Commentary

Jets could look to safeties in draft

Three big college names could provide cover over the top

Updated: April 21, 2010, 2:49 AM ET
By Jane McManus | ESPNNewYork.com

Leading up to the first round on Thursday, ESPNNewYork.com is taking a look at the Jets' biggest needs in the 2010 NFL draft. Over the last three days, we've looked at three pass-rushers the Jets could go for in the first round: DE/OLB Jerry Hughes, DE Everson Griffen and DT Jared Odrick.

If the Jets don't find the right defensive lineman available to them in Round 1, or if Dolphins OLB Jason Taylor decides to accept the Jets' offer to come to New York, then the Jets could look for a safety.

Right now, Brodney Pool is the only true free safety on the roster, and he is signed to a one-year contract. The other safeties on the Jets' roster are Eric Smith, Jim Leonhard and James Ihedigbo, who is more of a special-teams player. Coach Rex Ryan may be more interested in corners, but that didn't stop Baltimore from taking safety Ed Reed in the first round when Ryan was defensive coordinator.

Here is a look at the top three safeties in the draft.

Taylor Mays

Position: S
School: USC
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 235
Age: 22

STRENGTHS: Blazing speed. The 4.43 40-yard dash he ran at the scouting combine isn't even the top of his range. His tackling is particularly hard-hitting.

WEAKNESSES: There are some who question his physical integrity.

McSHAY'S TAKE: "There are clear concerns about his inconsistencies in coverage, but he has a rare blend of size and speed."

Eric Berry

Position: S
School: Tennessee
Height: 5-11
Weight: 211
Age: 21

STRENGTHS: Had 14 interceptions in three seasons with Tennessee, and had three sacks his second season. Would be exceptional in defending the pass and the run.

WEAKNESSES: The Jets would have to trade up and spend to get him.

KIPER'S TAKE: "The Ed Reed comparisons are legit."

Earl Thomas

Position: S
School: Texas
Height: 5-10
Weight: 208
Age: 20

STRENGTHS: He had 65 tackles last season for the Longhorns, and part of the reason he is projected for the first round is his raw competitiveness. Some draft watchers even rate him above Eric Berry.

WEAKNESSES: He is undersized for the position.

McSHAY'S TAKE: "Thomas has the instincts, closing burst and ball skills to be a starter from day one."

Jane McManus is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow her on Twitter.

Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

EDITORS' PICKS