- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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We started this more than a month ago -- our five-man watch list for the Jets -- and here we are on draft eve. This is our final list, realistic possibilities for the Jets at No. 30 (based on information culled from the scouting community and people familiar with the Jets' thinking).
The list doesn't include OLB Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue) or OT Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), both of whom would be strong considerations if they unexpectedly fell to the bottom of the first round. The list also doesn't have WR Jon Baldwin (Pitt), who would be my sleeper pick for the Jets.
Here's the Fab 5:
• Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor, 6-3, 334 -- The big fella would fill a need and he has late-1, early-2 value, according to the teams I've talked to. (ESPN's Scouts, Inc. rates him as the 26th prospect in the draft.) Taylor has weight and foot issues, but nothing that should scare teams away at the bottom of the first round. There's a pretty good chance he'll still be on the board for the Jets.
• Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona, 6-2 1/2, 263 -- The Jets absolutely love his motor and character. He's No. 27 in the Scouts, Inc. rankings. A couple of concerns: He has very little experience at linebacker (he was the RDE in Arizona's defense) and he inflated his stock with strong post-season workouts. His 10-yard split (1.54 seconds) made him a lot of money. If the Jets think they can get him by trading down, they could lose him to the Packers (No. 32).
• Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA, 6-2 1/2, 254 -- Ayers' advantage over Reed is that he has been trained as an OLB. In fact, he had only 100 snaps last season as a rusher from the down position, one scout told me. Ayers' 40 time at the combine (4.8) was a disappointment, but he plays faster than his stopwatch time, according to scouts. The concern is that he's too light and won't be able to set the edge as a perimeter player on running downs. Ayers, ranked No. 34 by Scouts, Inc., should be available at 30.
• Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple, 6-4, 315 -- It doesn't make a whole lot of sense for a team that plays a 3-4 defense to take a 5-technique end in the first round ... unless the team thinks he can play more than one position and can play all three downs. Wilkerson has that kind of versatility, the ability to slide inside in the nickel and rush as a DT. Obviously, the level of competition in college is a concern, but the Linden, N.J., product has the size and athleticism to develop into a starting player. His stock is all over the map. Wilkerson, ranked No. 24 by Scouts, Inc., could go anywhere from 18 (Chargers) to 32 (Packers).
• Jabaal Sheard, DE/OLB, Pitt, 6-3, 264 -- Here's a name you haven't seen linked to the Jets. Sheard is similar to Reed in that he played DE in college and would have to make the conversion to OLB, but he's bigger than Reed and may have more athleticism. Sheard was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, and he plays with the tenacity you want in a pass rusher. He was involved in an off-campus assault last summer -- a possible red flag. Sheard has high-2 value, so he probably would be on the board if the Jets decided to trade down. He's ranked No. 35 by Scouts, Inc.