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Thursday, April 21, 2011
Footnotes: Taylor checks out OK

By Rich Cimini

It's always hard to separate the smoke from the truth at pre-draft press conferences, but it sounds like the Jets are OK with Phil Taylor's feet.

"He probably does have some feet issues, but you're talking about a guy who was once 380 pounds that's 335 pounds now," vice president of college scouting Joey Clinkscales said Thursday. "Phil is a good player. He's a two-gap nose guard, he's strong, he's physical ... He's a good football player.

"I don't think that in the long term, if you're looking throughout a contract, that his feet will be a big issue. You're looking for a guy to help now and he -- and many others -- have a chance to do that."

Taylor is a trendy pick for the Jets at No. 30. He reportedly has a painful, inoperable condition in both feet that might concern some teams; one report said he has bones growing together in each foot -- although it never caused him to miss any times in two seasons at Baylor.

Based on what Clinkscales said, the Jets haven't downgraded Taylor because of his feet. But, of course, we'll find out for sure if he's still on the board next Thursday night when the Jets are on the clock.

SEARCHING FOR A PASS RUSHER: Clinkscales, GM Mike Tannenbaum and senior personnel adviser Terry Bradway didn't discuss too many individual players at the press conference, but one issue that came up was the search for a pass rusher. Clinkscales was asked about Arizona DE/OLB Brooks Reed, and whether he'd be hesitant to pull the trigger on a player that had to make the conversion from end to outside linebacker. They tried it in 2008 with Vernon Gholston, and look how that turned out.

"The first thing we're looking for is, can he rush the passer?" Clinkscales said. "In the defense we want to play, Rex (Ryan) wants a guy that can rush the passer. For a rush linebacker, dropping into coverage is only 15 percent of what he does. He needs to be smart. He needs to have good hands use. He needs to have quick feet. He needs to have a demeanor to be hungry to get the quarterback."

Clinkscales continued, "Projections are always tough, but when you see a guy line up at a certain position it's not a huge projection. A guy like Brooks, or any other guy that might be a little undersized, hopefully you've seen him play linebacker a little bit or you see the opportunity to do a lot of different things with him."

At Arizona, Reed was predominantly a down lineman, but a scout from another team told me he stood up as a linebacker this past season in the Arizona State game and played well in that role.

INSIDE SCOUTING: Bradway provided these stats on the scouting process: The Jets' scouts wrote 5,552 reports on prospects, they scouted a total of 1,259 players, they interviewed more than 300 players and they traveled to 253 schools.