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Jets Pick Louisville Safety Calvin Pryor at No. 18

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    Safety Calvin Pryor of the Louisville Cardinals poses with a jersey after he was picked No. 18 overall by the Jets during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall Thursday.

    Rex Ryan and the Jets went after a hard-hitting safety with their first pick in the NFL draft.

    The Jets selected Louisville's Calvin Pryor at No. 18 on Thursday night, helping bolster a secondary that ranked 22nd in pass defense last season. Pryor could compete with Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett for a starting spot opposite Dawan Landry.

    "He fits our profile," general manager John Idzik said. "He's a physical presence on the field."

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    Many fans and media speculated that the Jets would take a wide receiver — possibly LSU's Odell Beckham Jr., who went to the Giants at No. 12, or Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, who remained available — or cornerback — particularly Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard.

    Instead, they went with a safety who impressed Idzik and Ryan when they saw him in action.

    "We pride ourselves in being a physical team, and he fits that profile," Ryan said. "This young man is an enforcer."

    The 5-foot-11 Pryor earned the starting job at safety midway through his freshman season and quickly became a team leader. Pryor had seven interceptions and 218 tackles in three seasons at Louisville.

    It is the fifth straight year the Jets have selected a defensive player with their first pick. They took cornerback Dee Milliner last year at No. 9.

    The selection of Pryor kicked off a draft for the Jets in which they entered with 12 picks, the first time they had that many since 1998.

    Idzik wouldn't discuss whether the Jets considered Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who was still available when New York was on the clock. The GM did acknowledge that the Jets fielded several calls — and made calls themselves — about teams that were interested in trading up or down.

    "We stuck to our philosophy. We stuck to our board," Idzik said. "Calvin was our guy."

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