The 2011 Draft - An Opportunity for Mr. T to Grow?

Both experience and the recent articles here on SBnation have shown us that Mr. T's predilection is for trading up, having smaller drafts (quality) over quantity, and taking an OL late for Callahan to develop.  This draft, both because of the Jets not having a 2nd round pick and FA not having yet occurred, may preclude Mr. T from following his normal approach.  After the jump I'll explain why.

With no 2nd round pick, the Jets don't have the ammo to trade up very far in this draft.  Using their 3rd round pick, the Jets could conceivably get up as high as #24.  If they went all in, ala Ditka, they could only get as high as #20.  I don't think even Mr. T is that brazen.  With no CBA in place, players can't be used to move up, so that removes one approach that Mr. T has successfully used in the past. The only other recourse would be to use future draft picks. Mr T has stated that he is very reluctant to use future draft picks.  Part of the reason they're in the spot they're in now is because they rented Cromartie with this year's #2 pick, and it may amount to only a 1-year rental. 

With FA not happening yet, and the Jets unable to sign UDFAs, I think it would even more unwise than normal to trade away future draft picks now.  What happens if the Jets trade away next year's #1 or #2, then they wind up losing one of their FA starters they expected to re-sign?  What happens if one of their starters goes down for the year in TC and the backup won't cut the mustard as a starter?  Then whatever trade ammunition they might have would be gone.

I think that this year may force Mr. T to have to change his approach to the draft.  In addition to the point made above, the Jets have a large number of big question marks regarding their roster.

With Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Brad Smith FAs and Jerricho Cotchery recovering from surgery, they may need at least one WR, if not 2 and a KR. They could conceivably get a WR who is a KR, but not necessarily.  With Damien Woody gone, Wayne Hunter a FA, and Ducasse a question mark, they may need a RT. With Brandon Moore having hip surgery and not being available until August, and with Robert Turner being questionable depth and a RFA who may want too much money and an agent that doesn't have the best relationship with the team, they may want/need insurance at RG. Cromartie may not be back, so they may need another CB, and with Wilson being questionable as far as seeing significant playing time and/or starting, they may need 2. At S, Jimmy Leonard is coming off a major injury and the other 3 top Safeties are all FAs. It's not likely, but they could need 2 new starters at S at least until Leonard is fully recuperated.  At DE Shaun Ellis and Trevor Pryce are FAs and Ropati Pitoitua is coming off a major injury (Achilles) at a position where the Achilles will take a lot of stress. It usually takes players a while to recover from that injury if ever, so even though they have a number of young possible replacements, the case could be made that they need at least one if not 2 DEs. Finally, there's the NT spot. Pouha is the only proven NT on the roster. He has played remarkably well vs the run, but I don't think gets much push on the pocket vs the pass and doesn't consistently draw a double team.  Tevaseau is still a big question mark. None of the other DL the Jets have on the roster are suitable NT prospects. Unless Kris Jenkins is definitely coming back (and even if he is, he's hardly reliable), the Jets desperately need to add an NT prospect, and hopefully one who can get more push on the pocket and consistently draw a double team to help open things up for the OLBs and blitzers.

While I think the Jets know or have a very good idea of which of their FAs will return, there are often surprises. Some team may step in and offers a huge contract to a player that the Jets thought was coming back, and they wind up losing him.  Thus, I think the case may be made to Tanny that the Jets need MORE picks, not less, and he has to trade down, possibly multiple times to try to address as many of those needs/question marks as possible.   I think at the very least, he's gonna have to stay put and not trade up.  I do think the pressure to trade down will be there.

I think this is the perfect draft for Tanny to learn and grow as a learn to find value in each round and identify multiple prospects at each position who could help the Jets.

We've identified the needs as upgrading the pass rush, adding youth and talent to the DL, getting a S, addressing OL depth and adding a WR.

The supposed strengths of this draft are at DE and OT.  One of the best draft philosophies is drafting to the strength of the draft and finding good players and great value lower than they'd normally be able to.  Also in Rex's scheme, the DEs are not as important as the playmakers, so the Jets can find good players in later rounds at these positions.  At DE, Cedric Thornton, Pernell McPhee and Lawrence Guy are all very good prospects and should be available in the 4th and/or 5th rounds.  At OT, Chris Hairston, Jah Reid, Byron Stingily are all god prospects and should be available in the 3rd -5th rounds.

With more teams playing the 3-4 alignment, there will be more of a demand than ever for NTs and OLBs.   With such a strong need for both, they will have to be addressed early.  The only NTs I know of in the draft are Phil Taylor, Kenric Ellis, Sione Fua, Ian Williams, Chris Neild, and Jerrell Powe.  They will get over-drafted.  Many think Taylor isn't worthy of a 1st round pick.  Even if he is, he may be a "luxury" for the Jets, because if they take him, they don't have a shot at one of the better 2nd tier OLBs likely to be available to them (Brooks Reed, Justin Houston, Martez Wilson, Sam Acho or Jabal Sheard).  They then have to hope that Chris Carter or Dontay Moch would be there in the 3rd round, and they aren't ideal, although much better (at least speedwise) than those available in the 4th round and later (Stephen Friday, Jeremy Beal, Bruce Miller, Gabe Miller and others).   

In an ideal world the Jets would be able to address both the NT and OLB spots with their 1st 2 picks.   Unfortunately, the "ideal world" almost never happens for the Jets.  I think the only shot they have to address both is to trade down and get a team's 2nd round pick and 3rd round pick, which would mean the Jets would also have to give up their 3rd round pick. 

It's possible that with such a trade down they could get both Kenric Ellis and either Sam Acho or Jabal Sheard.  Maybe even Martez Wilson or Brooks Reed.  I think this gives them the best chance of making a dramatic impact both short term and long term on the pass rush.

With the strong need for pass rush and depth at NT, I could see the Jets trading down into the 2nd and taking Kenric Ellis. He could get great pocket push up the middle on passing downs thus helping improve the pass rush, and be effective vs the run too. If they took him first, I think they'd have to hope that one of the OLBs falls and they'd take a real risk.  I think they'd have a better chance of getting both if they took the OLB first and hope that Ellis' character questions causes him to fall far enough that they could still get him.  With the additional pick or picks they get from moving down, they could address another question mark(s). 

At a minimum, I think they have to address either the NT spot or OLB spot with one of their first 2 picks, hopefully both.  (If not both, then I hope the other is used either on a S or WR (in that order) rather than an OT.)

With their 4th - 7th round picks they could address the OL (either OT or OG, or a tweener who could possibly play both), the DE position, the S position, and get a slot WR/KR like Kerley.  Hopefully they'll eventually be able to sign some excellent UDFA prospects as well to help address some of the question marks.

In conclusion, I hope that Tanny will use this opportunity to learn to find value and good prospects in the middle and later rounds, and see that both quality AND quantity can be obtained in a draft and that one doesn't have to always sacrifice quantity to get quality.

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