4. Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU: Dee Milliner revisited for the NY Jets
You could argue that the Jets don't need to spend high-end draft capital on a cornerback for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, the team has a talented young group of corners with Bryce Hall, Michael Carter II, Brandin Echols, and the criminally underrated D.J. Reed who the Jets stole in free agency. Secondly, the Jets' defensive scheme is not reliant upon man-to-man shutdown cornerbacks. Rex Ryan isn't back to run the team's defense.
Don't get me wrong, Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner is a special talent. He is likely going to be a surefire All-Pro player in the NFL. For what it's worth, I have him ranked as the second-best player in this entire draft.
Gardner is the exception in the Jets' case at four, even though the team doesn't really need that specific type of player. The team's big issue in pass defense is their lack of a pass rush. Gardner could be the Jets' pick at four, or maybe, some believe he could slide to 10.
But if the Jets get on the clock at 10, Gardner is long gone, and the team is staring at Derek Stingley on their board, they need to look away.
Derek Stingley Jr. has blue-chip talent, but the bottom line is that he has played only a combined 10 games over the past two seasons. The talented Stingley has dealt with a myriad of injuries in his college career, most recently coming off of Lisfranc surgery.
Once upon a time, Stingley was a megastar as a freshman in the SEC, but ever since his starring turn onto the college football landscape, he simply hasn't been the same player.
A lot of that has to do with the injuries themselves, but also the mentality that comes along with not trying to get hurt when you play.
The truth is that when players come into the NFL with a history of enduring multiple injuries, it's not something that just vanishes into thin air and becomes a forgotten ghost of the past. Your injury history usually follows and haunts you, and it only gets more challenging when you play at the NFL level.
Playing longer seasons in a league with the ultimate level of play is extremely challenging physically. If Stingley can't play full seasons in college, what evidence is there that he will in the NFL? The fact is, good medicals or not, some players are injury-prone.
Longtime Jets fans have seen this movie before. The team drafted two defensive players with high-end picks in defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson and cornerback Dee Milliner, who couldn't shake the injury bug, and whose skills diminished significantly as time progressed.
That's the fear with Derek Stingley Jr. Perhaps, if the Jets were picking later in Round 1, the reward would outweigh the risk. But when you are picking in the top-10, you don't want to gamble on a player who has already proven that he has trouble staying on the field.
I will be rooting for Stingley to be great in the NFL, but I wouldn't draft him — not with a top-10 pick. Let someone else take that risk.
Ultimately, the Jets' brain trust, as it should be, will do whatever their hearts and minds desire. Fan or groupspeak shouldn't influence them one way or another. After all, it's Joe Douglas's neck and the entire regime's necks that are on the line.
But if the Jets get this year's draft wrong as they have in years past, they might be headed toward another decade of irrelevancy.