The Draft is over and the Jets used all of their 12 draft picks. I was there on Saturday for rounds 4-7 and it seemed like every half hour the Jets would pick sometimes sooner than that. A quick aside, if you ever have a chance to see the NFL Draft in person I strongly suggest you do because the presentation is spectacular and the interaction with other Jets fans and fans of other teams is a lot of fun. Back to the issue at hand, how did the Jets do? Here is the good, the bad & the ugly:
1) Two impact players – The Jets nailed their first two picks, drafting an impact player for both sides of the ball. In the first round they drafted Calvin Pryor, a safety from Louisville, who flies all over the field, hits like a truck and can cover the back-end. Before you say he is a box safety, in watching his games and reading scouting reports on him he has range and takes good angles and has played centerfield well taking advantage of his excellent ball skills. Jets safeties last year were terrible at helping deep and the results were a ton of big plays being made against the corners. In fact there were 55 receptions of over 20 yards, a 32% spike over the previous year according to an article written 4 days ago by Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Pryor is an intimidator, whose hits cause receivers to have alligator arms (not extend their arms) when he is around and not come across the middle as often. He can also play in the box as a run defender (he had 100 tackles as a sophomore) and he forced nine fumbles in his career.
In the second round, the Jets finally got a tight end that causes mismatches in the secondary in Jace Amaro. Amaro, who was not expected to last until pick 49, is 6’5″ and 265 lbs. and ran a 4.6 forty yard dash at his Pro Day workout. Last season, he caught 106 passes for 1,352 yards with seven touchdowns at Texas Tech. He plays mostly in the slot which causes problems for a defense because a linebacker or safety aren’t fast enough to cover him and corners aren’t big enough to cover him. Amaro will excel running up the seam, pressuring the defense and creating big plays. He will also be a big target to throw to on 3rd downs and in the red zone. He has work to do learning to be a better blocker but the strength and willingness is there, the technique is what needs to be learned. Amaro changes teams game plans and that is what the Jets needed to go with Eric Decker.
2) Creating competition in areas of need – Overall, the Jets added four pass catchers (3 WR, 1 TE), one developmental quarterback, three defensive backs (2 CB, 1 S), one offensive lineman (G), and three linebackers (2 OLB, 1 ILB). The organization has made it perfectly clear that competition is the mantra and it isn’t empty words. There is a big log jam at receiver and defensive back especially with a lot of players with interesting skill sets. Adding a quarterback that was recently thought of a 1st round pick at the end of the 6th round is just good draft strategy and taking a shot at finding an aging David Harris‘ and Calvin Pace’s replacements was a necessity. The guard they drafted, who has a starter’s skill set, will go along with the return of Dalton Freeman, who would have made the team last year, and an improved Oday Aboushi and William Campbell fresh off of their redshirt year.
3) Addressing the wide receiver position – The Jets drafted 3 wide receivers and they are different types of wide receivers. Jalen Saunders of Oklahoma is a quick, shifty slot receiver who can shake defenders and get open quickly. He may be under 5’10” and 165 lbs but durability was never an issue and he played very well at a high major school against big time talent, including Alabama. Saunders ran a 4.37 forty yard dash and has great burst off of the line of scrimmage and makes quick hard cuts to get open. He thrives in the middle of the field and finding spots in a zone. Plenty of potential for yards after the catch. Saunders is also an electric returner averaging 15 yards per punt return which is outstanding and fills an area of weakness for the Jets. Evans has size at 6’1″ and sure hands with deceptive field vision to get down the field. He is a good, physical route-runner who can beat you deep as well as take balls away from defenders on errant throws with his height and long arms. Another returner as well. At 6’2″ and 225 lbs. Quincy Enunwa ran a 4.45 forty yard dash. Enunwa can line up all over the formation as an outside receiver, insider receiver or even H-Back. He is a prototypical West Coast offense receiver that uses size and toughness to use his body to get open. A 21-year-old captain at Nebraska that is extremely smart and had his best year as a senior gives this pick hope that he will get it and be a productive member of the Jets. So, one shifty slot receiver, one boundary receiver with the skills to cross the middle and get deep, and one extremely versatile, physical receiver. The rest of the receiving core has been put on notice that all jobs are up for grabs.