On Monday, I spent a couple of hours in the Jets' defensive meeting room, watching tape with assistant director of player personnel JoJo Wooden. Specifically, we studied their top two draft picks, DE Muhammad Wilkerson and NT Kenrick Ellis.
It's not often that reporters are granted behind-the-scenes access in an NFL facility, and this was an enlightening exercise because it illustrated some of the attributes that attracted the Jets to Wilkerson (first round) and Ellis (third). To read the story, click it here.
Some quick thoughts on the experience, which provided some insight into the way the Jets approach the draft:
• The Jets place a tremendous emphasis on size, especially on the defensive front. That was the prevailing theme as Wooden discussed Wilkerson (6-4, 315) and Ellis (6-5, 347). Before the draft, there was speculation about the team's interest in defensive linemen in the 270- to 280-pound range. After hearing Wooden, I can't see that happening, at least not with a high pick, as long as Rex Ryan is the coach.
• The team puts a lot of trust in their college scouts. Case in point: The selection of Ellis. Said Wooden: "This is all Mike Davis right here." Davis is a veteran scout, and one of the schools in his area is Hampton (Va.). He attended college in Virginia and lives in Virginia, so he knows the state. According to Wooden, Davis expressed supreme confidence in Ellis' ability to make the jump from Hampton to the NFL. Even though the Jets had a second-round grade on Ellis, this wasn't an easy decision because of his legal problem, a pending felony charge. I get the feeling that Davis stood on the table for Ellis.
• Effort matters. Wooden noted several plays in which Ellis and Wilkerson hustled to the ball, sometimes more than 20 yards. After a 50-yard run against Temple, Wooden pointed out that Wilkerson was the first defensive lineman to arrive at the scene of the tackle. The message was clear: Ryan wants high-motor guys. Maybe that explains why it never worked out with Vernon Gholston.
• Just my own opinion here, but I don't think you're going to see Wilkerson beat too many tackles with his speed and quickness. He's a power player, not an edge rusher. If he gets sacks from the edge, it'll probably be the result of a line stunt or a particular scheme cooked up by the coaches. Ellis has rare traits, but he's going to need a lot of seasoning. In our film session, he struggled at times to read his keys on the most basic plays.