Our old friend seanmac wrote the latest installment of the Four Downs: AFC East for ESPN & Football Outsiders and talks about how the landscape looks for the Jets, not that the draft has concluded. Here’s a piece of what Sean wrote for ESPN, but the whole article top to bottom on the AFC East is well worth the read.
The Jets expressed interest in outside linebackers like UCLA’s Akeem Ayers, Georgia’s Justin Houston and Arizona’s Brooks Reed, but were hamstrung by their lack of a second-round pick. Most of the team’s 2011 player budget figures will go toward re-signing their own players, but it’s possible that general manager Mike Tannenbaum will try to strike gold with a second-tier free agent like Matt Roth or Kamerion Wimbley. If not, Ryan will have to develop a situational rusher from within.
I think that the Jets draft pick in the third round of Kenrick Ellis was a real “gut-check” move to me, confirming what I thought about Ryan’s idea of how to build a defense.
I really had my heart set on a guy like OLB Sam Acho at that spot, but the Jets went interior by taking Ellis, a harder need to find later in the draft – it was now or never for the projected replacement to Sione Pouha. Acho was the next OLB taken, just eight spots later to the Cardinals, another team that runs some 3-4, confirming that he was probably near the top of the Jets board at that point. I don’t have any delusions that Acho will be the next T-Sizzle, but he could have helped the spot for the Jets, and I think the Jets determinately went the other way with the pick.
The more I see of his scheme, the more I think that Rex Ryan thinks of top round pass rushers as something of a luxury. He mentioned as much before the draft to SNY, saying that he can provide pressure with whoever he’s got. I see his point, but I also think a premiere pass-rusher would only turbo-charge his scheme. I also get the sense that Rex thinks that he can scheme a pass rush with whatever, and given the option, he’d rather have players who can stand up against the run, and defensive backs who can take care of the pass … and then worry about a pass rush last. Because, let’s face it … until it’s 3rd and 7, you can’t rush the passer, and if you’re defensive backs are dogcrap, then even if you rush him, the QB can still hit his hot read (see Tom Brady’s whole career).
While I do see the team trying to bolster their exterior pressure from the front seven, I do think that Calvin Pace will be able to jump back into the role now that Gholston’s gone and there’s some fresh blood to rush the interior. I also think that the last sentence from Sean’s blockquote above is a hint at Jamaal Westerman, who was displaced some by injury and the presence of Jason Taylor in 2010.