April 27, 2017

In the 2017 Draft, the Jets Should Select…

nfldraftTwo of the biggest positions of need for the Jets are at the two most important positions in today’s NFL – Quarterback and Cornerback.  With the sixth overall pick in the draft, I would love for the Jets to draft a QB or CB but, unfortunately, in this year’s draft, I just don’t see a QB or CB that warrants such a high pick.

For three of the last four years, I have written that I’d like to see the Jets draft an offensive lineman and an outside linebacker with their first two picks.  I’d spend our sixth pick on an elite Left Tackle if there were one in this draft.  I’d also spend our pick on an elite OLB.  The only OLB I’d draft with the sixth pick is Myles Garrett from Texas A&M.  Short of a Thursday afternoon Tweet and Instagram post of video with Garrett smoking marijuana off a gas-mask, I think it’s safe to say that Garret will be off the board long before the Jets’ pick.

With all that said, I started then to think about how we can make the QB position or the CB position better.  A QB can benefit from a strong running game.  I think Leonard Fournette, RB from LSU is worthy of a sixth overall selection.  I would not be upset with this pick but he wouldn’t be my first choice because RB is such a physically demanding position that it’s tough for them to stay on the field and their careers are usually shorter than players in other positions.  Furthermore, I think, of all the position groups on the Jets’ current roster, RB is one of their strongest.  I think both Forte and Powell are starting caliber players and I think Powell has earned the opportunity to play more.

When a QB is struggling (and I think it’s safe to say that whoever wins the starting QB spot this year will have their share of struggling moments), their best friend can be a good TE.  In this years draft, I think there is a TE that’s worthy of a sixth overall selection.  O.J. Howard of Alabama is a complete TE and would be a fantastic fit for a team that will likely rely on their run game.  Not only does Howard create mismatches in the passing game but he’s an excellent blocker (an attribute that has become increasingly rare among today’s TE’s).  However, despite his anticipated contributions to the run game and the coverage he’ll draw away from other receivers, I still have a hard time picking an offensive skill player that might only touch the ball five to seven times a game with such a high pick.  Consequently, Howard would not be my first choice but I would not be upset if he were the Jets’ selection.

So with a pipe dream mention of my 1st choice, Myles Garrett, OLB, Texas A&M and honorable mentions to my 3rd choice O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama and 4th choice Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU, my 2nd choice (who probably won’t be there but there’s a chance) is…

Round 1, Pick 6

With the 6th pick in the 2017, the New York Jets select Jamal Adams, Safety from LSU.  I think Adams is a complete safety.  He is versatile with excellent instincts.  He has elite leadership skills.  He’s got NFL bloodlines – his father (RB) was drafted in the first round by the Giants.  Adding an outstanding safety to the secondary can help everyone get better.  CB play should improve substantially if they don’t need to be as concerned with covering the middle of the field.  It’s rare that safeties are drafted this high but I think Adams is well worth the pick.  Unfortunately it’s likely that the Bears and Jaguars (or even 49ers) also believe that so I’d be pleasantly surprised if he fell to the Jets.  If he does, I think the Jets shouldn’t hesitate to make this selection.

Round 2, Pick 39

Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA

McKinley has been characterized as a relentless, high motor, high-effort player.  He has excellent burst off the ball and is fast with fluid change of direction skills.  He has extremely long arms that, once he’s coached up to better utilize them, are ideal to keep blockers from grabbing hold of him.  However, he currently doesn’t use his hands well and he needs to get stronger.  These are both things that can be addressed with good coaching and a good strength and conditioning program.  While he isn’t the ideal height and his frame is narrower than you’d like, he still has room to add girth to his upper body.  The Jets have long since had an edge rusher that gave their opponents pause.  “Takk” could be that for the Jets.  He possess a lot of the attributes you look for in an OLB that are not coachable and many of his deficiencies are coachable.  If he’s still on the board, I think he’d be an easy selection.  If he’s not, I would explore options to trade back and collect more picks.

Round 3, Pick 70

Pat Elflein, Center, from Ohio State

For me, this is the most interesting pick or the Jets.  They may have several compelling options here.  I was really torn between Elflein and OT Dion Dawkins from Temple.  Also, if the Jets don’t select a TE with either of their first two picks, I’d also consider Bucky Hodges, TE, from Virginia Tech.  I think any of these selections would be excellent.  While I think Tackle is a greater need than Center, the Jets are in need of establishing a young core of cornerstone players.  With Mangold gone this year and Ferguson the year before, the Jets no longer have any stalwarts along their offensive line.  I think Elflein has a high floor and a high-enough ceiling that he is both one of the safer picks in the draft and could become a fixture on our offensive line for the next ten years.  I like offensive lineman that are smart, strong and with a bit of a nasty streak – plus it’s a bonus if they’re former wrestlers.  Elflein not only checks all of those boxes but he also has versatility in that he can any of the three interior line positions.  He is a smart, high-effort natural leader who could be the anchor of this post Ferguson/Mangold line.

Round 3, Pick 107

Nathan Peterman, QB, Pittsburgh

I really wanted to draft a QB with the first overall pick.  Not because I’ve given up on Petty and Hackenburg – I haven’t.  I am really pulling for them both.  However, as of now, neither have claimed the mantle of franchise Quarterback.  Until that happens, I think the Jets need to keep investing draft picks in the position.  As Wayne Gretzky famously said,  “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  While the Jets have missed plenty of shots they have taken in the post-Chad Pennington era, they need to keep taking them.  While I really wanted to take a QB with our first round pick, the only QB I thought could warrant a pick that high was Mitchell Trubisky and I went back and forth with him as our pick.  I like Trubisky’s game and I think there’s an good chance that he’s the best QB in the draft but ultimately his sample size of just 8 wins and 13 starts is just too small.  As I looked at other QB options, I came to become really intrigued by Nathan Peterman.  He started out at Tennessee and lost his job to a fellow QB in this draft Joshua Dobbs.  Instead of giving up his football dream, he went on to Pitt and earned their starting QB job while getting his MBA.  He made the most of his second chance.  In handing the national champion Clemson Tigers their only loss of the year last season, Peterman threw for over 300 yards with 5 TDs and no interceptions.  He plays in a prostyle offense and is arguably the most pro-ready QB in this draft.  His physical attributes are nothing special but he’s accurate and anticipates well.  He does most of the cerebral things you want in a QB.  He has excellent vision and reads defenses well, works through progressions, looks off defenders and can throw receivers open.  He has excellent poise.  While his ceiling is not as high as guys like Trubiski, Watson, Mahomes and even Kizer, I think Peterman has the highest floor of any QB in this draft class.  I think his floor is that of a excellent back-up and he’s got a ceiling of being a solid, middle-of-the-road starter.  While it’s tempting to try and swing for the fences and try and draft the next elite QB, given the riskiness of the players with elite upside and the breadth of the Jets’ needs, from the vantage point of the ditch that the Jets are in, middle-of-the road sure does look good.

Round 5, Pick 150

Corn Elder, CB, Miami (Fla.)

At 5’10” and 183 pounds, Elder is undersized and may be limited to covering receivers in the slot but he’s a confident, scrappy player who has been described as ‘not realizing he’s undersized’.  He plays press coverage well and is physical at the line, forcing receivers to deviate off of their routes.  He has a good football IQ and is able to recognize routes and anticipate assignments.  He’s a sound tackler and also has experience returning punts.  I think it’s important to infuse some more young talent in the secondary.  If Jamal Adams is not available for the Jets with in the first round, I’d also consider selecting John Johnson, Safety from Boston College with this selection.

Round 6, Pick 191

Channing Stribling, CB, Michigan

If you’ve read this much of this long post, I presume you’re probably like me in that you follow the Combine pretty closely.  If that’s the case, you might be surprised that I have the Jets selecting Stribling.  He had a pretty terrible Combine – worst among defensive backs in the long jump, 20 yard shuffle and bench press plus a dismal 30th out of 33 in the 40 yard dash and 28th out of 31 in the vertical jump.  His less-than-ideal speed, which was demonstrated at the Combine, shows up on the game film too.  He sometimes latches onto receivers downfield and has drawn penalties for holding and pass interference in multiple games.  All that said, he has rare length for a CB and long arms.  He also fits the Jets scheme in that he’s a press corner.  Stribling has good ball skills and snared 5 interceptions in his final 13 games.  Despite his lack of strength, he is aggressive in run support, wraps well and is able to bring down larger ballcarriers.  His lack of long speed is certainly problematic but he may be able to compensate with his very good route recognition.  While he only has one season as a full-time starter and was the beneficiary of being surrounded by a lot of talent, given his length, style as a press corner, and ball-hawking ability, I would like to see the Jets invest their 6th round pick in Stribling.

Round 7, Pick 224

Jerry Ugokwe, OT, William & Mary

My late round picks usually come in one of two flavors: diamonds in the rough or rough diamonds.  Rough diamonds are character issue guys that would have otherwise been drafted much higher.  I rarely suggest that the Jets draft any guys with character issues early in the draft.  However, in the sixth and seventh rounds, I think it’s ok to take a flyer on a young man that seems remorseful and claims to be on the straight and narrow.  Players selected with such a late pick know that there status with the team is tenuous and, if they regress to their old ways, the team won’t hesitate to cut them.  This year, however, I favor selecting a diamond in the rough.  This is a high potential player that just needs development.  I think, with the right coaching, Jerry Ugokwe could be a tremendous player for the Jets.  He is one of my favorite guys in this draft.  He has a massive, prototypical tackle body (6’7”, 321 lbs).  He is athletic.  He’s got good foot quickness, balance and lateral movement.  He has big, quick hands, long arms and good body control.  He’s also really smart.  Being a Nigerian native, he was late to football (his father was actually Nigeria’s ambassador to Austria).   Ugokwe didn’t start playing football until his junior year in high school.  He walked on at William & Mary and demonstrated both versatility (playing on both the left and right sides) and durability (starting 42 games and missing just one due to injury).  He has significant technique deficiencies but has been characterized as very coachable.   Ugokwe has all the makings of an ideal project.  If the Jets can be patient with him and provide him the coaching he needs, he could be an excellent Tackle for us in the future.

So to sum up, here is are my selections for a best-case draft:

Round 1, Pick 6

Jamal Adams, SS, LSU

Round 2, Pick 39

Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA

Round 3, Pick 70

Pat Elflein, Center, Ohio State

Round 3, Pick 107

Nathan Peterman, QB, Pittsburgh

Round 5, Pick 150

Corn Elder, CB, Miami (Fla.)

Round 6, Pick 191

Channing Stribling, CB, Michigan

Round 7, Pick 224

Jerry Ugokwe, OT, William & Mary

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January 25, 2017

The Jets New Offensive Coordinator Should Be Joe Moorhead

The Jets should consider hiring Joe Moorhead as their next offensive coordinator.  Moorhead has been the offensive coordinator at Penn State for the past year.  I believe much of their success last season should be attributed to the addition of Moorhead.  I heard one talent evaluator accuse Penn State’s head coach James Franklin of coaching malpractice for Christian Hackenburg’s regression from his first year starting at Penn State.  In 2015, Penn State ranked 73rd in the nation in Passing S&P.  In 2016, they were ranked an amazing 3rd in the nation!  Did James Franklin suddenly learn how to coach better or did he make a fantastic hire in Joe Moorhead?  Clearly I believe the latter.

Before Moorhead accepted the OC post at Penn State, he was the head coach for the Fordham Rams for four years from 2012-2015.  As a former QB for the Rams, he inherited a 1-10 team and in just his first year, he turned them into winners going 6-5.  In 2013, they opened the season with 10 consecutive wins and made the playoffs in his final three years as HC of the Rams.  Prior to Moorhead’s tenure, the Rams had only made the playoffs twice in school history since the inception of I-AA/FCS playoffs in 1978.

Moorhead is 43 years old and, while he has no NFL experience, I believe he’s worth bringing in.  He’s proven he can win and win quickly.  The Jets have been getting their share of shunning by the NFL’s established talent pool.  I think the Jets should thumb their nose at that “talent” pool and find someone in the college ranks that hasn’t yet proven they know how to lose.  I think Joe Moorhead is as good a candidate as I’ve seen and I’d love to see him on the Jets’ sideline next year.  What do you think?

April 28, 2016

In the 2016 Draft, the Jets Should Select…

nfldraftFor two of the last three years, I have written that I’d like to see the Jets draft an offensive lineman and an outside linebacker with their first two picks and this year will make it three of the last four years.  Since 2012, the only year I didn’t advocate for either an offensive lineman or an outside linebacker with our first pick was in 2014.  In 2014, I hoped that Odell Beckham, Jr would be available for the Jets with their 18th pick.  Unfortunately, as we all know, our stadiummates nabbed him with their 12th pick.

For me, the theme of this year’s draft is to trade back and collect some more picks.  I think Mike Maccagnan has been very shrewd in how he’s leveraged some of our draft picks to trade for veteran talent.  However, I’d like to see if we can move back in a couple spots this year to recoup some of those well-spent picks to replenish our pipeline of young players on the roster.

Round 1, Pick 20

With the 20th pick in the 2016, the New York Jets select Jack Conklin, Offensive Tackle from Michigan State… well, probably not.  Conklin has been shooting up draft boards of late and probably won’t make it by the Titan’s 15th pick but, you never know.  Most draft experts didn’t think the Jets had a prayer of selecting Lenard Williams with their 6th pick last year and yet, he now wears the green and white.  I, along with many others, would like to see the Jets draft an OT in the first round.  However, I only rate three tackles worthy of a top 20 selection.  With Laremy Tunsil and Ronnie Stanley almost certainly gone by the Jets’ pick, I think our only shot is Conklin.  If Conklin is also off the board, I think we should trade the pick and target Jason Spriggs, OT from Indiana with our next selection.

If Conklin is not on the board at 20, I hope Paxton Lynch, QB from Memphis will still be there as he could be trade bait for the Jets to trade back.  If he’s there though, I really hope the Jets resist the temptation to select him.  The Jets already have a development project in Petty plus Lynch’s Wonderlic score of 18 scares me.  For QB’s, so much of their success in the NFL is predicated on their ability to rapidly process information.  Scoring an 18 out of 50 on a test designed to measure a person’s aptitude for learning and problem-solving is enough to take a QB off my board for at least the first three rounds.  My top QB in this draft is Carson Wentz and, by comparison, Wentz scored a 40 on the Wonderlic.

Round 2, Pick 51

Kyler Fackrell, OLB from Utah State

I think Fackrell is an ideal scheme fit for the Jets in a big area of need.  He is a very athletic player – he played quarterback and wide receiver in high school.  He has a high motor and can both rush the passer and drop into coverage.  His versatility would be ideal in a Todd Bowles defense and there is a high likelihood that he’ll be available with our 51st pick.

Round 3, Pick 83

Deion Jones, ILB from LSU

While he played OLB for LSU, in a 3-4 defense, he’s best suited to move inside to ILB.  With the loss of Damario Davis and father time fast on the heals of the venerable David Harris, I think it makes sense to invest early in this position.  Like Kyler Fackrell, Deion Jones is a very athletic player that offers versatility.  He would be a three-down player who is able to drop into coverage or step up and stuff the run.  He lacks experience as he only had one start before his senior year.  However, as a senior, he became a captain, defensive MVP and wracked up 100 tackles including 13.5 tackles for loss.  He was a special teams ace before cracking LSU’s starting line-up and would be an immediate contributor to the Jets on special teams as he learns behind Harris and Henderson.

If Jones is off the board, I’d select Keivarae Russell, CB from Notre Dame.

Round 4, Pick 118

Returning to the theme of trading back, this is a spot that, unless a player the Jets really liked slipped, I’d like to see the Jets trade back.  If the board goes as the consensus of draftniks predict (which it never does), then there really isn’t a player that I like that is projected be here that also shouldn’t be available a round or more later.  Consequently, I would trade back and pick up either and early 5th and 6th round pick or a mid to late 5th and 6th round pick this year plus a 6th round pick next year.

If we were able to trade our 4th round pick for a 5th and 6th round pick this year, then in the 5th round, I’d select Ben Braunecker, TE from Harvard and in the 6th round, I’d select Daryl Worley, CB from West Virginia.

If we couldn’t find a trade partner for our 4th round pick and needed to make a selection, I’d select Nick Vannett, TE from Ohio State.  If Vannett were off the board, I’d go with another tight end and select Tyler Higbee of Western Kentucky.

Round 7, Pick 235

If we were able to trade our 4th round pick for a 5th and 6th round selection and landed Daryl Worley, CB from West Virginia, with our 6th round selection, then I’d like to see the Jets spent the 235th pick on K.J. Dillon, S from West Virginia.  Like the previous recommended picks on defense, Dillion offers versatility.  He can play both high and low.  As is the case with all late round picks, Dillon has some significant flaws in his game.  His most significant flaw is his tackling which, if he proves to be coachable, should be something that can be fixed.

If we were not able to trade our 4th round pick and didn’t draft Daryl Worley, CB from West Virginia, then I’d look to spend this pick as if it were a lottery ticket.  I’d select Rashard Robinson, CB from LSU.  This guy is loaded with talent but is a significant character risk.  He is a 6’ 1” press corner who, if he dedicates himself to football, could be a very solid starter in the league.  With a 7th round pick, I think it’s worth taking a flier on a high risk/high return guy.  Maybe, given a second chance, Robinson will make the most of it.  If he doesn’t, it’s no big deal cutting a 7th round draft pick.

Round 7, Pick 241

If Dion Jones was selected in the 3rd round, then I’d select Chris Brown, WR from Notre Dame.  While his build is lankier than Chan Gailey likes in his receivers, Brown does have some size at 6-2.  With a 40 yard dash time of 4.4, his size/speed is excellent.  He also has good hands and can go up and compete for the football.  With a willingness to go over the middle and absorb a hit to make a catch, along with Gailey’s affinity for four WR sets, I think adding Chris Brown at WR would be a solid pick.

If Dion Jones was not available in the 3rd round, I’d look to add an ILB like either Steven Daniels from Boston College or Luke Rhodes from William & Mary.

So to sum up, here is are my selections for a best-case draft:

Round 1, Pick 20

Jack Conklin, OT from Michigan State

Round 2, Pick 51

Kyler Fackrell, OLB from Utah State

Round 3, Pick 83

Deion Jones, ILB from LSU

Round 4, Pick 118

traded for a 5th and 6th round pick

Round 5 (acquired with 6th round pick for 4th round pick)

Ben Braunecker, TE from Harvard

Round 6 (acquired with 5th round pick for 4th round pick)

Daryl Worley, CB from West Virginia

Round 7, Pick 235

K.J. Dillon, S from West Virginia

Round 7, Pick 241

Chris Brown, WR from Notre Dame

May 1, 2015

In Day 2 of the 2015 NFL Draft, The Jets Should Select…

With Day 1 of the draft in the books, we look ahead to Day 2. In my previous post, I outlined who I wanted to see the Jets select in each round of the draft but after Day 1, my selections are already irrelevant (as if they weren’t the moment I wrote them!). Apparently my assessment of prospects more closely matches that of the NFL General Manager community than that of the mock draft community. A criteria of the rankings in my previous post was that reputable sources needed to predict the player would be available at the Jets respective picks. I used various sources to estimate which players might be available including a Mock Draft Simulator at fanspeak.com. Their simulator gives you the option of pulling big board ranking data from over a dozen different sources including CBS Sports, Bleacher Report, Drafttek, and WalterFootball to name a few. I’ve tried them all multiple times. Despite that, all six of the players I had originally targeted for the Jets 2nd round pick as well as a two of the players I had targeted in the 3rd round were already selected in the 1st round. Based on who’s left after Day 1, here’s who I’d like to see the Jets select in Day 2.

Please note that the Jets should not select two OLB’s or two WR’s with their 2nd and 3rd round picks. If the Jets select Harold or Gregory in the 2nd round, they should not select Hunter or Kikaha in the 3rd round even if they are the best available according to my list. Similarly, if the Jets select Strong in the 2nd round, they should not select Lockett in the 3rd round.

Round 2, pick 38

  1. T.J. Clemmings OT, (Pittsburgh)
  2. Eli Harold, OLB (Virginia)
  3. Jaelen Strong, WR (Arizona State)
  4. Randy Gregory, OLB (Nebraska)
  5. Landon Collins, S (Alabama)
  6. Jalen Collins, CB (LSU)

The Jets should pick: T.J. Clemmings (OT), Pittsburgh

Clemmings is quite raw as he is a recent converted defensive lineman but he is capable of starting right away at Right Tackle. He has elite Left Tackle traits that need to be developed. Breno could slide inside to Right Guard and, with Carpenter at Left Guard and our offensive line stalwarts at Left Tackle and Center, we should have a solid offensive line. With a few years of development at Right Tackle, Clemmings has the potential to become a starting Left Tackle and could be groomed for Ferguson’s spot when D’Brickashaw decides to retire.

If both Clemmings and Harold are both off the board, I would seek trading partners and try and trade back.

Round 3, pick 70

  1. Ameer Abdullah, RB (Nebraska)
  2. Danielle Hunter, OLB (LSU)
  3. Hau’oli Kikaha, OLB (Washington)
  4. Tyler Lockett, WR (Kansas State)
  5. Jay Ajayi, RB (Boise State)
  6. Bryce Petty, QB (Baylor)

The Jets should pick: Ameer Abdullah, RB (Nebraska)

While not a big guy, Abdullah should be a great in the Jets new spread offense. He is a tremendous pass catcher; he had 48 receptions in the last two years without a single drop. He’s also amassed at least 1,600 yards over each of the past two years with a per carry average of a little over six yards a carry. With Ivory’s and Powell’s contracts each coming to end following this season, I think it would be smart for the Jets to draft a young talented RB with outstanding character like Abdullah.

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April 29, 2015

In the 2015 Draft, the Jets Should Select…

nfldraftFor each pick, I listed 6 possibilities in order of preference. I’ve used various sources to estimate which players might be available at our different picks including a great Mock Draft Simulator at fanspeak.com. Their simulator gives you the option of pulling big board ranking data from over a dozen different sources including CBS Sports, Bleacher Report, Drafttek, and WalterFootball to name a few. I’ve tried them all multiple times and there is a fair amount of variability between them. For this year’s draft, I decided to include multiple options for each pick and then indicate which player I think will be there for us.

Please note, I do not think we should draft two players in the same position in the first 4 rounds.

Round 1, pick 6

1) Dante Fowler Jr, OLB (Florida)
2) Marcus Mariota, QB (Oregon)
3) Vic Beasley, OLB (Clemson)
4) Leonard Williams, DT (Southern California)
5) Amari Cooper, WR (Alabama)
6) Kevin White, WR (West Virginia)

The Jets should pick: Vic Beasley, OLB (Clemson)

With Fowler and Mariota likely off the board, Vic Beasley will be a great option for the Jets. OLB has been a position of need for several years and this draft has two OLB’s worthy of the 6th overall pick. One of the best predictors of success for a pass-rusher in the NFL is the speed of their first step and by all accounts Beasley’s first step is tremendous.

If both Fowler and Mariota are off the board, I would try and trade back. I would be fine with the Jets trading back until late in the first round and acquiring additional picks. If we trade back (and my top six players are all off the board), I’d like to see us draft an OLB/pass-rusher. In order, I’d draft: Alvin Dupree (Kentucky), Shane Ray (Missouri), Randy Gregory (Nebraska) or Eli Harold (Virginia).

Round 2, pick 38

1) Melvin Gordon, RB (Wisconsin)
2) Todd Gurley, RB (Georgia)
3) D.J. Humphries, OT (Florida)
4) Shaq Thompson, OLB (Washington)
5) Andrus Peat, OT (Stanford)
6) Breshad Perriman, WR (UCF)

The Jets should pick: D.J. Humphries, OT (Florida)

With the two elite RB’s likely off the board, D.J. Humphries would be a great addition to the Jets. He could start immediately at right tackle. Breno could slide inside to right guard and, with Carpenter at left guard and our offensive line stalwarts at left tackle and center, we should have a solid offensive line. With a few years of development at right tackle, Humphries has the potential to become a starting left tackle and could be groomed for Ferguson’s spot when D’Brickashaw decides to retire.

Round 3, pick 70

1) Danielle Hunter, DE (LSU)
2) Phillip Dorsett, WR (Miami (Fla.))
3) Ameer Abdullah, RB (Nebraska)
4) Hau’oli Kikaha, OLB (Washington)
5) Cedric Ogbuehi, OT (Texas A&M)
6) Devin Smith, WR (Ohio State)

The Jets should pick: Ameer Abdullah, RB (Nebraska)

With a pass-rusher drafted in the 1st round, even if Hunter were still on the board (which I doubt), I would pass on him. Dorsett has been moving up draft boards and will likely be gone by the time the Jets draft in round 3. I’d be very happy to see Ameer Abdullah there for the Jets in round 3. While not a big guy, he’d be a great RB in our spread offense. He is a tremendous pass catcher; he had 48 receptions in the last 2 years without a single drop. He’s also amassed at least 1,600 over each of the past two years with a per carry average of a little over 6 yards a carry. With Ivory and Powell’s contracts each coming to end following this season, I think it would be smart for the Jets to draft a young talented RB like Abdullah.

Round 4, pick 105

1) Tyler Lockett, WR (Kansas State)
2) Rob Havenstein, OT (Wisconsin)
3) Bryce Petty, QB (Baylor)
4) Senquez Golson, CB (Ole Miss)
5) Derron Smith, FS (Fresno State)
6) Davis Tull, OLB (Chattanooga)

The Jets should pick: Tyler Lockett, WR (Kansas State)

With great depth at WR this year, I think there’s a pretty good chance that he will be there for the Jets in the top of the 4th round. Lockett is a smart, high-character WR that runs excellent routes and gets good separation. While he’s a small guy (with small hands) and doesn’t have a particularly high ceiling, I think he will be a solid contributor from the slot.

I was tempted to opt for Chris Conley, WR (Georgia). I think adding a burner that can stretch the field would be the perfect complement to the Jets’ current receiving corps. Conley’s 4.35 speed would be a welcome addition. However, when I evaluate WR’s, I think two of the most predictive indicators for success are college production (provided the competition was good) and excellent route running. Conley has neither. While Georgia’s offense was primarily a run-first offense, Conley didn’t have more than 40 catches in a season. Plus, at this point, he is not a good route runner. Contrasted against Tyler Lockett, Lockett had more catches in his junior year (81) than Conley had in all his four years combined (76). Lockett followed up his impressive junior campaign with an even more prolific senior campaign (106 catches for 1,515 yards and 11 TDs). While Conley’s measurables and high ceiling are tempting, given the Jets current roster, I think the Jets need to draft solid contributors with their mid round picks like Lockett. I think the 7th round is when you can take chances on guys with big upsides.

Round 7, picks 223 & 224

1) Kyle Emanuel, OLB (North Dakota State)
2) Rory Anderson, TE (South Carolina)
3) Jarvis Harrison, OG (Texas A&M)
4) Quayshawne Buckley, DT (Idaho)
5) Antwan Goodley, WR (Baylor)
6) Max Garcia, C (Florida)
7) Jamon Brown, OT (Louisville)
8) Anthony Harris, FS (Virginia)
9) Junior Sylvestre, OLB (Toledo)
10) Troy Hill, CB (Oregon)
11) Travis Raciti, DT (San Jose State)
12) Trey Williams, RB (Texas A&M)

The Jets should pick: Rory Anderson, TE (South Carolina)

While some big boards have Kyle Emanuel available at 223, others have him going much earlier. I think he’ll likely be long gone. With the 223rd pick, I’d like to see the Jets select Rory Anderson. I think the Zach Sudfeld experiment has run it’s course. With how sparse our receiving corps has been over the last several years, Sudfeld has only managed to snare 5 receptions in each of the last two years. Despite a very thin TE class, Anderson should fall to the 7th round due to injury concerns. If healthy, he could prove to be a steal in a position of need for the Jets.

The Jets should pick: Jarvis Harrison, OG (Texas A&M)

I don’t normally advocate selecting players with character issues, motivation issues or injury issues but the 7th round is where I’m willing to take fliers on players with either of the latter two that also posses big upsides. Harrison is one such guy. He has work ethic and motivation issues, but possesses elite talent. Once drafted, he could realize that he wants to stay in the league and he could become a pro-bowler or he could keep his head in it’s current position and not even make the roster. With a 7th round pick, it’s rare to draft a player with pro-bowl potential. I think the risk is worth the potential reward.

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February 23, 2015

Here’s What the 53 Man Roster Could Look Like!

The following scenario takes into account the expected 2015 $142 Million Salary Cap (adjusted to almost $155 Million when taking into account 2014 rollover), possible trades, free agent acquisitions, free agent resignings and the draft.

Maneuvering in the Draft:

These moves assume four things – all of which are quite possible but probably unlikely that all four things break our way.  In no particular order, they are: 1) Marcus Mariota will still be on the board after the first 5 selections in the draft, 2) only one WR will be selected in the first 10 picks of the draft, 3) Chip Kelly is ready to back up his professed love of Mariota, 4) the Vikings focus on drafting a RB in the first round and believe that either Gordon or Gurley will be available with the 20th pick.

As you may have surmised from these assumptions, I’m suggesting two moves (one with the Eagles and one with Vikings) to move back to the 11th overall pick and select either Amari Cooper or Kevin White.  Specifically, I would have the Jets trade their 6th overall pick to the Eagles for their 1st (20th overall) and 2nd (52nd overall) round picks this year, their 1st round pick in 2016 and Nick Foles.  This is a steep price to pay for one player but getting from 20th to 6th is a lot of ground to cover and if Chip really believes Mariota is his franchise guy, then anything is possible.  Adding in Nick Foles to the trade shouldn’t be that big a deal since the acquisition of Mariota would make Foles expendable.

The second trade would be with the Vikings.  I would love to see the Jets land an elite WR in this draft.  In my opinion (and most analyst’s), there are two: Amari Cooper and Kevin White.  The Raiders will likely pick one of them with their 4th overall pick.  I’m hoping the ghost of Al Davis is honored and they pick the speed of Kevin White.  While White has a higher ceiling, I love Cooper’s reliability and route running.  The next team likely to pick a WR is the Browns with their 12th pick.  With Adrian Peterson likely not returning to the Vikings, there’s a good chance the Vikings will target a RB in the first round.  There’s also a good chance that one or both of the elite RB’s will still be on the board with the 20th selection.  Consequently, the Jets could trade their 1st round pick, (20th overall acquired from the Eagles), one of their 2nd round picks (52nd overall acquired from the Eagles) and their 4th round pick (101st overall) to the Vikings for the Vikings 1st round pick (11the overall) and their 4th round pick (107th overall).  This trade is consistent with the Trade Value Chart (Jets giving up 1,330 value points in exchange for 1,326).  With these moves, in aggregate, the Jets would basically get Nick Foles and an additional 1st round draft pick in next year’s draft in exchange for moving back 5 picks in both the 1st and 4th rounds.  If we were still able to secure a top WR with the 11th pick, this would be a huge coup!

Going through the roster now, position by position, I’ll show whose under contract, who we should trade for, draft, sign in free agency and release.

QB

  • Under Contract – Geno Smith
  • Trade  – acquire Nick Foles
  • Free Agent Signing – target adding Ryan Mallett (if he’s not available, resign Matt Simms)
  • Note: do not resign Michael Vick

RB

  • Under Contract – Chris Ivory
  • Free Agent Signing – resign Bilal Powell; target adding C.J. Spiller
  • Note: Chris Johnson was already released; keep Daryl Richardson on the practice squad

FB

  • Under Contract – Tommy Bohanon
  • Free Agent Signing – resign John Conner and have the two compete in training camp for the lone FB roster spot

WR

  • Under Contract – Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley and Shaq Evans
  • Draft – Round 1 Amari Cooper (or Kevin White); Round 5 Chris Conley
  • Free Agent Signing – resign Chris Owusu; target Jeremy Maclin
  • Note: release Percy Harvin; allow T.J. Graham, Walter Powell, Saalim Hakim, and Quincy Enunwa to compete in camp with Shaq Evans and Chris Owusu for the 6th WR roster spot; don’t resign Greg Salas

TE

  • Under Contract – Jeff Cumberland and Jace Amaro
  • Draft – Round 4 Tyler Kroft
  • Free Agent Signing – target Jordan Cameron
  • Note: release Chris Pantale and Zach Sudfeld

Interior OL

  • Under Contract: Nick Mangold, Oday Aboushi, Dakota Dozier and Brian Winters
  • Free Agent Signing – target Mike Iupati
  • Note: don’t resign Willie Colon; release Dalton Freeman and Wesley Johnson

OT

  • Under Contract: D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Breno Giacomini
  • Draft: Round 7 D.J. Humphries
  • Free Agent Signing – resign Ben Ijalana

DE/DT

  • Under Contract: Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and T.J. Barnes
  • Free Agent Signing – resign Leger Douzable

NT

  • Free Agent Signing – resign Damon Harrison and Kenrick Ellis

OLB

  • Under Contract: Quinton Coples, Ikemefuna Enemkpali and Trevor Reilly
  • Free Agent Signing – target Justin Houston (in the likely case that he will be franchised, then target Jerry Hughes)
  • Note: don’t resign Jermaine Cunningham, release Calvin Pace and Jason Babin

ILB

  • Under Contract: Demario Davis
  • Draft: Round 2 Eric Kendricks
  • Free Agent Signing – resign David Harris and Nick Bellore

CB

  • Under Contract: Marcus Williams, Darrin Walls, Dexter McDougle and Dee Milliner
  • Draft: Round 3 Jalen Collins
  • Free Agent Signing – target 2 of the following CB’s (in order of preference): Darrelle Revis, Kareem Jackson, Antonio Cromartie, Byron Maxwell
  • Note: don’t resign Phillip Adams or Kyle Wilson; if Dee Milliner is healthy, allow Marcus Williams and Darrin Walls to compete for the 6th CB roster spot (and buy a lottery ticket)

S

  • Under Contract: Calvin Pryor, Antonio Allen and Rontez Miles
  • Free Agent Signing – resign Jaiquawn Jarrett
  • Note: don’t resign Dawan Landry

Special Teams

  • Under Contract: Nick Folk, Ryan Quigley
  • Free Agent Signing – resign Tanner Purdum
  • Note: invite punters to camp to compete for Ryan Quigley’s roster spot

Going through the roster now, by mode of acquisition, I’ll prioritize the different acquisitions.

By Trade:

  • Nick Foles

Free Agents from other Teams:

  • High
    • Mike Iupati
    • Justin Houston/Jerry Hughes
    • Darrelle Revis/Kareem Jackson
  • Medium
    • Jeremy Maclin
    • C.J. Spiller
    • Jordan Cameron
  • Low
    • Kareem Jackson/Antonio Cromartie/Byron Maxwell
    • Ryan Mallett

Note: Taking into account the available cap space and the cap space freed up from the players I’ve suggested releasing, there should be enough room to sign the above free agents with the exception of the unlikely scenario that both Justin Houston and Darrelle Revis are in play.  It is almost a given that Justin Houston will get the franchise tag if a long-term deal is not reached and I also believe that the Patriots will be willing to pay Revis’ king’s ransom to make another run at the Lombardi before Tom rides off into the deflating sun.

Resigning Our Free Agents:

  • High
    • Damon Harrison
  • Medium
    • Bilal Powell
    • David Harris (High if we do not draft Eric Kendricks)
    • Leger Douzable
    • Kenrick Ellis
    • Jaiquawn Jarrett
    • Nick Bellore
  • Low
    • Chris Owusu
    • Ben Ijalana
    • Tanner Purdum
    • John Conner

Daft:

  • Round 1
    • Amari Cooper, WR (alternatively Kevin White, WR)
  • Round 2
    • Eric Kendricks, ILB
  • Round 3
    • Jalen Collins, CB
  • Round 4
    • Tyler Kroft, TE
  • Round 5
    • Chris Conley, WR
  • Round 7
    • D.J. Humphries, OT

So here is the blue print Mike Maccagnan.  What do you think?

October 16, 2014

Here’s How to Fix the Jets

When your beloved team loses 5 straight games through 6 weeks, it’s easy to lose perspective. We all knew this stretch of our schedule would be brutal but, going into the season, I really believed our team had a legitimate chance to compete for a wildcard spot. Under Rex, we’ve had some really tight battles with New England and beaten them with some less talented teams. In my eternal optimism, I began thinking that if we could steal this game in New England, it could spark a run and the season might not be lost. The schedule is obviously much better for the Jets from week 8 on. To try and gain some of this lost perspective and to try and understand just how unrealistic putting a run together might be, I looked at the statistics from the first 6 weeks of the season.

The good news is that the Jets are not that bad. On defense, we are 6th in the NFL in yards/game. We’re 9th against the run and (surprisingly) 15th against the pass. On offense, we are dismal in the passing game (32nd) but solid in running game (12th). Looking at these numbers, you’d think if we could just get the passing game going, we’d be okay. We’ve seen glimpses of it throughout the season (albeit way too brief) so there’s hope that if Geno can play how he played for much of the 1st half of the Packers game, we’d have a chance.

The bad news is that it’s not just about the passing game. In looking deeper into the numbers, I think the issue with our team is mental. It is easy to blame a lack of talent as the culprit for our record but I believe we have the necessary talent to win. I think our team needs to learn how to win. I say this issue is mental because the Jets were competitive in 4 of their 5 losses but couldn’t figure out how to win. The statistics bear this out. The Jets need to play better, on both sides of the ball, in critical situations. Here are three examples of such critical situations and how the Jets stack up to other teams around the league:

On 3rd down conversions, on both sides of the ball, the Jets rank poorly. On offense, the Jets rank 24th converting only 37.6% (Dallas is 1st in the league and converts 56.3%). On defense, the Jets rank 25th and allow conversions 46.7% of the time (Indianapolis is 1st allowing just 29.7%).

In the Red Zone, on both sides of the ball, the Jets rank poorly. On offense, the Jets rank 30th converting TD’s only 38.9% (Atlanta is 1st in the league and convert 75%). On defense, the Jets also rank 30th and allow TD conversions 72.2% of the time (Baltimore is 1st allowing just 35%).

Lastly, the Jets are 29th in the league in the giveaway/takeaway differential with -7 (there are two teams that are +9). The Jets rank 22nd in giveaways with 10 and rank 30th in takeaways with only 3. How many times this year have bad decisions contributed to the giveaway number? How many times on defense did a “sure” interception bounce off of one of our players?

So it all comes down to this:

The Jets need to do a better job in the passing game. This isn’t all on Geno. We need better blocking from the big fellas and separation from our receivers. And yes, we also need much better play from Geno too.

We need to get mentally tough. We need to play as well or better on 3rd down than in the previous two. We need to play as well or better on either edge of the football field as is played in between the 20’s. We need to take care of the football and we need to finish games.

Simple, right?

August 28, 2014

Let’s Make A Deal!

I am sure John Idzik is leaving no stone unturned to try and replenish our CB position. In looking at the available talent on the street, it’s no surprise to me that the Jets haven’t added anyone since they signed journeyman LeQuan Lewis over two weeks ago. I think the only way the Jets can add talent that will impact their CB position is via trade.

Since we need to look to a trade to add talent, I suggest making a run (albeit highly unlikely, borderline delusional) at the Browns’ Joe Haden.

I suggest that we bundle several players on the fringe of our roster as well as a mid-round pick. I’d trade Antwan Barnes, Stephen Hill and Daryl Richardson along with a 3rd or hopefully 4th round pick.

Antwan Barnes – Pettine loves “Barnesy”. After coaching him in Baltimore, Pettine wanted him back on his squad. Prior to the 2011 season, when coaches began contacting NFL free agents, Pettine’s first call went to Barnes. Unfortunately the timing didn’t work out for the Jets that year as they were strung along by Nnamdi Asomugha and weren’t signing anyone until they Asomugha made his decision. Barnes waited as long as he could but ultimately resigned with the Chargers prior to Asomugha signing with the Eagles. Now, finally a Jet, Barnes is getting healthy but, with the addition of Babin, Barnes becomes tradeable.

Stephen Hill – We all know about Mr. Hill. His physical tools are off the charts but he has yet to figure out how to translate it to production on the field. Sometimes guys like this benefit from a change in scenery (and coaching). Hill is a very hardworking and likable guy. Pettine was a coordinator with the Jets when we traded our 5th and 7th round picks to move up four spots in the second round to draft Hill. With the suspension of Josh Gordon, the Browns are obviously very thin at WR and are in a position to take a gamble on a guy like Hill.

Daryl Richardson – With the Jets having three players solidly ahead of Richardson on the depth chart, Richardson is in danger of not making the 53 man active roster. Richardson is too good not to be on an active roster. The Browns have two new runners at the top of their depth chart – former Arian-Foster-back-up Ben Tate and 3rd round pick rookie Terrance West. With the uncertainty of two unproven, new players, I’m sure the Browns would welcome some additional talent and experience in the backfield.

Most teams would not consider trading a player of Joe Haden’s caliber (and I suspect the Browns won’t either) but the Browns drafted CB Justin Gilbert with the 8th overall pick in this year’s draft. They also spent a 4th round pick this year on CB Pierre Desir and a 3rd round pick last year on CB Leon McFadden. In addition, Pettine has his old guys from the Jets CBs Isaiah Trufant and Aaron Berry and S Jim Leonhard to help bolster his secondary. Losing Haden would obviously weaken their secondary but hopefully the net addition of these other contributors would tip the scales for the Browns.

Like many coaches, Pettine has shown that he likes to bring in “his guys” (he also has Jamaal Westerman on his roster). I think Barnes is the jewel in the deal for the Browns but with his health a question mark, it’s doubtful the Browns would bite. However, by throwing in a 4th or even 3rd round draft pick next year and by taking on Haden’s healthy $67 Million contract, the Browns might just go for it. What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

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May 9, 2014

Pick and Move: The Best Strategy for the Jets on Day 2

nfldraftI was thrilled when both Brandin Cooks and Darqueze Dennard fell to us. I would have been extremely happy with either pick. I must admit, my initial reaction to the Pryor pick was one of disappointment. While I believe Safety is a position of need, I am more confident with our current Safeties than I am with our current WR’s. Also, the prospect of pairing Milliner with an elite press corner, like Dennard, would have shored up the CB position for years to come. That said, Pryor will be a welcome addition to our Safety corps and until Idzik proves to me otherwise, I trust him. I did not love the Sheldon Richardson pick this time last year but I sure love it now.

In light of the Jets bolstering their secondary with Calvin Pryor at Safety, I would like to see the Jets help out the offense on Day 2 of the draft.

With Jets 17th pick of the 2nd Round (49th overall), they should draft a Wide Receiver. There are three different Wide Receivers on the board that I would be happy to see the Jets spend their second round pick on. In order of preference, they are:

  1. Donte Moncrief from Ole Miss
  2. Jordan Matthews from Vanderbilt
  3. Jarvis Landry from LSU

Any one of these receivers would be a fine addition to the squad and would likely contribute immediately.

With Jets 16th pick of the 3rd Round (80th overall), they should bundle it with their 15th pick of the 4th round (115th overall) and move up 13 spots to get the Raiders’ 3rd Pick in the 3rd round (67th overall). With 12 picks in this year’s draft and probably only about 10 roster spots realistically available for rookies, I am okay with the Jets packaging some picks to move around for players they want in the 3rd round and beyond. In the first couple of rounds, I think the price to move around is too steep.

With their newly acquired 3rd Pick in the 3rd round (67th overall), the Jets should draft Troy Niklas, TE from Notre Dame. Niklas is new to the TE position, only having played it for two years. His first year, he played behind the Bengals’ first rounder Tyler Eifert. In his one year as a starter, he showed he was a match-up nightmare as a pass catcher and an exceptional blocker (recruited from high school as an offensive and defensive lineman, converted to OLB as a freshman, then converted to TE as a sophomore). Also, Niklas is related to the Matthews clan (nephew of Bruce). He has a high floor and a ceiling that has yet to be determined. He is a player on the rise that has just scratched the surface of his potential. At 6’ 6″, 270 lbs and with 34 1/8″ arms, he has fantastic size. Add in good hands and playmaking ability and he could be the ideal TE for the Jets’ offense.

May 4, 2014

In the 2014 Draft, the Jets Should Select…

nfldraftThere has been a lot of speculation that the Jets may pick a CB with their first pick.  I think it would be tough to draft a CB with their 18th pick and expect him to start right away.  Dee Milner was the highest rated CB prospect last year and he was benched 3 times in his rookie year.  Wilson was also a first rounder and was buried deep in the CB depth chart his rookie year.  I think we should draft a CB (or two as you will read) but not with our first couple picks.  I think they should select players that can start right away with their initial picks. I think the Jets should draft…

  • Round 1
    • Pick 18, Odell Beckham Jr. (WR) LSU

I like that he was a productive three year starter.  Both of his parents were athletes; his mother was a collegiate national track champion and his father was a RB for LSU.  Beckham is extremely versatile which is ideal for a West Coast Offense.  He can line up as either an X, Z or Slot receiver.  He even won the Paul Hornung Award given to the Nation’s Most Versatile Player.  I think having Beckham as the X, Decker as the Z and Kerley in the Slot would be a very solid starting receiving corps.  Beckham can also return punts and kickoffs. In a lot of mock drafts recently, Beckham has been off the board by the 18th pick.  If that’s the case, I would try and trade down.  A possible trade partner could be the Browns where we could trade our 1st & 6th (195th overall) round picks for their 1st (26th overall), 3rd (71st overall) and 5th round picks.  Another possible trade partner could be the Rams where we could trade our 1st round pick for their 2nd and 3rd round picks this year and their 2nd round pick next year. If we trade out of the 18th pick, I would like to see the Jets draft Donte Moncrief (WR) from Ole Miss. If Beckham is off the board at 18 and we are unable to trade down, then I’d like to see the Jets draft Brandin Cooks (WR) from Oregon State.

  • Round 2
    • Pick 49, Troy Niklas (TE) Notre Dame

Keeping with the theme of bloodlines, Troy Niklas is NFL royalty; he’s related to the Matthews clan (nephew of Bruce).  In high school, Niklas was an offensive and defensive lineman.  In his freshman year at Notre Dame, he played OLB.  He was moved to TE as a sophomore and played behind the Bengals first rounder Tyler Eifert.  With just two years of collegiate experience as a TE and only one year as the full-time starter, his ceiling is still yet to be determined.  He has outstanding size at 6’6”, 270 lbs and 34 1/8” arms.  He is a very good blocker and would immediately contribute to the run game as he refines his route running and continues to develop as a complete TE.  He has flashed playmaking ability and is a player on the rise.

  • Round 3
    • Pick 80, Stanley Jean-Baptiste (CB) Nebraska

At 6’3” and 218 pounds, he has the size to match up with today’s bigger receivers.  He can play press coverage and gets a strong initial jam on receivers.  He has excellent leaping ability and had the highest vertical leap among CB’s in this year’s Combine and second highest among all positions (41.5”!).  He played safety and receiver in prep school and played his first year at Nebraska as a receiver before being moved to CB.  He is a playmaker that has a nose for the ball.  In his senior year, he had an interception in each of his first four games and in his entire time at Nebraska, he averaged a little more than an interception every three games.  I wouldn’t expect Jean-Baptiste to come in and start but I think he has a lot of potential and would be a great piece of clay for Rex and DT to mold.

  • Round 4
    • Pick 104, Dri Archer (WR) Kent State

If the Jets drafted Archer, they would have the top two 40 yard dash performances in Combine history on the same offensive unit (and three of the top seven).  Chris Johnson was #1 with 4.24, Dri Archer #2 with 4.26, and Jacoby Ford #7 with 4.28.  Archer is a very versatile player and is listed in some draft profiles as WR and others as a RB.  He can be utilized in ways similar to players like Woodhead, Bush and McCluster.  Like those players, he can line up in either the backfield or the slot and be set in motion to the other to create mismatches (depending on the defensive personnel package).  Archer can also contribute in the return game; however, given his small frame and propensity for injury, he’s probably best used the way Cromartie was in the return game (only when we need a spark).

  • Pick 115, Christian Jones (ILB) Florida State

With Nick Bellore as our only depth player at ILB and David Harris joining the 30 club, I’d like to see the Jets add another ILB to their roster.  Jones is an excellent athlete that possess the height (6’ 3”), speed, and fluidity to cover tight ends and receivers down the field.  He is a versatile player that has played Will, Sam and defensive end.  He could immediately help the Jets on special teams and in passing situations.  In college, he was a durable three-year starter.  He has been characterized as a player who “loves football and works at it.”

  • Pick 137, Ross Cockrell (CB) Duke

I do not expect Cockrell to win a starting job this year.  However, he plays smart, is a leader and is tall enough (6’ 0”) to match up with today’s larger receivers.  He was highly productive in college and leaves Duke as their all-time leader in interceptions (12) and pass breakups (41).  He can line up in the slot and could be groomed as a possible Kyle Wilson replacement considering Wilson will be a free agent next season.  Cockrell is a ballhawking corner who possesses an excellent feel for the game.  He has a lot to learn as he is more accustomed to playing zone, but is very smart and coachable.  He should also be a good locker room presence considering he was a team captain at Duke and had been characterized as “a coach on the field.”

  • Round 5
    • Pick 154, Howard Jones (OLB) Shepherd

Jones is a classic developmental project.  He has intriguing raw tools which make him worthy of a 5th round selection.  He is very athletic, fast and explosive.  He has long arms (34 1/8”), a high motor and a good work ethic.  He is also an exceptional teammate.  However, his technique is very raw and unpolished.  Jones was a very productive and durable four-year starter at Shepherd, having started all but two games during his time there.  He even holds the school’s sack record (35).  However, he earned his production by making the most of his natural athleticism, overwhelming the lesser Division II competition.  Jones has special team experience and could help the Jets immediately as a special teamer and as a situational pass rusher.  Jones will need to do some significant work on his technique and edge-setting ability before he can compete for a starting OLB position.

  • Round 6
    • Pick 195, Kevin Pamphile (OT) Purdue

Like Jones, Pamphile is a developmental project.  He is a terrific athlete, but is extremely raw.  Pamphile was initially a basketball player, who only started playing football his senior year of high school.  He was originally a defensive lineman, but transitioned to the offensive line as a junior in college.  He only started his senior year.  He has the ideal size (6’5”, 310 lbs, 34 1/4” arms) and foot quickness needed to shadow and mirror defenders in pass protection.  Pamphile posted some impressive numbers at his pro day, including a 4.94 40 time (that would have been 3rd best among all OL at the Combine, only behind Taylor Lewan’s 4.87 and Greg Robinson’s 4.92). This may seem like a déjà vu pick considering that last year we made a very similar 6th round pick with William Campbell.  However, I like the practice of drafting an offensive lineman late each year and working to develop them.  You never know who the next Brandon Moore (although he wasn’t even drafted) or Matt Slauson will be. However before we select Pamphile… If the Raiders select Sammy Watkins with their 5th overall pick, there has been speculation that they will then look to trade Denarius Moore (having also added James Jones from the Packers in free agency).  They will probably be asking for a 4th rounder but expecting to take a 5th rounder.  With the Raiders having no picks in the 5th or 6th rounds, if there are no other takers for Moore, we might be able to deal our one trade-able 6th round pick (compensatory picks are not trade-able) for Moore.  Moore is, by no means, an elite talent but he is a solid, young receiver that could add some nice depth to our WR corps.  Sanjay Lal, our WR coach (and former Oakland WR coach), has already had two of his former Oakland players wearing the green and white (Chaz Schilens and Jacoby Ford).  Three’s a charm! What makes getting Denarius even more attractive is that the Jets have a history with Moore.  The Jets planned on drafting a WR in the 2011 draft, having targeted either Moore or Kerley.  When Moore was selected by the Raiders with the 148th overall pick, the Jets moved up and traded with the Eagles (getting their 153rd overall pick) to ensure landing Kerley.  In Nicholas Dawidoff’s book “Collision Low Crossers,” in which he chronicles the 2011 Jets season, Dawidoff refers to the Jets then Vice President of College Scouting, Joey Clinkscales, as being downright “effusive” in his praise of Moore.  Ironically, Clinkscales is now Director of Player Personnel in Oakland.

  • Pick 209, Jeff Janis (WR) Saginaw Valley

Janis is one of my favorite players in the draft.  He was very productive in college and has intriguing measurables.  He is 6’ 3” and 219 pounds.  Janis is extremely strong and fast (running a 4.42 40 yard dash at the Combine).  He wracked up 1,572 yards and had 14 TD’s in his senior year alone.  Scouting reports say that he has an exceptional work ethic and character.  The big knock on him is that he is a small school guy who faced inferior competition.  It is tough to project small school WR’s to the NFL.  However, for a 6th round pick, he is well worth the risk. However, if we were able to trade our 195th pick for Denarious Moore, then, instead of drafting Janis, I would draft Kevin Pamphile with the 209th pick.

  • Pick 210, John Urschel (OG) Penn State

If people have heard of Urschel, the one thing they probably know is that this guy is smart – not smart for an athlete but elite smart by any measure.  He has already earned a Master’s degree in mathematics (with 4.0 GPA) and has taught Analytic Geometry to Penn State undergraduates.  He has published an article entitled “Instabilities of the Sun-Jupiter-Asteroid Three Body Problem” in the scientific journal Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy.  As the nation’s premier college football scholar athlete, he was awarded the Campbell Trophy (also known as the academic Heisman).  Typically, I favor smarts for offensive tackles and centers and nastiness for guards, but Urschel is not just another beautiful mind; he has some serious NFL ability for such a late round selection.  He is a three-year starter at Penn State and is well-versed in a pro-style offense.  Urschel was a team captain with “sparkling intangibles.”  He has good quickness and is a scrappy player.  At this point in the draft, it is not realistic to think you are going to find a player that can start immediately (unless there are serious character issues – see my next pick), but I think Urschel has that potential.  At worst, he will likely be an excellent depth player in that he has the versatility to play guard on either side, as well as the potential to play center.

  • Pick 213, Colt Lyerla (TE) Oregon

Speaking of character issues, this guy has more red flags than a Chinese military parade but his athleticism and talent are undeniable.  I am typically (almost universally) against drafting prospects with questionable character, however, given how late in the draft he should go, how big his upside is and how big our need is at his position, I think it makes sense to take a flier on him – that is, of course, unless the Patriots don’t draft him first.

  • Round 7
    • Pick 233, Jeff Mathews (QB) Cornell

I’m a proponent of Ron Wolf’s rule that teams should try and draft a quarterback almost every year.  This year, I had been tracking Logan Thomas of Virginia Tech who had been ranked in the 230’s but has recently shot up to the 170’s.  With all of our needs, I wouldn’t spend our 5th round pick on a QB; therefore, in the 7th round, I like Jeff Mathews of Cornell. Mathews is an experienced, four-year starter who was a three-time team captain (first in Cornell history).  He has ideal size for a QB (6’4”, 223 lbs, 10 1/8” hands).  He was very productive in college and now holds 47 Cornell records and 18 Ivy League records.  Mathews has very good arm strength and accuracy and is a good decision maker.  He is a very intelligent, determined, hard worker with strong preparation skills and a team-first attitude.  Some of the reasons why Mathews is not projected to go earlier include shaky footwork and mechanics, lack of competition and a poor winning percentage (.324 winning percentage; 12-25 record).  I think Mathews would be a steal at this point in the draft.  He has all the attributes you would want in a back-up and has the raw tools that indicate he has the potential to be more. In summary, if we do not have any trades, we would draft the following positions:

  • 3 WR’s (rounds 1, 4 and 6) (Dri Archer in the 4th round is a WR/RB hybrid)
  • 2 TE’s (rounds 2 and 6)
  • 2 CB’s (rounds 3 and 4)
  • 1 ILB (round 4)
  • 1 OLB (round 5)
  • 1 OG (round 6)
  • 1 OT (round 6)
  • 1 QB (round 7)

Some of the common themes are versatility, college productivity, bloodlines, character, leadership, intelligence, durability and playmaking ability.  Also, many of the later round selections have the size and athleticism but have raw mechanics in need of refinement.  Most of the late round selections can also be immediate contributors on special teams, which many will need in order to secure a roster spot. Given our plethora of draft picks (most since 1998), our steady, disciplined leadership in the front office and the depth of this draft, in the immortal words of Bart Scott, I “Can’t Wait!”   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJshw2Axsqc