No. 1 on draft wish list -- pass rusher

March, 18, 2012
3/18/12
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Notes, thoughts and observations on the Jets and the NFL:

1. If the Jets sign a veteran safety in free agency -- Reggie Nelson? -- it will give them more flexibility in the draft. The No. 1 item on their wish list is pass rusher. Rex Ryan has told friends he absolutely wants to add a blue-chip rusher to his defense, sources said. They really like Courtney Upshaw (Alabama), Melvin Ingram (South Carolina) and Andre Branch (Clemson). This is a must-get for the Jets, who have ignored the pass rush for too long.

2. The Jets have seven draft picks, one in each round, according to the team. There's also a chance they could receive a compensatory pick for free-agent losses in 2011.

3. The team continues to shop LB Bart Scott in trade talks, source said, but his $4.2 million guaranteed salary is a deal breaker. Scott's days with the team appear numbered. If they dump Scott, you have to wonder if ILB Luke Kuechly (Boston College) becomes a consideration with the 16th pick.

4. Drew Stanton, the Jets' new backup QB, already has won a game for the Jets. In Week 9 of the 2010 season, he replaced an injured Matthew Stafford with about six minutes to go, with the Lions leading, 20-10. Coming out of the two-minute warning, Stanton ran a third-down bootleg, but instead of simply falling down and taking the sack, he threw an ill-advised incompletion to stop the clock. His brain cramp saved the Jets, who had no timeouts remaining, from certain defeat -- and they rallied to win in OT. Maybe the Jets felt like they owed him one.

5. Loved Ralph Wilson's comments to the Buffalo News the other day on the signing of stud DE Mario Williams. "I'd like to see us make the playoffs and possibly the Super Bowl while I'm around," Wilson, 93, told the newspaper. "I don't expect to be around that many years ... I don't give a darn about the money. I can't take it with me." It reminded me of Leon Hess's famous news conference in 1995, when he pronounced, "I'm 80 years old and I want results now." For the Bills' sake, they'd better hope it works out better than the Hess declaration. That news conference was to introduced Rich Kotite and ... well, you know the rest.

6. Speaking of Williams, the Bills said they will use him at left end. That could be a problem for the Jets, considering their issues at right tackle. Wayne Hunter remains on the roster, but I'm told Vladimir Ducasse will get every opportunity to win the starting job.

7. Woody Johnson took some grief (at least in the twitter-sphere) for saying in a TV interview that the Jets "passed on" Peyton Manning. It probably wasn't the best choice of words, but he was right. As I wrote at the start of the Peyton sweepstakes, the Jets formulated their entire off-season blueprint around Mark Sanchez and would've tossed it only if Manning threw himself at the Jets -- and that was NEVER going to happen.

8. The Jets must feel confident in Bryan Thomas's Achilles-tendon rehab because they guaranteed about $600,000 on his one-year contract. He's only five months removed from surgery, but he still has four months to training camp. This signing sends a positive message to the locker room, a departure from last year when they dumped elder statesman-type leaders -- i.e. Shaun Ellis, Damien Woody, et al.

9. Hey, Peyton, decide already. This is getting old.

10. Nice signing by the Patriots, picking up WR Brandon Lloyd. He's the outside threat that Tom Brady has lacked. Adios, Ochocinco.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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