Monday, May 9, 2011
Jets capitalize on pre-draft visits
By Rich Cimini
In the weeks leading up to the draft, the media spend a lot of time writing about pre-draft visits. I, for one, devoted several blog posts to the parade of prospects visiting Florham Park. Statistics show, however, that only a small percentage of players get drafted by teams they visited.
The Jets bucked the trend. Of their six draft choices, 3 1/2 visited the facility. A half visit? Yes, read on. (Note: This is based on the 28 visits announced/confirmed by the Jets).
Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple (First Round) -- He visited and worked out for the Jets on April 11 in Florham Park, only a 30-minute drive from his home in Linden, N.J. Because he's considered a local, his visit didn't count toward the 30-prospect allotment by the league. I interviewed Wilkerson later that day at his home, and he said the Jets seemed very interested. He had this to say about his meeting with Rex Ryan: "He's a funny character. He said his funny little jokes." Maybe Ryan was trying out his material in preparation for his book tour/media blitz. Wilkerson was familiar with Ryan's style; he told me his coaches at Temple used to show some of the Jets' "Hard Knocks" clips to the team. Interesting.
Kenrick Ellis, NT, Hampton (Third Round) -- One day after hosting Wilkerson, the Jets brought in Ellis for a visit. Obviously, the Jets wanted to follow-up on his off-the-field issues, including a felony charge for malicious wounding. Ellis was indicted by a Virginia grand jury in March and is scheduled to stand trial July 12, facing a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Bilal Powell, RB, Louisville (Fourth Round) -- How's this for a coincidence? Powell visited April 13, the day after Ellis. Were the Jets picking from a calendar or a draft board? Kidding, of course. Powell was the only running back to visit the facility, according to the Jets.
Jeremy Kerley, WR/PR, Texas Christian (Fifth Round) -- Kerley didn't visit, but he got up-close and personal with the Jets on April 15. The team dispatched offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to Fort Worth to work out Kerley and TCU QB Andy Dalton.
Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama (Seventh Round) -- The Jets showed a "minimal" amount of interest, according to McElroy. There were conversations at the Senior Bowl and the Scouting Combine, but that was about it. "Quite frankly, the Jets weren't a team on my radar," he said.
Scotty McKnight, WR, Colorado (Seventh Round) -- Mark Sanchez's best friend didn't make an official visit, but he already had met Jets officials. During school breaks, McKnight sometimes visited Sanchez in New Jersey. He got to meet owner Woody Johnson and GM Mike Tannenbaum. They were friendly meetings that, in retrospect, may have served as job interviews. Thus, the half-visit.