The New York Jets Add Some Serious Talent and Find Their Need for Speed in the 2012 NFL Draft

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One of the team goals for the New York Jets this offseason was to get faster and more athletic on both sides of the ball.

The Jets felt as though their lack of overall team speed hurt them last year, so they made it their mission to get speedier, more versatile and more athletic. After draft weekend, it’s safe to say: mission accomplished.

At no position did they upgrade their speed and athleticism more than wide receiver. Upgrading from Plaxico Burress to Stephen Hill (above) is like going from a broken down jalopy to a Ferrari.

The Jets were absolutely thrilled to see Hill fall out of the 1st round of the draft on Thursday, and they traded a 5th- and a 7th-round pick to trade up four spots from 47th to 43rd overall to grab the Georgia Tech product.

“We feel real fortunate to get Stephen Hill in the second round,” said general manager Mike Tannenbaum. “He has a chance to come in, play right away and start right away.”

The 21-year-old Hill has the size, speed and athleticism the Jets have sorely lacked since the departure of Braylon Edwards, and he’ll have every chance to start immediately opposite Santonio Holmes.

Listed at 6’4, 215 lbs, Hill ran a blistering 4.36 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, with a superb 11 foot, 1 inch standing long jump, and a 39.5 inch vertical leap.

Asked what he can bring to the Jets offense, Hill talked about his playmaking ability in the passing game, as well as his willingness to open up running lanes as a run blocker.

“A lot of big plays down the field and getting big touchdowns in the right time, of course,” he said. “But other than that I feel like I can bring a lot, actually. Especially with blocking, I can definitely put somebody on their butt.”

In addition to drafting Hill, the Jets also think they found a gem in the 3rd round with Arkansas State linebacker Demario Davis, a big 6’2, 235 lb Mississippi native who could make an immediate impact.

Davis has the size, speed and versatility to play inside and outside linebacker positions, and he specializes at covering tight ends, something the Jets desperately need in the modern day NFL.

Jets senior personnel executive Terry Bradway spoke about the speed and versatility that Demario Davis brings to the table.

“He was a linebacker that we really liked because he can run, he hits and can cover tight ends,” Bradway said. “He ran a 4.52 at 239 pounds.”

The Jets are expected to use Davis on special teams, and his role on Rex Ryan‘s defense will increase as they see fit.

“We see him as an excellent special teams player,” said Bradway. “He was one of the top players that Mike Westhoff rated.  Mike probably did over 100 players and he was one of the top guys that he evaluated.”

“We see Demario coming in and making an impact [on special teams] right away. He will work his way in, possibly some sub and get on the field a little bit on defense too.”

Many believe Davis can be the next Bart Scott, as he exhibits the same fearlessness and intensity. Like Scott, he’ll also make his way up from special teams and carve a role for himself on defense in due time.

Davis may be Scott’s heir apparent, once the veteran linebacker’s Jets career is over. For now though, the Jets are happy to have the depth with Demario Davis getting his feet wet in subpackages as a rookie.

Time will tell if this 2012 draft class is a winner for Rex Ryan and the Jets, but there’s certainly a lot to like. Can’t wait!


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