Pressure's on GM John Idzik in first draft with Jets
John Idzik's tenure in New York may ultimately be judged by what he does Thursday night.
Although the first-time general manager prefers to steer clear of the "rebuilding'' word, the Jets have slashed salaries and traded their best player, Darrelle Revis, to try restore faith in the franchise's future. With the ninth and 13th overall selections in the NFL draft, Idzik is approaching a defining moment in his career.
Few know exactly whom the Jets will target at Radio City Music Hall. The Jets, with many holes to fill, can go a number of ways. Idzik could take a guard, such as Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina or Alabama's Chance Warmack, or a pass rusher from among Georgia's Jarvis Jones, LSU's Barkevious Mingo, Ziggy Ansah of BYU or Oregon's Dion Jordan.
Mingo said he hasn't had any communication with the Jets since his formal interview at the combine. But Wednesday he said, "I've been hearing the same things you've been hearing,'' referring to the mock drafts that link him to the Jets at No. 9. If drafted by the Jets, Mingo likely will play outside linebacker. He said he's not worried about dropping back into coverage more.
"I would love to play for the Jets,'' he said at an NFL Play60 event in Manhattan. "They like to draft players that get to the quarterback.''
The last time a guard was chosen in the top 10 was 1997. "I guess it's the way it's written,'' Warmack said. "I'd like at least one of us to go.''
Said Cooper: "To break the top 10 as a guard would be phenomenal. It would show a change in the times -- that guards are important.''
The Jets also may choose to solidify their shaky offense by selecting a playmaker. West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin said he hit it off with Rex Ryan on his visit to the Jets. "Hopefully, we can make it happen,'' said Austin, who can play slot receiver, running back and special teams.
Ryan may be a defensive-minded coach, "but he definitely likes me, too,'' Austin said, adding that Ryan even joked about using him at cornerback on "a couple of plays.''
"He said he had a plan for me,'' Austin said. "And they said they like players like me who bring big-play ability.''
Even though Austin is small (5-8, 174), his former quarterback, Geno Smith, believes he can be an impact player.
"Lightning in a bottle,'' Smith said of Austin. "He does things that are uncanny. He has very rare speed, rare quickness and exceptional hands. The guy catches everything. He's not afraid to go across the field, he takes hits and pops up, he doesn't miss games, he plays through injuries. So everything you want from a guy, I think he has.''