New York Jets: Analyzing expectations of 2015 NFL Draft class


Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Leonard Williams (Southern California) poses for a photo with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number sixth overall pick to the New York Jets in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets are close to training camp in Florham Park and now is the time to start assessing how all the new pieces for the team are going to fit in. Let’s start off by going through the first draft class of the Maccagnan-Bowles era. Let’s go pick-by-pick through the entire draft class and see what their role is going to be in 2015 plus how they fit into the plans for the upcoming season.

Next: Leonard Williams

May 8, 2015; Florham Park, NY, USA; New York Jets rookie defensive lineman Leonard Williams (62) runs drills during rookie minicamp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Leonard Williams

With the 6th overall pick the Jets brought in arguably the best player in the entire draft. Our original thoughts about Leonard Williams can be found here Expectations for Leonard Williams in 2015 by Luis Tirado Jr. who broke down what to expect out of him. After the news of the Sheldon Richardson suspension, our views of his impact changed drastically.

He went from being a rotational defensive linemen who will see some snaps to being thrusted into the starting lineup opposite of Muhammad Wilkerson. I foresee Williams making a huge impact early. I’m talking HUGE stats, Wilkerson on the other side is going to continue to get double-teamed. Until Williams can prove on the NFL level he is worthy of double-team consideration, he’ll have a lot of favorable matchups to kick off the season.

To reiterate with the Richardson news, Williams will be the starter for the first quarter of the season. Then upon Richardson’s return to the lineup he’ll be shifted to rotational duty in variety of positions along the Jets’ defensive line. So what does it all mean? Williams will be a major cog on defense pushing to be one of the best in the entire NFL this upcoming season. They’ll look to improve on all major defensive statistical categories including building upon last season’s 6th leading sack numbers.

Next: Devin Smith

May 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Devin Smith (84) during organized team activities at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Devin Smith

In the 2nd round of this year’s draft, the Jets could have went in one of many directions, but they decided to improve their disappointing receiving corps. They added speedster Devin Smith from Ohio State. And that’s exactly what he is going to bring to this unit in 2015. Smith brings pure unadulterated acceleration, something this unit has been lacking for as long as Jets fans can remember.

This offseason, the receiving corps has gotten quite the facelift with the Brandon Marshall addition that now shifts Eric Decker to his more natural position as the #2 option. Jeremy Kerley is locked in as the slot receiver and should be able to make more plays now that most of the pressure is off of him.

Where does that leave Smith? Well, the Jets brass didn’t invest a second round pick to see him hold a clipboard. He played primarily on the outside in college, but I could see the Jets’ coaching staff utilizing him in three-wide receiver sets. He will be a change of pace receiver for the Jets that adds dynamic play-making ability.

I see Smith contributing also on special teams primarily in a gunner role as he did in college. But Smith will look to break the stereotype that analysts have thrown on him as being a ‘1-trick pony’ with the vertical route. But hey, that’s a hell of a one trick to have, the Jets wouldn’t mind seeing some long touchdowns this upcoming season.

Next: Lorenzo Mauldin

Oct 18, 2014; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin (94) reacts during the second half of play against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Papa John

Lorenzo Mauldin

With the Jets 3rd round selection, they added some youth to their linebacking core by selecting Lorenzo Mauldin out of Louisville. Current projected starters on the outside are Quinton Coples and veteran Calvin Pace, but Mauldin could shake things up with a big training camp.

Assuming he doesn’t steal the job away from the ageless wonder Pace, I think Mauldin will fit in nicely as a rotational pass rusher while he develops the rest of his game over time. If he develops well in 2015, come 2016 once Pace’s deal expires, he could take the torch so to speak and run with it.

Mauldin has tremendous upside and should prove to be a solid draft pick once he is properly coached and developed to the next level. He has the potential and skill-set to be great as the Jets know he could be their cornerstone on defense within the next few years if everything pans out.

Next: Bryce Petty

May 8, 2015; Florham Park, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) drops back to pass during rookie minicamp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Petty

Quarterback controversy? Woah woah, not so fast New York media. Yes, with their 4th round selection the Jets added another quarterback to the mix in Bryce Petty. But there’s no quarterback controversy here…well, yet anyway.

Todd Bowles was pretty up front about their selection. That everyone needs to understand he’s coming from a spread gimmicky offense at Baylor and everyone should temper their expectations. What won’t be the issue is his talent, through organized team activities and rookie minicamp, the Jets have been impressed with his raw ability.

The other part of the equation is the intangibles, but we won’t find that out this season unless things go horribly wrong. Like a Geno Smith implosion or a major injury to Ryan Fitzpatrick could throw Petty right to the wolves. With that being said *knocks on wood*, Petty will ride the bench, get some preseason action to wet his beak and he will learn a pro-style NFL offense this upcoming season.

Next: Jarvis Harrison

Sep 21, 2013; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies offensive lineman Jarvis Harrison (51) blocks for quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) against the SMU Mustangs at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jarvis Harrison

With their 5th round pick, the Jets added versatile offensive linemen from Texas A&M Jarvis Harrison. He’ll get thrown right into the jumble of young talent the Jets have at offensive guard. D’Brickashaw Ferguson will start at left tackle, left guard will be newly brought in James Carpenter, center will be long-stay Nick Mangold and right tackle will be Breno Giacomini.

This will leave an opening at right guard that will be decided between Willie Colon who was brought back on a one-year deal, Brian Winters who has been a disappointment since being a 3rd round pick in the John Idzik regime, Brent Qvale who is an upstart who caught some eyes through minicamps and now Harrison.

Harrison has the potential to be a diamond in the rough for the Jets in the trenches. If he can surprise everyone and take the starting job, obviously his role will increase and the pressure will be on. But more realistically, he’ll be an important swingman on the offensive line backing up both guard spots and doing some backup center reps for depth. His impact may not be truly felt this season, but there is reason for optimism that he can be a starter in the future.

The NFL Draft analysts at had this to say of Harrison’s potential:

Dancing bear who possesses the talent, technique and physical traits to be a high-end NFL starter. Not asked to fire out on defenders often in Texas A&M scheme, so that might be an area where he has room for growth. Teams might have to decide between the film and the football character when slotting him. Keeping his weight under control could be a tall task during his career.

Next: Deon Simon

Jul 27, 2013; Cortland, NY, USA; General view of a New York Jets helmet during training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Deon Simon

And finally the last draft pick for the Jets was in the 7th round and the selection was Deon Simon, nose tackle out of Northwestern State. The word of the day for the Jets in this draft was value whether it be turning in two of their draft selections into Brandon Marshall, Devier Posey, and Zac Stacy or grabbing Simon in the seventh round, which is a huge steal.

He was projected by many to go as high as late 5th or at worst a priority free agent signing. The Jets have a lot of depth along their defensive line, but pure nose tackles aren’t necessarily a dime a dozen. They may have hit lady luck with ‘Snacks’ as their starting nose tackle, but they’re looking to do it again with Simon.

Again, the folks over at do a marvelous jobs with their draft prospects analysis and I think they hit the nail on the head for Simon. Here’s what they said about him:

Big-bodied defensive tackle who could find a home as a two-gapping nose guard in a 3-4. Simon is 24 years old and is coming off of a knee injury, but he has noticeable power and shows potential to slow the run in the middle of a defense. He needs much better pad level and plenty of coaching for his potential to be unlocked.

Well, that’s my overall analysis of this year’s draft class for the Jets and what I think their roles are going to look like for the 2015 season. As always, thanks for joining me here on The Jet Press for another inside look at the Jets so far this offseason.

Next: Sheldon Richardson needs to make important choice

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