NY Jets: Top 5 options at No. 20 in 2016 NFL Draft
Sep 3, 2015; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats linebacker Scooby Wright III (33) adjusts his helmet during the first quarter against the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners at Arizona Stadium. Arizona won 42-32. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets have several needs. It’s no longer a running back thanks to free agency but make no mistake about it, they’re better off going defense with their No. 20 overall pick.
The mock drafts around the internet have several varying opinions on who the Jets will draft:
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Walter Football: Main – Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State Charlie Campbell – Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
NFL.com The five writers: Bucky Brooks – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State Daniel Jeremiah – Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama Charles Davis – Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia Lance Zierlein – Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech Chad Reuter – Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
ESPN: Todd McShay – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State Mel Kiper, Jr. – Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
CBS: Rob Rang – Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia Dane Brugler – Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky Pete Prisco – Kamalei Correa, OLB, Boise State
Bleacher Report: Matt Miller – Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
It seems like Elliott and Ragland are the picks that outweigh the others. Ragland and Elliot will be good and possibly great NFL players, but the Jets picking them would be a mistake, because neither player fits what the Jets need. The Jets don’t need a running back anymore thanks to free agency but do need a pass rusher, not Ragland who is dominantly a run stuffer.
They could also use a lineman that could step in for D’Brickashaw Ferguson when he needs to be relieved. So I agree with the Walter Football pick, if Conklin is available of course.
Let’s look at the top five options the Jets should draft when they’re on the clock with their No. 20 overall first-round pick.
Next: 5. A linebacker worthy of taking a risk on
Jan 1, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Braxton Miller (1) runs the ball against Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith (9) in the first quarter during the 2016 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
5. Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
I watched every Notre Dame snap this season, because I am a fan of the Fighting Irish. It was a devastating blow when Smith was injured in the Fiesta Bowl, not only to their chances of winning, but his draft stock, because he’d be a top-10 pick if he didn’t get hurt.
NFL.com’s ultimate profile on Smith is:
In this day and age of “tweeners” being labeled “hybrid” players, Smith is the rare commodity who is truly hybrid in the sense that he has the athleticism, speed and physical makeup to play any linebacker spot in either the 3-4 or the 4-3. Smith was productive but slightly miscast in the middle of the Notre Dame defense and is better suited to play in space as a 4-3 outside linebacker. However, his length and upfield burst could draw the attention of a 3-4 team looking to transition him into a rush linebacker while utilizing his rare cover skills.
On the NFL.com mock drafts, Smith’s average draft position is 10th, which means he won’t even come close to falling to the Jets. However, according to an NFL.com article written by Chase Goodbread, “NFL clubs are not expecting Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith, one of the 2016 NFL Draft’s top prospects, to play in 2016.”
In the Fiesta Bowl, Smith tore his ACL and MCL, and I can see why they feel the way they do, because Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski tore his ACL and MCL about half way through 2013 and couldn’t play in the first game of 2014. With that said, the Jets should take the risk because they may be able to draft another pass rusher later on.
Next: 4. A major upgrade on offensive line
Dec 31, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Michigan State Spartans offensive tackle Jack Conklin (74) and Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (93) during the game in the 2015 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
4. Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
According the main Walter Football scouting report:
The Jets will have to find a long-term answer at left tackle soon, given that D’Brickashaw Ferguson will be 33 at some point during the 2016 campaign. In the meantime, an upgrade at right tackle would be welcome, as Breno Giacomini struggled last year.
NFL.com’s final analysis of him is as follows:
Possesses top flight size and strength at the tackle position and has the technique and recovery athleticism to make up for his average foot quickness. Conklin went from solid in 2014 to very good in 2015 and teams must now decide whether or not they want to give him a chance at left tackle or plug him in on the right side where he should be able to step in right away and become a quality starter. Conklin has some physical limitations, but he’s got solid technique and exactly the field demeanor that offensive line coaches will be looking for.
All these assessments of him lead me to believe Conklin will be a viable fit on the right side of the offensive line until he’s ready to take over for Ferguson when it’s time for him to say goodbye. The Jets need an immediate replacement for Giacomini. Also, he’s probably the offensive tackle most likely to fall to the Jets.
A combination of good video tape and good combine workouts is always good for a player. He checks all the boxes on the tap, and shows his strength (25 reps) and athleticism (5-flat 40 and 103 in. broad jump) to make it in the NFL.
Next: 3. Another pass rusher with major upside
Dec 19, 2015; Albuquerque, NM, USA; Arizona Wildcats linebacker Scooby Wright III (33) tackles New Mexico Lobos running back Richard McQuarley (3) for a loss during the first half in the 2015 New Mexico Bowl at University Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
3. Phillp “Scooby” Wright III, LB, Arizona
Like Ragland, NFL.com lists Wright as an inside linebacker, and unlike Ragland, he isn’t a one-dimensional run stopper. Injuries robbed us of Wright in 2015, and that may stop scouts from taking him early.
As NFL.com says:
…instincts, production and overall competitive fire make him one of the safer second day bets in this draft. He could make a late move up the draft board for teams who value elite production.
Wright did produce when he was healthy. In 2014, he had 15 sacks and 31 tackles for loss, which were 3rd and 1st in the country, respectively. The Jets are desperate for a pass rusher, and in Wright they will have exactly what they need. They have a guy who can get to the quarterback and also stop the run as he played well enough in his return in the bowl game that the Jets could take a flyer on him at No. 20.
It would be a risk that he could perform up to what he did in 2014, but it’s well worth it. Wright is going to be a top-notch pro, no doubt about it.
Next: 2. A top pass rusher
Jan 30, 2016; Mobile, AL, USA; North squad quarterback Carson Wentz of North Dakota State (11) throws a pass while under pressure from South squad defensive end Noah Spence of Eastern Kentucky (97) during first half of the Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
2. Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
Spence would be higher in the draft order if it weren’t for his off-the-field problems that got him suspended at Ohio State. His size will most likely force him to transition from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker, which is perfect for the Jets.
NFL.com gave him an overall grade of 6.1, which in their estimations means ” Chance to become good NFL starter.” Their ultimate assessment of him is:
His issues are well-documented, but his recovery and turnaround is what has NFL teams excited. Spence has been accountable for his actions and worked just as hard off the field as he has on the field to change his life and attack his problems. His inability to hold the point of attack combined with his ability to rush the passer make him a logical choice as a 3-4 rush linebacker. The speed of the game make take a year or two to get used to, but Spence should become a starter early in his career.
If it weren’t for the public intoxication incident, he’d be a higher pick. He used his supreme talent to overwhelm the offensive tackles in the Ohio Valley Conference, but that doesn’t mean he can’t wreak havoc against others, because he did so in the Senior Bowl.
Despite his numbers being against weaker opponents, that doesn’t mean he won’t be able to thrive on the Jets. Even though, it will take time, he will develop into a very good pass rusher.
Next: 1. A premier pass rusher
Sep 26, 2015; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Leonard Floyd (84) and cornerback Reggie Wilkerson (9) combine to tackle Southern University Jaguars running back Lenard Tillery (21) during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Southern 48-6. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
1. Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
When looking at Floyd’s scouting reports on NFL.com and Walter Football, one thing stands out: they both say that he’s thin and he truly is. At 6’4, 244 lbs. he is very thin for NFL standards, but with an NFL workout program that can change.
It’s actually the only glaring negative on his scouting report. Both sites have a lot of good things to say about his game, because they say he has good length, good up-field speed, he’s athletic and a well established pass rusher in terms of his moves. He’s exceptionally quick and fast.
He also has man coverage ability which is rare for a pass rusher, and even though he didn’t have the big sack numbers in college, neither did J.J. Watt. Ultimately, it’s all about his ability to add weight and muscle in an NFL weight training program.
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Right now, he’s a sub-package guy, but after an offseason program or two he could be a force to be reckoned with. This could be the pass rush combo the Jets need with Leonard Williams.