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EXCLUSIVE: Jake Steinberg of thejetsblog.com Talks Draft with the Jet Press

By Alan Schechter
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Feb 1, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kourtney Kline (left) and Kristyn Kline hold New York Giants and Chicago Bears number 1 jerseys at the NFL draft set at the NFL Experience at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

We are a week and a half from the 2012 NFL draft. Draft boards are getting set, and plans are coming together in the war rooms, including that of our beloved New York Jets. Jake Steinberg, from the jets blog is as prepared as they come.  The Jets Blog, for those who don’t know, is the team blog sponsored by the TV network SNY.  Jake may have more knowledge about the draft than Coach Ryan, as he has scouted over 200 players.  Jake has taken the time out of his schedule to answer questions for the Jet Press readers:

The Jet Press: Give my readers a little background on yourself, for those who aren’t familiar. What do you do? How long you have been blogging, how long a Jets fan..etc.

Jake Steinberg: My name is Jake Steinberg. Many fans might know me as Steiny (@Steiny31 on Twitter), the name in which I write under for SNY’s TheJetsBlog.com. Furthermore, I have just started to get into the “breaking news” aspect a little bit. It has been a joy to write about the Jets everyday, and I look forward to doing it another. Born and raised in NYC, I started writing for the website about three years ago, and it has been an amazing opportunity for me. I have been a Jets fan for as long as I can remember, and want to see a SB just as bad as the next Jets fan!

TJP-The Jets have had a lot of guys into camp, talk a little bit about guys that fans may not be familiar with that have come in.

JS-I’ll give you three guys. First is running back John Griffin. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know John pretty well since he signed with the Jets. I can honestly say I have never seen a player more dedicated or determined to prove his doubters wrong. Whether it is late at night, or at the break of dawn, John is either working out on the field or in the weight room. He is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to showcase his talent during camp. It has been reported that the Jets aren’t likely to go after a RB in free agency because they like their young guys on the roster. I can say with confidence John is one of those guys. Keep in mind, he attended UMass, Mike Tannenbaum’s alma mater, so Mike had the opportunity to watch him play in college. Keep an eye on this kid…if his heart and determination are anything close to his game, he’s going to be something special.

Second is receiver DaMarcus Ganaway. Signed by the club on January 17th to a reserve/future contract, Ganaway was waived on April 3rd to make room for Hayden Smith. However, Ganaway told me that he will be resigned in May, just in time for training camp and OTA’s. As Ganaway put it, “once I get back, I’m back for good.” He started 34 of 40 games at Kentucky Wesleyan and finished his college career with 214 receptions, 2,653 yards and 22 touchdowns. Ganaway did not play football in 2011. Instead, he spent the entire year training and working out at in Fort Wayne, Indiana at AWP (Athletes with Purpose). He spent his summer working out with Cardinals All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. He runs a 4.30, 40. Ganaway can give this team a vertical threat that they’ve been missing since Braylon left. Obviously he’s going to need to show he can move past guys like Dexter Jackson and Eron Riley on the roster, and I’m confident he can.

Lastly, keep an eye on Royce Adams. Adams can do it all. While he will likely be a corner for the Jets, he has experience playing receiver as well. He converted from cornerback to wide receiver prior to his senior season at Purdue in 2009. Adams played in 46 games for the Boilermakers, also spending time at both kick and punt returner. Adams played the 2011 season with the AFL’s Pittsburgh Power. He sent him his tape last season, and as soon as Mike Tannenbaum received it, he brought him in for a workout on December 26. The Jets liked what they saw and signed reserve/future contracts in January. Adams might have a great chance to make the 53-man roster due to his versatility. He is a fantastic kid, and somebody who all Jets fans should root for come summer time.

TJP-If there is a particular couple of names that you have heard, but Jets fans might not be familiar with, that you think are likely to become Jets in the later rounds, share with our readers who they are, and a little background.

JS-There are a few guys. They really like this kid Jeff Adams from Columbia University. An offensive tackle, he’s (6-6, 306). They worked him out at his Pro Day. But as if that wasn’t enough, they are bringing him in for a private workout. Adams has long arms and big hands, while impressing scouts with his footwork. Furthermore, Adams is intelligent and hardworking. However, he needs to bulk up and learn to play with more leverage. He will likely be a 7th round pick.

Another guy they like is Temple FB/HB Evan Rodriguez (Temple University). At 6-1, 239, he runs a 4.58 40yd. He will likely go in the 5th round. Rodriguez has a private workout coming up with the Jets. Scouts see him as an H-back at in the NFL. He doesn’t have great speed and isn’t a traditional fullback. Rodriguez can seal and block the edge, line up out wide or go in motion. He also has the ability to play special teams. He has proved to be an upright runner. If he learns to play with a better bend, Rodriguez has all the tools to succeed.

Lastly, they really like this kid Jeremiah Brown, a defensive back from Wagner. Brown will likely be signed as an undrafted free agent. He visited April 13th. An all around athlete, Brown will be apart of the local visits. A hard worker and a natural born leader, Brown was named one of Wagner’s four captains. He is very raw and level of competition is a concern. However, Brown has experience playing on special teams and defense. He saw action at both cornerback and strong safety in college. He was also a wide receiver in high school. Has nice size for a corner and could prove to make an impact in camp.

TJP-You and many others have talked about how big the WR class is, tell the fans about some of the guys the Jets are interested in.

JS-Look for them to take two wide receivers in this draft. With 10 picks, they have the luxury to do just that. They like this guy T.J. Graham from N.C. State. At 5-11, 182, he runs a 4.41 40yd. Graham will probably be a 6th round pick. The Jets worked out Graham at the Senior Bowl. Graham, who also is on the NC State Wolfpack track and field team, is a duel-threat player. A kick returner and wide receiver, Graham is usually the fastest man on the field and is great at running vertical routes. But, that is also his weakness. Due to the fact that NC State often had him run vertical routes, Graham is not a very good route runner and he’s not physical and lacks ideal strength for a wide receiver. Graham also doesn’t change directions well.

They also love WR Gerell Robinson from Arizona State. He is 6-4, 220, 4.58 and runs a 40yd dash. I expect him to be taken in either the 6-7 round. The Jets showed a lot of interest in Robinson at the Senior Bowl. A big target, Robinson is a big play threat who has a strong upper body and destroys smaller cornerbacks. He is very difficult to get down after the catch, often dragging receivers with him as he runs. Unfortunately, he has stiff hips and has trouble getting separation in man coverage on short routes. He has pretty short arms for a big guy, so he isn’t able to high point the ball. Robinson isn’t the most athletic receiver in the draft, and it takes him some to to get to full speed. He will be a nice developmental prospect for some team.

TJP- You have mentioned about a trade up scenario for a guy the Jets are interested in in round 1, I’ve read it, but I will let you tell the readers about it because you sounded very convinced about the possibility

JS-I believe the Jets will try and trade up for University of South Carolina DE/OLB Melvin Ingram. At 6-2, 264, he runs a 4.79 40yd dash. I think it is fair to say this is Rex Ryan’s favorite player in the entire draft. Rex personally flew to South Carolina to attend Ingram’s Pro Day. An all-around great athlete, Ingram is quick and agile. He has a relentless motor and is versatile. He can line up at defensive end, outside linebacker, or defensive tackle. Ingram has great leverage and good upper and lower body strength. However, he is undersized and inconsistent in run support. He has very short arms. Injuries are also a concern. Ingram missed the entire 2008 season with a broken foot.

The Jets have never been afraid to trade up before, and if Ingram is really the guy they want, look for the to make a big move come draft day. Jacksonville at #7 and Carolina at #10 are both trade possibilities. The last time the Jets made a trade with Carolina on draft day, it worked out pretty well… (Revis!)

TJP-Talk about guys they have looked at to solve the Eric Smith safety problem, as well as the Wayne Hunter issue. Which position are they more likely to address in the draft?

JS-I’ve been told me various league insiders that the Jets won’t address the offensive line tackle early in the draft. In regards to the safety situation, they are not going to take a safety in the first round unless it is Alabama’s Mark Barron. Here are a few guys to keep an eye on for both positions.

LSU safety Brandon Taylor is a guy the Jets like. He is 5-11, 209 and runs a 4.58, 40yd. He will likely be selected in the 3-4 round. Taylor is scheduled to meet with the Jets before the draft. Rex Ryan flew to Louisiana to attend his pro day. Taylor sometimes struggles in run support. He takes poor angles and is over aggressive at times, meaning he often gets beat by cutbacks. Scouts suggest that he should play in a zone scheme at the next level, as he has difficulty in man to man coverage. Taylor also has poor tackling technique, leaving his feet too easily and throwing his body at the ball carrier instead of wrapping. On the bright side, Taylor is very athletic and loves to make the big hit. He’s tries to separate the receiver from the ball. He has nice speed for the free safety position, and has good ball skills. He can play center field, but also come up and play a physical game.

Another guy the like is The University Of Montana’s Trumaine Johnson. He is 6-2, 204, and runs a 4.61 40yd. The Jets have worked out Johnson. He has great size for a corner which in turn causes problems for possession receivers. He looks comfortable in zone coverage and has great footwork. He can play both cornerback and free safety. Johnson does have some question marks though. He was arrested for obstructing police officers in October, 2011. In 2009, he was suspended for his role in a fight at a fraternity party. He missed time in 2009 and 2008 with various injuries. On the field, his tackling technique is sloppy and he does not consistently wrap-up the ball carrier. He is raw in his recognition skills, but has all the physical tools necessary to develop into a starter down the line. He will likely be chosen in either the 2-3 round.

As far as offensive lineman go, the like OG/OT Ronald Leary from University of Memphis. He is 6-3, 315 and did 30 reps at 225. Leary is projected to go in the 5-6 round. He worked out for the Jets. While most teams see him as a guard, scouts love his versatility. He started the last three seasons at Memphis, playing as a left tackle in 2009 and 2010 before moving to the interior in 2011. Scouts praise his ability to change directions well. But, Leary does struggles in pass blocking situations. He also does not have very good footwork, which is scary to some teams. They question his ability to move from side to side. With time, Leary has the chance to be a serviceable player in this league.

Lastly, the love Troy OT/OG James Brown. He is 6-4, 307 and did 19 reps at 225. A likely 3rd round pick, the Jets showed interest in Brown at the Senior Bowl. While Brown mostly played left tackle during his college career, most scouts project him as a guard in the NFL. A better run blocker than pass blocker, Brown isn’t very athletic and scouts are not impressed by his footwork. With proper coaching and hard work, Brown can be a serviceable player down the line. However, he’s not ready to be a starter just yet.

Speaking of offensive lineman, keep an eye on offensive guard Trevor Canfield in camp. Canfield was with the Jets during camp last summer, and although was injured for most of camp, the Jets saw something they liked and kept him around for a while, even keeping him on the practice squad for a little bit. While they eventually released him on September 19, Canfield is back with the Jets and healthy.

TJP- Finally, with the visits of guys like Michael Floyd, do you see any chance the Jets go WR round one, or will they look at pass rusher there?

JS-I know they like Floyd, but with that being said I see them taking a pass rusher in round one. Whether that means trading up for Ingram, or taking a guy like Quinton Coples from North Carolina, it remains to be seen. But I think the only offensive player the Jets would take in round one would be Trent Richardson, and they would have to trade up for him, of course. While in all likelihood the would take Floyd in the first if he was available, he will be long gone when the Jets pick at number 16, and in my opinion is not a guy that I would trade up for.

Thanks so much to Jake Steinberg for taking the time. Take a look at his work on www.thejetsblog.com, and follow this guy on Twitter at @Steiny31.  I guarantee you it will pay off.  You might even feel more prepared for the draft than Mike Tannenbaum.

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