NFL Draft: Who Should Be Trader Mike's Target

Bleacher ReportContributor IMarch 31, 2010

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 05: Brandon Graham #55 of the Michigan Wolverines reacts after a second quarter sack while playing the Western Michigan Broncos on September 5, 2009 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 31-7. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The nickname for Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum, "Trader Mike," explains itself. He is aggressive and has a history of making swaps, especially in the draft.

Tannenbaum traded up twice in the 2007 NFL Draft, moving up eleven spots in the first round to pick cornerback Darrelle Revis at No. 14 overall and moving up in the next round to pick linebacker David Harris.

In 2008 Tannenbaum jumped six spots back into the first round to take tight end Dustin Keller.

Last year he traded up twice again, climbing 12 spots to land franchise quarterback Mark Sanchez at No. 5 overall and in the third round to take running back Shonn Greene.

Revis and Harris were part of a four player draft for the Jets, and Sanchez and Greene were two of just three players picked by Mike Tannenbaum in the draft last year. When it comes to draft choices, Tannenbaum takes a quality-over-quantity approach. 

Tannenbaum's draft-day trades have paid dividends. Revis, Harris and now Sanchez, Keller and Greene are part of the nucleus going forward.

The expectations for next season are sky high. The Jets are looking to build on their trip to the AFC Championship Game by taking the next step and reaching the Super Bowl. 

There was no free agent frenzy for the Jets because they were handcuffed being a final four team going into the uncapped year, making this draft even more important.

Trader Mike landed Antonio Cromartie via trade, filling the number one need at cornerback and giving the Jets flexibility with their first round pick.

"To get that out of the way, we really enhanced our draft because now we can say that whatever happens in the draft we can take whoever we want. Move up, move down we can get what we want. Without Cromartie, at the 29th pick in the draft, we would have taken a corner."

The Jets could use an infusion of youth on the defensive line plus another receiver or two, and depth on the offensive line.

But the most glaring need is a premier pass rusher Vernon Gholston was supposed to be.

"Move up, move down we can get what we want," Tannenbaum mentioned. 

Trading down and stockpiling picks would make sense because this draft is so deep and rich in talent and it wouldn't surprise me if Trader Mike stands pat in the first round, but Michigan Wolverine Brandon Graham is worth making a play for.

The OLB-DE hybrid plays with a high motor and is quick coming off the ball. At 6'1", 268, he is a short and thickly-built and athletic. Graham plays like a bloodthirsty beast and his unrelenting effort is what we haven't seen from Vernon Gholston.

"He's got that great work ethic, he comes hard every play," says Mel Kiper describing Graham.

Graham is a physical, disruptive force who can get to the quarterback and if anyone can get the best out of him, it's Rex Ryan. NFL Network's Mike Mayock sees some LaMarr Woodley in Graham, while others say he has a motor like Dwight Freeney.

Graham's stock has been rising after shining at the Senior Bowl and the Jets will need to move up maybe around a dozen slots to grab the sack machine. 

Tennessee at No. 16 overall is in the market for a defensive end and many draft gurus have Graham going to Atlanta at No. 19. The Patriots could go Graham at No. 23 if he falls to them, but he probably won't. 

The Jets may be hesitant to use a pair of first round picks in the span of two years on a pass rushing outside linebacker because they don't want to give up on Vernon Gholston, who has been non-existent even under Rex Ryan. But Graham is too good to pass up on, even if it means trading up again.