Jets jump for Moss
New York moves up to grab game-breaking little guy
Updated: Saturday April 21, 2001 9:41 PM
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -- The New York Jets, declaring their need for a defense-stretching receiver, traded up three spots in the first round Saturday to draft speedy Miami wideout Santana Moss.
"Explosive players dictate to the defense that they have to change their coverages," Jets coach Herman Edwards said. "He gets respect when he breaks the huddle; the defense has to say 'Where's he at?' because a 5-yard out pass can become a 70-yard touchdown."
Despite being 5-foot-9 1/2, Moss did not scare off the Jets, even though their top receiver is 5-10 Wayne Chrebet. By trading fourth-round and sixth-round picks to move up from 19th to 16th in the first round, the Jets decided that Moss' speed and athletic ability offset his size.
"I was surprised they traded up," said Moss, speaking from Miami. "I thought I would still be there at 19, but they jumped ahead, and I'm thankful for that. They won't be mad that they took me. They can't get a better guy. I'm going to give them everything they want."
Moss impressed the Jets with his 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash and a 42-inch vertical leap, and he had four punt returns for touchdowns in his senior season at Miami. So in addition to his receiving, the Jets believe he will dramatically improve their 27th-place standing in NFL punt returns.
"He can score from anywhere on the field as a punt returner as well as a receiver," Edwards said. "He'll come in as a punt returner first, and we can give him some plays at wide receiver. He doesn't have to come in and be a starter at wide receiver on the first day.
"We have some tall receivers in Matthew Hatchette and Laveranues Coles who have some size. The thing about Santana is that he can make people miss, and can run fast."
The Jets stayed on the offensive side of the ball with their picks in the second and third rounds: tailback LaMont Jordan of Maryland and tackle Kareem McKenzie of Penn State.
Moss, who broke Michael Irvin's Miami record for receiving yardage despite having to start his college career as a walk-on, said he has always had to deal with doubters.
"My size has always been an issue," he said. "All I have to do is go out there and play good football."
Jets general manager Terry Bradway said Moss' skill as both a wide receiver and punt returner was a plus.
"We had the fear that some other team would move up and get him, so we did what it took to go get him," Bradway said.
The 5-10, 230-pound Jordan had an outstanding season at Maryland in 1999 with 1,632 yards, but slipped to 920 as a senior.
"He underachieved in his senior year, and that's why he's still sitting there in the second round," Edwards said. "But he's a big guy with good speed for his size. In the colder months here in November and December, you might want to run the football."
McKenzie, 6-6 and 327 pounds, was a three-year starter on the offensive line for Penn State.