Archive for May, 2014

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.

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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