Jets draft preview: Defensive line

April, 23, 2012
4/23/12
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This is the seventh part in a nine-part, position-by-position analysis, breaking down the Jets' needs and draft possibilities.

Position: Defensive line

Depth chart: Muhammad Wilkerson (E), Sione Pouha (T), Mike DeVito (E/T), Marcus Dixon (E/T), Ropati Pitoitua (E), Kenrick Ellis (T), Martin Tevaseu (T), Jay Richardson (E).

Not under contract: N/A

Scouting report: The line should be better in 2012 now that some of the young players, namely Wilkerson, Dixon, and Pitoitua, have experienced on-the-job training. DeVito will be healthy after fighting through a knee sprain last season, which hurt the run defense. Wilkerson, who held up reasonably well as a rookie considering he had no off-season program, should grow into a bigger role as a pass rusher. The wild card is Ellis. You knew he'd be raw as a rookie, but he re-defined the meaning of "raw." The Jets are hoping he can blossom under new DL Karl Dunbar.

The bottom line is, the Jets have some good pieces here, led by the run-stuffing Pouha, but this is hardly a stand-pat unit. DeVito is entering the final year of his contract, so they need to take a long-term view at that position. The Jets don't count on the front three for a lot of pass rush, but they need another player that can generate some push on first and second down.

The Last Time: The Jets started to rebuild their line in last year's draft, selecting Wilkerson (first round) and Ellis (third).

Potential Targets: The two names to watch in the first round are DE Quinton Coples (North Carolina) and NT Dontari Poe (Memphis), one of whom could slip to 16. They're both physical marvels, but neither one was stellar last season. At 6-foot-6, 284 pounds, Coples is a 'tweener in the Jets' 3-4 front. Rex Ryan attended Coples' pro day and personally tested him in OLB drills; he looked terrific, according to a scout that was present. But there are questions about Coples' work ethic and love for the game. Joey Clinkscales, the Jets' VP of college scouting, acknowledged that Coples' play slipped last season. Personally, I'd stay away. Poe (6-foot-4, 346 pounds) blew away the scouting combine, but he produced only five sacks in three seasons. The NFL Network's Mike Mayock said of Poe, "He's a physical freak, no doubt. However the tape is very average." He'd be a value pick, not need.

The Jets brought Michael Brockers (LSU) in for a visit -- another first-round talent. He's massive (6-foot-5, 322), but "he has no technique," one NFC scout told me. "He's like a bull in a china shop." If they don't pick a DLM in the first round, the Jets will look to add one in the later rounds. They've shown interest in Brandon Thompson (Clemson), DE/OLB Josue Ortiz (Harvard), Jake Bequette (Arkansas) and Justin Francis (Rutgers).

Need Rating (on a scale of 1 to 10): 5

Next: Linebacker

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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