Feb 23, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Marqise Lee participates in a pass catching drill during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Every year, I feel like there are names that the Jets get associated with, because of a need. This year the consensus is Eric Ebron, which I’m ok with. There are, however, several players that are always touted as that can’t miss prospect or someone that is a definite first rounder and I can’t figure out why. Two years ago when the Jets needed an outside linebacker, the hot name associated was Melvin Ingram of South Carolina. He had a first round grade from all the scouts, and plenty production in sacks and tackles for loss. When you looked at his size at 6’2″ or so and 260 pounds, people started penciling him in as an outside linebacker. When I looked him up however, he was older than everyone else, and he got most of his sacks from the defensive tackle position, not as an edge rusher. He also got 80 % of his positive stats in bunches against teams that stunk. This year is no different, as several teams have need positions, and names are thrown out that are just not as great as people make them seem. Here’s a few with elevated stock.
Marquise Lee WR USC, a name often associated with the New York Jets for the 18th pick. Lee is a fine player, but I fail to see why he is graded as a first round pick or the 3rd or 4th wide receiver taken. Realistically he was a second option for two of the three years he played for USC. His yards per catch declined from 15, to 14, to 13 every year he played despite Robert Woods being the main guy in 2011, and Nelson Agholor being the main guy in 2013. When I look at Marquise I see a thin guy that probably can’t beat press coverage, or outrun corners on the pro level consistently, and has reached his ceiling as far as potential. That’s probably why the junior declared for the draft this year, as next season it may have been more pronounced as he became a second or third passing option for USC. He’s still a good player, but to me he’s about the 10th best receiver, and if you want a skilled route runner you can draft a player like Jordan Matthews or Jared Abbrederis, and they will be just as productive, if not more so than Lee around round 3. Those players bring the same tools to the position as Lee does in my opinion, in some cases they are better at it.
The other player I can’t seem to get my head around is Blake Bortles. Whenever I disagree with scouts, especially on a #1 pick, it makes me wonder if I’m the one who’s crazy. Here’s the thing. Blake Bortles reminds me of two other quarterbacks that picked up a lot of steam going towards the draft. One was Blaine Gabbert, and the other was Kyle Boller. I know the positives, the guy is 6’5″, he’s played in a pro-style offense, he can see the pocket and extend the play, he’s got a good arm, etc. I get the arm strength, and physical tools, but I can’t shake the feeling I’m looking at the next top 10 college quarterback that can’t put it together in the NFL. He’s got two solid years of starting experience, completed over 65% of his passes which are good. He’s also only played against top 25 teams four times in the last 2 years, and gone 2-2. In the NFL every team is a top 25 team, and his record from a distance seems like he’s been mopping up bad teams, and playing pretty average against good teams. I am not saying that Blake Bortles is a bad player, but I am saying I would feel more comfortable drafting Johnny Manziel than Bortles. Football is about getting your job done, and producing wins. I think Manziel, Bridgewater, and even Carr might produce more wins than Blake Bortles when all is said and done. The 1st pick in the draft needs to be the safest pick, the highest floor and ceiling if possible. Bortles has neither the highest floor, or the highest ceiling at his position.