As the 2013-’14 season comes to a close, the eyes of teams who have failed to make the playoffs turn to scouting the 2014 Draft class. The Jets are one of those teams, as they need multiple positions filled, or upgraded between the draft and free agency.
The first round was kind to them last year, as they struck gold on Sheldon Richardson, arguably the best rookie defensive player in the whole draft class. They did get Dee Milliner as well, who struggled a bit during the season. However, in the last game against the Miami Dolphins, Milliner showed why he was a first round pick, intercepting two passes and deflecting even more, stopping the Dolphins from scoring a touchdown multiple times.
Their biggest needs are getting a new receiving core, reconstructing the offensive line, and possibly looking to draft a better secondary – and maybe even a quarterback to give quarterback, Geno Smith some competition.
Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M - The Jets are desperate for a wide receiver and now that they have settled the coaching job for the next season, their eyes have set on building around Smith and the offense. Mike Evans has proven he can become the go-to target at Texas A&M, breaking away from protection and producing in the red zone. In the 2013-’14 season, the Jets receivers combined for just 13 receiving touchdowns with only one player eclipsing over 500 yards. Standing at 6’5”, Evans has the same height as Detroit Lions wide out Calvin Johnson, allowing quarterbacks to throw fades and other routes that gives the advantage to taller wide receivers. This year, Evans accumulated 1,394 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in 13 games, including a 279 yard game against Alabama and a 287 yard game against Auburn. His ability to provide in the clutch only adds to his high draft stock.
Marquise Lee – WR – USC - With Evans’ high draft stock, there is a chance that he does not fall to the Jets. However, the next best option, Marquise Lee, who is not a significant downgrade from Evans. Entering the 2013-’14 season, Lee was the top rated wide out and had potential to be a top 10 pick. However, after multiple injuries, both his production and draft stock started to drop. Then, in the Las Vegas Bowl against Fresno State, Lee erupted for 118 receiving yards and two touchdowns. His explosiveness helps make big plays, which the Jets are in need of. When healthy, Lee is arguably the best wide receiver in the 2014 Draft class, but his injuries will cause him to drop down the draft boards, ultimately ending up at a mid-to-last first round pick. If Evans is taken, the Jets still have a viable number one receiver still available to help start-up the Jets offense next year.
Cyrus Kouandjio – OT – Alabama - Another big need for the Jets on draft day, is to help protect their quarterback in the pocket. Last year, the Smith was sacked 53 times, tied for fifth among all quarterbacks. The weak offensive line also led to Smith feeling pressured quickly, making bad decisions, which ultimately ended up into an interception. The Jets offensive line have contributed to most of Smith’s 25 turnovers, including four fumbles while dropping back for the pass. Cyrus Kouandjio, the big left tackle out of Alabama, could help reconstruct the Jets offensive line. The Jets currently have D’Brickashaw Ferguson at left tackle, but Koundjio could easily move to right tackle due to his strength and size – which are similar to a right tackle. The Jets are looking to get a franchise player and Kouandjio has the talent to become the starter and even a Pro Bowler later in his career.
Eric Ebron – TE – UNC - With Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow both free agents after the season, the Jets are going to need a starting tight end to take over – saying they let go of both of them. Eric Ebron, the athletic tight end out of North Carolina has risen up the draft board, and if available, could become the newest Jet. Ebron has the speed like many of the premier tight ends in the NFL, as he is quick on his feet and can juke out defenders with easy. His great playmaking ability is an asset that any team can use, especially the Jets, who have do not have a wide receiver or tight end that is a reliable option. Ebron has the athleticism as a wide receiver which could be the difference between them selecting him over Lee and Evans – saying all are available.
The Jets need a lot of help in the 2014 NFL Draft, but if these needs are filled, they could become a dangerous team. After being projected to win five games at the most by analysts, they finished 8-8 last year. All of this was done with a lot of subpar players on offense and a pretty weak secondary. The draft has a lot of talent which could end up boosting the Jets all around, making them serious playoff contenders.