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Second day could contain more gems...T-Rock


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Second day could contain more gems

BY TOM ROCK

tom.rock@newsday.com

April 27, 2007

Sometime tomorrow afternoon, the Jets will make their first selection of the 2007 NFL draft. They are slated to go 25th, though that could change as the round unfolds, and they have four first-day picks. Exciting.

But recent history has shown that Sunday can be just as important as Saturday for this team. Especially the fourth round. That, after all, is where the Jets have taken some of their most productive players. Kerry Rhodes, Jerricho Cotchery and Leon Washington all were taken in the first round of the second day. The Jets made five fourth-round selections in the past three years, and all but versatile receiver Brad Smith, taken last year, turned out to be a starter at some point.

Any bozo pundit, TV screamer or Internet GM wannabe can come up with a list of the top 100 players in this year's draft and have only a handful of busts. The real struggle for NFL teams is finding value in the later rounds, and lately the Jets have been successful at it. Maybe they thrive on a good Saturday night's sleep.

The Jets are so aware of their fourth-round fortunes that general manager Mike Tannenbaum joked last week that the team would pass on its 89th selection late in the third because it currently does not have a pick in the fourth.

"We're going to wait four spots," he said, "wake up early Sunday morning and drive our card up to the front of Radio City Music Hall."

The Jets have only two second-day picks, the 27th in the fifth round and the third selection in the sixth. They haven't had fewer than seven picks in four years and have made 10 selections in two of the last three, including 2006. Tannenbaum has said his vision for the franchise is based on "building through the draft."

That could mean trading veterans for volume. Wide receiver Justin McCareins, linebacker Eric Barton and cornerback David Barrett have been mentioned in possible deals, and Tannenbaum made it seem that even linebacker Jonathan Vilma or defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson, two former first-rounders, could be had for the right price. "I don't think we have anybody that is untouchable," he said.

If the Jets can acquire some more second-day picks, who would be available? Maybe Ohio State defensive lineman Quinn Pit****, a 300-pounder whose reputation for smart, high-energy play would find favor with the Jets. Offensive lineman Marshal Yanda from Iowa also could be available, or Jay Moore, a Nebraska defensive end who likely would play outside linebacker in the Jets' 3-4 scheme. The Jets could even gamble on a I-AA player such as record-breaking receiver David Ball of New Hampshire, hoping to find the next Marques Colston.

With their late luck lately, you never know.

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