2006-04-28 / Editorial/Opinion

Jets, Giants Have Decisions To Make In 2006 NFL Draft

By Michael Avallone Sports Columnist

By Michael Avallone
Sports Columnist

Reggie Bush is guaranteed to be the first pick by the Houston Texans in the NFL Draft. Reggie Bush is guaranteed to be the first pick by the Houston Texans in the NFL Draft. The NFL Draft celebration starts on Saturday and with the festivities underway at 12 noon on ESPN, the Giants and the Jets look to fill important holes for the upcoming campaign. Will they make the right moves or the wrong moves?

New York Jets

Former Jets general manager Terry Bradway lives in southern New Jersey, not far from Atlantic City. And while he certainly hasn't been seen at the craps tables in the Boardwalk casinos, he didn't mind rolling the dice in his former position.

The new hierarchy of the Jets does not figure to follow in those footsteps as new general manager Mike Tannenbaum and first-year coach Eric Mangini prepare to run their first draft weekend.

Bradway's riverboat-gambler mentality showed up in 2003 when the Jets traded the 13th and 22nd picks in the first round so they could move up to No. 4 and select defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson of Kentucky.

Will the Jets select USC quarterback Matt Leinart as the heir apparent at quarterback or draft D'Brickashaw Ferguson as their pick?Will the Jets select USC quarterback Matt Leinart as the heir apparent at quarterback or draft D'Brickashaw Ferguson as their pick? While Robertson has become a solid player, he is not the superstar the Jets hoped he would be. Worse yet, he may never reach his potential because of chronically bad knees.

The new regime should learn from what happened three seasons ago and realize that a team that was 4-12 last season needs help in a lot of areas, and is far from being merely one or two players away from making a run at the AFC East title.

With that in mind, the Jets likely will hold onto their No. 4 overall pick, unless they feel they can get better value and more players by trading down. They also have the 29th and 35th selections in the draft.

If anything, the Jets most likely will trade down at some point to get even more picks. From 2001-03, the Patriots, the model for the new Jets' brain trust, made 16 draft-day trades. New England often was able to take advantage of teams desperate to move up, gaining extra picks and thus bolstering the Pats' depth. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Jets follow this blueprint.

Already the Jets are using one of the Patriots' gambits as it appears they are trying to confuse teams about their intentions.

In a five-day span, they worked out the three quarterbacks who are at the top of everyone's draft board - USC's Matt Leinart, Texas' Vince Young and Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler.

USC running back Reggie Bush also worked out for the Jets when they came to look at Leinart. However, they also met with Virginia tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson at the team's Hofstra University training facility, not far from Ferguson's home in Freeport, N.Y.

That might prove to be more significant than all of those high-profile workouts. As the Houston Texans and David Carr can attest to, what good is it to have a franchise quarterback without an adequate offensive line to protect him?

Although Houston general manager Charley Casserly has been talking up North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams, considered to be an outstanding pass rusher in the mold of Julius Peppers, it would be a shock if the Texans don't select Bush with the top overall pick.

That leaves the Saints at No. 2 with several options. Because it appears New Orleans is not interested in a quarterback, the Saints could go with either Williams or Ferguson as they seek to bolster themselves at the line of scrimmage.

Tennessee is up next at No. 3 (assuming there are no trades, of course), and Leinart seems like a natural fit here. Not only is Steve McNair near the end of his career, but the Titans' offensive coordinator is Norm Chow, who held the same position with USC during Leinart's first three seasons as a Trojan.

So figure the Jets to go with Ferguson or Williams, whichever of the two is available, at No. 4. It seems at this point that Ferguson most likely still will be on the board at that time. The Jets could trade down to take Cutler, who likely will go somewhere around Nos. 9 or 10, but there are other quarterbacks who could fit into the Jets' plans and who will be taken much lower. Alabama's Brodie Croyle and Oregon's Kellen Clemens, whom the Jets especially like, are possibilities.

New York Giants

In the linebacking corps, the Giants have Antonio Pierce, Carlos Emmons, Reggie Torbor and now Lavar Arrington. Nick Greisen does not appear to be close to re-signing because he wants to be a starting middle linebacker. The signing of Arrington virtually assures that will not happen. Even if Greisen does come back, the Giants could use some backup depth, just in case. It wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for the Giants to draft an early and late round outside linebacker.

At the tackle position is William Joseph, who is set at the one starting spot and if need be and Fred Robbins or Kenderick Allen could be decent starters. However, New York could use either a quick penetrating lineman like the departed Kendrick Clancy or a run stuffer. The Giants have had talks with Brentson Buckner and Grady Jackson, but neither man would be a long term answer. A second-fourth round DT to develop and take snaps in the rotation would be a good idea.

Much-maligned Luke Petitgout. He has had a good career with the Giants and is the best option that they have right now and is a viable LT for the next two-three years. He was healthy last season and had a decent season, eliminating many of the false start penalties that have reined him in throughout the years. The re-signing of Bob Whitfield was also a solid move by the team. With the depth of this years OT class, now would be the perfect time to find a second or fourth round player to develop as a long term solution to Eli Manning's blindside.

Amani Toomer still has another year or two of service with New York before he will no longer be a starter. Plaxico Burress should be the number 1 receiver for the next 3-4 years. Re-signing Tim Carter was a mild surprise and a bit costly, but it was probably a sound decision because of the lack of options available. As of now, Carter, David Tyree, and Jamaar Taylor will fight again for the third receiver position. A dynamic rookie would really spice up the competition and maybe cost Willie Ponder, Carter or Taylor a job.

Despite the addition of Sam Madison, RW McQuarters, and Jason Bell, the Giants still need a young cornerback. None of the free agent signings - except Bell, perhaps - is more than a short-term solution. Drafting a young corner would give the Giants a potential starter or backup to groom for the future. The signing of these free agents pushed this need from immediate to a late-rounder, allowing them to focus on more pressing issues.

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