Jerry Hughes, defensive end out of Texas Christian University.
You see that menacing purple monster that's about to nail Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore in the picture above? That's Jerry Hughes. And he is my selection in the Featured Columnist Mock Draft.
I got an e-mail today telling me I was on the clock. Acting as the Jets general manager (something I've envisioned plenty of times before), I had to pick for my beloved franchise.
I had already given the draft quite a bit of thought. I like Golden Tate, wide receiver out of Notre Dame, a lot. He was still on the board and I was very tempted to take him.
I'm also a big Terrence Cody fan. The Alabama nose tackle would essentially mean a seamless transition when the gas tank that is Kris Jenkins runs out. But the Chargers took him just one pick ahead of me.
Taylor Mays was also a definite option. Mays is widely considered to be the second best safety in the draft, and with Kerry Rhodes gone, I had to consider him. Unfortunately, the Ravens got him a few picks before me.
Penn State's Jared Odrick (defensive end) was off the board as well. Mike Iupati, the offensive guard from Idaho, was gone as well.
So I had a decision to make: do I draft a wide receiver, a defensive end or outside linebacker who can pass-rush, a safety, or an offensive lineman?
My favorite wide receiver was still on the board. The two safeties that were worth drafting were already gone. Iupati, the only offensive lineman I had much interest in, had been drafted. So, a pass-rusher it is. And with Jared Odrick off the board (I like Hughes better anyway) I had one choice left.
That is how Jerry Hughes became a Jet. Now it's time for me to explain my pick.
Some of you may be wondering why you haven't heard of Jerry Hughes. And unless you watch TCU football often, you probably wouldn't have heard of him.
I was lucky enough to have tuned in to a couple TCU games this past season. I promise you this: if you watched TCU play, you remember Jerry Hughes.
Hughes got a spot as a starter in his Junior season. He recorded an impressive 15 sacks that season. Hughes also forced six fumbles and picked off two balls, returning one to house for a touchdown. Recording 18.5 tackles for a loss, Hughes was guaranteed to find his way into your backfield at one point or another.
A slight dropoff from his 2008 performance, Hughes recorded a very respectable 11.5 sacks in 2009. Those sacks were good for the seventh most in college football and a second first-team All-America honor.
Jerry Hughes can be for the Jets everything that Vernon Gholston failed to become. Gholston looked about as good as Hughes in college, probably better. But the difference is that Gholston is a workout warrior who used pure strength and speed to make it to the backfield.
Unfortunately for Gholston, that doesn't exactly work in the NFL. You need one more muscle in order to succeed as a pass-rusher in the pros...your brain.
This is something Jerry Hughes has. That intangible factor that almost all successful defensive ends possess. Hughes can see offensive schemes. He can feel out your offensive line and plan his route straight at your quarterback. He has a combination of brain and brawn that leads me to believe he'll be successful in the NFL.
So that's why I chose Jerry Hughes with the 29th overall selection of the 2010 NFL Draft. Keep in mind, I wasn't allowed to go to the Combine or Hughes' Pro-Day (I know...how ridiculous is that?) so this is an educated guess at best. But regardless, I am sticking with my pick and come Aprill 22, we will see what GM Mike Tannenbaum thinks about Hughes.