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John Idzik under pressure to have productive draft

John Idzik, left, sits next to New York

John Idzik, left, sits next to New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan while waiting to be introduced as the Jets new general manager. (Jan. 24, 2013) Credit: AP

In his brief Jets tenure, John Idzik made the toughest decision any new general manager could make: agreeing to trade the franchise's best player.

But Idzik, who was hired as Mike Tannenbaum's successor in January, won't be judged solely on his decision to deal Darrelle Revis. Whatever decisions the Jets' brain trust comes to this week will go a long way in determining Idzik's mettle as a meticulous talent evaluator.

Every draft is important, but the Jets have far more riding on this week's selections than on any in recent memory. With a first-time GM, a coach (Rex Ryan) in the final year of his contract and an erratic quarterback (Mark Sanchez), the Jets need to hit a home run at Radio City Music Hall, starting with Thursday night's first round.

With the Revis trade completed, the Jets have only 18 of the 41 players they drafted since 2006, the start of the Tannenbaum era. Of those 41, none remains from the 2008 draft and only one apiece from the 2007 and '09 drafts (David Harris and Sanchez).

The good news for Idzik is there's a plethora of talent to be had in this year's class of NFL hopefuls. The Jets evaluated 1,426 players, visited 271 schools, wrote more than 5,000 scouting reports and conducted more than 300 interviews, senior personnel executive Terry Bradway said.

And regardless of whether Idzik wants to admit it, the pressure is on to deliver -- especially with the ninth overall pick and the 13th overall pick acquired Sunday from the Bucs for Revis.

"This is a culmination of over a year of evaluating these guys," Idzik said during last week's predraft news conference. "It's a culmination of evaluating your roster [and] the status of certain players on the roster.

"When you feel like you've thoroughly researched everything, I don't know that it's pressure. It's kind of like game day, 'Let's go, let's get it going.' As long as we're prepared, then we'll be ready to respond appropriately to anything that comes across our desks."

With the extra first-round pick, Idzik will have more opportunities to fill the many holes on his roster. The Jets have lost 11 key contributors (including Revis) from their 2012 team. As a result, they have several positions of need: pass rusher, safety, wide receiver, guard, quarterback, tight end and running back.

Luckily for Idzik, this draft class is deep, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines. Guards Chance Warmack (Alabama) and Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina) are options for the Jets in the first round. So are defensive ends Barkevious Mingo (LSU) and Ziggy Ansah (Brigham Young). Or the Jets could decide to trade down to accumulate more picks in later rounds and/or in next year's draft.

Idzik ultimately will be judged by the moves he makes this week -- although he prefers not to think of it that way.

"Ultimately, when we make that call and, yes, I turn the card in, that is different, but it's an accumulation of a lot of thought," Idzik said. "We are going to do what is best for the New York Jets. That is how those things come off.

"I don't view it as there is a lot of pressure because I am sitting in the chair. I am representing the New York Jets in any decision we make. Any decision I hand in is going to be reflective of a lot of thought and research in the building."

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