With the 30th pick of Pride of Detroit's 2011 NFL Mock Draft, the New York Jets select Ohio State defensive end/tackle Cam Heyward. Joel Korson is serving as the Jets' general manager, and his reasoning for the pick is below.
Typically when you see a team drafting at 30th overall, it is one that does not have very many glaring needs. However, due to the fact that the Jets have hit Free Agency Armageddon, meaning a ridiculous amount of their starters from last season are now free agents, they have a lot of uncertainty and quite a few needs. There were a number of different positions that I was planning on looking at when I went on the clock. The biggest needs that I found for this team were OT, DE, DT and OLB. I will tell you how I narrowed down my decision to Cam Heyward after the jump.
Damien Woody was recently cut, which opened up a huge void at the RT position. The LT is locked down with D'Brickashaw Ferguson for the next 10 years. A few months back Rex Ryan declared that they have the "best backup OT" in the league in Wayne Hunter. Hunter is one of those players that is a free agent, but I am going to go out and say that they will re-sign him, making this not as big of a need as one might think. After all, the "best backup OT" in the league is probably better than most players coming out of the draft, at least in terms of immediate impact. I also think that drafting strictly a RT in the first round is more of a luxury pick, and seeing as how the Jets don't have a second-round pick, they cannot afford luxury picks. Gabe Carimi was an option here, but I ultimately decided to go in a different direction.
Next I was planning on taking an OLB because both Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas are getting up there in age and, in my opinion, are not as intimidating as they used to be. Unfortunately for me, Ryan Kerrigan, Justin Houston and Akeem Ayers all went right before me, leaving me with few options. I also thought that by drafting a defensive lineman, this would help out the existing linebackers anyway.
With Shaun Ellis a free agent and Kris Jenkins and Vernon Gholston being cut, there are not many familiar faces on the once terrifying Jets line. Sione Pouha has played well in Jenkins' place over the last two years (Jenkins has had knee issues for the past two season, but before the injuries he was scary good) and I expect him continue to play nose for them. Also, Mike DeVito has played fairly well at one end spot.
This leaves a void at the second DE spot, as well as a sub DT (for the four man fronts on passing downs). I considered Phil Taylor, but I view him as more of an exclusive 3-4 DT and the need for an end is much more pressing. This ultimately leads to my pick of Heyward. He has excellent size (6'5" and 300 lbs.) and athleticism for a 3-4 end, but he also has experience playing the DT spot. This makes him a very versatile player for the Jets and makes him a three down player.
Ultimately you're getting a high character guy that can play multiple positions. This defense requires excellent lineman to generate pressure and the pick of Heyward will provide exactly what this team needs. Some might view this as a reach, but I view this as more of a steal, because we are drafting a player that can play two positions with one pick.
Check out the 2011 Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft tracker for a look at all of the picks.
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