If CB's are gone, Jets face tough decision at 12

Chad Pennington is right. The Jets shouldn't trade up in the draft.<p>

"I don't think moving up (for any player) is in our best interest, in my opinion," said Pennington. "We need as many draft picks as we can get. We can get a quality player where we're at or moving back."

The Jets made a mistake by trading up last year to acquire defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson. They were not one player away, so giving up two number one picks and a fourth round selection to the Bears to grab Robertson, was in retrospect, a questionable move. The Jets could have used all those draft picks.

Plus remember the reason why they made the trade. Jets GM Terry Bradway knew defensive tackle Josh Evans was going to be suspended, so he felt he needed to trade up to pick Robertson. This was flawed logic because if you needed an immediate replacement for Evans, Robertson was a poor candidate. He was too raw to contribute as a rookie. Four-year college defensive tackles have a hard time contributing as rookies, so what is a guy coming out after his junior year going to do? Not much. While Robertson could be good in time, most personnel people didn't think he'd make a big impact as a rookie.

Are cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Dunta Robinson the type of players you really want to trade up for anyway? Draft expert Mel Kiper doesn't consider either a "shutdown cornerback" yet. They are both elite prospects, but we aren't necessarily looking at Champ Bailey-type players.

Hall tends to guess a lot and jump on routes. Robinson is a little undersized at 5-10 ½, 186 pounds. With all the big, physical receivers in the league, and on the way (this draft is loaded with them), he could have a problem at times matching up. Aside from his size, another issue that hurts Robinson in match-ups with big receivers is his average vertical leap (36 inches). It helps when you are a short cornerback to have a good vertical leap to aid in jump ball situations. For instance, Hall, who is 5-10, has an exception vertical leap of 42 inches.

With all that being said, the Jets hope that one of these two slips to them at 12. It's highly unlikely Hall will, but Robinson could. Most people see the Houston Texans grabbing Robinson at 10. However one situation that could allow the cornerbacks to fall is the potential for Cleveland to move up to pick offensive tackle Robert Gallery. If this happens, this could lead to the top two cornerbacks slipping a little. Most projections have Cleveland picking Hall at seven. So if you take the Browns out of the cornerback market with the selection of Gallery, maybe Hall slips to 10 and this allows Robinson to be on the board at 12.

If the Jets stay at 12, and both cornerbacks are taken, what will they do? They will likely try to trade down and pick Miami linebacker Jonathan Vilma. But if they move down too far, they might not get him. Competition for Vilma could come from the New Orleans at 18, Minnesota at 19 and Seattle at 23. They all could use Vilma. Ted Cottrell, the Vikings new defensive coordinator, loves Vilma.

"I don't think his size will be any handicap at all," said Cottrell. "Jonathan Vilma's a player. If the runner's got the ball, he's going to be around the play."

And the other question is about a trading partner. Arizona Cardinals coach Denny Green believes there are nine elite players in this draft. If Green is accurate, the 12th spot might not be a desirable spot to move up to. But one potential trading partner is Dallas, who owns the 22nd pick. The Cowboys need a tailback, and covet Oregon State's Steven Jackson. The Denver Broncos love Jackson, and would like to take him at 17. The Cowboys might want to trade up to beat the Broncos to Jackson.

The Jets don't have a second round pick, sending that selection to Tennessee for wide receiver Justin McCareins. So some people have theorized maybe the Jets could trade down and get back into the second round.

Bradway feels he won't be able to get a second round pick in this type of deal.

"In Kansas City, when we traded from 18 to 13, it took a third round pick," said Bradway, the former personnel director for the Chiefs. "I think if we traded down, we would more likely get a third. That is what history will tell you."

So is a third round pick worth possibly losing Vilma? Probably not. Plus if the Jet want an extra third round pick, they could probably land one by trading tailback Lamont Jordan, who is on the block. The Oakland Raiders would probably be willing to make that trade.

But the view here is that if the top two cornerbacks are gone, the Jets should just stay at 12 and pick Vilma. The guy looks like he is going to be a Pro Bowl level NFL linebacker. He is a highly-intelligent kid who speaks four languages and graduated with a 3.4 grade-point average in finance. But more importantly, he's an outstanding player with amazing instincts. "He has great instincts," said Miami linebacker D.J. Williams, who the Jets are also considering in the first round. "The coach would put something on the board and by the time we get out on the field, he will never make a mistake."

"He brings tremendous instincts to the position," said Kiper. "In fact, he's one of the most instinctive linebackers I have seen in quite some time."

Considering the Jets were victimized by a myriad of blown coverages in the back seven last year, Vilma is somebody they could really use. He is a four down linebacker who excels in coverage and can help get everyone lined up correctly.

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