- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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A story broke over the weekend, reported by CBSSports.com, saying Baylor NT Phil Taylor has been red-flagged by some teams because of an inoperable condition in his feet. According to the report, the 334-pound Taylor has bones growing together in both feet, causing considerable pain.
Taylor could be in play for the Jets, who own the 30th pick. Teams have been known to put out misinformation on prospects, so I checked with a general manager (not Mike Tannenbaum). The GM, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Taylor's condition "is not acute." He said Taylor wears orthotic supports in his shoes and tends to walk on the side of his feet, but the GM added that it's not serious enough to warrant dropping him on the draft board.
That's one team's opinion. You might get 32 different opinions on Taylor's feet. Here's a fact: Taylor has started 25 games the last two seasons, missing a start in 2009 due to a turf-toe injury. It's unclear if the turf toe was related to the so-called condition.
LATEST BUZZ: The names I'm hearing for the Jets at No. 30 are Taylor, UCLA OLB Akeem Ayers and Arizona OLB Brooks Reed. There's always the possibility of a player unexpectedly tumbling to 30, like Temple DE Muhammad Wilkerson. In fact, Sports Illustrated's Peter King has the Jets taking Wilkerson in his mock draft, saying that Rex Ryan envisions Wilkerson as a Haloti Ngata-type player in terms of versatility on the defensive line. If Ryan could get a Ngata-esque player -- remember, he coached him in Baltimore -- he'd sign up in a nanosecond.
KIPER SAYS: ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper had some interesting comments Wednesday on Colorado CB Jimmy Smith, who apparently has rehabilitated his image and is rising up draft boards. At Colorado, Smith had two alcohol-related arrests and flunked at least one drug test for marijuana.
Kiper said Smith's off-the-field issues "are not as big a deal as people thought it might be ... He has shot way up ... The teams I've spoken to feel very comfortable about Jimmy Smith. Talent-wise, it's a no-brainer. He's a top-10 guy."
Kiper thinks Smith could go as high to the Lions at No. 13. It appears there's little chance of him slipping to 30. If somehow he did, I think Ryan would pound the table for him.
ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE: On Wednesday, Mike Mayock, of the NFL Network, offered his take on the Jets' options at 30.
"I think there are three guys you have to look at there -- Akeem Ayers, (Georgia's) Justin Houston and Brooks Reed. I'm not Justin Houston guy, just on work ethic and hustle. I think he’s a gifted kid, but I don't see it on tape. Ayers, you see it sometomes, and let’s face it, Rex is pretty opinionated as to his ability to motivate kids. This kid has got some ability, you can see it on tape. He’s got edge-rush ability, he fits them from a scheme perspective. Reed's got a high motor. I think he’s more of second-round pick, but when you're drafting at end of first round, he’s a guy you want in your back pocket. So, yes, I think Reed is in play."