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Four play

Jets' 2001 draft won't have last year's first-round quartet

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Posted: Wednesday April 18, 2001 11:49 PM

  Shaun Ellis The Jets grabbed former Tennessee defensive end Shaun Ellis with the 12th pick in the 2000 draft. Jonathan Daniel/Allsport

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -- Barring the outrageously unforeseen, the New York Jets won't be making NFL Draft history on Saturday.

Last year, the Jets had an unprecedented four first-round selections, getting two from an April deal that sent their top receiver, Keyshawn Johnson, to Tampa Bay. The team believes it hit the jackpot with those choices, getting a starting defensive lineman (Shaun Ellis), a pass-rushing outside linebacker who could play end (John Abraham), a future starting quarterback (Chad Pennington), and a starting tight end (Anthony Becht).

The architects of the Johnson trade, Bill Parcells and Al Groh, are gone. New York's new regime, led by general manager Terry Bradway and coach Herman Edwards, plus holdover personnel director Dick Haley, hopes to fill the gaping hole left at wideout this weekend.

But that might not happen at 19th overall.

"When you draft for need, you have a tendency to reach," said Bradway, who came to the Jets from the Kansas City Chiefs. "We don't want to get in a position where we've picked these receivers higher than their value."

Probably worth the value of the 19th slot are Koren Robinson of North Carolina State and Rod Gardner of Clemson. Both have the size and speed the Jets are seeking as complements for Wayne Chrebet, Laveranues Coles and free agent signee Matthew Hatchette. But Bradway believes the Jets will have a deep-passing game with that trio.

"We've got chances with the guys we've got to stretch the field," Bradway said.

What they don't have on hand is a breakaway threat in the return game. So if the bigger receivers are gone, the Jets might turn to Miami's Santana Moss, a superb kick returner with supreme confidence despite being only 5-foot-9 1/2, 184 pounds.

"There's a lot of good receivers coming out in this draft," Moss said. "But if you want a guy who's going to go out and give it his all every play and is a punt returner, then I can be the top-rated receiver.

"There's a lot of guys who can break a game open just from the snap of your fingers: a Warrick Dunn, a Joey Galloway, a Peter Warrick. But I don't see anybody like me."

Bradway and Haley could see the team going for a defensive tackle in the first round, and certainly somewhere in the draft. That and receiver are the two deepest positions in this crop.

So if the Jets opt for a Marcus Stroud of Georgia -- or even end Andre Carter of California, if available -- they could leave receiver for a later round. Another Miami wideout, Reggie Wayne, and Ohio State's Ken-Yon Rambo are among the later possibilities.

Haley hopes Jets fans and second-year owner Woody Johnson aren't into comparing this year's booty to last year's group.

"Last year was special," he said. "We got two defensive linemen if you regard John as an end, the best quarterback in the draft and a starting tight end. That's pretty good.

"With a No. 1 pick, whoever that is, you should be able to get something out of that player in his first year, even if maybe it's not in a starting position.

"Woody was wondering why we don't have four picks this year."

Related information
Stories's 2001 NFL Mock Draft
Life of Reilly: Liccing My Wounds
Experts' First-Round Draft Picks
SI's Banks: Chargers may not be sold on Vick
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