|NFL DRAFT: Jets address needs, add depth through draft|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 29 April 2007 21:45|
``We're the land of opportunity, so if you weren't drafted, you'll be hearing from us,'' general manager Mike Tannenbaum said with a smile Sunday after the Jets made the last of their team record-low four picks.
A year after loading up with 10 selections, New York had just four during the two days after wheeling and dealing picks Saturday. The Jets still felt they improved their team, even as the rival New England Patriots made headlines by trading for receiver Randy Moss.
``I wouldn't say it's reactionary,'' coach Eric Mangini said of the Jets' performance during the draft. ``It's more a function of us trying to get our team better as opposed to reacting to what happens externally.''
New York came away with potential starters in Pittsburgh cornerback Darrelle Revis and Michigan linebacker David Harris in the first two rounds Saturday. The Jets then added some much-needed depth with their two picks Sunday by selecting Nicholls State offensive tackle Jacob Bender and Clemson wide receiver Chansi Stuckey.
``I feel like the depth, the competition, the character - which is obviously very important to us as an organization - and the talent of the team evolved and improved,'' Tannenbaum said. ``And the fact that all of these players have some flexibility was important to us.''
The Jets plan to sign approximately 15 free agents during the next few days to fill out their roster heading into training camp.
Revis, selected after the Jets traded with Carolina from the 25th pick to No. 14, could be the answer at right cornerback. Veteran Andre Dyson started every regular-season game at left cornerback until he was injured in Week 15, but Justin Miller, David Barrett, Hank Poteat and rookie Drew Coleman all took turns in the starting lineup on the other side of the field.
After the Jets moved up in the second round by acquiring Green Bay's pick (No. 47), they pounced on Harris. The Michigan linebacker was a tackling machine who could push either Victor Hobson or Eric Barton as a starter beside Jonathan Vilma in New York's 3-4 defense.
``We had no preconceived notions about trading up as we did,'' Tannenbaum said. ``We just thought there was a great opportunity with both Darrelle and David, so obviously, we felt like we helped two positions. Again, you can't have too many corners and can't have enough linebackers.''
Using that same philosophy, the Jets took Bender with their first pick Sunday early in the sixth round. The 6-foot-6, 315-pounder was one of the top left tackles among small-college players. He made a name for himself last season when he helped hold St. Louis first-round pick Adam Carriker of Nebraska to six tackles in a 56-7 loss.
Not bad for a guy whose only scholarship offer out of high school came from Nicholls State.
``I do feel like I have proven a little,'' Bender said on a conference call. ``I still have a lot to prove. Just because I got picked doesn't mean I made the team. So, I have to come in and bust my butt. I have to work hard. I know I have to compete.''
he has little experience at the position.
``We'll work him in all different areas and try to see where he fits best and where his best opportunity is, but we didn't draft him necessarily saying he's only going to be here or only going to be there,'' Mangini said. ``We're going to look at him and then make the best decision after that.''
Stuckey is a 5-10, 185-pound receiver who the Jets believe is over the injury problems that plagued his college career and could serve as a punt returner, along with Revis.
``Based on all the information we had, we were comfortable with the selection with where we were in the seventh round,'' Tannenbaum said.
He ranks sixth in Clemson history with 141 receptions and eighth with 1,760 yards, including seven touchdowns - even after dealing with a nagging left ankle injury as a sophomore, a concussion as a junior, and a thumb injury and broken right foot that sidelined him for three games as a senior.
``I'm fine now,'' said Stuckey, who'll be reunited with Miller, his college roommate as a freshman. ``I don't think it's really concern now.''