Last year, with an abysmal 2007 season on our hands, I began to do what any good New York Jets fan would do: I began to look forward to the draft. Since I've been into sports, I have always been a draft junkie.
It's tough to describe, but I just think the excitement of adding a brand new potentially great piece to your team is very exciting and worth a ton of attention. Each year, for my beloved New York Jets, I lock in on a guy based on mock drafts and need, that I just simply want.
In about mid-November last year, after researching scouting reports looking into mocks and thinking it through, I absolutely fell in love with Vernon Gholston.
I'm not ashamed to admit it. I absolutely loved everything about his game. 6'3" 260-lb pass-rushing beast. Looked to project beautifully to a 3-4 OLB. Coming off a Super Bowl in which we all saw the incredible New York Giants pass rush bring Tom Brady and Randy Moss's dynamic aerial attack in New England to a screeching halt, I came to the conclusion that there is nothing quite like a great pass rush in the NFL.
After putting up unfathomable numbers at the NFL combined, I was ecstatic about the Jets' prospects of drafting Gholston. What made him so special is that he had what few combine wonders in the past have had, and that's on the field production to go with his gaudy numbers.
An Ohio State season record 14 sacks in his junior year along with 8.5 his sophomore year, in the Big Ten where he would constantly be matched with top OTs like Michigan Jake Long and Wisconsin's Joe Thomas the year before.
He seemed like a can't miss. I envisioned him becoming a DeMarcus Ware, Shawne Merriman for the Jets—a game changer who opposing teams had to game plan around.
One year later it is no secret. Things have not worked out that way. Gholston seemed lost from day one. Never really found his niche in Mangini's scheme and barely saw the field outside of special teams work. Personally, I was devastated.
I had made it so obvious my love for Gholston by celebrating immensely upon his drafting to even purchasing his jersey, soon after. I think it goes without argument that without a doubt Gholston did the least for his team, than any other first-round pick in the past draft outside of injuries.
Yet, with all this said. I refuse to give up hope. The Rex Ryan era in New York brings hope to those who still have faith in Vernon being a factor. This is the same man who has coached up several linebackers on the Ravens like Terrell Suggs and plays a defensive scheme that consistently maximizes the talent of his personnel.
With former Ravens outside linebacker's coach Mike Pettine to be the defensive coordinator. Fantastic news for the Jets players and Gholston is that Ryan claims his 3-4 scheme is more "player-driven."
"We are going to evaluate during the spring what our players do well and what they don't do well. We've always been of the mind-set that you fit your system to your players and not your players to your system," says Ryan.
This has to come as fantastic news for Jets fan who had to put up with the exact opposite from Eric Mangini for four years. After watching Jonathan Vilma be shipped off to the saints last season it became apparent, Mangini was just trying to fit square pegs into round wholes, in misguided attempt to mimic the New England 3-4 scheme piece by piece, in honor of his hero Bill Belichick.
All the stars seem to be aligning for a resurgence out of Vernon Gholston next year. I'd even like the see the Jets try to ship off Bryan Thomas and give Vernon and real legitimate chance to flourish in a starting role.
Of course, it is really all up to Gholston and whether he is willing to work, some questions in college were regarding his motor and how he would disappear at times with inconsistent play. But if that's really the worst thing people can say about you, yours in pretty good shape.
It seems as if any chance of Vernon Gholston maximizing his potential it will be under the guidance of Rex Ryan and his right-hand man Mike Pettine. All I know is, as far as I'm concerned, unlike many other Jets fans, I refuse to give up on Vernon Gholston.
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