) Carlos Dunlap, Defensive End, Florida
The 6-foot-6, 290 pound Dunlap is an absolute specimen who has drawn comparisons to Mario Williams. Dunlap is coming off a somewhat disappointing junior season which included inconsistent play and off-field transgressions. He has shown glimpses of his scary potential, possessing great strength and agility and solid closing speed. The sky is limit for Dunlap, who could develop into an elite pass-rusher at the pro level.
It is highly unlikely that Dunlap would be available when the Jets make their first-round selection at 29. However, Mike Tannenbaum and company have demonstrated that they are not afraid to trade up and get their guy in years past (Darrelle Revis, Dustin Keller, David Harris, Mark Sanchez).
2) Sergio Kindle, Defensive End, Texas
Kindle has the size (6-4, 255) and ability to play both the linebacker and defensive end positions and would seem to be a perfect fit in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense. He is lightning-quick off the ball and has the speed to run with receivers and backs. Much like Dunlap, Kindle is projected to go early to middle of the first round, so the Jets would need to trade up for him.
3) Everson Griffen, Defensive End, USC
A late bloomer in his college career, Griffen has developed into one of the most intriguing defensive prospects in this draft. He moves very well for a 280-pounder and is a powerful tackler. While Griffen may lack the explosion of Dunlap and Kindle, he is the ultimate space-eater, constantly dominating the line of scrimmage with his huge 6-foot-3 frame. He is very tough matchup because of his supreme strength and is very effective against the running game. Griffen is projected as a late first-early second round pick.
4) Ricky Sapp, Linebacker/Defensive End, Clemson
Sapp is the prototypical “pass rusher” who will most likely play linebacker at the pro level. He is one of the best athletes in the draft pool and has great off-the-snap quickness, using his speed to beat tackles on the outside. Sapp needs to get bigger and more efficient in coverage but could serve as a solid edge-rusher in a 3-4 scheme like that of the Jets. He is projected as a middle to late second rounder.
Mending the Sanchise
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez underwent successful surgery on his left knee, which he injured at USC and aggravated during his rookie season. The surgery, which repaired a patella-stabilizing ligament in the knee, was performed by the Jets’ team doctor, Ken Montgomery, at Morristown Memorial Hospital in New Jersey.
Wednesday, Sanchez tweeted the following on his Twitter page:
“Out of surgery. Doc says it went exceptionally well. Thx to Dr. (Ken) Montgomery.Thx to family, friends and tweeps for the love and well wishes”
Sanchez is expected to miss the early portion of the team’s offseason program but will be ready in time for training camp in July.
Faced with the impending free agency of kicker Jay Feely, the Jets brought in former Dallas Cowboys’ kicker Nick Folk for a workout this week, according to a report by ProFootballTalk.com. Since his Pro Bowl rookie season in 2007, Folk has suffered a dramatic fall from grace, concluding with Dallas severing ties with the third-year kicker in late December. Folk is also scheduled to workout with the New York Giants.
The team is expected to bring in a number of kickers for a look during the coming weeks, but no move is imminent. It would be in the Jets’ best interest to re-sign the veteran Feely who enjoyed one of his most prosperous seasons in 2009. The 33-year-old Feely connected on 33 of 41 field goals attempts and was a perfect 39-for-39 on extra-points throughout the regular season and playoffs.
Jets tender the Smiths
Earlier this week, The Star-Ledger’s Dave Hutchinson reported that the team plans to tender offers to safety Eric Smith and wide receiver Brad Smith. Both are restricted free agents.
Offensive Draft Prospect of the Week: Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas
Shipley is the prototypical “NFL-Ready” receiver, a Wes Welker clone who is exactly the type of weapon the Jets should look to bring in to accelerate the progression of quarterback Mark Sanchez.
What the six-foot, 190 pound Shipley may lack in size, he makes up for with smarts. He possesses great quickness, precise route-running ability, and sure hands which make him a dangerous slot-receiver threat at the next level. Shipley would provide the perfect middle-of-the-field complement to Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery on the outside. He also has demonstrated superb ability as a punt returner, another position of need for the Jets.
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