Rex attends Illinois pro day

March, 17, 2011
3/17/11
9:05
AM ET
What does a head coach do during a lockout? If you're Rex Ryan, you get out of the office to do some scouting.

The Jets' coach was in Champaign, Illinois, Wednesday to attend the Illinois Pro Day. Why Illinois? The school has three potential first-round picks -- DT Corey Liuget, RB Mikel Lishoure and LB Martez Wilson.

Presumably, Ryan was there to check out the defensive players; it will be an upset if the Jets don't go defense with their first-round pick (30th overall). Ryan apparently made quite an impression on Liuget.

"I love coach Rex," Liuget told the Chicago Tribune. "He asked me if my last name was Ryan. He definitely is a comedian. He is a funny guy."

Liuget (6-2, 298) probably will be the first Illinois player to go off the board, somewhere between 20 and 30, but he might not be an ideal fit in the Jets' 3-4 defense. Scouts say his best position is defensive tackle in a 4-3.

Indeed, Ryan may have been there to see Wilson (6-4, 250), whose stock has been rising since last month's scouting combine. Wilson blazed a 4.42 in the 40, fastest among linebackers. He played inside linebacker in college, but some believe he can make the switch to outside linebacker in a 3-4 -- and that's what the Jets are looking for. Various reports, however, said Wilson didn't fare well in the workout, struggling in position drills.

Another potential red flag: Wilson suffered a disc injury in his neck in the 2009 opener and missed the rest of the season. He came back last season to start 13 games, finishing with 11.5 tackles for loss and four sacks.

The Jets aren't going to draft a running back in the first round, but here's an interesting note on Leshoure: He suffered a broken jaw in 2008 after being punched out by a teammate. The teammate? It was TE Jeff Cumberland, now a second-year player with the Jets.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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