Thursday, April 26, 2012
Round 1: What to watch for
By Rich Cimini
The draft landscape is ever-changing, and here is the latest scoop as the Jets head into Thursday night's first round:
• There's a decent chance the Jets, picking 16th, will move out of that spot -- up or down. Here's why: They have eight to 10 players ranked in the upper tier of their draft board. After that group, there's a group of a dozen or so players with similar grades. If the top group is gone by 16, it makes sense to move down and pick up an extra choice. In fact, they're exploring trade-down scenarios, ESPN's Sal Paolantonio reported. Easier said than done; who's willing to move up to 16?
• The Jets remain interested in Alabama RB Trent Richardson, but as we reported Wednesday, it's a long shot. The cost to move into the top five is prohibitive. And they know it. To quote the Rolling Stones, you can't always get what you want.
• If the Jets trade up, it would be for a defensive player, with Alabama S Mark Barron, LSU DE Michael Brockers and Mississippi State DE Fletcher Cox the most likely targets.
Barron would fill an obvious need; Brockers and Cox would be value picks. They used last year's first-round pick on a lineman, Muhammad Wilkerson, but the Jets deem Cox and Brockers as special talents. There is little chance any of these players will slide to 16. Brockers could get close, but it would be hard to get past the Cowboys (14th) and Eagles (15th).
• Contrary to popular belief, the Jets don't rate South Carolina OLB Melvin Ingram among the upper-tier players. They like him enough to take him at 16, but they won't trade up for him. There has been a lot of buzz about Ingram. They think he's a good football player, and he'd obviously fill a need, but he's not a gotta-have-him talent in their eyes.
• If the Jets have to make a pick at 16, and Ingram is gone, this is where it will get interesting. The fallback options are Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd and Stanford G David DeCastro, whom the Jets may consider at right tackle. Chances are, DeCastro wouldn't be received well at Radio City; a first-round guard isn't sexy. Floyd would be a popular choice, but is he really that much better than the receivers likely available in the second round?
Alabama OLB Courtney Upshaw has been linked to the Jets in many mock drafts (heck, I took him in my mock for SportsCenter), but the late word is that he's not a consideration at 16.
• If the Jets trade down, they'd look at the next tier of pass rushers -- Syracuse DE/OLB Chandler Jones and Illinois DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus. Jones' stock has been soaring. The NFL Network's Mike Mayock said Jones is one of the best defensive players in the draft. There's a lot to like about Jones, but he's never played OLB and his production was average. But the Jets like him. North Carolina DE Quinton Coples and Memphis NT Dontari Poe have been mentioned elsewhere as possibilities, but I haven't heard much buzz connecting them to the Jets. In my opinion, they're far too risky.
In six drafts as the Jets' GM, Mike Tannenbaum never has traded down in the first round. But there's always a first.