Gholston's impact on Jets draft prep

April, 22, 2012
4/22/12
5:00
AM ET
Notes and observations on the Jets and the NFL:

1. The Gholston factor. The Jets say they learned a hard lesson from the Vernon Gholston debacle in 2008, one they will apply to the evaluation of DE/OLB hybrids in the upcoming draft. They drafted Gholston, a DE at Ohio State, to play OLB in their 3-4 system. They knew his football instincts were suspect, but they figured he'd be able to overcome the deficiency with his size and speed. They were wrong, as wrong as you can be about a player. This year, the scouting department placed a much greater emphasis on instinct during the grading process. Joey Clinkscales, VP of college scouting, claimed they won't be "gun shy" about picking a DE/OLB projection.

2. Drive a hybrid. The draftboard is filled with DE/OLB 'tweeners. In fact, seven of the eight OLBs on the Jets' board were DEs in college, the exception probably being Courtney Upshaw (Alabama). The Jets had better be confident in their grading system, because there are several hybrids that will be considered in the first and second round -- Melvin Ingram (South Carolina), Whitney Mercilus (Illinois), Andre Branch (Clemson), Chandler Jones (Syracuse) and Nick Perry (USC). When making the DE/OLB projection, athleticism, arm length and intelligence also are weighed heavily, according to Clinkscales.

3. Round 1 game plan. Here's what I expect the Jets to do Thursday night in the first round: A. Explore the possibility of trading way up for Alabama RB Trent Richardson; B. Explore the possibility of trading up a few spots for Ingram; C. Remain at No. 16 and take the best available player. They prefer a pass-rushing OLB, but could settle for a S (Alabama's Mark Barron), a DLM (Memphis' Dontari Poe) or a WR (Notre Dame's Michael Floyd).

4. Tony's Time. When a team installs a new offensive or defensive system, it has to tweak its player-evaluation system. You don't want to draft a square-peg player for a round-hole system. Soon after hiring O.C. Tony Sparano, the scouting department asked him to list what he considers the four critical factors at each position on offense. Armed with that info, the scouts did their thing, trying to find players that fit Sparano's system.

5. Strange, but true. During his pre-draft news conference, and later during a Q&A teleconference with season-ticket holders, Tannenbaum mentioned backup LG Caleb Schlauderaff no fewer than seven times. He got more mentions than that Tebow guy. What's up with that? Maybe Tannenbaum just likes the sound of Schlauderaff. I mean, who doesn't? Or maybe he's blowing smoke and is planning to take Stanford G David DeCastro.

6. Jets vs. Revis, III. The Darrelle Revis contract situation bears watching after the draft. It's sure to produce some sharply divided opinions. Pro-Revis: He's the best corner in football, maybe the best defensive player, and is underpaid with a combined $13.5 million over the next two seasons. Anti-Revis: He already has made $47.5 million in five years, exceeding his rookie contract by $11.5 million. He received a six-year, $36 million rookie deal, but the two sides re-negotiated two years ago, with Revis getting a $25 million sweetener on a one-year extension.

7. Oh, brother. If the Jets don't draft Chandler Jones, maybe they should look into signing his brother. Jon (Bones) Jones, 24, is the UFC light-heavyweight champion. He's 6-foot-4, 205 pounds. They could make him an OLB and have him cover former rugby star-turned-TE Hayden Smith.

8. Buzzzz. How can any self-respecting Steelers fan look at their team's new throwback jerseys and not laugh? Or cringe? They remind me of the "Bad News Bees" sketch on the old Saturday Night Live.

9. Go ahead, mock me. My current half-mock (and I reserve the right to change my mind): 1. Colts -- Andrew Luck, 2. Redskins -- Robert Griffin III, 3. Vikings -- Morris Claiborne, 4. Browns -- Trent Richardson, 5. Bucs -- Matt Kalil, 6. Rams -- Fletcher Cox, 7. Jaguars -- Justin Blackmon, 8. Dolphins -- Ryan Tannehill, 9. Panthers -- Stephon Gilmore, 10. Bills -- Michael Floyd, 11. Chiefs -- Luke Kuechly, 12. Seahawks -- Quinton Coples, 13. Cards -- David DeCastro, 14. Cowboys -- Mark Barron, 15. Eagles -- Dontari Poe, 16. Jets -- Melvin Ingram.

10. Different strokes. On Saturday, I wrote a piece on the Jets' draft room -- specifically, the people in the room (a total of 13) and how they make decisions. GM Mike Tannenbaum appreciates input from everyone. Not surprisingly, the Patriots have a different approach. The NFL Network's Mike Lombardi, who used to work with Bill Belichick, described the Belichick way (quote courtesy of ESPNBoston.com): "The draft room will be very small. ... It will only be four people. Belichick's big thing is that he's not looking for more opinions, he's looking for right opinions. The scouts do their job, which is prepare him for the draft, then ... there is only one decision-maker in New England. He doesn't want any confusion on draft day."

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

Insider