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."
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."