OLB Quandon Christian (Clemson) 6-3, 232, 4.71 40yd dash
Projection: 7-UDFA Description: Rex Ryan, general manager John Idzik and senior director of college scouting Terry Bradway attended Christian's Pro Day. And if that wasn't enough, I'm told Jets scout Jay Mandolesi flew to Clemson on April 24th to put Christian through drills. Here's what Tony Pauline had to say. "Ten-game starter last season posting 40 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, and one sack. Small, chase and run linebacker effective in pursuit. Breaks down well, easily changes direction, and covers a large area. Quick in all his actions, shows speed getting down the line of scrimmage and makes plays sideline to sideline. Fast enough to run downfield with tight ends in coverage. Christian was a solid linebacker for Clemson but comes with size limitations. He's a backup in a one-gap system and plays with a special teams mentality."
OLB Ryan Shazier (Ohio State) 6-1, 237, 4.38 40yd dash
Projection: 1 Description: The Jets interviewed Shazier at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. CBS Sports weights in. "Rangy athlete with terrific closing acceleration and burst. Explosive first step as a blitzer to force the QB from his spot. Very good bend off the edge with momentum to fight through blocks and disrupt the pocket. Flexible ankles and flattens easily. Uses his length well at the point of attack with good take-on strength to deliver a pop, filling hard vs. the run. Eyes are always elevated with good ball vision and anticipation. Breaks down well on the move and gets low, showing clear improvement with his tackling technique. Smart and puts himself in correct position to make plays. Sniffs out the ball and almost always finishes when he's in the area. Never quits working to the ball and relentless in pursuit. Team leader and uplifting teammate with strong personal and football character. Versatile skill-set to drop in coverage, blitz and cover both sidelines. Very productive career with back-to-back seasons with 115-plus tackles, including a conference-best 143 stops in 2013. A high school defensive end, Shazier was recruited at linebacker and had scholarship offers from Alabama, Florida and LSU, but decided to go north and committed to Ohio State. He steadily earned more playing time as a true freshman, eventually starting the final three games. Shazier tallied back-to-back seasons with 115-plus tackles as a sophomore and junior, combining for 44.5 tackles for loss over his career and earning multiple All-Big Ten honors. He played inside and outside in Columbus and has the versatile skill-set to fill various roles. He was loved by the Buckeyes coaching staff because of his team-first approach. Shazier has instant acceleration and explosive closing burst, using outstanding edge speed and timing to disrupt the pocket. He lacks natural power to disengage blocks and needs to develop his discipline, but Shazier is a scheme diverse player who projects as a three-down weak-side linebacker in a 4-3 or as an edge rusher in a 3-4 base."
OLB Prince Shembo (Notre Dame) 6-1, 253, 4.71 40yd dash
Projection: 6-7 Description: The Jets first met with Shembo at the East-West Shrine Game, and apparently came away impressed as they took the trip to South Bend to attend his Pro Day. This is Darren Page's scouting report: "Thick, NFL linebacker build with definition. Terrific arm length despite lack of height. A bit of a quick-twitch mover who’s tough to track for blockers. Flexible athlete with fluid hips. Sufficient speed to pursue in the open field or beat slow-footed tackles as a rusher. Plays with low pad level to leverage blocks, not only due to lack of height. Has a compact frame that is a small target for the hands of blockers. Flashes ability to convert speed to power and deliver a blow with his hands. Effective on stunts and twists where he utilizes lateral quickness. Has flashed a spin move that has the potential to be developed. Plays with his eyes up and finds the football well. Disciplined in pursuit angles and doesn’t run himself out of plays. Has shown ability to locate route-runners and find good positions in pass coverage. Experienced at collegiate level with almost three whole seasons as a starter. Played multiple roles on the edge at Notre Dame in both odd and even fronts. Prince Shembo falls in line with other top Notre Dame defensive prospects in that he didn’t live up to expectations as a senior and has seen his draft stock fall since. The lack of production and lack of explosive athleticism will both limit how early Shembo can be drafted. As an NFL fit, he projects as a developmental project who should be considered as a depth pickup. He primarily played on the line of scrimmage for the Irish, but a move to either a weak-side 3-4 outside linebacker spot or maybe even a 4-3 outside linebacker spot is on the cards."
OLB Tyler Starr (South Dakota) 6-4, 250, 4.95, 40yd dash
Projection: 7-UDFA Description: The Jets also met with Starr at the East-West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida. Draft Insider breaks him down. "Three-year starter named MVFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 when he was awarded numerous All-America honors. Finished the year with 71 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and 9 sacks. Junior totals included 74 tackles. Posted 19 tackles for loss and 14 sacks as a sophomore. Registered 27 career sacks in college. Big, disruptive small-school linebacker who plays with great intensity. Plays with good pad level, effectively uses his hands to protect himself, and displays the ability to bend off the edge as a pass rusher. Rarely knocked off his feet. Displays good awareness and terrific instincts. Remains disciplined with assignments, plays stay-at-home football, and effectively quarterbacks the defense. Has good length and knocks the pass away if he cannot get to the passer. Starr was a hard-working and intelligent defender who did a great job making plays up the field. He comes with limitations but can be a designated pass rusher at the next level out of a three-point stance or standing up over tackle."
OLB Kevin Pierre-Louis (Boston College) 6-1, 232, 4.46, 40yd dash
Projection: 5-6 Description: Kevin Pierre-Louis visited the Jets on April 24th. Dane Brugler explains his game. "Athletic movement skills and stays light on his feet. Fluid in his drops with smooth body control. Smart and instinctive with excellent read/react quickness with an explosive first step. Very active and always around the ball with terrific anticipation. Nose for the ball. Good eye use to avoid blocks in space while tacking the ballcarrier. Reliable tackler and stays controlled through the process to finish. Strikes through his target. Aggressively takes on blocks and plays the game as if he were bigger and stronger than he is. Sound ball skills. Versatile experience, even making impact plays on special teams. Very high football and off-field character with a productive resume as a four-year starter. A three-star recruit, Pierre-Louis committed to Boston College over offers from Stanford, Duke and Virginia, citing BC's academics as his deciding factor. He stepped in from day one as a true freshman starter and teamed with Luke Kuechly to give the Eagles a dominant tackling tandem in 2010 and 2011. Pierre-Louis set career-bests as a senior in 2013 with 108 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks and his first career interception, earning All-ACC First Team honors. He has some linebacker/safety 'tweener traits with his slender frame, but moves very well with the athleticism to cover a large area. Pierre-Louis has trouble disengaging and needs to stay healthy, but he is a sound tackler with NFL smarts - projects as a rangy run-and-chase weak-side linebacker and possible starter in the right scheme."
OLB Terrance Bullitt (Texas Tech) 6-3, 230, 4.65, 40yd dash Projection: 7-UDFA Description: John Idzik attended his Pro Day. Here's Pauline once again. "Three-year starter used at both safety and linebacker. Senior numbers included 37 tackles and 2 sacks. Career-best 56 tackles and 4 pass defenses came during his sophomore season. Hard-hitting defender who's a bit of a tweener at the next level. Displays quickness, explosiveness, and suddenness. Aggressive, physical against the run and a hard hitter. Strong and drops runners on initial contact. Stays with cover assignments, flashes ability in zone, and possesses an explosive burst of closing speed. Bullitt flashed skill throughout his college career but never displayed a complete game. He's a fierce run defender but undersized for the linebacker position and does not possess the ball skills to be placed at safety."
OLB Telvin Smith (Florida State) 6-3, 218, 4.47, 40yd dash
Projection: 3-4 Description: Rex Ryan and John Idzik attended his Pro Day. Brugler expands. "Rangy athlete with loose hips and springs in his legs. Closes quickly with a violent attitude and explosive first step. Aggressive blitzer with speed and initial pop to split gaps. Fluid in his cover drops and plays natural in space. Easy for blockers to underestimate his speed, bursting into the backfield with a fiery temperament. Excellent read/react instincts to diagnose and attack without hesitation. Light, but physical and won't shy from point of attack contact, tackling through his target and taking on blocks to find the quickest route to the ballcarrier. Motivated competitor and leader. Hard worker and pushes himself to reach his full potential. Very talkative and confident and is the tone-setter of the defense. Teammates feed off his energy on and off the field. Versatile experience playing weak-side and middle linebacker and also starring on special teams. A three-star recruit out of high school, Smith chose Florida State over LSU and Georgia and played mostly special teams as a freshman in 2010. He served as a sub-package linebacker as a sophomore and junior, sharing the middle linebacker position with Vince Williams before becoming a full-time starter as a senior, leading the Seminoles in tackles (90). Smith has awesome closing burst and overall range to cover the entire field and is like a running back on defense, avoiding blocks with swivel hips and the exciting speed to explode with sharp angles. His lack of bulk and growth potential are impossible to ignore and something that will always limit him, especially when trying to shed blocks. Smith is heady, competitive and always hustles, but likely his only fit as a starter will be as a weak-side linebacker in a 4-3 scheme.Smith won't be as high on every board, but shouldn't get out of the top 100 picks."
OLB Anthony Hitchens (Iowa) 6-0, 240, 4.71, 40yd dash
Projection: 6-7 Description: The Jets sent a linebackers coach to Hitchens' Pro Day. Pauline has more. "Two-year starter who led Iowa in tackles ever since his junior campaign. Senior totals included 112 tackles after a career-best 124 the prior year. Incredibly productive college linebacker with average measurables for the next level. Displays terrific quickness in his overall game, covers a lot of area, and plays faster than his 40 time. Aggressive, gives effort, and goes sideline to sideline to make plays. Breaks down well, uses his hands to protect himself, and explosive at the point of attack. Quarterbacks the defense, effectively reads and diagnosis the action, and does not make mental mistakes. Hitchens gets the most from his ability and is a linebacker who stands out in pursuit. He comes with limited upside but will do well at the next level in a one-gap system and Hitchens should be an asset on special teams."
OLB Christian Kirksey (Iowa) 6-2, 233, 4.59, 40yd dash
Projection: 4 Description: A Jets linebackers coach was at Kirksey's Pro Day. Page provides more. "Plays faster than he times due to instincts. Reacts to reads in a hurry and diagnoses plays quickly. Decisive linebacker who doesn’t take false steps or delay. Discipline to play assignments and contain plays from the outside. Has potential as a nickel package linebacker. Can backpedal, turn and run, or shuffle with smooth footwork in pass-coverage. Always balanced in movements, changes directions smoothly and has fluid hips. Aggressive with his hands to jam and reroute tight ends inside of five yards. Has enough long speed to be used in man coverage against tight ends. Skilled hands with a number of fumble recoveries and interceptions to his name. Plays with low pads and leverages run blocks well. Possesses short-area quickness and flexibility to dip underneath or around blocks. Will drive back blockers on the edge, forcing backs to cut off tackle runs to the inside. Sufficient initial quickness to accelerate on the ball in pursuit. Precise in pursuit lanes not to overrun plays, always in the right place at the right time. Versatile linebacker, was used at the line of scrimmage, over slot receivers and off the ball in most games. Three years of starting experience at Iowa. Christian Kirksey does a lot of things well but isn’t necessarily a master of any one of them. Pass coverage is where he earns the highest marks. His footwork, fluidity and instincts enable him to play a variety of coverages to fine effect. He was often floated out over slot receivers for the Hawkeyes. The potential to be a contributor in a team’s nickel package is very appealing, as teams have begun to spend more time in that set than their actual base set. Lack of athletic traits will surely see Kirksey slide down the draft board, maybe even to the third day. Whichever team drafts him will be getting a versatile, smart and savvy linebacker who will stick on their roster for many years."
OLB Christo Lisika (Southern Nazarene) 6-1, 235, 4.70, 40yd dash
Projection: UDFA Description: An immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lisika took part in Tulsa's Pro Day which a Jets assistant coach attended. He was a dominating force for SNU this year, racking up 17.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Gil Brandt notes that "Lisika ran the 40 in 4.70 and 4.75 seconds, and had a 36-inch vertical jump. Lisika is an interesting prospect in that some NFL team will bring him in as a special-teams hopeful. He’s built really well and is a tough, aggressive player."
OLB Jamal Merrell (Rutgers) 6-5, 230, 4.75, 40yd dash
Projection: UDFA Description: Merrell was invited to attended the Jets Local Pro Day. Pauline continues. "Three-year starter coming off a disappointing season. Totaled 38 tackles in 10 games last season after 83 tackles the prior year. Relatively athletic linebacker who does not play a physical game. Has nice length, a good change of direction, and easily moves about the field. Covers a lot of area, gets depth on pass drops, and fast moving sideline to sideline. Shows suddenness, the ability to immediately alter his angle of attack, and speed in pursuit. On paper, Merrell looks like a terrific weakside linebacker prospect and shows the ability to play athletic football. He's displayed marginal improvement in his game and at times looks like he'd rather be someplace else. Merrell will not have a career in the NFL unless the light goes on."
ILB C.J. Mosley (Alabama) 6-2, 234, 4.67, 40yd dash
Projection: 1 Description: The Jets attended Mosley's Pro Day, and Jets scout Jay Mandolesi actually administered the vertical jump drills. Here's what NFL.com had to say. "Alabama native amassed more than 500 tackles in his high school career, garnering Parade All-American honors as a senior. Started all 13 games as a true freshman, starting three at Mike (strong inside) linebacker, and recorded 69 tackles, 1.5-.5 with 10 pass breakups and two interception touchdowns. Started 6-of-11 games played at weak inside linebacker in '11 and tallied 37-4.5-2 with two pass breakups and an interception. Dislocated his right elbow against Arkansas and sat out against Florida and Vanderbilt. Played all 14 games in '12, starting nine as the Tide's Will 'backer in sub packages, and produced 107-8-4 with two pass breakups, two interceptions and a forced fumble. Suffered a dislocated hip in the BCS Championship Game against LSU, then had offseason shoulder surgery to repair a torn right labrum. Won the Butkus Award (nation's top linebacker) and was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year (coaches) in '13 -- started all 13 games at weak inside linebacker and was Alabama's leading tackler for the second consecutive season, racking up 108-9-0 with five pass breakups and a forced fumble. Also was a finalist for the Lombardi and Nagurski awards. Team captain won a pair of national championships. Did not bench press or run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine because of a right shoulder injury. Exceptional instincts -- triggers fast downhill. Outstanding urgency. Plays with very good knee bend, balance and base. Secure, drive-through tackler. Hits with explosion and jars ball carriers on impact. Excellent lateral agility -- flows fast and ranges to the sideline. Exceptional weight-room worker with good functional play strength -- plays bigger than his size. Outstanding eyes and anticipation vs. the run. Very good coverage awareness with the ball in front of him -- clings to tight ends passing through zones and blankets speed backs in man coverage. Respected leadership presence -- lines up his teammates and directs traffic. Film junkie. Excellent attitude, effort, field intensity and overall energy. Exceptional football and personal character. Highly competitive. Humble, selfless team player. Outstanding football IQ. Scheme-diverse and versatile. Strong special-teams coverage performer. Smart, instinctive, fast-flowing, every-down linebacker capable of manning any position in a "40" front or steering a defense from the weak side in a "30" front, where he starred for a national-championship defense as a junior and carried the Tide as a senior. Has the football temperament, desire and work habits to emerge as a tackling machine in the pros. Has Pro Bowl potential."
ILB James Morris (Iowa) 6-1, 241, 4.78, 40yd dash
Projection: 7-UDFA Description: A Jets Linebacker coach attended his Pro Day. Brugler takes a look at what Morris has to offer. "Solid size with good muscle definition. Works hard in the weight room. Adequate athleticism and range due to his hustle. Instinctive and trusts what he sees with little hesitation ? see ball, get ball type. Physical tackler with timing, technique and sturdy hands to finish. Excellent between the hashes vs. the run and aggressively takes on blocks. Knifes his way through the line of scrimmage well to make a stop for loss. Hard-nosed and always at full go, playing hungry and relentless. Smart and alert with positive character traits on and off the field. Durable and tough, often playing through pain. Motivated individual with desire to get better and reach his full potential. Productive starting career (42 career starts) with three straight 100+ tackle seasons. A three-star high school recruit, Morris committed to the Hawkeyes as a 200-pound linebacker and was thrown into action right away as a true freshman, quickly establishing himself as a team leader and bulking up in the weight room. He finished second on the team in tackles (106) as a senior in 2013, but led Iowa in tackles for loss (17.0), sacks (7.0) and interceptions (4), earning Second Team All-Big Ten honors. Morris has average size, speed and athletic traits, but makes up for it with his relentless attitude and hustle to disrupt plays all over the field, including the backfield. His overaggressive style will get him in trouble at times, lacking the fluidity to easily recover, but he is smart and coachable with top intangibles. "
ILB Steele Divitto (Boston College) 6-2, 241, 4.73, 40yd dash
Projection: 7-UDFA Description: Divitto was at 1 Jets Drive on April 17th as part of the local workout squad. Here's what Draft Insider had to say. "Three-year starter who posted 112 tackles, six tackles for loss, and three sacks as a senior. Led Boston College in tackles last season. Tough, two-down linebacker with limited upside for the next level. Plays smart, disciplined football, does not make mental mistakes and constantly around the action. Takes good angles to the play, wraps up tackling and brings runners down at the point of attack. Recognizes cover assignments, stays with the action and sells out to make plays. Relatively instinctive and diagnoses the action as it unfolds. Breaks down well and uses his hands to protect himself. Divitto was productive and durable on the college level but lacks the size and speed to be anything other than a backup linebacker/special teams player in the NFL."
ILB Preston Brown (Louisville) 6-1, 251, 4.78, 40yd dash
Projection: 3-4 Description: John Idzik flew down to the University of Louisville to attend Brown's Pro Day. Here's Pauline. "Three-year starter who led Louisville in tackles last season. Breaks down well and effectively uses his hands to protect himself. Forceful, plays with quickness, and sells out to make plays. Fast up the field, fires through the open gaps to defend the run, and also effective on the blitz. Solid range as well as lateral speed with the ability to collapse inside-out defending the run. Squares into tackles and wraps up. Brown is an aggressive run defending linebacker but more of a two-down player. He offers possibilities on the inside of a 3-4 alignment."
ILB Christian Jones (Florida State) 6-3, 240, 4.68, 40yd dash
Projection: 2-3 Description: Rex Ryan and John Idzik were at Jones' Pro Day. Darren Page gives us more. "Defined, rocked-up body type. True sideline-to-sideline type speed. Significant initial burst off the line of scrimmage or out of stance as an off-ball linebacker. Drives forward from off the ball with tremendous acceleration. Can press tackles on the corner with speed and work rush moves from there. Showcases a deadly spin move back to the inside to beat tackles. Came along in terms of power rush moves in a short time as an edge-rusher. Light feet to change directions in pass-coverage. Comfortable dropping from the line of scrimmage in a backpedal, effective in zone blitzes. Terrific job playing blocks with leverage to set a hard edge, keeps outside shoulder free. Improved hand usage when taking on blocks over course of 2013 season. Extends hands to create space and can keep blockers from locking up his chest. Adequate abilities to shed and finish when playing off blocks. Keeps eyes up while engaged and finds the ball well. Breaks down well in space to make tackles in one-on-one situations. Terrorized offenses who left him unblocked as part of scheme, too athletic in space for offensive linemen. Disciplined not to run to himself out of plays, picks up on misdirection well. Christian Jones is a perfect example of a prospect whose draft stock steadily rose over the course of his senior season. After laboring as a weak-side linebacker who played off the ball for over a season, a position change that put him on the line of scrimmage did a world of good. Jones was able to play to his true speed by being utilized as an edge linebacker where he had fewer reads to make. In fact, he really grew into the position late in the season. Improvements in hand usage, leverage, gap discipline and pass-rush moves were all noticeable. That says a lot about how he takes to coaching. His best positional fit in the NFL is not yet clear. He plays much faster as an edge player, so a 4-3 under defense or a transition to a 3-4 rush linebacker spot makes sense. Christian Jones will need development wherever he lands, which probably means he has the potential to be molded into a variety or roles."
ILB Carlo Calabrese (Notre Dame) 6-1, 236, 4.93, 40yd dash
Projection: 7-UDFA Description: Calabrese was also apart of the Jets local workouts. Pauline elaborates. "Part-time starter the past two seasons. Posted a career-best 93 tackles last season. Hard-working two down defender best in the box. Effectively reads and diagnoses plays, takes good angles to the action, and chases hard. Remains disciplined with assignments. Quick up the field and wraps up tackling. Calabrese was a solid defender for Notre Dame but lacks physical skills and upside potential for the next level."
DT Beau Allen (Wisconsin) 6-3, 333, 5.23, 40yd dash
Projection: 6-7 Description: The Jets met with Allen at the East-West Shrine game. While defensive backs coach Tim McDonald was probably focused on Dez Southward at Madison's Pro Day, him being in attendance to witness Allen's workout will be beneficial when Allen's name comes up in the draft war room. Here's a great read on Allen by Packers.com staff writer Mike Spofford. "Wisconsin defensive lineman Beau Allen isn’t exactly sure why he wasn’t invited to the NFL scouting combine last month, but it definitely bugged him. He might have been one of the college seniors who got squeezed out when a record number of juniors declared for the draft early. Because information on underclassmen can be scarce, juniors will end up taking spots at the combine that otherwise might go to seniors. Or the fact that six of Allen’s Wisconsin teammates went to Indianapolis might have prompted combine organizers to deem that number enough from a non-Rose Bowl Badgers team. Whatever the case, Wisconsin’s pro day earlier this week became a big day for Allen, and the burly 6-2½, 329-pound interior lineman came away confident he had stated his case for getting drafted, combine invite or not. “I was a little perturbed by the fact I didn’t go to the combine,” Allen said. “I wanted to go, obviously. Everyone kind of dreams of being on that big stage. But I think I did what I wanted to do today, show teams I’m athletic and that I can move well and jump high for a big guy. We had a great crowd here, so I think I showed what I wanted to show.” With representatives from 20 NFL teams in attendance at the McClain Center adjacent to Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Allen recorded a 31-inch vertical jump, pumped out 30 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press and went through a battery of position drills. Due to a hamstring tweak, he was clocked only in a 10-yard burst rather than a full 40-yard sprint, which was a decision he made not to risk his one opportunity to go through all the tests in front of scouts. “It was the first test of the day, and I didn’t want (the hamstring) to tighten up the rest of the day,” he said, before the first of a few humorous cracks. “Let’s be honest, I’m 330 pounds, and coaches don’t want to see me run 40 yards anyway.” They did want to see athleticism, which Allen has for a big guy. He also has some versatility, having played defensive tackle in a 4-3 alignment for Wisconsin until last season, when the scheme changed to a 3-4 and he moved to nose guard. The position switch led to a statistical dropoff for Allen, whose combined 13 tackles for loss and 6½ sacks in the 2011-12 seasons fell to two TFLs and 1½ sacks in 2013. But he knows he’s being judged on more than his numbers. At the East-West Shrine Game in January, he saw the benefits of learning and playing two different schemes in college when he talked with reps from 20-plus teams, including Packers General Manager Ted Thompson. “It’s great when you can get up on a white board in front of coaches and draw up either scheme,” Allen said. “I consider myself pretty smart and football savvy. I think that adds to my value, which is good.” It has led to some uncertainty whether his NFL future is as a nose (head-up on the center) or a three-technique tackle (on the outside shoulder of the guard), but he feels he can play both. He hinted that he really got to like the nose when he played it for the first time this past year and wishes he could get one more college season in that scheme. But he’s ready for whatever role he’s asked to play, and he’ll adjust his weight accordingly, having played at Wisconsin “anywhere from 312 to 345,” he said. “This (body) is just a piece of art. I can put weight on, take it off. Coaches can mold me into what they want.” It might be tough to remove the chip on Allen’s shoulder due to the combine snub, but after a good pro day workout, he sounded as though he was starting to enjoy his under-the-radar status a bit. “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said. “I think nose guard isn’t a very prestigious position. People don’t tend to get too hyped up about a 330-pound, long-haired, white nose guard from Wisconsin, so I’m trying to change that a little bit.”
DT Jacobbi McDaniel (Florida State) 6-1, 293, 5.05, 40yd dash
Projection: UDFA Description: Rex Ryan and John Idzik were at his Pro Day. Draft Insider gives us a better understanding of his game. "Rotational player as a senior who posted 29 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. Occasionally lined up as a lead blocker at FSU. Fire-plug type of lineman best occupying the gaps. Plays low to the ground. Quick off the snap and slices between lineman to get behind the line of scrimmage. Consistently plays with leverage, chases the action hard, and shows the ability to get outside the box in pursuit of the action. Holds the point and creates opportunities for opponents. McDaniel is a serviceable defensive lineman with potential as a backup tackle in a conventional defense."
DT Kerry Hyder (Texas Tech) 6-3, 290, 5.02, 40yd dash
Projection: 7-UDFA Description: John Idzik flew to Lubbock to attend his Pro Day. Draft Insider takes a closer look. "Three-year starter awarded all-conference honors after his senior and junior seasons. Numbers last year included 65 tackles with 11.5 tackles for loss after 56 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and 14 tackles for loss the prior year. Slightly undersized but explosive defensive linemen who projects as a 3-technique tackle. Fires off the snap with a tremendous first step, keeps his feet moving, and constantly focused on by opponents. Resilient, works through blocks, and moves well laterally, showing the ability to get down the line of scrimmage in pursuit. Plays with good pad level, possesses a smooth change of direction and flashes power. Works his hands throughout the action to protect himself or disengage from blocks. Hyder is a high-effort lineman who plays with outstanding quickness and movement skills. He must pay a little more attention to the details of his position but comes with upside and can start at the next level in the proper system."
DT Anthony Johnson (LSU) 6-3, 308, 5.22, 40yd dash
Projection: 4-5 Description: Rex Ryan and John Idzik attended his pro day. This is from Ryan Lownes. "Good initial quickness, shows the ability to anticipate the snap and fire off the ball. Can be quick to engage, occasionally attacking the back foot of his opponent and gaining leverage early in the play. Decent athleticism with burst to close the gap on the quarterback or ball-carrier. Generally continues his pursuit to the sideline, appearing relentless at times. Flashes active hands at times, utilizing a chop-and-pull technique to beat his man. Shows the ability to shed blocks when he gets his hands into the breastplate of his opponents’ shoulder pads. A natural 3-tech who is best suited shooting the B-gap in that role at the next level. Changes direction fairly well in space. Fights to get off blocks, flashing a spin move. Shows the awareness and discipline to take away the screen pass. Possesses the requisite size for his jump to the NFL at 6’2.5”, 308 pounds. Decent length with arms measuring 33”. Played in multiple spots along the LSU interior. Lined up at 1-tech and 3-tech in the Tigers' base four-man front and also lined up over center at times in 3-4 looks. Very young at just 21 years of age, seems to have plenty of upside. Once thought of as potentially the next Glenn Dorsey for the LSU Tigers, Anthony Johnson never managed to live up to lofty expectations. While he did not make the expected impact in his first season as a full-time starter, his considerable raw talent was evident at times. At the next level, he is best suited to be a rotational 3-tech in a 4-3 scheme, but he could develop into a an every-down player in time with the right attitude and coaching."
DT Demonte McAllister (Florida State) 6-2, 295, 5.13, 40yd dash
Projection: UDFA Description: Rex Ryan and John Idzik flew down to Tallahassee to attend McAllister's Pro Day. Pauline provides greater insight into what a team is gaining by picking up McAllister. "Rotational lineman who finished with 22 tackles as a senior after 16 the prior year. Explosive one-gap defender who plays with quickness. Fires off the snap, immediately gets his hands up, and displays good movement skills. Slides down the line of scrimmage in pursuit of the action, plays with excellent balance, and chases the action hard. McAllister did well in his role of backup for Florida State and possesses the skills to be used in much the same manner as a 3-technique tackle at the next level."
DT Ego Ferguson (LSU) 6-3, 315, 5.10, 40yd dash
Projection: 3-4 Description: Rex Ryan and John Idzik attended his pro day. Dane Brugler checks him out. "Tall, well-built frame with well-proportioned bulk from head to toe. Flexible body type with natural bend, controlling his momentum well when he stays low with impressive change of direction skills for his size. Long arms and quick hands, using his strong limbs to press and lock out. Good vision and awareness, keeping his eyes elevated to locate and track the ball. Quick read/react instincts and not easily fooled. Quick off the snap with the foot quickness to chase and make plays away from the line of scrimmage. Improved block anticipation and instincts, elevating well at the line of scrimmage to knock down passes. Holds the point well with his aggressive demeanor, playing with a chip. Good work ethic off the field, adding 40 pounds of good weight since enrolling at LSU. Versatile skill-set to be a force vs. the run and the pass and can play any interior defensive line position at the next level - not scheme specific. A highly-recruited four-star defensive tackle, Ferguson chose LSU and redshirted in 2010. He was used as a rotational reserve player as a freshman and sophomore before becoming a starter in 2013 as a junior, setting career-highs with 58 tackles, 3.5 for loss and 1.0 sack. Ferguson is an active competitor with versatile size and skill-set to be stout vs. the run, but also showing the athletic traits to be effective getting to the passer - only one career sack is a red flag. He is still very unpolished in many aspects of the game and has much to learn. Ferguson has a lot to work with some untapped potential that makes him an intriguing fit on any defensive line with the ability to line up at multiple positions in any formation."
DT Justin Ellis (Louisiana Tech) 6-2, 334, 5.23, 40yd dash
Projection: 3 Description: The Jets have been all over Ellis the entire draft process. Ryan met with him during the Senior Bowl and defensive line coach Karl Dunbar attended his Pro Day. Here's his scouting report via CBS Sports. "Large, wide body and carries his weight well. Long arms for his frame and extends well, using his active hands to work off blocks. Has really improved in this area, bullying with heavy hands. Explosive off the ball and a quick thinker, reacting well to what the blockers want to do. Attacks with pure momentum, not afraid to use a spin move, making it tough for blockers to latch on. Load to handle. Good pocket vision and awareness to track and crash down on the ball or chase the ballcarrier outside. Anchors well at the point of attack and has a stout build. Nice job getting his paw up to swat the ball out of the air. Nonstop motor and ferocious demeanor. Try-hard type who gets the most out of his ability. Versatile experience, lining up at various inside positions in college. An under-the-radar high school recruit, Ellis redshirted in 2009 and barely saw the field in 2010 before becoming a sophomore starter in 2011. He took a step back in 2012, but had his best year as a senior with 48 tackles, including 5.5 for loss, earning All-CUSA Honorable Mention honors. Ellis is a wide-bodied rusher and uses his ball quickness and snap anticipation to surge past blockers before they can set up, making him a tough guy to square up and slow down. He looks like a zero-technique who should be a man-eating run stuffer, but is more of an upfield penetrator who is a handful to control as a pass rusher. Ellis is scheme-versatile to play a two-gapping NT role or as a 3-technique who wins with initial burst."
DT Timmy Jernigan (Florida State) 6-2, 299, 4.95, 40yd dash
Projection: 1 Description: Rex Ryan and John Idzik watched Jernigan at his Pro Day. Dan Kadar chimes in. "Jernigan has a lot of the tools to be a very good pass rusher, he's just not quite there yet. The main reason is snap awareness. Too often, Jernigan is the last player to move on the defensive line. This allows an offensive line to get better position to keep from rushing the passer. When Jernigan's get-off is working, he has shown a good rip move where his power takes over. Famously against Clemson, Jernigan pulled a Clemson lineman all the way to the ground, slipped past a late-reacting help lineman and sacked Tajh Boyd. That's about as impressive of a sack as you'll see from a defensive tackle. He also has some versatility as a pass rusher, moving all around Florida State's line (even lining up at linebacker a few times). "When it’s a pass situation, when you want to go to a three-man front, you can put me on the nose guard, right on the zero," Jernigan said at the NFL Combine in February. "I can get pressure from the middle of the offense. I feel like that’s where my game changes from anyone else’s." What is so intriguing about Jernigan is his combination of power and athleticism. For a defensive tackle, he's shown good pursuit on plays away from his area between the tackles. Jernigan shows very good quickness at the snap, at least when he's timing it right. At Florida State, Jernigan often commanded double teams. Unlike a lot of tackles, Jernigan can sustain the double and still make a play. He locates the ball in a hurry and can close. He has more than enough strength to sustain and hold his spot at the line, clogging up interior running lanes. Pound-for-pound, there may be no stronger defensive tackle in the draft this year than Jernigan. He can handle double teams and still get disruption. Florida State would play Jernigan at the nose, especially on passing downs, and he found success in those situations because of his strength. As a tackler, Jernigan is about what you'd expect from a defensive tackle. Once he gets his hands on you, the play is through. Stiff hips. That's a term often associated with defensive backs who can't change direction. Jernigan, to a degree, has stiff hips. He's very much a straight-forward player, so when he has to redirect he gets in trouble. Jernigan also tends to come out of his stance straight up at the snap instead of staying bent at the knees. While Jernigan can rely on his incredible upper body strength in college, keeping a weak base could doom him in the NFL. He shows fine handwork, though. He keeps his hands inside a lineman's pads uses his power to push blockers around. To some degree, Jernigan will have to be in the right schematic fit to really take advantage of his ability. That's why it's always been so hard to find a good landing spot for him in the first round if he slides past a few teams in the middle of the draft. Jernigan is a powerhouse defensive lineman who has some technique flaws to overcome. If he does that, Jernigan can be a disruptive force thanks to his power and pass rush moves."
DE Michael Sam (Missouri) 6-2, 261, 4.79, 40yd dash
Projection: 6-7 Description: According to the Baltimore Sun, the Jets are one of the 6 teams showing the most interest in Sam. Rex Ryan was asked how Sam, who came out as gay before the Scouting Combine would fit as a Jet. "I think he'd be welcomed. It'd be no different than any other player we have. One thing I know for sure, you're going to have 53 different players and they're all different - different religious beliefs, what they look like, height, weight, married, single, any of these. Everybody's different. But the main thing we talk about is respect in our locker room. And even though everybody's different, it's a respect thing. If the young man's a good football player and a good teammate, that's all we ask. So he'd fit in just like the rest of our guys." The Jets met with Sam at the Senior Bowl and have been in constant contact ever since. Here's Rob Rang of CBS Sports looking at what Sam bring to the table on the field. "Sports a compact, well-developed frame. Very good initial quickness to explode past offensive tackles and apply pressure on the quarterback. Uses his natural leverage advantage well, keeping his legs driving to overpower much bigger opponents on the bull-rush, while also mixing in effective rip and club moves to keep blockers' hands off his chest. Accelerates smoothly and closes in a flash, showing good power for the knockdown and technique to wrap securely. Considering his size, Sam is surprisingly effective in run defense. Can slip gaps due to his quickness to penetrate and make a big play behind the line of scrimmage and shows good power, knee bend to anchor and create a pile when run at. Good awareness, quickness and balance to recognize and defeat cut-blocks. Occasionally asked to drop back in this scheme, showing awareness and at least fair fluidity. Active defender who searches the ball and pursues with passion. Sam made a bold decision to publicly announce he is gay before the NFL Scouting Combine, getting ahead of the news before it leaked through the media. While the announcement made national headlines, Sam's primary goal is to convince scouts he can excel as a pass rusher in the NFL.Despite being named the co-SEC Defensive Player of the year in 2013 after leading the conferences in both sacks (10.5) and tackles for loss (18.0) during the regular season, there are concerns he lacks the size to stand out as a defensive end and Sam struggled with his fluidity when asked to practice at outside linebacker at the Senior Bowl.Rated as the No. 75 defensive recruit in the country by ESPN coming out of Hitchcock, Texas, Sam played on both sides of the trenches in high school.He redshirted in 2009 before entering the rotation the following season and producing 24 tackles, including 7.0 for loss, to go with 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.Sam was again a rotation player as a redshirt sophomore, finishing with 29 tackles, including 3.0 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. He started nine of 12 games in 2012 and finished four on the team with 7.0 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Sam capped off his Tigers career by joining Jeff Gaylord (1981) as the only Missouri Tigers to win conference defensive player of the year honors. He also was a unanimous first-team All-SEC pick by the Associated Press, and first team by the coaches.Sam certainly has the production against top competition to intrigue scouts. He's very quick off the snap, showing the ability to attack off the edge as well as the burst to penetrate through gaps. "I think Michael Sam is an effective outside pass rusher," Titans general manager Ruston Webster said at the Scouting Combine. "He has some strength at the point. But his main thing is getting up the field and rushing the passer and putting pressure on the quarterback. He was obviously very productive doing that."At 6-feet-2, 255 pounds, Sam could earn the dreaded 'tweener label from scouts who may see him as too short for defensive end and a project as a stand-up outside linebacker, pushing the productive defender into the second or even third round. "I think he's got a little bit of both to him," Bucs general manager Jaon Licht said when asked if Sam is a pass rusher or linebacker. "You look for versatility and that's good."Despite Sam being poised to become the first openly gay male to play in the NFL, coaches and executives to a man said at the combine that if Sam can play, his personal lifestyle will not be an issue."
DE Larry Webster (Bloomsburg) 6-6, 252, 4.58, 40yd dash
Projection: 6-7 Description: I have a hunch Webster will end up a Jet. Hear me out. Some die-hard Jets fans reading this right now might remember Webster's father, (also named Larry Webster) a DE who played for the Jets in 2002. Prior to coming to the Jets, Webster was a Baltimore Raven (from 1996-2001), where he was coached by and won a Super Bowl with Rex Ryan. (That must make Rex feel pretty old). Rex and Webster remained extremely close ever since. In fact, Webster participated for three straight summers in the NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship Program with the Ravens in 2007 and 2008 and the Jets in 2009. You just know Rex is going to be pounding the table for his friend's son come next week. I didn't know where to place him though, to be honest. He worked out at defensive end, tight end & linebacker at his Pro Day. The Jets brought him in for a pre-draft visit. Here's what Brugler had to say. "Looks the part with a tall, long frame and the growth potential to get stronger. Has good first step quickness to burst and change directions quickly with flexible ankles. Uses his long arms to make wrap tackles and finish. Has the athleticism and range to cover a large area and make plays in pursuit. Was very productive in his one season of football at the college level and impressed coaches with the way he quickly adapted to the game despite being away from the field for so long. He has a good work ethic and puts in the time to prepare and get better. As the father of an 11-year NFL veteran, he has athletic bloodlines and knows about the NFL process. A four-year starter on the Bloomsburg basketball team, Webster had one year of eligibility remaining and decided to join the football team for the 2012 season, a sport he hadn't played since high school. He finished the season with a team-best 15.0 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks, adding an interception and 39 total tackles. Webster was selected to the All-PSAC Eastern Division first team.On the basketball court, Webster was named the PSAC Eastern Division Player of the Year for the 2011-12 season, finishing as the school's all-time career leader in blocks (175). Webster's father, Larry Webster Jr., played 11 years in the NFL at defensive end. He was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the third round out of Maryland in 1992 and also suited up for the Browns, Ravens and Jets over his career, winning a Super Bowl with Baltimore in 2001."
DE Demarcus Lawrence (Boise State) 6-3, 251, 4.76, 40yd dash
Projection: 1-2 Description: Lawrence visited the Jets. This is Rang's scouting report. "Possesses broad shoulders, long arms and a lanky frame, overall, which appears capable of adding another 10 pounds of muscle. Highly versatile defender asked to play a variety of roles with the Broncos. Shows good (not great) initial quickness off the snap to penetrate off the edge or between gaps. Quick, active hands. Varied pass rush technique, including an over-arm swim, rip, club and even an occasional spin move. Surprisingly strong at the point of attack. Plays with good leverage and anchors well, slipping off blocks effectively to make tackles near the line of scrimmage. Good effort laterally and downfield in pursuit. Rarely asked to drop into coverage but appears to possess the quickness, fluidity and awareness to potentially convert to outside linebacker. Lawrence, who appears bigger on tape than his listed 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, signed with the Broncos two years ago after a tour with Butler Community College.The native of Aiken, S.C. possesses good speed off the edge and was used in a variety of roles with the Broncos, lining up at virtually every position along the defensive line during his stay in Boise.He started all 11 games he appeared in during the 2011 season, earning first-team All-Mountain West honors after racking up a team-high 13 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.After leading the Mountain West with 10.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss in 2013, Lawrence declared he would enter the 2014 NFL Draft following Boise State's victory over Oregon State in the Hawaii Bowl. "I am releasing this statement to inform everyone at Boise State University and all of the fans of Bronco Nation of my decision to forgo my final year of eligibility and enter the 2014 NFL Draft."For these last two years I have had the honor of being part of the Boise State family and have had an incredibly special group of teammates, coaches, trainers, and staff around me. While Coach Peterson's decision to take the Washington job had some influence on my decision I felt it was in the best interests of my family and myself to pursue my lifelong dream to become an NFL player."It is my hope in making this decision that my coaches, administration, teammates and the Broncos fans continue to support me both through prayer and encouragement in the pursuit of my dreams."Thank you all for your time and understanding in this matter and I wish everyone at Boise State University much success."
DE Marcus Thompson (Rutgers) 6-1, 250, 4.66, 40yd dash
Projection: 7-UDFA Description: Thompson was at the Jets facility for the Local Pro Day. Here is Draft Insider with more on what Thompson has to offer. "Two-year starter who posted a career-best 51 tackles and 5.5 sacks last season. Undersized college defensive end who plays with great intensity. Displays terrific movement skills, bends his knees, and quickly changes direction. Explosive, aggressive, and chases the action in every area of the field. Effectively uses his hands to protect himself, quick off the snap and displays a short burst of speed. Thompson was a competitive defender who made plays based on his hustle but lacks the size and speed numbers to consistently contribute at the next level."
DE Marcus Smith (Louisville) 6-3, 251, 4.66, 40yd dash
Projection: 2 Description: John Idzik attended Smith's Pro Day. Here's Rang's assessment of Smith. "Broad-shouldered, long-armed athlete. Good initial quickness out of the three-point stance, showing enough burst to cross the face of offensive tackles on the perimeter. Good club move to break free from pass blockers as well as the power to effectively push opponents into the pocket on the bull rush. Alert defender who locates the ball quickly and shows good balance to pursue laterally and downfield. Shows vision and savvy as a walk-up blitzer, timing his rush with the snap nicely to penetrate his initial gap or when looping on stunts. Awareness and underrated athleticism evident when asked to cover tight ends and slot receivers on underneath routes. Gets an effective jam on his target and is athletic enough to handle coverage duties for a few yards. Physical, reliable tackler who wraps his arms securely and arrives with a thud. Good strength to rip away at the ball while making the tackle. Smith served as a moveable chess piece on the Cardinals' defense throughout his career, logging time at every position along the defensive line as well as a stand-up outside linebacker.Optimists will view him as a hybrid defender capable of finding a niche in any scheme. Others will see Smith as a 'tweener prospect who struggles to handle double-teams at the line and lacks the elite athleticism to develop into an impact playmaker in the NFL."
DE Jamil Merrell (Rutgers) 6-4, 252, 4.91, 40yd dash
Projection: UDFA Description: Like his twin brother Jamal and many of their former Rutgers teammates, Jamil was apart of the Jets Local Pro Day. Here's Pauline. "Former starter who posted just 23 tackles last season. Undersized defensive end with good movement skills. Fires off the snap, keeps his feet moving, and shows a closing burst of speed. Fluid if asked to twist or stunt, quickly changes direction, and easily pursues the action down the line of scrimmage. Merrell is an undersized but athletic defensive end who, prior to last season, showed the ability to exploit college tackles. Coming off his disappointing campaign of 2013, he may struggle to make it out of camp this summer."
DE Terrence Fede (Marist) 6-3, 276, 4.80, 40yd dash
Projection: 7-UDFA Description: Jets personnel scout Cole Hufnagel ran Fede's Pro Day. He came away so impressed that he invited Fede (pictured) to the Local Pro Day. Here's an article by Ken McMillan of the Times Herald-Record describing Fede's dreams of playing in the NFL. "Terrence Fede has a lot of faith that come May he will be the first Marist football player drafted by an NFL team. "Right now it's in God's hands,'' Fede said Thursday following his Marist pro day workout at the Hudson Valley Sportsdome. "Right now all I can control is go out on the field, work hard, work on my craft and just get better.'' Marist coach Jim Parady believes the 6-foot-4, 278-pound Fede, from nearby Nyack, could be a late-round choice in the May 8-10 college draft. "That's my gut feeling,'' Parady said, noting seven or eight NFL teams have expressed more than a passing interest in the defensive end, who also has the skills to play outside linebacker. Fede was named an AP second-team All-American for the Football Championship Subdivision, and was the Pioneer Football League defensive player of the year. His single-season record of 13 sacks gave him a record 30 for his career. He had 59 tackles in his senior season, helping lead Marist to a share of the PFL title. Fede believes he has what it takes to make the NFL, primarily due to his work ethic. "I go hard, I do everything 100 percent,'' Fede said. "I do what the coaches tell me. I am a coachable player. ... My coaches tell me I am on the right path. They say I have great size and a great motor.'' Fede had his first pro day workout on March 3 at the University at Buffalo, before scouts from all 32 NFL teams. "I was able to show what I had on the table,'' Fede said. Thursday's workout was a little more intimate, with just six of his Marist teammates and one Jets scout running the tests. Fede said his numbers were either consistent or an improvement over the Buffalo pro day, shaving precious hundredths of a second off his time in the 40-yard dash to the mid 4.7-second range. "He backed up his numbers,'' Parady said, "so that's consistency. Ten days ago was not a fluke for him.'' Fede has been working out at TEST Parisi Football Academy in Martinsville, N.J. He expects to attend some more pro days and he has a workout with the Giants on April 10. In the meantime, he plans to refine his skills. "It feels like it's taking forever, but you just have to be patient,'' Fede said. "I have been playing my whole life. Now is the time to perfect everything that you do. It's right there, right around the corner.''
Analysis: It's no question that the Jets defensive line is their strongest unit on defense, and it's not even close. With that being said, I find it very difficult to believe that will go DL in the first few round. There are just too many others needs to be filled. However, the upside of having 12 draft picks is that later on, they can take a flier on a guy like Terrence Fede, with minimal downside. Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, Quinton Coples, Sheldon Richardson, and Kenrick Ellis are all under 27 years old, so they will be the centerpiece of a dominant DL for years to come. However as previously mentioned, there's no harm is drafting a guy in the later rounds to push Tevita Finua, TJ Barnes and Leger Douzable for that final DL spot. I can definitely see them drafting a guy to put on the Practice Squad to groom for future years.
As far as linebacker is concerned, the Jets would be smart to draft an outside linebacker in the first few round (I'm looking at you, Marcus Smith). The Jets haven't had a pure pass rusher at the OLB position in years, and while Quinton Coples and Calvin Pace did a nice job there last year, I'd like to see them draft a natural pass rushing OLB and let him go loose in Rex's system. You can't expect a 34-year-old Pace to get 10+ sacks every year. Troy Davis showed nice upside while Garrett McIntyre and Jermaine Cunningham are solid backups. The Jets LB core overall is pretty much set, so any draftees would be pushing the backups for their jobs and would be vying to contribute on special teams to start.