Thursday, April 28, 2011

NFL Conscription Night

With the most accomplished players in the National Football League embroiled in lawsuits with the monied men who sign their paychecks and even the rank and file barred from clocking in at the office, the entrance of a new crop of young players into the NFL seems less a celebratory affair than normal. Nevertheless, the cameras will roll tonight at Radio City Music Hall and lumbering linebackers, serpentine cornerbacks and even a charismatic, regulation-averse franchise quarterback will be awarded new zip codes and oversize No. 1 jerseys of varying shades. Even a red-headed signal caller will be embraced.

As a Jets fan, the annual NFL Draft had become a de facto April Fool's Day until General Manager Mike Trader Tannenbaum landed key contributors Darrelle Revis, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, David Harris, Dustin Keller, Shonn Greene, Matt Slauson and Mark Sanchez in recent seasons. The most notable blemish (much larger than Kyle Wilson) on Trader Mike's draft resume is the ghastly Vernon Gholston pick in 2008. Gholston would fit in nicely on this Gang Green lowlight reel.

Reaching the AFC Championship Game in 2010 has the Jets selecting at No. 30 tonight, seemingly precluding a Gholston-caliber blunder. Sports Illustrated's Don Banks has the Jets tapping Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor as the successor to oft-injured Kris Jenkins. Meanwhile, the readers at Tim Graham's AFC East blog over at the Worldwide Leader have Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed as the Jets' choice. Everyone, including the crack(ed) staff at WWOD? HQ, seems to agree the bolstering depth of the defensive front seven is the team's greatest need. Although Shaun Ellis was a north-south terror in the Divisional Round of the 2010 playoffs against the Patriots, the Jets defenders did struggle to individually generate a pass rush. Everything needed to be schemed to create mismatches and overloads because no one was consistently winning one-on-one matchups.

Given the Jets recent history of eschewing quantity for quality on draft night, it will be interesting to see if they move up over the next few days. I'd assume that they won't because the cupboard is getting rather bare. And we all know how Rex Ryan feels about bare cupboards.