With the 30th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the...

With the 30th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Jets selected Temple's defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson (96). (Oct. 17, 2009) Credit: AP

Mike Tannenbaum had to check his head coach again, telling him he's not supposed to talk up the Jets' first-round pick until after he's already been signed.

But Rex Ryan had already began pumping up the selection of Muhammad Wilkerson, the 6-5, 305-pound defensive tackle/defensive end from Linden, New Jersey by way of Temple. 

"I compare him to a young Trevor Pryce, when he came out of Clemson," Ryan said, before the GM interrupted him and joked with him about toning down the compliments and comparisons.

That's when Ryan got coy.

"Remember, Trevor took several years to develop," he said, drawing laughter. 

Wilkerson was at a restaurant in his hometown with about 80 to 90 guests when he got the news that he was a Jet. He said he wasn't all that surprised to hear commissioner Roger Goodell call his name when it came time for the Jets to draft at No. 30 overall.

"I thought it was going to happen," said Wilkerson, who didn't grow up a Jets fan. "I had a great visit when I went to visit the Jets and work out for them. And once that 30th pick came around, I had that feeling they were going to pick me up."

This, despite playing for the Owls, a program that resides in the MAC and doesn't square off against the stiffest of competition. Some think that's a knock on Wilkerson, but he's not about to co-sign on that one. 

"No, I think it's no problem," he said. "There are guys very successful now coming from the MAC. The talent level is just as good as any conference. So, just coming into the National Football League, it wouldn't concern me that I'm coming from the MAC."

Ryan's just happy he's got his man.

"I just look at it this way," Ryan said. "We have been really fortunate these last couple of years. Our depth has kind of been dwindling a little bit on that defensive line, but this is going to be a young man I think can really help us, and come in and play -- whether it's tackle, whether it's end or whatever. I think this guy can really help us and he's a young man that we think was an excellent player in college, but we think he's got more to give.

"And I'm just excited to see this guy. We are going to push him, and push him, and push him, and coach him up to play the way we play, and that's play like a Jet. I think the Temple Owls, they are well-coached and they play hard. So I don't think it's going to be that big of a transition for him as far as the effort it takes. But we are going to push him."  

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