The message sent by the Jets to its incumbent defensive linemen couldn’t have been anymore clear: It’s time for some new blood.
A sore spot of the Jets defense the last two years has been the inability to get to the quarterback without blitzing as well as a lack of size in the middle with the absence of oft-injured Kris Jenkins.
Enter Temple’s versatile defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, the Jets first-round pick. Like the late Reggie White, the 6-4, 315-pound tree stump can play any position along the line.
For those may not agree with the pick, football games are won in the trenches. The Jets struggle when they can’t stop the run. Just check the stats from the Jets 24-19 loss to the Steelers in the AFC championship game. Rashard Mendenhall ran for 121 yards and a score.
Wilkerson is ready to bring the heat on opposing defenses from every angle. “I enjoy it. It helps me out,” Wilkerson said of playing multiple positions. “So it causes problems for somebody on the opposite team.”
The Jets followed up that pick in the second round with another massive defensive lineman in Hampton’s Kenrick Ellis.
Get the picture? Jets coach Rex Ryan is trying to build another 2000 Ravens-like defense, one that is big up front with great cover cornerbacks. Ryan’s Super Bowl guarantees have come up short the last two years. This year could be different. Wilkerson and Ellis are exactly what the Jets have been missing on their defense.
“Really, with Muhammad being there, it’s interesting, just watching the whole thing,” Ryan said. “I’m like, ‘Oh yeah! Turn it in, turn it in!’ I’m really excited to have him here.”
Except for Vernon Gholston, the Jets haven’t made many glaring mistakes drafting in the Mike Tannenbaum era.
This could be another home run.