After months and months of breaking down these prospects to the point where we all know their favorite breakfast cereal, the draft is finally upon us.
Meanwhile, this is an extremely important draft for the Tannenbaum/Ryan era. Despite the New York Jets' relative success on the field, the Jets have not drafted as well in the Ryan era compared to other years under Tannenbaum.
The rest of the media is going to make this season all about Tebow versus Sanchez, but in reality, what the Jets do in late April will have a bigger effect on the season than the backup quarterback's popularity, no matter how "excited" he is.
The following slide will dissect what the Jets plan of attack will be, based on who they are showing interest in with pre-draft visits and rumors spreading around the league. We will also look at different scenarios for the Jets and how it will affect how the Jets draft and build their team during the summer.
Pead is a mid-round talent that would fill the void left by LaDainian Tomlinson. With only one runner on the roster with considerable experience at the NFL level at the position, I would not be surprised in the slightest to see the Jets draft a runner.
The Jets have made it known that they want to get faster and more athletic on defense. Mike Tannenbaum has a history of trading up in the first round. Sure makes a lot of sense to me.
4/12/12: Jake Steinberg is reporting that the Jets are taking a hard look at Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones. Jones is a bit of a "tweener" but has impressive explosion that will make him a possible first-round pick.
This is a list of every player that has visited the Jets, according to Pro Football Talk.. A "*" denotes that the player also worked out for the team.
LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers
Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd
Georgia Tech receiver Stephen Hill
South Carolina defensive end Melvin Ingram
South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery
Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones
LSU receiver Rueben Randle
*Rutgers receiver Mohamed Sanu
Ole Miss offensive tackle Bobby Massie
Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith
*Georgia center Ben Jones
North Carolina linebacker Zach Brown
West Virginia linebacker Bruce Irvin
Third and Beyond
*Arizona State cornerback Omar Bolden
*Columbia offensive tackle Jeff Adams
Wake Forest safety Josh Bush
*Oregon State linebacker Cameron Collins
Wake Forest receiver Chris Givens
*Memphis guard Ronald Leary
Oklahoma linebacker Ronnell Lewis
*Temple linebacker Tahir Whitehead
Utah State running back Robert Turbin
*San Diego State punter Brian Stahovich
Harvard defensive end Josue Ortiz
Wayne State offensive tackle Joe Long
The Jets interest is either the worst-kept secret in the world, or a brilliant smokescreen.
For now, let's assume the former.
In their quest to make their defense faster and more athletic, Rex Ryan and the Jets brass apparently have fallen in love with Melvin's game. In fact, they want Ingram so badly that they have made drafting him their top priority in the draft and are willing to trade up for him.
This kind of behavior is quite parallel to how Tannenbaum has conducted business in the draft. Mr. T traded up in the draft several times in his tenure, nabbing key players such as Darrelle Revis, Dustin Keller, Shonn Greene and, of course, Mark Sanchez.
After spending the last two seasons sitting on his hands with disappointing results, I would not be the least bit shocked to see the Jets make a big move into the top 10 picks.
However, Tannenbaum needs to be careful in terms of what he gives up. While trading up has generally served him well, the roster has paid a price in terms of depth because of a lack of later-round draft picks. Melvin Ingram would be a fine addition, but he's not the kind of player worth selling the farm for.
Actually, the fact that the entire football world knows about the Jets infatuation with Ingram only works against them. Other teams know how much the Jets like Ingram, and will use it in leverage in trade talks.
For now, Shonn Greene is the starter, but having a more fluid, dynamic back to share carries with Greene would certainly give the dormant running game a boost.
Joe McKnight is an option, but he has not done a whole lot as a runner in two seasons besides running all over a terrible Bills team in Week 17 of 2010.
Unless Trent Richardson inexplicably falls to the middle of the first round, there is no reason to suspect that the Jets are interested in taking a running back in Round 1.
However, if the right guy is on the board in the middle of Round 2, the Jets have to at least be thinking about pulling the trigger. But what players would warrant such a pick?
In my opinion, David Wilson is the best fit. He has a rare combination of speed and power and would be an instant home run threat. He can also contribute in the passing game and would be an ideal third-down back if he improves on his pass protection.
Guys like Doug Martin and Chris Polk, while fine prospects in their own right, would not entice the Jets. Those players are possible foundation backs that are more suitable to taking on a heavy load of the carries, and the Jets already have a guy who can do that in Shonn Greene. Wilson, on the other hand, is dynamic and would be a matchup nightmare whenever he is on the field.
If the Jets decide to go in another direction in the second round, it would not surprise me in the least to see them take a runner later in the draft. Someone like Robert Turbin of Utah State, Cincinnati's Isaiah Pead or Temple's Bernard Pierce would be logical picks.
Assuming Melvin Ingram is off the board and Barron is sitting there at 16, then yes, it is likely that Barron would be a Jet, at least according to Jake Steinberg (if you don't follow Jake on twitter, follow him).
— Jake Steinberg (@Steiny31) April 15, 2012
Barron is a terrific safety prospect, but the problem is that his skill set is almost identical to LaRon Landry's as a hard-hitting safety who flies around the field to make plays on the ball, but neither of them are your answer to shutting down Rob Gronkowski.
However, since Landry is on a one-year deal, the Jets could use Landry until they trust Barron to start. Given Landry's injury problems, Barron could provide valuable depth.
Barron is not going to be the next Kerry Rhodes in terms of man coverage ability, but he is a good fit for the defense at strong safety. However, with Dallas and Philadelphia picking right before the Jets, there is a good chance he is off the board.
If the Jets really love him, they may have to trade up, but I don't anticipate the Jets trading up for anyone besides Melvin Ingram at this point.
If the Jets are truly committed to Mark Sanchez and are in the business of winning football games, they will draft as if Tim Tebow will simply hold a clipboard like a "normal" backup should.
The Jets need to stay committed to building their offense around players that will help Mark Sanchez succeed. Using more resources to build their Wildcat package is a gross misallocation of draft picks.
Besides, what kind of players does Tebow favor that Sanchez does not? If the Jets draft a receiver, he'll catch passes from both quarterbacks. Linemen block the same no matter who is taking snaps.
Still, staying focused on developing Sanchez as a quarterback rather than drafting Tebow's former teammates is going to be crucial if the Jets plan on improving their offense.
In all honestly, if the Jets were to use a first-round pick on a right tackle, it would be a pretty smart move.
Last year, Mark Sanchez was an uncomfortable player, for a variety of reasons. The biggest reason, in my opinion, is because he was so afraid of pressure off the right edge that he could not settle in the pocket.
As of right now, Wayne Hunter is the starter, and Vladimir Ducasse will have a chance to compete for the starting job. Not exactly what Jets fans want to hear.
While filling the need is important, I do not agree with reaching for a prospect for the sake of filling a hole. If the right guy slips, such as Iowa's Riley Reiff, the Jets should pounce on him.
Reiff is more athletic than he is given credit for and is well-coached, but he has shorter arms than ideal. For that reason alone, he may slip into the middle of the first round, especially if he gets past the Cardinals.
In the second round, Bobbie Massie of Ole Miss would make a lot of sense. He is an ideal plug-and-play right tackle. He has already visited the Jets, so there could be some interest.
If you have been following the Jets drafts during Tannenbaum's tenure, you know by now that anything is possible.
However, I don't see a likely scenario in which the Jets trade down. The Jets are in a pretty solid spot at 16; while Ingram or Barron may be taken, there will be at least one player that will fall to them at a need position, such as Riley Reiff or Michael Floyd.
There is always the possibility of some team trying desperately to move up and make an offer Mr. T can't refuse, but after picking near the bottom of the first two years in a row, I get the feeling that the Jets want to land an impact player with a higher draft pick.
Plus, it is not in Tannanbaum's DNA to trade down and improve his odds of getting a solid player a la Bill Belichick. Mike likes to gamble.
The answer to that question depends entirely on the board. Here is a summary of the Jets first-round board, complied from rumor and my own opinion:
First priority: Melvin Ingram
Contingency plan: Mark Barron
If both are gone: Michael Floyd
If all three are gone: Riley Reiff
Clock is almost up, time to panic: Courtney Upshaw
If all of those players are taken, there will be at least one or two players still on the board that are a lot more valuable to other teams than the Jets
For example, if Barron and Ingram are gone, then perhaps Michael Brockers is still available. The Eagles, sitting one pick before the Jets, may have to decide between Brockers and Barron. The Cowboys may face the same decision. Perhaps Quinton Coples slips or David DeCastro gets past the Chiefs and Cowboys. The Jets would gobble them up, just as they pounced on Mo Wilkerson last year.
Either way, unless Floyd is on the board and Ingram and Barron are gone, I don't see the Jets taking one in the first round.
However, you can almost guarantee the Jets will add one later in the draft. The second round will be filled with options such as Mohamed Sanu, Alshon Jeffery and Rueben Randle.
Since they will be losing a big target in Plaxico Burress, I would expect them to avoid slot receivers and go after potential starters, especially with the presence of Jeremy Kerley.