Kiper loves Vilma's instincts

Aside from cornerback, another position the Jets are considering at 12 is linebacker. Miami's Jonathan Vilma would be a good fit for the Jets, but is his size an issue? In the last part of Mel Kiper's exclusive series for JC, he looks at Vilma and his teammate D.J. Williams.

Q)Is 12 too high to pick Miami linebacker Jonathan Vilma?

Kiper: The Jets need a fast linebacker. Is 12 too high for him? I don't want to say too high, because the Jets would be getting a damn good player. Too high can be overrated. When you put players on a board, I view too high as a player who is not that good a player. The grade for Vilma on my board isn't that far off from 12. Even though I have him ranked 21st, his grade is the same as the 14th player. That isn't that bad. The differential between him and the ninth player, Will Smith, is only 1/10th of a point. There isn't much separating these guys. Actually there isn't much separating the 1st player from the 24th player in this draft. 1-24 are very, very close. My top guy Larry Fitzgerald got a 9.6 grade, and my 24th guy, D.J. Williams is a 9.3. There is not much separating those guys.

Q)Is Vilma size an issue?

Kiper: Yes. He is 6 foot and ½ and only 230 at his heaviest. He fluctuates between 225 and 230. If you can protect him with good defensive tackles that can occupy those blockers, and free him up to flow to the football, this kid is damn good.

Vilma is as instinctive a linebacker as you will ever find, and he's fast. He's also motivated and a leader. He has a great work ethic. Vilma seems like he is moving before the ball is snapped. He knows where the ball is going. He reads and reacts and moves. He is intuitive and seems like he has eyes in the back of his head.

If the Jets moved down and took Vilma it would be a great move. I would take him at the 16-20 area. If protected by good defensive linemen, he can be a great player.

Q)You projected him to outside linebacker in your book. Do you think he can play the middle in the pros?

Kiper: He can play the middle in the pros, but do you want a 6-0 and 1/2, 225 pound middle linebacker? And he probably will only be able to hold 230-235 tops. He doesn't have Ray Lewis' frame. He's narrow. If you don't have good defensive tackle play, he could have trouble at middle linebacker.

If a team moved him to the outside, he should have no trouble adjusting because he's so smart.

Q)Some people project his teammate, linebacker D.J. Williams, to the Jets. What do you think of him?

Kiper: He is 6-1, 250, which is what you want as far as size. He has good speed. He is as fast as Vilma, only bigger. But he is not as instinctive. He is a step slow reacting at times. He also plays a little high and gets caught up in blockers in traffic. He was a former running back in high school, and a running back early on at Miami, so he is still trying to learn and adapt to linebacker. Williams was not as productive as Vilma at Miami, but he's a guy who has a lot of talent and makes a lot of big plays because he is so athletic and fast. He is going to get better and better with more experience and coaching. It's not that he's not instinctive. There are levels of instincts. The issue is more reaction time than instincts.

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