Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Notes: 'Lightning in a bottle'
By Rich Cimini
You know a player is undersized when he's looking up at the people asking the questions. That was the case Wednesday with West Virginia WR Tavon Austin (5-foot-8), who met the media at an NFL function in Manhattan. But he's the most exciting player in the draft, and the Jets sure could use some excitement on offense.
"He's lightning in a bottle," QB Geno Smith said of his former college teammate. "On the field, that kid is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. He does things on the field that are uncanny."
Austin was one of only two players in the country last season to record 600 receiving yards, 500 return yards and 300 rushing yards. The other was Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson. Many scouts see Austin as a slot receiver, and the Jets already have a solid slot receiver in Jeremy Kerley. But Kerley doesn't have 4.35 speed like Austin, who took a pre-draft visit to the Jets.
He met Rex Ryan, who joked with Austin that he'd use him at cornerback. Knowing Ryan, ever the defensive coach, he might have been serious.
"He said he had a plan for me," Austin said. "I talked to the offensive coordinator and they said they like players like me who can bring big-play ability there."
ON GUARD: The Jets have been linked in mock drafts to the two top guards, Alabama's Chance Warmack and North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper. If the Jets are interested in Cooper, as I've heard, they've done a good job of hiding their intentions. Cooper didn't visit them and said he's had no recent contact with the team. Warmack visited with team officials at Florham Park.
"They're rebuilding," Warmack said of the Jets. "I'm all for the rebuilding. If I got drafted by them, I'd try to make a big impact as fast as I could."
I asked Cooper if he's better than Warmack. He smiled.
"We're two very different players," he said. "But we're both great players."
LUCK OF THE IRISH: Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert is climbing draftboards and could be a consideration for the Jets at nine or 13. He's 6-foot-5 with terrific athletic ability, and a strong college resume. He caught 50 passes for 685 yards and four touchdowns in Notre Dame's run-based offense. After losing Dustin Keller in free agency, the Jets have a strong need at the position. Jeff Cumberland, atop the depth chart, is on a one-year contract. There's also some late buzz about Jets interest in Texas S Kenny Vaccaro.