Jets sticking to same draft script despite lockout
The NFL lockout and a lack of free agency have handcuffed Mike
Tannenbaum so far this offseason.
No trades. No signings. No big splashes.
Still, the New York Jets general manager is heading into next
week’s draft with the same approach he always has.
”We’ll take the 30th-best player,” Tannenbaum said Thursday,
”whoever that is.”
That’s the usual boring draft-speak most general managers use at
this time of year, but it might actually be true this time. Part of
the reason is the fact the Jets – like every other NFL team – have
little clue what holes their roster will have once the lockout
ends, if it does.
”They’re telling us we’re going to draft now, so we’re prepared
for that,” Tannenbaum said. ”When there’s veteran free agency,
we’ll be prepared. When we can trade players, we’ll be prepared.
This is the next step of what I would say is an opportunity to
improve the team.
”Whatever the next step is after that, we’ll go for that.”
With the Jets picking late in the first round next Thursday
night, they could be targeting a defensive lineman or a pass rusher
to help Rex Ryan’s already-solid defense. But New York has plenty
of other question marks to address.
Wide receivers Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith
could be free agents, and the Jets don’t know if any will be back.
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie and defensive end Shaun Ellis are also
scheduled to be free agents. Before the lockout began, the Jets
released nose tackle Kris Jenkins and right tackle Damien Woody,
leaving big holes at key spots.
”We’re not sure what the rules are moving forward,” Tannenbaum
said. ”How many of our guys eventually we’ll be able to keep, it’s
hard to say.”
Six of the Jets’ seven draft picks during Ryan’s tenure have
been offensive players, but there’s a good chance New York will
address the defense early this year. Despite finishing third in
overall defense, Ryan’s unit wasn’t always dominant – as shown in
the first half of the Jets’ 24-19 AFC championship game loss at
Pittsburgh in January.
Getting consistent pressure on the quarterback was one culprit,
so New York might look at players such as Baylor nose tackle Phil
Taylor, Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget, Ohio State
defensive end-tackle Cam Heyward and Temple defensive end Muhammad
”Yeah, I think if we could add some depth, competition on the
defensive side, that’s something we’d like to accomplish during the
offseason,” Tannenbaum said before adding, ”if the right
opportunity comes along.”
Tannenbaum has been active during the past several offseasons
leading to the draft, pulling off major trades – running back
Thomas Jones, Holmes, Cromartie – and making big-name signings –
Woody, LaDainian Tomlinson, Alan Faneca, Calvin Pace. This has been
a different type of winter for Tannenbaum, who has also made noise
during the draft with big moves: trading up to select key players
such as Darrelle Revis and Mark Sanchez.
Whatever the rules are, Tannenbaum has one goal for the team: to
make it better – starting with the draft.
”It’s up to us as an organization to improve the team to give
us the best chance possible to be successful in 2011,” Tannenbaum
said, ”try to look back the last couple of years, try to look at
what we did well and look at areas where we can improve.”