Thursday Notebook

One of the Jets needs in the draft was a backup offensive tackle. While addressing other needs, they never got around to it. However, they did a good job of addressing this void with an undrafted free agent.<p>

The Jets will announce the entire list of the undrafted free agents on Friday. Heading the list will be Tennessee offensive tackle Will Ofenheusle. The late Joel Buchsbaum had rated as the 10th best offensive tackle in draft.

He went undrafted probably because of his poor speed and slow feet. While he doesn't have the athletic ability to handle left tackle in the NFL, he has enough skill to play right tackle. He started the last two years for the Volunteers at right tackle. He is nasty and huge (6-7, 308 pounds) and like Joel used to say, "It takes a cab ride to get around him."

He is a also a great leader - the type of guy who motivates his teammates.

The Jets have excellent insight into this player because their offensive line coach, Doug Morrone, came to the Jets last year after serving at the Volunteers offensive line coach.

Don't be surprised if this massive offensive tackle either makes the team or the practice squad. Ofenheusle was one of the better undrafted free agents available. Considering the Jets had only one backup offensive tackle on the roster (Chris Smith) before the draft, Ofenheusle has a great opportunity to stick around . . .

Another undrafted free agent of note added by the Jets was UNLV quarterback Jason Thomas. The Jets are going to try the 6-4, 240 pound athlete with 4.7 speed at tight end. He was recommended to the Jets personnel department by Paul Hackett, who coached him at USC, where he started his career before transferring. UNLV coach John Robinson said Thomas, "maybe be the greatest athlete I've ever coached." He certainly has the size, speed and athleticism to excel at tight end. It will be interesting to see how he takes to the position.

Another interesting post draft development was the Jets giving an invitation to Ian Smart to attend mini-camp. This is not the same as being signed. Smart, a record-setting running back from C.W. Post, will get a chance to show his wares at this weekend's mini-camp. If he impresses he might be signed after the camp. Remember last year, two players who came in under these circumstances, defensive backs Marcus Floyd and Doug Shanahan, both were signed following the camp.

It was surprising that Smart wasn't signed as an undrafted free agent by any team. He had a phenomenal career at Post, but obviously his 5-7 height was h eld against him. But he looks like a guy who could be a candidate to compete for the Jets kick returner job. He is built similar to Chad Morton at 195 pounds and has a similar running style.


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