The National Football League’s 2010 Scouting Combine kicks off today as the offensive linemen, tight ends, kickers, punters and long snappers all arrive in Indianapolis. It’s just another important offseason step for the Jets and their league brethren before free agency commences next Friday.
The league certainly appears headed for its first uncapped season since 1993. DeMaurice Smith, the NFLPA’s executive director, sent a memo to the players and their agents on Tuesday that was released to The Associated Press.
"While we are doing all that we can to reach a fair agreement with the NFL before the start of the 2010 league year, it appears likely that no new CBA will be reached and the 2010 season will be uncapped," Smith wrote.
The Jets have seven players — LS James Dearth, DE Marques Douglas, K Jay Feely, LB Ryan Fowler, TE Ben Hartsock, LB/special teamer Larry Izzo and FB Tony Richardson — who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on March 5. Feely became especially newsworthy on Tuesday when the Jets signed street free agent K Nick Folk.
The addition of Folk doesn’t necessarily mean the Jets are parting ways with Feely. GM Mike Tannenbaum hasn’t commented on the transaction, so you can only logically guess that the Jets have added an insurance policy if Feely bolts or that they’ve added a strong leg to compete with the veteran if they both are on the roster when training camp starts.
It should be noted that the Jets have the ability to sign Feely at any point before March 5. He is officially a Jet until 12:01 a.m. next Friday and other clubs won’t be able to negotiate with him until then.
“I appreciate all the support from the Jets fans,” Feely posted on his Twitter page this morning. “I have truly enjoyed being a Jet and my sincere wish is to be one til the end of my career.”
The Jets, as conference championship game participants, won’t be able to sign any unrestricted free agents (players who have completed six or more seasons if there is no labor agreement by March 5) themselves unless Feely or one of their other UFAs signs with another club. There is also a salary-matching component to this UFA situation, so it’s not like the Jets could go out and sign DE Julius Peppers if one of their seven UFAs signs with another team.
But like Folk, there will be some interesting street free agents out on the open market and the headliner at this point is former Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson. The ‘Bolts released LT from his contract and thus clubs have no restrictions to move in and place an offer on the future Hall of Famer.
Travel restrictions will be in full effect Thursday all over the Northeast due to another wintry storm, so the Jets’ operations department scrambled this afternoon to get the offensive coaches on a flight out of Newark this evening. The defensive staff won’t fly out until Friday because the defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs will be the last to arrive and work out.
Pundits’ Early Picks for the Jets
It’s always interesting to examine the draft pundits’ big boards and mock drafts at this time of the year. ESPN’s Mel Kiper has the Jets selecting Rutgers CB Devin McCourty in his latest mock. The 5’10”, 186-pound McCourty, an All-Big East first-team performer, is a good athlete and a physical player who isn’t afraid to come in and throw his weight around. He totaled six interceptions for the Scarlet Knights, but he’s solid in man coverage and that will get Coach Ryan’s attention.
Even though ESPN’s Todd McShay has the Green & White taking Illinois WR Arrelious Benn with the No. 29 selection, he lists McCourty as his No.1 riser. Not only can the Rutgers product cover well, but he’s also a dynamic special teams player who participated on punt return, punt coverage — he blocked seven kicks in his career — kickoff coverage and kickoff return units.
Scouts Inc. has McCourty ranked 31st overall and actually has another corner — Alabama CB Kareem Jackson — in that 29th slot. Jackson played 14 games for the national champions his junior season, hauling in an interception and collecting 49 tackles. He also is comfortable in man coverage and the early entrant will be missed by Tide head coach Nick Saban.
CBSSports.com has a draft section entitled “NFLDraftscout.com” and draft pundit Rob Rang has the Jets selecting USC WR Damian Williams. Mark Sanchez could definitely give the Jets some help in their scouting of Williams, who had 12 catches for 189 yards in the Trojans’ Emerald Bowl win over Boston College.
Chad Reuter is another prognosticator who sees the Jets going corner — only this time a vote goes to Boise State’s Kyle Wilson. He benefited from an impressive Senior Bowl week after registering three INTs as a senior — two of which he returned for touchdowns. Wilson also is a quality punt returner as he posted a 12.7-yard career PR average and took three back for touchdowns.
Tony Pauline is producing a lot of Sports Illustrated’s online draft content and he ranks Wilson 29th on his pre-combine draft board. The consensus is Florida’s Joe Haden is a sure-fire top-10 pick, but this is a good year if you’re searching for a top-flight corner because there’s quality depth early. Don’t forget about Florida State’s Patrick Robinson and ‘Bama’s Javier Arenas, either. P-Rob’s a big-time athlete who had six interceptions in 2007 and just one the past two years combined. But Robinson also excelled in Mobile, Ala., and Arenas could be a terrific nickel corner and returner on the next level.
Now let’s see who makes their mark in Indy.
Tags: Jay Feely, Kareem Jackson, New York Jets, Nick Folk
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