Alabama LB Upshaw hopes Jets pick him
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Although some football fans may have grown tired of Rex Ryan's often bombastic claims, Courtney Upshaw can't get enough of the coach's cockiness.
The Alabama outside linebacker raved about Ryan's style and defensive smarts Wednesday, adding that he'd be thrilled if the Jets draft him 16th overall Thursday night.
"I love him," Upshaw said at an NFL Play 60 pre-draft event in Manhattan. "I just love that type of defense he runs. And the way he comes out basically every time like, 'I want to guarantee a championship.' I kind of like that 'cause he's confident in his team, and I'd like to play for a coach like that."
Upshaw believes he'd be a good fit, having rushed the passer on third downs at Alabama. He recorded 8.5 sacks last season as the defensive MVP for the national champion Crimson Tide.
"I love to get after the quarterback. I love getting sacks," said Upshaw, a college teammate of Jets backup quarterback Greg McElroy's. "I feel I can play both positions and play well and be productive. So either/or: If it's a 4-3 team, I'll play defensive end; 3-4 I'll play outside 'backer. But I love to get after the quarterback. I love to make big plays."
Melvin Ingram of South Carolina and North Carolina's Quinton Coples also could fill the opening for a pass rusher, while Notre Dame's Michael Floyd could be drafted for their No. 2 receiver opening. Alabama's Mark Barron would give the Jets the secondary depth they desperately need.
The surprise pick of the night, however, could be Trent Richardson if the Jets decide to trade up to No. 4 or 5, where the Alabama running back is projected to go to the Browns or Bucs. Yesterday, he told reporters the Jets called him Sunday to verify his information in case they're able to jump up the draft board.
Ingram and Coples met with Jets front-office personnel during pre-draft visits to the team's facility. Ingram called the Jets a "first-class organization" and said he would fit in "perfectly," but he likely won't be available at 16. Coples said the Jets have shown "pretty strong" interest and that he's been in contact with a Jets scout almost every day.
Floyd, who assured the Jets that his off-field issues with alcohol were behind him, likened the Jets to the Fighting Irish. "Everyone always brings their 'A' game to play them just cause you're always in the spotlight," he said. "So in my experience and how I am as a person, that's the kind of situation I like to be in."
The Jets could land Barron if the Cowboys don't select him at No. 14. The Alabama safety, whom the Jets contacted recently, disputed the "misconception" that he can't play man-to-man.
"I'm sure that'll be great," Barron said of playing for Ryan, a friend of Alabama coach Nick Saban's. "I just got done playing for a defensive-minded coach."