FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- As expected, the Jets got a bit defensive Thursday night, picking up a player they hope can help bolster Rex Ryan's front seven.
With the 30th pick in the NFL draft, the Jets selected Muhammad Wilkerson, a defensive tackle from Temple. Wilkerson gives the Jets some much-needed youth up front and might be a perfect fit to replace Kris Jenkins. The injury-prone Jenkins has made it clear that he'd prefer to play for a team that has a natural grass home field.
Wilkerson played in a 3-4 scheme at Temple, making the transition a bit easier because the Jets utilize the same type of defense.
There also are questions about whether free agent Shaun Ellis will be back. So the Jets had a serious need on their defensive line, and they think Wilkerson is the perfect fit.
"I think he's one of those players that in Rex's defense is going to do whatever it takes to be successful," general manager Mike Tannenbaum said.
"In building our team, it's something Rex and I have been talking about for the last few years. We felt like depth at the defensive line position was a concern. So to get somebody of his ability, we are really excited about that."
So is Wilkerson.
"That's a tremendous defense they've got over there," Wilkerson said. "I'm glad to be a part of it."
Ryan was salivating at the chance to pluck the 6-5, 305-pound native of Linden, N.J., off the board. He almost burst at the seams when it was time to make the pick official.
"With Muhammad being there, it's interesting just watching the whole thing," Ryan said. "I'm like, 'Oh, yeah, turn it in, turn it in.' But I'm really excited to have him and obviously there's a lot of good football players that are going to the teams in front of you and behind you. We think this young man is really going to do some great things for us."
Ryan doesn't see Wilkerson lining up at nose tackle but believes he can play end in the Jets' 3-4 scheme. He could wind up being a three-down contributor, though it may take a little bit of time to get up to NFL speed, given that he didn't exactly face the stiffest of competition at Temple.
"Muhammad is great," Jets vice president of college scouting Joey Clinkscales said. "He's athletic. He's strong inside, great hands."
One of the players the Jets were thought to have coveted -- Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor -- went off the board with the 21st selection. To get Taylor, the Browns traded up from No. 27, a spot they fell to after dealing five picks to the Falcons so Atlanta could select Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones at No. 6.
But the Jets also had a shot at drafting Da'Quan Bowers, the 6-3, 280-pound defensive end from Clemson who still was on the board when it came time for the Jets to make their pick.
"No. 1, he is an outstanding player," Ryan said. "[But] Muhammad really fits what we want to do defensively, a guy that can play head up on a tackle and kick back in in passing situations over guards and centers and things like that. So really, he was an outstanding fit for what we do defensively."