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Jets ‘on the Defensive’ out of the Combine?

Posted by Eric Allen on March 3, 2011 – 10:55 am

When we sat down with Mike Tannenbaum in Indianapolis, I asked the Jets’ GM if Rex Ryan twisted his arm at all in order to get more defensive players on the roster.

“It’s been about 30 seconds since we‘ve added a corner. I expect a change there momentarily,” said a smiling Mr. T during a break at the team hotel. “Rex is great. We have a philosophy that we’re going to get the best player we can.”

Some will make the argument that LSU CB Patrick Peterson is the top overall prospect in the 2011 draft. Imagine the scene if Peterson is still available when the Jets come to the clock with their 30th overall selection. Ryan would probably get out the keys to his truck and tell Tannenbaum to put Peterson’s hometown — Pompano Beach, Fla. — into the GPS. The Jets’ third-year head coach probably wouldn’t mind giving the 6’0”, 219-pounder a hand with some moving boxes.

On the surface, it appears this Bayou Bengal doesn’t have a weakness.

“My ball skills, toughness, I can support the run,” Peterson said when asked about his strengths from a podium at Lucas Oil Stadium. “I’m an all-around cornerback and that’s what I wanted to do when I went to college and I definitely want to continue that trend going into the NFL.”

Peterson (remember we just said he weighs 219 pounds) posted two sub-4.4 times in the 40 Tuesday as the combine workouts in Indianapolis reached a conclusion. Even though he wanted a 4.2, the 4.32 and 4.37 times will work for all NFL scouts. Petersen, who captured both the Thorpe (top defensive back) and Bednarik (top defender) awards last season, had four interceptions and also ranked fourth in the nation with a 16.1-yard punt return average and ninth nationally with a 29.1-yard kickoff return average.

While Peterson might be the king of the corners, Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara also performed well in the 40 with a 4.43. The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year had 13 PDs as the ‘Huskers finished fifth in pass defense. Colorado CB Jimmy Smith will escape most of the headlines, but he’s an intriguing prospect as well who excels in press man coverage.

Even though Ryan loves his corners, the Jets may be in a favorable position to address their front seven come draft weekend.

“It doesn’t take a super scout to figure out we’ve got some pretty good defensive linemen in this year’s class,” ESPN’s Todd McShay told “Right now I have eight defensive ends with first-round grades, and it could be nine if Cameron Heyward of Ohio State didn’t have the Tommy John surgery. It just moves him over to early second round. I’ve got another four defensive tackles with first-round grades, so you’re talking about 13, 14 defensive linemen that have a chance to come off the board in the first round.”

The Green & White officially released two front-seven players this week as both NT Kris Jenkins and OLB Jason Taylor were set free. Taylor accounted for five of the team’s 40 sacks during regular-season action.

“They need a front-seven player who can rush the passer and not have to rely on their scheme as much,” said NFL Network’s Mike Lombardi. “Those 40 sacks were really a reflection of their scheme and their ability to pressure the quarterback by their design, not necessarily by their talent.”

As far as outside linebackers are concerned, Texas A&M’s Von Miller leads the way. After tallying 17 sacks as a junior, Miller fought off an ankle injury and amassed 10.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles behind the line as a senior. Missouri product Aldon Smith played only two seasons for the Tigers but racked up 17 sacks along the way. Unless they move up in the first round, the Jets (who currently don’t own a second-round selection) might have to be patient on that first night of the draft

“I think you’re going to see guys like Robert Quinn from UNC way off the board. Akeem Ayers [out of UCLA] will come off the board earlier than that,” McShay said. “But a player like Justin Houston out of Georgia, who’s a good talent but not quite as explosive and who doesn’t have the elite bend around the edge like a guy Quinn brings to the table, I could see him possibly falling to the late round.”

There are a number of linemen who could fit well in the Jets’ 3-4 base look.

“I do think there’s some depth there this year, and I do think the fact that more college teams are running the 34 defense will help the process as far as guys we’re looking at because we’re a 34 team,” said Joe Clinkscales, the Jets’ VP of college scouting.

“The other thing, too,” added McShay, “is you can never have enough good defensive linemen, so even though they’re inside guys in the 3-4, bringing in a player, one of these defensive ends has to fall. We have three guys who played the 5-technique that belong in the first round — J.J. Watt, Muhammad Wilkerson out of Temple and Cameron Jordan out of California. You have those three guys and one of them may fall, so there is an opportunity there. And maybe you move up a few spots if the right guy is there to not only take on blocks but also can get pressure on the quarterback.”

Wilkerson, a big-time basketball recruit out of high school, had 9.5 sacks, 70 tackles and two forced fumbles in 2010. Jordan’s stock continues to rise after a 16.5-sack career at Cal. And Watt, an early entry, had 36.5 tackles for losses and 11.5 sacks in just two seasons at Wisconsin.

Even though Ryan loves corners, the Jets will stick to the philosophy of drafting the best player available. If a prospect can “Play Like a Jet,” meaning he is passionate about the game and plays hard, then the coaching staff will always find a way to use more talent.

“The strength of our system is its flexibility,” said defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. “If a guy is a football player and he makes plays and is productive, we can find a home for him.”

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Posted in Eric Allen | 41 Comments »

41 Responses to “Jets ‘on the Defensive’ out of the Combine?”

  1. By GaryC on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    please no more talk of jets selecting Heyward,seen one to many ohio state defensive ends and tackles, do not forget big daddy wilkinson who also was a bust, so gholston isn’t the only one.Baldwin the wr from pitt is getting advice from revis, egads, sounds like the sean gilbert connection all over again, next.

  2. By scjoe on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    I think it is a given that Peterson will be off the boards by 30. But if Rex has a real concern about that back end, don’t rule out Moore (S. UCLA) just yet. I know there are those who feel you don’t use your #1 on a safety, but why not? If there is a need, which there is, and the guy has all the tools, and he is a good student and a good citizen, and is coachable, I think you take a chance. I think Moore is on the Jets radar, so it will probably come down to who is or is not available at 30 who are also on their radar. I think every Jet fan knows by now it will come down to DE/OLB/S Anything else would shock me!

  3. By IRA on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    EA, The Jets are sitting pretty this year. Just take the best available defensve player with each of their 6 picks unless they like a WR at some point of the draft. Of course you have to go by your board but i really believe the Jets have to use most of their picks on defense if possible. And i do expect a trade down at some point for an extra pick.
    One thing to keep in mind this years draft class for all teams you really can’t expect too much of an impact if this season doesn’t get started until late Sept because of this CBA stuff. How are rookies going to learn and get the reps they need to get ready for the season.
    Right now the NFL is entering an ugly period and its a real shame the owners are going to do this.

  4. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    And “how are rookies going to learn and get the reps they need to get ready for the season” in only two exhibition games, Ira? I’m no fan of greedy players but this time “the NFL is entering an ugly period” largely due to its greedy commissioner and it deserves everything it gets, including a strike to resist more over-refereeing, over-pricing, and over-hyping of the game.

  5. By Tom Spicer on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    I noticed on thw main page they have a place where you vote on things & 74% of the voters picked D line as what we should draft. I am not sure if these voters know that in a 3-4 the pass rush comes from the outside linebackers & that should be our # 1 priority

  6. By wayne on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    scjoe, there is need at safety, but it is not that great a need.All you have to know is, Jason taylor, #92, Pace who never seems to play a full year, pryce, Gholston. Add to that fact, it takes a special player to walk in at safety and play really well. The chance that one of those guys is going to step in and do well in an environment where passrush is weak, thereby putting more pressure on the kid to perform, wouldn’t bode well for him or the D…..A veteran safety makes too much sense. I also believe that Rex(God forbid) might have learned something having his 1st Rd DB not contributing much..Jets cannot afford a repeat of that scenario….Not in a draft supposedly loaded with D-linemen. Having a guy that can step in and sic the QB……

  7. By Westcoast GangGreen on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    ’64 Tom , agree with you 100% about ” getting ugly for the NFL”. The commish is by far the greedest one of all major sports, and that’s going to be his fall…

  8. By John on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    J.J Watt sound nice but don’t he plays in a 4-3 defense? not sure seen too many players that go from a 4-3 to a 3-4 can’t cut it. Would be okay with DE Cameron Jardan. What about DT/NT Phil Taylor really like what I seen of him.

  9. By scjoe on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    Spicer, Imagine if each of the DEs and the NT all tied up 2 blockers most times, don’t you think that would make it a whole lot easier on those OLBs to get to the QB? In the 3-4 it is all about the NT and DEs taking on blockers and allowing the LBs to get to the passer, so there are are 2 ways to look at it.

  10. By Jason on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    Joe Lefeged, SS late round sleeper out of Rutgers. Thanks in advance.

  11. By Mike Jet Vet on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    Hate to be the party crasher my friends and fans, let us not forget the hated Patsies have a ton of picks this draft they’ll 1st and foremost go get their man then position themselves right in front of us each and every round to pick our guys off one at a time having all those extra picks gives them loads of options bank on it…. .Please Rex let the DB’s alone in 1st round we need a DE/OLB then some D-line Depth

  12. By matt on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    I want Houston or Taylor with the 1st rounder and either Reed or Chris Carter in the 3rd. I have no problem using the top two picks on OLBs.

    And MT-do NOT re-sign Jason Taylor.

  13. By Jimmer on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    Spicer, we got to Brady with linemen, or because of them. Very difficult to call JT a lb in my eyes.
    I said it before, we need to bring Ellis back, he can stll rush when asked to. We need lb’s and st’s who can cover. Definately more speed. Harris getting run down by Crumpler, who weighs 30lbs more than him, was very discouraging. More speed at lb for sure. KJ in the middle would have changed many things in 2010. The DL obviously held it’s own w/o him. But if he was healthy this dl is a must talk would end. Pouha is adaquite, nothing special, but not a weakness. DE I see as a more than likely pick somewhere. Defending the middle is our biggest need, whatever position needs to take care of it!

  14. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    I highly recommend Gene Collier’s column yesterday in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on how disconnected from reality both the NFL players and owners seem to be these days. Collier points out that the median salary in the NFL is now $800,000 per yr (meaning half the players make more than that), that management’s profits are up 40% since only 2006, and he compares this to life in the world known to football fans, who built the NFL into the powerhouse that it is. Oh, and he also blows holes through any nonsense that players can be protected better from injuries in a season with two less exhibition games and two more regular season games.

  15. By IRA on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    Good point and you are right. I still say they can’t go wrong with best available defensive player. Chris Baker was cut and while they didn’t want to pay Hartstock 1.6 Baker could be a fall back option if the price was right. He is a very good blocker and can catch when needed. Sure he is 31 yrs old but i would keep this on the back burner just in case.

  16. By Pranit on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    NT + Safety + OLB….

  17. By Tom Spicer on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    SCJOE, I agree the lineman are supposed to take up with blockers so the linebackers can make plays. But my thought process was with Ellis & Pouha at the ends (which was rexs original plan last year before Jenkins got hurt) we would be ok in that spot. To me the priority is OLB & NT in prior posts I have talked about wanting to take Kendrick Ellis NT Hampton in the 3rd round or that guy Powe the NT from Missippi in the 4th round & using our 1st round pick on a pass rushing OLB. We dont have Taylor anymore & Pace & Thomas have not worked out to be the pass rusher we thought they would be.

  18. By IRA on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    Tom, You have to cut Pace some slack. I beleive his foot really affected his play all season. As for BT he led the team in sacks with 6 and has turned out to be a real solid LB for the Jets even though he hasn’t become a double digit sack per year player. He is coming off of maybe his best year as a Jet.
    GO JETS!!!!

  19. By Danny Mastrodonato on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    i feel nauseous for this upcoming draft. I just have the lingering feeling that a great pass rusher is going to fall to us and we are going to take a cornerback or something. I think that if Brad Smith gets away and we get a second round pick we should jump on Dontay Moch. A freakish athlete. 3RD round, if jaquizz is still there he should be someone we should think about picking up.

  20. By scjoe on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    wayne, I would never disagree about the need at DE/OLB, and I would be OK with one at #30, but one of the reasons I like Moore so much is his ball skills, exactly how many INTs did this team have last year, or the year before, for that matter? Somewhere near the bottom of the pack I would guess. We all know that the draft, for the most part, is a crap shoot, we don’t know for sure if we get the same player at the pro level that we saw in college, but the concept of a safety back there who can play center field and get some picks is huge to me. At the end of the day, picks are just as important as sacks, possibly more so.

  21. By NoLockout on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    Ira, the Jets have a scheme that generates some of the best pressure in the league, confuses lineman and QB’s and gives them no options downfield with guys like Revis and Cro. covering the WRs. Please do not give BT and CP too much credit as pass rushers, under Rex Ryan-defensive guru, for generating 11 sacks between them. Pace makes it count when he gets there, but it is few and far between. Never closes out a game. BT is steady going, consistent, but unimpressive as a pass-rusher. He is a solid player and I would hope we cut Pace and keep BT for one year if we satisfy the other OLB with a 1st rounder we feel comfortable can keep to start, I hope we trade up to take Kerrigan.

  22. By scjoe on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    Just one final point about Gholston for me. I don’t see him coming back even at a reduced rate, he is just not a good fit for what we do, that has been documented in his 3 years here, he is a DE in a 4-3 scheme, period! I think he can be successful with a team that plays strictly a 4-3 (Indy, Cinn etc.) With us, he just didn’t have the bulk to play DE, and looked totally lost at OLB especially in coverage. So, I wish him well, hope a 4-3 team gives him a chance, I think he can still have a pretty decent career, he has the tools to play DE.

  23. By NoLockout on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    What about drafting Marvin Austin, who’s talent is pretty much being ignored at 30?

  24. By NoLockout on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    I think at the end of all the speculation when the draft is actually here, I will go back to my original expectation and hope that Stephen Paea falls to us at 30 because he has everything we look for in players who embody playing like Jets. The man plays like his hair is on fire and will only slide because he happens to be two inches too short, but I don’t think that will affect him much on the football field, in fact it may even help him maintain leverage with his stout build and unbelievable strength.

  25. By 38 year fan on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    We have done well in the draft ,…But , last year we took Kyle Wilson when we had a clear shot at Rob Gronkowski ? Hello ? Belechek didn’t make that mistake …GRONKOWSKI would have been a perfect fit …Blocking , and catching …WE GOTTA GO AFTER QUALITY ,. NOT QUANTITY …. We need a pass rush , Our first pick better be a KILLER defensive end or Linebacker , WITH SPEED AND POWER ….We better not go after another corner ,..or safety !!! And it would be great to have another tight end that can catch in GOAL LINE FORMATIONS …And blocking wouldn’t hurt ….We gotta start scoring more often …

  26. By 38 year fan on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    Oh , And I forgot , I sure hope someone has placed a call to Jay Feeley about coming back …That would be smart ….

  27. By 38 year fan on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    V.G. not working really hurt us , that would have got us a Superbowl if we had more pressure from the End …

  28. By 38 year fan on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    David Harris , Bart, and Bryan Thomas have been Excellent …

  29. By 38 year fan on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    Pace has been great too ..

  30. By 38 year fan on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    We gotta bring back Ellis , especially with no Big Jenks in there ..

  31. By wayne on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    Regardless whether Jets run 34 or 43 D, they need fresh legs in that front 7. Again, if the deepest position in the draft is DL, then they HAVE to take advantage of that oppty rather than force a 2nd round LB into round one…….A difference maker on the front line will make the LBs and DBs better. If it’s possible to get one………….I don’t think it’s apparent yet how important the owners losing their war chess was to moving the labor dispute to an earlier resolution. These guys aren’t use to having it any way but their own way. Given enough time, they’ll fold up like a paper napkin……Not used to getting popped in the mount(usually there’s a silver spoon in there). NINE BILLION IS NOT ENOUGH…..PSLS ANYONE?

  32. By matt on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    B. Thomas can go be an OLB in some other system because he is a terrible fit in Rex’s system. Jets need to cut him and save the $3-4M. He was completely dominated by Heath Miller and provides no pass rush-which in this defense is his job.

    Pace should be told he either puts up a Pro Bowl year or he’s gone. Pouha is a good backup DE who gave Harris and Bart little protection last year. Resign Jenkins and draft Taylor in the 1st. Give Westerman and Pitoatua REAL shots in passing situations.

    Rex/Pettine have been making steak out of ground beef, but their LBs were shaky all year and terrible in the passing game (pass-rushing and coverage.)

  33. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    wayne, I think the fact that the owners are now talking for another seven days makes very clear what it blow it was for them to be denied TV money for games that weren’t going to be played.

  34. By JOHN AVVENTO on Mar 5, 2011 | Reply

    Gary, Ohio State is not a place to ignore if ur a scout looking 4 talent @ ANY POSITION ON THE FIELD, INCLUDING THE FRONT 7. Mangini threw a tantrum hoping 2 get his way on draft day 08,’ securing that LOSER Vernon Gholston after convincing Tannenbaum he was the guy over Mayo & Mckelvin. Mr. T will never say it, hes far too classy, but It’s been widely rumored & speculated that Gholston was the guy Mangini HAD 2 HAVE after he fell in love w/him at the Combine. little Bill needed his players in the front 7 to be versatile and w/the off the charts numbers Gholston put up, Mangini saw another Adalius Thomas. Former Buckeye’s Ryan Picket & AJ HAWK have done well. Ohio State’s fine and so is Ironheads son, Cameron, who we would be lucky 2 have!

  35. By JOHN AVVENTO on Mar 5, 2011 | Reply

    Just think about the draft in 02’…. The Jets hada dire need at safety after Herms boy, Damien Robinson, covered nothing but the ak47’s that he had in the trunk of his car. Every once in a while you get real lucky when not only does a really talented ball player wind up falling to your favorite team, but the player also plays a position of need. Alas the Jets had the perfect allignment that day; They had nobody @the free safety position and there was an exciting, elite free safey from a big time(at the time) program on the board when the Jets were on the clock. Im running around like a big dopey kid at Xmas. ED REED! ED REED Up steps Tagliabue and ……………… welcome to 9 yrs of Bryan Thomas!!

  36. By JOHN AVVENTO on Mar 5, 2011 | Reply

    Vernon Gholston’s tenure here is one of the most egregiously embarrassing efforts put forth by any athlete I have ever watched play for a team I love and collect a pay check from. There were something like(Cimini had this article about sacks & the number of different players who have recorded them since Gholston came into the league). Cosider there were something like 1,700 sacks, none of which went to Gholston. There were more than 100 undrafted FA’s who recorded a sack. U have to luck into1every once in a while, no?? Especially in Rex Ryan’s blitz happy, attack the QB defense. UNREAL! This kid is the reason we are still looking to spend another #1 on the type of player he was supposed to be. Moreover, Mayo would be something else w/REX!

  37. By JOHN AVVENTO on Mar 5, 2011 | Reply

    The Gholston Whiff is still killing this team. They had to hold on to him for one more season, I guess. Although, I would have cut bait after last season. it was apparent if he couldnt sniff the opposing qb in Ryans system, it’s never happening. If he was cut last year, the 5 or 6 million in dead cap space would have been on this years tab, in an uncapped year. It would have left next years cap(yes there will be a 2011 season and there will be, more than likely, a salary cap as well) with no dead money from his killer contract. Instead, we have almost 5.8 million in dead cap space on the books next season. DON’T TELL ME THAT 6 MILLION WOULD NOT HELP US IN OUR GOAL TO SECURE THE BIG FOUR FA’S- EDARDS, HOMES, CRO AND BRAD SMITH!

  38. By GaryC on Mar 5, 2011 | Reply

    John, I was being a little facetious when I said jets should stay away from ohio state players,I mean they did get mangold and going way back Matt Snell, but I am still leary of Heyward as jet pick,reminds me of tyson jackson out of Lsu who has not done much for the chiefs.and he is not a great pass rusher.

  39. By Peter on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    The JETS need a NOSE TACKLE replacement for **(KRIS JENKINS)**. The JETS need a NOSE TACKLE that weighs at least (350) PDS to replace KRIS JENKINS.

    And the JETS need a **(350)** pound NOSE TACKLE replacement for KRIS JENKINS that can occupy at least (2) OFFENSIVE LINEMEN to help play the 3-4 Defense.

  40. By John on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    Give you 2 Nose Tackle one from Free Agents DT Cullen Jenkins Green Bay and one from the drafts DT/NT Phil Taylor.

  41. By 38 year fan on Mar 10, 2011 | Reply

    Nose , DEFENSIVE END , and Linebacker ….Those I hope are our FIRST Priority

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