Oct 10, 2015; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith (9) celebrates a fumble recovery in the third quarter against the Navy Midshipmen at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 41-24. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Who will the New York Jets select in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft? They will more than likely take the biggest risk and hope that a hidden gem can be developed towards greatness.
It’s sad to see Jaylon Smith’s image at the forefront of this article, but that’s the unfortunate reality after the injury he suffered during the Fiesta Bowl, more on that later though. The Jets found a gem in last year’s draft with their third round pick Lorenzo Mauldin.
Could the Jets find Mauldin a running mate in this year’s third round? The Jets are surely hoping to catch similar lightning in a bottle. The third round of a draft is where a general manager can shine and prove that all the research done on players is well worth it when finding a hidden gem in the rough.
Without further ado, lets break down the top five predictions for the Jets heading into the third round of this year’s draft.
Next: 5. Jets find their X-factor
Nov 21, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Braxton Miller (5) runs with the ball against the Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
5. Jets find their X-factor
The Jets did pretty well on offense last season, it was quite possibly the best offensive season (arguably) in franchise history. Though if we remember a time when the Jets struggled on offense, that shouldn’t be too hard.
They had to rely upon a wildcat sort of play selection to trick defenses because the Jets couldn’t beat them with their offensive talent. As the years have gone by the name of said offense has changed, the Jets ran the ‘Seminole’ offense with Leon Washington at the helm.
Even last season attempted some unique things with direct snaps to Bilal Powell, but the Jets had their best success when they had former Heisman finalist quarterback Brad Smith on the team. He brought a different dynamic to the offense and opponents had to account for it during their week of preparation.
Braxton Miller has Smith’s potential 10 fold, that’s the kind of talent he possesses. A former quarterback who has elite speed, phenomenal short area quickness and could bring a home run threat to the Jets’ offense. Miller’s potential ceiling is in the mid second round, but he could slip to the third and the Jets may strike.
Next: 4. Jets go quarterback
Oct 24, 2015; Piscataway, NJ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Cardale Jones (12) prior to the game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at High Points Solutions Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim O
4. Jets go quarterback
There is a high probability that the Jets will take a quarterback in this year’s draft. The big question is how soon will they take one?
There’s been rumors that the Jets tried trading up to the first overall pick to select one of the top two quarterbacks in the draft. The rumors continue to percolate that the Jets are kicking the tires on another overall pick within the top-ten.
If the Jets are unable to pull off the blockbuster trade, they could apt to draft a developmental prospect later in the draft, like a Cardale Jones. After the top three prospects, there is a lot of debate in terms of who is the fourth best prospect.
Jones deserves to be in that conversation based solely on his physical attributes, raw potential and leadership abilities. He could be a guy that develops in two to three years into a franchise kind of quarterback for the Jets.
Next: 3. Jets go wide receiver
Nov 14, 2015; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Pharoh Cooper (11) gets around Florida Gators wide receiver Chris Thompson (85) on a punt return in the second half at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
3. Jets go wide receiver
The Jets have been doing their due diligence with some of the top receiving prospects in the draft. Even with the Jets having incredible depth, everyone knows injuries can really test the depth of any team.
The Jets are preparing for the worst case scenario and it wouldn’t hurt having some youth to develop. Pharoh Cooper is explosive, consistent and a competitor.
All of those traits would be worthy of a first round pick, let alone a third. But his ceiling is somewhat limited due to his reliance on straight line acceleration.
But Cooper as a fourth or fifth option in this Jets’ offense could work out great and when the Jets starters eventually retire or move on, Cooper can take on a bigger role. Especially in terms of expectations for a third-round pick being much lower than that of a higher draft choice.
Next: 2. Jets bolster pass rush
Sep 27, 2014; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Lorenzo Carter (7) reacts with linebacker Leonard Floyd (84) and linebacker Jordan Jenkins (59) after a big hit on Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Nathan Peterman (not shown) during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Tennessee 35-32. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
2. Jets bolster pass rush
One of the top needs for the Jets is finding a true pass rusher and they think they’ll find a quality one in the third round. So much so that head coach Todd Bowles and defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers flew down to Athens to work out a few Georgia Bulldogs.
Although Leonard Floyd is most likely going in the first round, the Jets did their due diligence on another pass rusher, Jordan Jenkins. Floyd got all the love in the limelight, but Jenkins is a viable prospect as well.
He was a three-year starter who has played both outside linebacker spots. Jenkins isn’t dangerous enough as a pass rusher to warrant a first-round pick, but he’’s a safe pick whose football toughness and high awareness make him a player that has immediate starter potential.
Getting that kind of potential in the third round is tough to find. A very similar scouting report to that of Mauldin who ironically starts for the Jets.
Next: 1. The biggest risk in this year's draft
Oct 31, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith (9) leaves the field after Notre Dame defeated the Temple Owls 24-20 at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
1. The biggest risk in this year’s draft
This story was eluded to earlier, Smith was easily going to go in the top-five of this year’s draft. At this point in time, there are now questions whether Smith will even be drafted at all.
Currently Smith is projected to go in the second round of my upcoming mock draft but his stock is all over the place. Mainly because of the nerve damage that Smith suffered during that Fiesta Bowl contest.
Whether Smith is available in the second or third round, the Jets have to seriously consider this prospect based on his unreal talent and his high character. Smith was a captain for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and was a reputable leader on and off the field.
This new regime for the Jets is entering their first full offseason and are only in their second year of operation. Smith’s potential is through the roof, but with the potential of a Marcus Lattimore situation (retiring at the age of 23 due to the injuries suffered in college). The Jets have to be weary of taking this sort of risk, especially only holding six draft picks to their name. But if they take the risk and he turns out to be their next big cornerstone on defense, it’s very well worth taking.