2016 NFL Mock Draft: NY Jets select Leonard Floyd
Nov 7, 2015; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Leonard Floyd (84) works against Kentucky Wildcats offensive tackle Jordan Swindle (70) during the first half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Kentucky 27-3. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
In this 2016 NFL Mock Draft, the NY Jets select a premier pass rusher and also get a hidden gem in the second round.
Finally, football is back! Okay, maybe not back, but this is the most exciting part of the offseason. The combine is officially over, free agency starts soon and then it’s draft time. The Jets have some tough decisions to make within the next few weeks. Thankfully they have franchise tagged Muhammad Wilkerson, which leaves them with one less problem but, what will they do with players like Chris Ivory, Calvin Pace and Ryan Fitzpatrick?
Related Story: Jets should not draft Ezekiel Elliott in first round
I’ll be honest, the Jets have a tough one ahead of them. The Jets have three running backs, two cornerbacks (and they released Antonio Cromartie) and a handful of special team players all up for free agency.
This is why the draft is so critical. The Jets need to draft players that can address the areas they were already lacking and they also need to choose players based on the outcomes of the free agents. Also keep in mind the Jets first pick isn’t until No. 20.
Decisions, decisions. Based off the Jets needs, free agency options and drafts picks, I identified some players that would be great draft picks for the Jets to ensure a successful draft.
Next: Jets go edge rusher in Round 1
Aug 30, 2014; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Leonard Floyd (84) hits Clemson Tigers quarterback Cole Stoudt (18) causing a fumble during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Clemson 45-21. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets are in desperate need of an edge rusher. Playing musical chairs with Sheldon Richardson isn’t the ideal situation. The Jets already have a solid defensive line and adding Leonard Floyd to the roster is just what the Jets need to solidify their pass rush.
Last year, this linebacker had 74 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Floyd has great speed and plays well around the edge. He offers capabilities the Jets need to add pressure to opposing quarterbacks.
Adding a defensive player to a defense-minded team will only enhance the team’s opportunity to end the New England Patriots ongoing AFC East dominance. Floyd has also been successful at covering receivers which adds to his versatile skill-set.
We saw the Denver Broncos win the Super Bowl with their defense. Adding Floyd to an already stacked defense will put the Jets in a better position heading into next season. Last year’s Leonard (Williams) didn’t disappoint, let’s keep the Leonard tradition going.
Next: Jets land premier running back in Round 2
Jan 1, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the 2016 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The hardest thing about doing mock drafts is that it’s all based off assumptions, obviously. So, I am assuming Ivory will not return the Jets in 2016. With running backs usually not going in the first round, hopefully Ezekiel Elliott will be available in the second round.
Ivory is entering free agency and factoring in the salary cap, his age and injury report, it is not in the best interest for the Jets to re-sign him especially after Bilal Powell’s great season. Elliott will be the running back the Jets need to replace Ivory who had his first career 1,000 yard season in 2015.
Elliot totaled 3,699 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns during his college football career. During his playoff game two years ago, he completed 600 yards and has the capabilities to be a three downs kind of running back.
In his last two years at Ohio State, Elliot completed 20 receptions. Although he is much more effective at carrying the ball, Powell’s abilities could positively influence Elliott’s abilities. Running backs like Elliott don’t come around often and if he’s available when the Jets are on the clock in the second round, it’s a no-brainer.
Next: Jets bolster offensive line in Round 3
Sep 27, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies tackle Germain Ifedi (74) in action against the Arkansas Razorbacks at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
There’s no denying the Jets need help on their offensive line. Germain Ifedi is a great third-round pick and has experience at both guard and right tackle which will allow the Jets to use him in multiple situations if needed.
When it comes to guards, Willie Colon has been a consistent starter for the Jets but realistically he’s getting old and could also become a free agent. Breno Giacomini didn’t offer much value; he can become an unrestricted free agent.
Ifedi is ranked as the No. 5 best offensive tackle in the 2016 class by NFLDraftScout.com. He is built for the position and uses his height and weight to stop speed and make room between him and rushers, not to mention he doesn’t make it easy for players to get around him.
Although the Jets surrendered 47 sacks, they ranked top 10 against defenses and they have improved their pass plays verses sacks allowed. Adding Ifedi this season will give him an opportunity to learn and hone in on his talents while adding to the overall quality of the Jets’ offensive line.
Next: Jets add versatile defender in Round 4
Dec 23, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Northern Illinois Huskies quarterback Ryan Graham (17) is chased by Boise State Broncos defensive lineman Kamalei Correa (8) during the second quarter in the 2015 Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
During the 2015 season, the Jets cut outside linebacker Quinton Coples. Calvin Pace is 35-years-old and is a pending free agent. Other than Pace, the Jets have Lorenzo Mauldin, a rookie who spent most of the season as a circumstantial third-down pass rusher.
The Jets need to strengthen their linebacker corps and adding Kamalei Correa to the roster will do this. In his last two seasons, Correa had five forced fumbles and 19 sacks.
During his college career, Correa played defensive end but left the 2016 NFL Combine convincing scouts he’s worthy of being a linebacker. He’s quick and extremely athletic.
His ability to play either as a defensive end of even linebacker shows he’s versatile and able to learn new things. The Jets need a player who can be useful in multiple situations. Players like Correa are a valuable asset and he should be available for the Jets to snag in Round 4.
Next: Jets add quarterback in Round 5
Dec 21, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers quarterback Brandon Doughty (12) throws a pass against South Florida Bulls during the first half in the 2015 Miami Beach Bowl at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
There’s no surprise the Jets need to discuss the quarterback situation, because even if Fitzpatrick returns, he doesn’t have more than a year or two left in his NFL career. That leaves the Jets with Geno Smith whose contract ends in 2016 and then there’s Bryce Petty who pretty much sat all of last year studying from the sidelines.
But, with more necessary picks, by round five, most of the big named quarterback prospects like Carson Wentz and others have been drafted. Flying under the radar is Brandon Doughty.
His skills as a pocket passer and abilities to throw a ball deep down the field distinguish him from other draft options. Doughty had the most passing yards, touchdowns and pass completions percentage in the NCAA in 2015.
Drafting Doughty would give him an opportunity to learn from Fitzpatrick while developing his craft. The Jets haven’t had an opportunity to develop a quarterback, and I think Doughty is the way to go. Plus, we don’t know what the future hold for Smith or Petty. More options are better than less ones at quarterback.
Next: Jets end their draft with a reliable punter
Oct 25, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes punter Tom Hackett (33) punts the ball during the second half against the USC Trojans at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Utah won 24-21. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
The seventh round pick is like a “get out of jail free” card. You can’t really go into this round expecting to draft a valuable player; although it has happened, but it’s not likely.
The Jets are in a position to draft Tom Hackett in the seventh round, and actually use him in their lineup. This punter is just what the Jets need to improve their special teams unit.
Current punter Ryan Quigley didn’t give the Jets a reason to want to re-sign him. His short punts allowed opposing teams a shorter playing field which ultimately results in easy opportunities to add points to the scoreboard. The Jets ranked 31st in net punting yards for the 2015 season.
More jets: 2016 NFL Mock Draft: Jets select Jack Conklin
Hackett’s college credits include having the most yards per punt in the NCAA followed by the Ray Guy Award for being the country’s best punter. Hackett is already producing more yards than Quigley and is definitely worth drafting in their last round.