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Hoge on Sanchez: Very Good, 'Not Special'


A heatwave is heading to New York City this weekend and the temperatures will also surely rise inside Radio City Music Hall on Saturday with the commencement of the 2009 NFL Draft. We all know the Jets have found their way into a firestorm of speculation.

On the latest predraft installment of Jets Radio, Randy Lange and I chatted with Merril Hoge, ESPN's NFL analyst. Hoge doesn't think any quarterback in this year's crop is destined for greatness and also doesn't believe it would be wise for the Jets to attempt to move up to select Southern Cal QB Mark Sanchez.

"Sanchez is not special. I think you trade up from where you are for a special guy," he said. "I think he's a very good quarterback, he does some good things and I like him, but I don't even like him in the Top 15, in the Top 20."

Hoge, a running back who played seven of his eight pro seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1987-93) before finishing his career with the Chicago Bears in 1994, is actually smitten with Connecticut RB Donald Brown.

"He's powerful enough. I love how he catches the ball, love his willingness to block and his commitment to that," Hoge told us. "But the thing that probably stood out to me the most is he will play ever down for you as hard as he can play it — even if he doesn't have the ball. I love that about him."

The Jets do have a talented tandem at RB in Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, but TJ reportedly is not happy with his contract and the Green & White may be looking to add depth at the position.

If the Jets elect to stay at No. 17, many pundits think the team will choose the best available wide receiver. Both Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree and Missouri's Jeremy Maclin are expected to be off the board at that point, so New York's AFC representative could be choosing from the likes of Florida's Percy Harvin, Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey, Rutgers' Kenny Britt and North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks.

Hoge views Harvin as more of an athlete than a football player and thinks he'd have to work very hard to make a successful transition to the pros. Regardless of the pick, Hoge says Jets Nation will demand immediate production.

"Whoever gets drafted in the first round, they want him to play. They're not going to accept him being a package player and that's one thing the Jets have to be really concerned about," he said. "If they draft Percy Harvin, they can take a lot of heat if he's not making a lot of plays and touchdowns like he did at Florida."

Florham Park Receiving Network Attention

ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, who recently penned the book "How Football Explains America," is setting up shop upstairs at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center this afternoon. Sal will provide ESPN with reports throughout day one of the draft. Kara Henderson, a feature reporter for NFL Network's "Total Access," will also be in attendance throughout the weekend.

We're attempting to get Sal Pal for a radio segment later this afternoon that will be available to you beginning tonight.

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