NFL Draft Preview: Handicapping The New York Jets’ Options In Round 1


Jan 1, 2014; Tampa, Fl, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Odell Beckham (3) runs with the ball against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Draft day is finally here. After all the speculation, research, mock drafts and smokescreens, tonight we will finally learn who the Jets will select with their 1st round pick. Will they move up, move down or stay at 18?  Let’s check all the options and the likelihood it will happen.

The Favorites

1) Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU – A very well-rounded wide receiver with an excellent combination of speed and route running ability. 83% of his receptions went for 1st downs. He is also one of the best return men in the draft, so he fills multiple needs. New Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey came from LSU and knows Beckham very well.

2) Darquese Dennard, CB, Michigan State – A physical, man to man corner who excels at press coverage, Dennard would fill the void left by Antonio Cromartie (not terrible 2013 Cromartie). The only question mark was his speed and he answered it with his play on the field. Teams challenged him deep on just under half of the throws against him but only 8.8% were completed.

3) Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State – Cooks is the speedy playmaker the Jets have been missing for a long time. Not only did he run a 4.31 forty yard dash but that speed translates to the football field where he had 128 receptions last season for 1,730 yards. He also has a school record 24 touchdowns. He has electric open-field moves and great acceleration off the line. He is small and the question is can he get off the line when pressed but he has been said to be a poor man’s Tavon Austin.

Other Options

1) Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State – The most athletic corner in the draft with 4.31 speed and 20 reps in the bench press, there isn’t anything Gilbert can’t do athletically. He is a ball-hawk who gambles and tries to make the big play and he can stay with most any receiver. He gets into trouble with his technique and footwork but it is nothing that can’t be fixed on the pro level with good coaching.

2) Jason Verrett, CB, Virginia Tech – Verrett has experience being left on an island in Virginia Tech’s defense and played well. He is only 5’10” and 190 lbs. but he benched 225 lbs. 19 times. He also ran a 4.36 forty yard dash. Knows how to bait a quarterback then undercut the route and also plays run support well. Has to work on technique and is coming off of a shoulder injury that will have him miss OTAs, which could lead to a start to his 1st year like Milliner had without the opportunity to learn and get reps. After his learning period he would definitely fit this defense well.

3) Marqise Lee, WR, USC – Lee was the top WR in the country in 2012 and would have been a top 10 pick if he was eligible to come out. However, injuries, poor quarterback play and drops have affected his stock in the eyes of some teams. He is a deep threat, a player that also thrives on yards after the catch and is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. After all is said and done he could be the best wide receiver in this draft and a real steal at 18.

Jan 3, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver

Sammy Watkins

(2) carries the ball during the first half in the 2014 Orange Bowl college football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Trade Up Possibilities Note: Just the players that the Jets have been linked to and what it would cost according to the NFL Draft Value Chart. I’m not necessarily advocating these trades but merely letting you know what it would cost.

1) Eric Ebron, TE, UNC – Ebron is one of the new breed of tight ends that exploit match ups by being too tall and physical for corners to handle and too fast and athletic for safeties and linebackers to cover. Gets compared to Vernon Davis but Ebron isn’t the same athletic freak Davis was, although at 6’4″ and 256 lbs. Ebron ran a 4.56 forty yard dash which is damn good. He would be an excellent weapon for the offense that would an additional dimension. What would it cost? If he fell to pick 14 it would cost the Jets their 3rd round pick to move up.

2) Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M – Speaking of athletic freaks that cause matchup nightmares for opponents, Mike Evans of Texas A&M is a beast. Extremely physical receiver who beats press coverage and uses his body to catch difficult passes. He answered the questions about his speed in his workouts as well as by running a 4.46 forty yard dash. He is a huge red zone target and a great security blanket for a quarterback. What would it cost? To get up to pick 9, which would be the lowest he would last before the Lions would grab him at 10, it would cost the Jets their 2nd and 5th round picks.

3) Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – He is a jack of all trades but he is a master of most of them. He lines up outside, in the slot, the backfield, blocks well and is one of the best returners in the country. Watkins is electric with the ball in his hands and is a touchdown waiting to happen on each play. Unlike last year’s top 10 wide receiver, Tavon Austin, who was undersized, Watkins is 6’1″ and 210 lbs. What would it cost? Watkins is mocked most often to the Raiders at pick 5 so to get up to pick 4 it would cost the Jets pretty much their entire draft except for the compensatory picks that can’t be traded, or most of their draft and a 2015 pick.

Players The Jets Would Consider If They Fell To 18

1) Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama – The consensus top safety on the board is projected to go in the early teens but I’ve seen crazier things happen and he could fall into the Jets lap at 18. More of a prototypical free safety that covers well deep and with keeping plays in front of him. He has excellent instincts, closing speed and ball skills which are excellent traits for a safety. His size is also an asset as he is 6’1″ and 208 lbs. with long arms. He has a chance to be a difference maker and a player that would make the Jets think long and hard about taking should he be there.

2) Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville – An extremely hard-hitting safety in the Laron Landry mold except he has great closing speed and ball skills. Pryor throws himself around the field into blockers, receivers, running backs with no regard for himself or others. Has good size at 5’11” and 207 lbs. Gets over aggressive at times and is out of position or beaten on double moves. He is projected to go in the early to mid teens right after Clinton-Dix.

3) Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA – Barr has only been playing defense for 2 years but his knowledge base and production have grown exponentially. A 6’5″ person that weighs 255 lbs. should not be able to run a 4.41 forty yard dash but he did. It showed on the field with his burst around the edge and the amount of holding penalties he drew. Still a long way from his potential and needs to learn coverages and how to support the run properly but he is talented. Had 10 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and 20 tackles for loss last season. There is a high boom or bust potential with Barr because his football skills need to catch up with his athleticism.

Dec 30, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders tight end

Jace Amaro

(22) during the second half against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium. Texas Tech won 37-23. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Trade Down Possibilities Note: Just the players that the Jets have been linked to and what assets it would bring back according to the NFL Draft Value Chart. I’m not necessarily advocating these trades but merely letting you know what a trade might reap. Trading down more than a few picks is risky because that player could be gone.

1) Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State – He has been slowly creeping up into the lower half of the 1st round because finding quality cornerbacks is at a premium. He had a dominant 2012 then a shaky start to 2013 that caused his value to drop. The Jets have worked him out a couple of times, went to visit him and had him come to Florham Park so there is interest. Roby can do it all as a corner. He has 4.34 speed and more than enough strength to play physical coverage all over the field. He is inconsistent however and does have a recent arrest for DVI (which is a lower level of DUI). What would a trade get? The Bengals may want him at 24 so if the Jets trade down to 23 they could acquire an additional 3rd round pick.

2) Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech – Although it seems that Amaro is dropping into the 2nd round in most mock drafts it is more than reasonable that he could go late in the 1st round. He is another matchup nightmare at 6’5″ and 265 lbs. Amaro caught 108 passes at Texas Tech last year and although he didn’t block much he is willing and has the frame for it. Some compare him to Aaron Hernandez the football player, not the alleged murderer. New England has interest and for good reason. Trading down for Amaro is tricky because New England will figure that is who the Jets are looking for and try to jump in front of the Jets to do so. The trick is figuring out where New England’s limit on trading up is, would they go to 26? 24? 21? What would a trade get? Trading down to pick 26 would net the Jets a late 3rd and a late 4th round pick.

3) Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska – If the top corners are off the board before the Jets select and they aren’t satisfied with the next level of corners then a trade down for Jean-Baptiste is plausible. Jean-Baptiste has had a meteoric rise in the last few days to where he is mocked by plenty to go in the 1st round when he was originally considered a 4th round prospect. This is a classic case of monkey see, monkey do as Jean-Baptiste’s best asset is his size and big corners are what Seattle has used so successfully. Jean-Baptiste is 6’3″ with 4.45 speed and long arms. He uses those arms well playing press man to redirect receivers. He has good ball skills but isn’t physical enough and isn’t a good or willing tackler. What would a trade get? Considering Philadelphia, Cincinnati, San Diego, New Orleans and San Francisco have needs at corner, the Jets could safely only move to 21 which would get them a 4th and 5th round pick.

Wild Cards

1) Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA – A couple of mock drafts have the Jets taking Su’a-Filo at 18 and although I wouldn’t love it, I would understand it because guard is a need with Winters unproven and Colon held together with duck tape. An athletic guard that has great upper body strength, agility to move laterally and the speed to pull quickly and effectively, Su’a-Filo has been described as the most pro ready guard in the draft. The crowd would boo this pick unmercifully but he will probably be a good pro.

2) Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri – A very versatile player from Missouri in the 1st round? Sounds familiar. Ealy can play defensive end, defensive tackle, and outside linebacker with his athleticism. As with any conversion to OLB, coverage is an issue but since he won’t have to be a star right away Ealy will be able to be used as a chess piece to put him in the best position to get to the quarterback.

3) C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama – An extremely athletic, all-around linebacker that can cover well, support the run, all with great instincts and toughness, Mosley would help the inside linebacker position that has a young Demario Davis and an aging, less athletic David Harris. He’s played on the biggest stage with Alabama and has excelled so the spotlight of New York shouldn’t be too bright.

I’m not going to focus on the quarterbacks because I just cannot under any circumstance see the Jets using their 1st round pick on a QB, despite what reports say of the team “keeping contact” with the 1st round prospects. If for some reason they do it will probably be Bridgewater because his pro day took him from a top 10 pick to out of the 1st round and if the Jets saw a franchise QB in him then they would pull the trigger. Most likely this information was put out there to make teams think there is a chance thus increasing the odds that someone will jump in front of them for the QB and not a player the Jets want.

Enjoy the draft tonight! Over the next few days Alan and the crew here at The Jet Press will have the draft covered from all angles so check back and see what’s happening here.