- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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The Jets have done their homework. Team scouts visited 232 schools, evaluated 1,346 players and interviewed 366 of those. The prospects have run the 40, signed with agents and been prepped for the questions they faced from all 32 NFL teams.
When the 2010 NFL draft gets under way Thursday in prime time, all that is left to do is choose one of those players or trade the pick. Taking up three calendar days, the draft has changed a lot in 75 years, and those potential picks aren't so wide-eyed anymore.
They tweet, they blog, and they know that a good general manager is going to ask the person who drives them in from the airport whether or not they were polite.
"I would say the agent preparation has really changed things," Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said. "When they come into [the NFL combine in Indianapolis], especially, they're so prepped. Especially the ones that have indiscretions, it's like hitting play and record."
So discerning who will be a future Pro Bowl pick and who will violate team rules has become a science, with millions of dollars at stake considering that a first-round pick can easily demand $25 million in guaranteed money.
The Jets have five picks this year: the 29th overall pick and a low pick in each of the second, fourth, sixth and seventh rounds. Under Tannenbaum, the Jets have drafted well in later rounds. With two nights to reset the board, the Jets will be able to deliberate as long as the caffeine doesn't run low.
Having looked at the players potentially on the board, senior personnel executive Terry Bradway thinks the team can do the same this year.
"From the bottom of the first round into like the fourth round, maybe even into the fifth round, there are going to be a lot of good football players," Bradway said.
But the length of the draft will affect the way teams play it.
"Our thinking is there will be more of those trades going into Friday and back into Saturday as well," Tannenbaum said.
Whatever the case, the Jets aren't letting on exactly what they'll do, and the plan has likely been altered with the addition of OLB Jason Taylor on Tuesday. Defense has been the most glaring need, but Tannenbaum might just surprise everyone and take an offensive lineman to shore up an aging group.
The one position specifically addressed last week was defensive backs. Expect the Jets to look hard at the crop this year.
"There are a good number of safeties in this draft that could drop down and play man-to-man on the slot, which is good," Bradway said. "Conversely, there are some corners who could slide inside and be nickel safeties almost to cover and give you some help in the run game."
So stock up the fridge with Mountain Dew, get out the dip and prepare for an intense few days. The first real gamesmanship of the 2010 season is about to begin.