Saturday, April 28, 2012
Two-day analysis: Beware, the 'P' word
By Rich Cimini
Quick thoughts on the first two days of the Jets' draft:
1. In recent years, the Jets have become a size/speed drafting team. That philosophy, which can be dangerous, was never more apparent than with their first two picks -- DE Quinton Coples and WR Stephen Hill. For different reasons, neither player produced a lot last season, but they're big and fast and they performed well in the Underwear Olympics -- a.k.a. the scouting combine. As team officials discussed the picks, the words "athleticism" and "potential" kept coming up. Buyer, beware.
2. The Jets have been doing that a lot in recent years, taking height/weight/speed prospects with questions about productivity, level of competition and football traits -- i.e. Vernon Gholston, Vladimir Ducasse, Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis. It's like they've become infatuated with 40 times and wing spans. Sometimes it works out (Wilkerson), sometimes it doesn't.
3. That said, I like the Hill pick. Yeah, he's raw, having played in a run-oriented offense at Georgia Tech, but his arrow is pointed up. From all reports, he has the right attitude, he's willing to work, he's a tenacious blocker and he has a good football acumen. You'd rather take a chance on a player like that, as opposed to Coples, whose motivation came into question after a lackluster senior year. Both players have high ceilings, but at least Hill is going in the right direction.
4. The Jets had a first-round grade on Hill. A lot of teams did. This is what one NFC scout told me about him: "It's hard to predict [his future]. I saw him catch more balls at the combine than I did during the season, but he's got all the talent. He could be a big-time player."
5. Maybe I'm missing something, but I'm having a hard time with LB Demario Davis in the third round. Why? He's a bit of a projection, a 4-3 OLB becoming a 3-4 ILB. At 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, he's undersized for the Jets' 34 front. Their inside 'backers are responsible for taking on guards, and that will be difficult for him. This also wasn't a "need" position. Sure, they can use some young legs behind David Harris and Bart Scott, but they had bigger needs at safety and offensive tackle. The Davis pick has Mike Westhoff's fingerprints all over it; he rated Davis as one of the best special teamers in the draft.
6. In case you're wondering, the Davis pick doesn't mean the end for Scott. GM Mike Tannenbaum, in an unsolicited remark, said Scott isn't going anywhere. But now his heir apparent is on campus.
7. The common denominator with all three picks is speed. The Jets wanted -- and needed -- to improve their team speed, and they've done that. Coples (4.71 in the 40), Hill (4.31) and Davis (4.52) all have above-average speed for their respective positions. Asked about the need for speed, VP of college scouting Joey Clinkscales said, "I'm sure that was in the back of our mind. We wanted to get faster. The league is getting faster with spread offenses and being able to score points. It was important to add that."
8. Obviously, the Jets aren't going to emerge from this draft with an offensive tackle who can pose an immediate threat to embattled RT Wayne Hunter. Does that mean another season of Hunter? You can't get a straight answer from the Jets. Tannenbaum, speaking in code, said Hunter is "still competing for the position." Asked if that means it's an open competition, Tannenbaum said Hunter remains the starter "right now" -- the Tannenbaum kiss of death. Look for them to make a move in post-draft free agency.
9. On Day 3, the Jets will wait -- a lot. They have no fourth-round pick (Tim Tebow trade) and no fifth-round pick (sent to the Seahawks in the trade-up for Hill), so they don't pick until the sixth round. They have five picks left, four of which are compensatory -- and those picks can't be traded.
10. I guess Santonio Holmes doesn't have much pull in the personnel department. They haven't picked any offensive linemen.