Mike Tannenbaum: In the fourth round we had two picks, starting with Brad Smith. We're going to try Brad at receiver. We had phenomenal recommendations from all of the scouts and his coaches. He had 45 rushing touchdowns as a quarterback at a big program. We are going to start Brad at receiver and go from there.
Leon Washington, a running back from Florida State, was our second fourth round pick. As a junior, he averaged 6.9 yards per carry. His average per carry slipped a little his senior year, but we're comfortable with that. The reason for that is because our scouts went out and got the right information about Leon and he's going to come in and compete at the running back position.
We draftedJason Pociaskfrom Wisconsin in the fifth round and Jason will play tight end and fullback. Coaches like him for his versatility and as a core special teamer.
On behalf of the whole organization and our coaching staff, we feel great about the preparation and the execution of the plan. We went into this wanting to be flexible, to be prepared for opportunities that presented themselves and take advantage of them when it was appropriate. On account of the many trades we made up and down, we feel good where we're at in terms of the eight players we have with their competitiveness, toughness and character. We'll be on the phone all night talking with a lot of undrafted free agents.
Eric Mangini:Brad Smith was a guy we went and worked out. We knew that he was hoping to play at quarterback, but when we viewed him, we viewed him as an athlete. This guy is an outstanding football player, he can catch the ball and he can run with the ball. He was a three-year captain. When he left the program they wanted to shut it down. That's how important he is to their program. He's an unbelievable guy. We're excited about him.
With Pociask, he gives us some versatility in terms of a tight end being a bigger blocking fullback. He can play multiple roles.
With Leon, he's a guy we saw on tape, who is a smaller guy, and usually smaller guys don't block good, but when we saw his tape, he is incredibly tough for his size. He is explosive and catches the ball out of the backfield. We talked to the people at Florida State and they loved his leadership and what he brought to the table. So I think we filled some more needs and improved our depth and level of competition. We're excited about what we have been able to do so far.
On Brad Smith appearing on the depth chart at QB…
Mangini: We just viewed him as a really good football player. How he fits for us, is what we're going to find out. We're going to start him at receiver. We've done some things with receivers in the past, where maybe they played defense, offense, run the ball or maybe even they're behind the center on third-down to give you some option ability.
When he is on the field there are some problems especially if you do put him behind center and maybe do some things that you have to prepare for that is outside of the box with your traditional drop back type quarterback. To say that he could be the third, I wouldn't rule it out the realm of possibilities. But the important thing for him is to come in work hard and start to contribute to the team.
On the trend of All-Americans…
Tannenbaum:It's well documented within our organization and that's not a coincidence. Toughness, competitiveness and leadership are all attributes that we want as many of our players to have as possible. We're going to keep looking at those attributes into undrafted free agency. Going back to February, with our veteran free agents, those attributes are consistent. Eric and I are convicted in that position, we think it's a common thread in successful organizations, not only professional football but other sports as well. It's something we're committed to.
On Smith's academic success…
Tannenbaum:From what everyone has said, he has rare leadership, rare intelligence and a starter from day one whose production is off the charts as well as his character. He's going to come in here and start as a receiver but as Eric said - the best player will play. He had great measurables too in terms of his vertical, height and weight. There are a lot of things we like about Brad.
Mangini:One of the things we did early on is put up the intangibles we are looking at in the pro personnel room and in the draft room. We said, 'There are the types of people we're looking for: smart, tough, hard working, competitive, selfless and football was important.' Those things are on the board so that every time we look at a player, they need to fill out that part of the questionnaire to see if those characteristics match-up. It's the same thing that's in the draft room. I think it's something that is really important and when games and seasons get tough, that is when guys with character usually win out.
If you can combine character with talent you go from the good player to the great player. I really believe that and I've seen it with David Givens and Tom Brady, who are two guys that weren't very good their rookie year. But, they had all those other things plus ability and their work ethic was unparalleled. They turned themselves into the great players they are today and after witnessing that, to me that is what wins out in the end. It's good people, ability, structure and planning.
Tannenbaum:I really believe that there are two sides to every story and the truth is usually in the middle. I'm very proud of the thoroughness of the process of the organization. I keep telling Eric we have a lot of clubs in our bag and there are a lot of unsung people on our staff, one is Steve Yarnell.
Going back to 2000, we took Laveranues Coles in the third round. Again, there are two sides to the story, with the truth in the middle. Anything said about Laveranues that may or may not have been true, and Steve spent a lot of time with him and once he signed off on him, we were comfortable. We do have the characteristics we're looking for but we're very thorough in making sure we're getting the right information; looking at: who we're talking to or do they have an agenda? There are some coaches in the college level out there that are trying to give out information that would be helpful for their agenda. I was very proud with the cross checks that we did, the coaches, the scouts, Steve Yarnell, and the medical people. We used all that information to figure out what was the best decision for the Jets and make sure we weren't just going by a label or a perception that a label may have had.
On the truth to the intangible chart…
Mangini:We had them up in the room so if someone is working and evaluating and has any questions they can check the board, and that's how we feel about it. I've seen a lot of those guys that maybe there is a league-wide perception or wherever he's coming from says one thing but you get to know the guy and dip deep to discover the truth. After that, a lot of the guys end up meeting those criteria even though there may be something out there that said otherwise.
Tannenbaum:A lot of that comes from the Wonderlic Test and I think it's a great example that is can just be a barometer of a person's learning. But you can go deeper and see that there are different types of learning for each player. I think it's important to be thorough. When we look at guys, regardless of the position, at the end of the day they're a football player. When you look at it that way, that's what allows you to switch a Mike Vrabel to a TE, that's what allows you to switch Troy Brown to WR. Its football and they're good football players, and they have all the abilities and flexibility. Brad Smith is a good football player who needs to come in and do all the right things, but bottom line is he's a good football player.
On the starting defense…
Mangini:This is a process and free agency is part of the process as well as the draft. We're going to continue to address the team, week in and week out. If we think a player can improve the team, then we're going to get those players. It doesn't stop here or in free agency, it's ongoing. Our goal is that if we can upgrade the team that is what we're going to do. We've addressing our needs. It's not stagnant and it doesn't have an ending point.
On the future of Chad Pennington…
Mangini:We're going to have to see where we are once we get going. He's progressing and to say whether he will play in mini-camp wouldn't be fair at this point.
Tannenbaum:He may do some things, but the medical staff will have a say in what he can do whether its mini-camp or drills. His supervision is being closely supervised.
On Leon Washington's personality…
Tannenbaum:The feedback that we received on him was that he was very well thought of, football was important to him and he was a leader. That's all we needed to know. We feel like it's a program we know a lot about and we're comfortable about him from a personality standpoint.
On the market for a balance of work ethic and ability…
Mangini:I don't think it's market specific; I think it's what you're looking for in a team. The more guys you can have like that the better. Because there are those days in training camp, mini-camp, the season, the film room and the weight room, where things get hard and sometimes it takes someone to say, 'Hey we need to go watch film. We need to hydrate more. We need to lift more.'
Those are the things you want guys competing in. You want them making fun of each other for not knowing their assignments and those are things that I've seen where guys are competing in the right way and those things are important. It keeps building and the more people you can have pushing in a positive direction the better. When you have someone leaning on the fence, there is only one way you can go. I think position flexibility and intelligence are extremely important.