By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns
The Jets and Giants both sat right where they were slotted in last night’s first round — No. 16 and No. 32 — and each got what they were looking for.
Even if, in the Jets’ case, it wasn’t what the crowd at Radio City Music Hall wanted.
With the fans chanting “We want Ingram” in a yearly urging of someone the Jets have no intentions of giving them, Mike Tannenbaum and his brain trust bypassed the South Carolina pass-rushing defensive end Melvin Ingram, and took what could be less pass-rush potential in North Carolina’s DE Quinton Coples.
And the Giants sat tight at No. 32 and took Virginia Tech running back David Wilson, a little guy at 5-10, 206. It was an odd pick considering they could have used a ready-made tight end like Stanford’s Coby Fleener, who will now probably go in today’s second round.
The Jets’ pick offered yet another gamble in a draft history full of them, many of which just haven’t worked out. They could have gone safe and taken Ingram, regarded as one of the most athletically-gifted prospects in the class. Projectionists said the 6-foot-1, 264-pounder could play just about every defensive line position except, perhaps, for nose tackle because of his lack of height and weight. But they also said he stand up and play outside linebacker in the 3-4 alignment Rex Ryan favors and overpower a tackle.
San Diego grabbed Ingram two picks later.
Instead, the Jets went with Coples, an overall good player who sometimes disappears from the action. But when he does show up, he can dominate from anywhere.
Coples, at 6-6, 284, can play inside because of a long wingspan. And he has the speed to play outside in the 3-4, or even a 4-3 look. And he stops the run, which could help the Jets rise from No. 13 in that defensive category.
Of course, this isn’t the first time the Jets have disappointed the draftniks, and indeed Coples comes with some on-field baggage like a sub-par senior year. But if the kid turns out to be a Justin Tuck in green — able to play inside and out, rush the passer, and stop the run — all will be forgiven.
As for the Giants, they took almost their entire 10-minute allotment to pick Wilson, who GM Jerry Reese said was the second-ranked running back on his value board. Exactly where he stood in relation to others like Fleener is anybody’s guess — they’ll say he was the best available — but with two tight ends in Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum down, they obviously saw something they liked in the junior Wilson to take a pass on Fleener.
It’s not so much that they took an offensive player for just the second time since Reese took over in 2007. They did shore up the defensive interior with the acquisition of 345-pound Shaun Rogers earlier in the day, so an offensive pick wasn’t that outlandish. But going running back instead of, way, wide receiver or tight end, both of which had holes, was a bit puzzling.
It could be Wilson’s north-south running style that had scouts calling him “electrifying.” The ACC Player of the Year might let it go a few times like the Giants’ reigning featured back Ahmad Bradshaw, especially as his pad level rises as he tries to make defenders miss in space. But Tom Coughlin and his staff can work with that. Besides, scouts say he’s got breakaway potential and will be a threat every time he touches the ball.
It’s a nice thing to have, but the Giants appeared fine at that position with Bradshaw, DJ Ware, and a good-looking second-year player in Da’Rel Scott. Wilson, though, could turn out to be the best pass-catcher of the bunch, however, as he can be used as a target out of the backfield or in the slot.
That was last night. Today? Look for the Giants to pick up a tight end — who knows? They could wind up with Fleener after all — and a wide receiver.
The Jets? How about a linebacker and a wide receiver.
Then again, both teams could surprise.
Your thoughts on the picks? Which player has a better chance of becoming a star in NY? Sound off below!