The Skinny (& Fat) On The Jets Draft Needs

GWR's Michael DellaBarca takes a look at the draft possibilities along the defensive line.

The Jets don't draft until late in the first round, the product of yet another trip to the playoffs and the AFC Championship Game. It's clear that the Jets need to address a serious lack of depth along the defensive line and there may be no better to do that than adding a nose tackle and a defensive end in the NFL Draft. GWR's Michael DellaBarca analyzes some of the top players who might be available to the Jets when they pick late in the first round.

The Skinny

Cory Liuget – Illinois – 6'2" – 298 – Junior

The Skinny:

Enjoyed his breakout year in 2010 and earned 2nd team All-Big 10. After a standout performance against Baylor in the Texas Bowl, he was named to ESPN's All-Bowl team. As a High School Player from the Miami area, Liuget was highly recruited. His career at Illinois started slowly, but in 2010 his potential appeared to finally be realized. A good showing at the combine solidified him as a mid-1st round pick.

The Fat:

Has the quickness to beat bigger linemen off the snap, as well as the strength to muscle past the smaller ones. Strong enough to play the nose tackle during clear passing downs and penetrate through the middle. Coaches considered him one of the leaders in the locker room over the past two years. Liuget is known as a player who hustles and plays hard every snap, setting a positive example for others.

Phil Taylor – Baylor - 6'3" - 334 lbs. – Senior

The Skinny:

Taylor was voted 2nd team All-Big 12 during his senior year. He was the 2010 Big-12 preseason newcomer of the year, as chosen by the media. After spending two years at Penn State, he transferred to Baylor for his senior year due to being suspended at PSU for his role in a fight on campus. Character issues aside, Taylor's stock has been rising since the combine. He performed well during the senior bowl and could be drafted late in the first round if a team decides to take a chance on him.

The Fat:

Of all the defensive tackles in this year's draft, Taylor most fits the mold of the prototypical nose tackle. With the Jets, he would be best used as a run blocker who can just clog space. Incredibly quick for his size, Taylor has an innate ability to get off the line at the snap and push back blockers, helping to disrupt the offense. His biggest problem is being stood up at the line as he has difficulty regaining traction.

Muhammad WilkersonTemple – 6'4" – 315lbs. - Junior

The Skinny:

Wilkerson has done more to help his draft status at the combine than arguably any other defensive tackle. A two-time First-Team All-MAC selection, he led Temple with 9.5 sacks in 2010. The raw athleticism he possesses has leapfrogged him into the first round on most draft boards. Wilkerson also saw his name on the 2010 Outland Trophy watch list for top college interior lineman. He was Temple's defensive MVP in 2010.

The Fat:

Pressuring the quarterback has become Muhammad Wilkerson's strongest attribute. The combination of size and speed has made him impossible to block with just one player. His run-blocking, however, will need polishing against the superior technical skill of lineman in the NFL. The ability of defensive linemen to rush the passer is one area the Jets need help with right now. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine would also love to add Wilkerson and his extraordinary punt-blocking to his special teams.

Stephen Paea - Oregon State – 6'1" – 303lbs. - Senior

The Skinny:

Paea won the Morris Trophy in 2009 and 2010, given to the Pac-10's most dominant defensive lineman as voted by the conference's offensive linemen. During his senior year he was the recipient of the Pac-10's Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year Award, as well as a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, presented annually by the Maxwell Football Club to the nation's top defensive player (this year given to LSU's Patrick Peterson). A consensus All-American pick, Paea suffered an unfortunate injury during the 2nd senior bowl practice, tearing his lateral meniscus. Despite not being able to participate in active drills, he set the all-time combine record by benching 225 lbs. an astounding 49 times.

The Fat:

He is most suited to play in the 4-3, so he may not be on the Jets draft board despite his potential. The problem is that as a nose tackle, he does not possess the stature to be successful in a 3-4 defense and he may not be fast enough to be an oversized defensive end. While his size does not bode well for his ability to rush the quarterback, his above-average strength will help in his transition to the next level. Just probably not with the Jets.

Marvin AustinNorth Carolina - 6'2" – 309lbs. – Senior

The Skinny:

As a high school senior Austin was USA Today's National Defensive Player of the Year and his combine battles with 2010 first round pick Anthony Davis from Rutgers was the stuff of legends. He earned 2nd team All-ACC accolades during the 2009 season. Due to receiving improper benefits from an agent he was kicked off the team in 2010 and did not appear in any games. Nobody questions that Austin is a first round talent; however, he has displayed an inconsistency that has him falling on draft boards. Teams have been much more cognizant in recent years of player's off-the-field troubles.

The Fat:

Austin's ability to perform on the field should be the least of the Jets worries. Despite this, scouts have raved about his ability to bull-rush blockers. He has one of the quickest first steps of any defensive tackle in this year's draft. His athleticism would allow him to play as a DE in a 3-4 scheme or a DT in a more traditional 4-3. He never really produced consistently on the college level and there are those character concerns, but the Jets have shown a willingness to take an educated roll of the dice on issues such as that.


Jets Insider Top Stories