FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The pick: Jeremiah George, linebacker, Iowa State
My take: This was a classic "need" pick -- and a bit of a reach in the fifth round. The Jets are perilously thin at inside linebacker, so they opted for the undersized, but highly productive George (5-11, 231 pounds). He's a run-and-hit player who will contribute immediately on special teams, which need an infusion of young blood. In terms of his future on defense, George's size could prevent him from being an every-down player in Rex Ryan's scheme. He and Nick Bellore should be the primary backups behind Demario Davis and David Harris, who enters the final year of his contract.
You can't quibble about George's college résumé, though. He led the Big 12 last season with 133 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He has excellent instincts and good range. His intangibles are off the charts; he was a team captain and has an upbeat personality. The Jets like players from Iowa State; their director of college scouting, Jeff Bauer, is an alum.
Gambling Jets: Say this for the Jets: They're not afraid to take chances on players who fall short of prototypical size. They did it in the fourth round, selecting smurf receiver Jalen Saunders (5-9) in the fourth round and grabbing the diminutive George in the fifth. Chances are, they'll never become starting players in the NFL, but it shows the Jets are drafting with an emphasis on special teams. Their coverage units suffered last season because it lacked top athletes. They have a new special teams coordinator, Thomas McGaughey, and they're giving him some new toys to incorporate into his master plan.