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New York Jets Press Conference Transcript 4/28/11

by Tyson Rauch on April 29, 2011

New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan addressed the media following their selection of Muhammad Wilkerson.  Here is the transcript courtesy of the Jets.

On rationale for selecting Muhammad Wilkerson…

MIKE TANNENBAUM: He was a guy that we had identified for a while. The thinking was that he is going to come in and give us definite versatility on the defensive line. (He is) 6’4”, 315 (pounds). He had earned a single-digit at Temple, which means he had a very successful offseason. He’s a local guy. It’s interesting, I had a really good talk with Al Golden, who coached him at Temple. Al was at Virginia with D’Brickashaw (Ferguson). I thought they had a lot of similar attributes in terms of work ethic and demeanor. I think he’s one of those players that, in Rex’s defense, is going to do whatever it takes to be successful. In building our team, something Rex and I talked about the last two years was we feel like depth at the defensive line position was something that was a concern. To get someone of his ability, we’re really excited about that.

On how excited Coach Ryan was getting as he saw defensive players dropping in the round…

COACH RYAN: We definitely were excited about that. Really, with Muhammad being there, it’s interesting, just watching the whole thing. I’m like, ‘Oh yeah! Turn it in, turn it in!’ I’m really excited to have him here. Obviously, there’s a lot of good football players going to teams in front of you and behind you, but we think this young man is going to do some great things for us.

On where Wilkerson is projected in the defense…

COACH RYAN: I don’t see him as a nose tackle, but I see where this young man can play defensive end in our system and tackle, as well. I see him as a possible three-down contributor for us, but we’ll see. He’s going to have to come in here and earn his reps and everything else. We think he’s going to be an outstanding player for us.

On whether the level of competition in the Mid-American Conference was a cause for concern…

COACH RYAN: No, he went up against Penn State and all those other teams. You watch that game and you’ll have no concerns.

On whether there was any temptation to trade up in the first round…

MIKE TANNENBAUM: We just had some very cursory phone calls. We listened when we were on the clock, too. Really, when Muhammad was on the board, we were really excited about that opportunity. We made a few calls, but nothing really heated up.

On when they really started targeting Wilkerson…

MIKE TANNENBAUM: Typically, anytime we make a pick, we wait until we’re like five or six (picks) away and then we’ll stack them. We’ll discuss it and then we’ll (play) devil’s advocate off of that. We’ll look at it, always wait for the phone to ring, and then go from there. We kind of have the same procedure anytime we make a pick.

On whether Da’Quan Bowers was in the conversation at any time…

COACH RYAN: I think, number one, he is an outstanding player. I think Muhammad really (fits) what we want to do defensively. (He is) a guy that can play head-up on a tackle and kick back in passing situations over guards and centers and things like that. Really, he is an outstanding fit for what we do defensively.

On what Wilkerson can do for the team…

JOEY CLINKSCALES: Muhammad is great. He’s athletic, and a guy like coach (Ryan) said, he can play a couple of positions. He had nine-and-a-half sacks this year and I think 17.5 for his career. He’s strong inside and has great hands. We had brought him in on our local day for the workout and he performed well. We were excited to get Muhammad.

On if the team was looking at Phil Taylor…

MIKE TANNENBAUM: I think he’s going to be a really good player (and was a) good pick for Cleveland. They moved around a little bit. He should play for a long time. I think he’ll do a good job.

On if the team wanted to pick a defensive player…

REX RYAN: We traded for (Antonio) Cromartie last year and used our first-round pick on Kyle Wilson. It was funny, the defensive coaches all came up before the draft and said, “You’ve had seven picks since you’ve been the head coach here and (you’ve only picked) one defensive player.” Now we have two and we are excited about that.

On what gave Wilkerson the edge over other talented players…

REX RYAN: We have been really fortunate the past couple of years. Our depth has been dwindling a little bit on our defensive line. This is going to be a young man that I think can really help us, come in and play tackle or inside. He was an excellent player in college and I think he has more to give. I’m just excited to see this guy. We’re going to push him and coach him to play the way we play. To play like a Jet. I think the Temple Owls were well coached and they play hard. I don’t think it will be that big of a transition for him as far as the effort it takes. We are going to push him.

On if Wilkerson’s pass rushing was a factor…

REX RYAN: You love to have a pass rusher whether it comes from the outside or inside. This young man can certainly do it. Mike (Tannenbaum and Joey Clinkscales) already talked about his pass rush numbers. I think he had nine-and-a-half sacks this year so obviously he has a lot of production. You look at that as an interior pass rusher and that is hard to do. Clearly, we’re excited about it. He has a huge wing span. I think his arms are 35 ¼ inches long. That’s up there. That’s D’Brickashaw (Ferguson) type arms. We’re excited about that. From an inside pass rusher, that’s really what you look for. We compared him to a young Trevor Pryce when he came out of Clemson.

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