NFL DRAFT: Jets hoping to build off last year's draft success Print
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Wednesday, 25 April 2007 02:40
NFL Headline News

 HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) - Mike Tannenbaum resisted the urge to make a flashy pick with the fourth overall selection last year in his first NFL draft as the New York Jets' general manager.
Instead, he took an offensive lineman - and was cheered by traditionally critical Jets fans, the first victory of the GM's young tenure. A year after one of the most impressive rookie classes in recent team history helped New York to a surprising playoff appearance, Tannenbaum is preparing to go on the clock for his encore.
``We have 21 of the 22 starters back,'' Tannenbaum said. ``To sit here and say that we need position A or B, I couldn't tell you that except to say that we want to add a lot of players at every position. I don't anticipate taking a punter. But beyond that, I think everything is fair game.''
That's because the Jets aren't sure who might be available when their pick - 25th overall - comes up Saturday. After having 10 picks last year, New York has six, for now.
``We want to have as much flexibility as possible to take advantage of opportunities in the draft, maybe trade up, trade back, see what opportunities present themselves,'' Tannenbaum said.
In their second year with Tannenbaum and coach Eric Mangini, the Jets have two second-round picks: Nos. 59 and 63. The second of those was acquired last month from Chicago along with running back Thomas Jones - who filled their biggest need - for their original second-round pick, No. 37 overall. New York also has single picks in the third, fifth and sixth rounds.
``I think in this year's draft, there's a lot of value and depth at a lot of positions such as wide receiver, defensive back, corner, safety,'' said Joey Clinkscales, the Jets' director of college scouting. ``I think it's important for this organization to find the right people to come in here and create competition.''
Instead of taking a quarterback such as Matt Leinart or Jay Cutler last year, Tannenbaum went with a big building block on the offensive line in tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson. He followed that 25 picks later by selecting center Nick Mangold. Both started every game last season, while running back Leon Washington and wide receiver Brad Smith, both fourth-rounders, saw significant playing time.
``Starters may come from any round,'' Tannenbaum said. ``That's what's great about Eric's philosophy. If he's the best player at the end of August, then he'll play a lot - he'll start.''
One area the Jets might look to upgrade is at cornerback. Veteran Andre Dyson started every game on the left side until he was injured in Week 15, but the right side was a different story. Justin Miller, David Barrett, Hank Poteat and rookie Drew Coleman all took turns in the starting lineup.
All are back for now, but none is viewed as a long-term solution. Miller is a Pro Bowl kick returner, but his coverage skills have been slow to develop. Barrett has battled injuries the past two seasons, Poteat is considered mainly a nice veteran fill-in, and Coleman is still learning.
Texas' Aaron Ross or Arkansas' Chris Houston could be a good fit by also serving as punt returners.
Tannenbaum stockpiled defensive ends in the offseason, signing Kenyon Coleman, former first-rounder Michael Haynes, former Dolphin David Bowens, and Andre Wadsworth, another former first-rounder who hasn't played in the NFL since 2000. That doesn't necessarily mean the Jets believe they're set at the position.
``I wouldn't say because we did this in March we wouldn't do this in April,'' Tannenbaum said.
Defensive ends Adam Carriker of Nebraska and Charles Johnson of Georgia, as well as tackle DeMarcus Tyler of North Carolina State could be attractive to the Jets, who'll be in their second year working with primarily a 3-4 defense.
Miami tight end Greg Olsen could also be enticing at No. 25. He could provide quarterback Chad Pennington with a much-needed short-yardage offensive weapon in the passing game.
``He would fit in a lot of programs,'' Clinkscales said. ``There are very few athletic tight ends that can stretch the field vertically, and he's one of those guys.''
Despite re-signing veteran offensive tackle Anthony Clement in the offseason, the Jets might also look for long-term help at the position to complement Ferguson. Veteran right guard Brandon Moore also had an inconsistent season, so Texas' Justin Blalock, who played both positions last year, could be a logical pick. Arkansas tackle Tony Ugoh and Tennessee guard Arron Sears could also make sense.
``We really don't have any preconceived notions,'' Tannenbaum said. ``I really like it that way because historically if you look at the draft over the last 10 years from a league-wide standpoint, I think the gross majority of the mistakes are when teams have reached for a specific need.''
 

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