As the NFL Draft draws closer, the draft rhetoric gets more engaging and probably more confusing. Mocks have probably changed team’s selections multiple times already, and will continue to do so up until draft day eve. It’s probably been even more confusing and frustrating for Jets fans who root for a team that basically has serious multiple needs to address in the draft in order to give their fan-base some type of hope going into next season. The pre-draft rhetoric has been so confusing and cluttered that respected Bleacher Report’s NFL Draft Lead Writer and founder of New Era Scouting Matt Miller decided to take time out of his busy schedule to pay some direct attention to Jet-Nation. Matt will helps us cut through that crowded opinionated gray area that is looted with all kinds of opinions and thoughts and share his sentiments on what he believes Jets need to do exactly to begin the “turn-around” under new GM John Idzik starting in the 2013 NFL Draft
1.) What would you say as of right now, is the Jets BIGGEST need on the offensive side of the ball and the defensive side of the ball?
MM- For me, it all starts with the quarterback position. I know that it’s very unlikely the team moves on from Mark Sanchez right now, but if I’m evaluating this roster, quarterback is the biggest and brightest need on offense. On defense, I’d say another pass rusher. It will be exciting to see how Quinton Coples is used this season, but from a “right now’ perspective, a stand-up pass rusher is the biggest defensive need.
2.) From what you know of both Marty Mornhinweg and Mark Sanchez, do you believe the Jets will see a more improved Sanchez next season IF given a chance?
MM- If given a chance, I could see Sanchez improving slightly. The key for him isn’t talent, it’s the play around him and the execution of the system. He looked lost throughout much of 2012, and if we see that player again I would expect a short leash.
3.) Would you be OK with the Jets drafting a QB in the 1st round?
MM- I would not be, but only because I don’t see the value of drafting a first-round quarterback this year—especially if Geno Smith is off the board. Any other player would be an absolute reach at No. 9.
4.) Matt Miller has been hired by the Jets to be their GM for the draft only…. give me your 1st 3 picks that would be the start of essentially turning this Jets team into legit contenders
MM- First round—Ezekiel Ansah. If Dion Jordan is off the board, I want to go after an edge rusher who can dictate the game for the offense and make an immediate impact. Second round—E.J. Manuel. I wouldn’t risk drafting a quarterback in the first round, but in Round 2 Manuel can be a great value and come in as someone to learn and then move into the starting lineup in 2014. Third round—Marquise Goodwin. The team needs speed, and if they can’t get Tavon Austin, they can grab the next best thing in Goodwin.
5.) Now that we know what you would do with the 1st 3 picks as the Jets GM….. give me 2 players (sleepers) the Jets need to be looking at for their mid round picks 4 and 5 on either side of the ball…
MM- Offense—Brian Winters. I love his ability to play guard or center, and maybe even right tackle. Defense—Brandon Williams. If you need a pure nose tackle in this year’s class, Williams has potential to be that guy. He might not last until Round 4, though.
6.) Do you think it’s feasible to utilize Quinton Coples as a stand up pass rusher in certain packages next season? Why or why not?
MM- I didn’t see the ability from Coples in college or at the Senior Bowl to make him a stand-up rusher primarily, but I think you can work him there in packages. He’s not quick enough, in my opinion, to beat blockers on the edge. I’ve never seen the speed move to get outside the tackle and dip his shoulder to crash the pocket. That’s a concern if you’re moving him outside and standing him up.
7.) Who is your top rated QB that is draft eligible in 2014? Who are your top 5 draft eligible 2014 QBs? If Johnny Manziel declares does that change your lists in any way?
MM- I’m still working on a preliminary 2014 list, but Teddy Bridgewater and Tajh Boyd will be in the running for that top quarterback spot. Guys like Nick Fales, Derek Carr and AJ McCarron are in there too. I’m not sold on Aaron Murray yet, but will be taking a hard look at his film. For me, Manziel has to prove he’s a passer if he expects to come out after this year. I haven’t seen enough consistency in his passing ability to like his NFL projection.
8.) Are the Jets 2013 starting OLBs currently on their roster right now? If so, who are they?
MM- I don’t think they are. Antwan Barnes may start in base packages, but he’s a pass rusher only from what I saw in 2011 and 2012 with the Chargers.
9.) Last week Rex Ryan worked out SMU DE Margus Hunt at OLB, similar to what he did with Coples last year. Should we read much into this, is this a smoke screen or is this Rex doing his due diligence? What is your official opinion on Margus Hunt, do you think he fits what the Jets want to do defensively and what round do you believe he’ll go in?
MM- I like Margus Hunt, but not as a stand-up pass rusher. I think you can look at Ryan working him out there and say that, 1) The Jets need pass rushers, and 2) Ryan is intrigued by Hunt’s athletic ability and wanted to see for himself what the big man could do. Nothing I’ve seen on film shows Hunt having the quickness or agility to be a stand-up pass rusher. He’s clearly a 3-4 DE to me.
10.) I believe Jarvis Jones is the edge pass rusher the Jets need but he has had a rough off season and his stock has dropped with some because of it. What is your official position on Jarvis Jones and do you agree or disagree with me in that he is what this Jets pass rush is lacking?
MM- I like Jarvis Jones. There’s something to be said for his production at Georgia. He’s a lot like James Harrison to me in that he’s not an elite athlete and doesn’t have great size, but he has a non-stop motor and a nose for the football. He won’t blow you away in workouts, but put the pads on and turn on the lights and he’ll make plays.