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With top cornerbacks off the board, Jets fill safety need

Calvin Pryor poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

Calvin Pryor poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was picked #18 overall by the New York Jets during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014. Credit: Getty

The Jets bolstered their secondary in Round 1 of the NFL draft by drafting a Louisville slugger of sorts. Rather than trade up into the Top 15, the Jets stood pat and eventually selected safety Calvin Pryor with the 18th overall pick

The Jets had their sights set on a couple of cornerbacks in particular: Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert and Kyle Fuller from Virginia Tech. But Gilbert was snatched up by the Cleveland Browns at No. 8 and Fuller was taken 15th by the Chicago Bears.

Jets GM John Idzik refused to say where Pryor lined up on their draft board, saying only: “We won’t get into the specifics or relative values or anything like that. It suffices to say that this was a pretty easy selection, once he was available, when we were on the clock, this was the guy we wanted.”

While several mock drafts listed Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard ahead of Fuller, the Jets strongly believe Pryor is a much better value than Dennard (who went 24th to the Bengals), Jason Verrett (San Diego, 25th) and Bradley Roby (Denver, 31st).

And the Jets are optimistic that they can still get a quality corner on Day 2.

The organization has now selected a defensive player in the first round in each of the past five seasons. But Idzik said they didn’t head into Round 1 thinking they would address defense first.

“No, we didn’t limit it to one side of the ball,” he explained. “It was really just sticking to our board and taking who we thought was the best player.”

And that “best player” – at No. 18 – was Pryor.

Said Idzik: “We had multiple eyes on him live. All three of us here got to see him live. (We) went to his workout. (He) happened to be one of our 30 visits, so we did a lot of homework on Calvin. He fits us. He fits our profile. He’s a physical presence on the field. He has range. (He) makes plays. (He) creates turnovers. He just plays like a Jet. So, very happy to have Calvin on board.”

Said Ryan:  "We pride ourselves in being a physical football team and he fits that profile. This young man is an enforcer. You see how some of those kind of plays and hits and everything else, how it can impact the game.

“All you have to do is look at the Super Bowl and the play of (Seahawks strong safety Kam) Chancellor back there and (free safety) Earl Thomas. It’s how we want to play defense and I think this young man is going to step in and fit right in with the guys that we already have.”

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