Newyorkjets.com's coverage of the 2014 draft includes breakdowns of each position group, focusing both on the Jets' current situation and the top players expected to be selected at the position from May 8-10. All player rankings have been compiled from 15 different "big boards" around the Internet, updated as recently as today and as far back as March 31. Today's sixth in the series: Defensive linemen.
The Jets selected defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson in the first round of the 2011 draft, they went with DE (now OLB) Quinton Coples first in 2012, and last April they used one of their two first-round picks on DT Sheldon Richardson. Noticing a trend?
Thanks in part to hitting on all three of those previous selections, that first-round defensive lineman pattern is likely to come to an end this time around. But as has been proven throughout the years, there is plenty of talent to be had outside of the top rounds in a draft.
Take Damon Harrison. Despite going undrafted out of William Penn, "Snacks" has emerged as one of the best run stoppers not just on the Green & White but in the entire league. His 66 total tackles and 7.0 stuffs both ranked fourth in the NFL among DTs last season. Richardson, by the way, led both categories (78 and 8.5) en route to his Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
It doesn't get much better than a starting lineup of Wilkerson (team-leading 10.5 sacks in '13), Harrison and Richardson, with Kenrick Ellis and Leger Douzable in the mix as well. Still, we won't hesitate to grab another talented D-lineman if one lands in our laps. So who are the top guys at this position?
South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney sits alone at the top, perhaps two rungs above the next-best defensive lineman. Across 15 different analysts' value boards, Clowney ranks no worse than second on anyone of them.
"Explosive. Violent. Rare," Bleacher Report's Matt Miller writes. "Clowney has running back speed in a defensive end's body." At 6'5" and 266 pounds, he ran a 4.53 40 at the combine.
Clowney recorded 13.0 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore. Those numbers dropped significantly last season (3.0 sacks, 11.5 TFLs), although many explain that by saying that teams began to run away from his side of the line and hit him with a constant barrage of double-teams.