After adding a quarterback and a pair of defensive studs, the New York Jets turned their attention to rounding out their roster by filling needs with a deep class of middle-round prospects. They selected Brian Winters in third round with the 72nd overall pick.
Winters played nothing but left tackle at Kent State, but looking at his skill set and how it translates to the NFL, he projects best as a guard, minimizing his relatively slow foot speed and average arm length (32.75" arms) and maximizing his tenacity in the run game.
Winters is a former high school wrestler, which is evident in his athleticism and mean streak. For an example of how tough Winters is, he popped his shoulder out during a game in 2011—and finished the game. For a coach that predicated his offensive philosophy on "ground and pound," Winters fits the Jets' profile for guards perfectly, as he always finished his blocks and plays with an edge.
Still, Winters will be learning a new position at guard, which would undoubtedly slow his development as he learns complex NFL protection schemes from a different spot on the offensive line. The good news for Winters is that his prime competition, former second-round bust Vladimir Ducasse, struggles mightily in the mental aspect of the game.
What made Winters a second-day pick as a projected guard more than anything else is his athletic upside and raw strength. Winters is a mauler in the run game who fires quickly off the ball. He has a good frame that will allow him to get even stronger.
Winters is also scheme-versatile, as he has the athleticism to move around in a zone scheme and the power to play in a pure man-blocking scheme. The Jets will run more of a zone system in Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast offense.
Despite playing left tackle at Kent State, Winters has the skill set to play just about every position on the offensive line, with the exception of left tackle. If the Jets have to reshuffle their offensive line to make up for an injury, Winters should be able to step in at guard, center or right tackle (where he played his freshman year) without disastrous results.
However, Winters does have some work to do in terms of his technique. He is heavily reliant on his upper body to move defenders around. He will need to learn how to properly use his leverage and keep his feet moving after engaging with his hands.
In the end, the Jets got themselves a powerful, high-character player at a position of need who will provide depth and compete for a starting job. With has enough athletic upside to become a high-end starter down the line, what more could you want from a third-round pick?