Mel Kiper Jr at the 2011 NFL draft
Less than a day after the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers completed the Darrelle Revis trade, ESPN draft gurus Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay released modified first-round versions of their "final" mock drafts.
The trade influenced their mock drafts in the following ways:
- They agree on the Jets' No. 1 pick. Both McShay and Kiper Jr. liked Barkevious Mingo. However, in version 4.0 of Kiper Jr.'s mock draft, New Orleans drafted Mingo No. 7. Kiper Jr. had the Jets draft Jarvis Jones. McShay made Mingo an "alternate scenario."
- They simplified their presentations. Both men released a single-round mock draft in which no teams traded picks. Kiper Jr.'s previous mock draft covered three rounds and allowed trading picks. McShay's mock draft was only one round. However, he offered three possibilities for a first-round pick, with Darrelle Revis's status playing a major role in the Jets' options.
- McShay finally picked a wide receiver. In the pre-trade mock drafts, five of the seven selections played defense. The only offensive selections played guard and tackle. That's an observation, not a criticism. The Jets could use help on the O-line, especially at guard.
McShay's latest revision has the Jets use the No. 13 pick to draft West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin.
It's too close to the draft to expect either man to release revised later rounds. Nevertheless, the earlier versions of their drafts outline a strategy in which the Jets address needs at the offensive line, linebacking corps and secondary.
With the possible exception of Austin, they'll make the kinds of picks that strengthen the team's "infrastructure" so that the skill players they have get better opportunities to excel.
Let's have a look.
The following mock drafts are sources for this article: Access requires an ESPN Insider subscription.
- Todd McShay March 28 Mock Draft (two rounds)
- Mel Kiper Jr. Mock Draft 4.0 (pre-Revis trade)
- Mel Kiper Jr. Mock Draft 4.1 (post-Revis trade)
- Todd McShay Mock Draft 5.0 (pre-Revis trade)
- Todd McShay Mock Draft 5.1 (post-Revis trade)
Other player analysis not otherwise credited is based on the NFL Draft Tracker.
Shawn Williams (right) with Ace Sanders at South Carolina game.
In an April 11 conference call, Mel Kiper Jr. gave Shawn Smith the following endorsement:
"I think Shawn Williams is a very solid, reliable safety. He's tested well. He played well. Had a good Senior Bowl week. I think he's solidly in that late second, early third round discussion."
Williams' draft profile describes him as an in-the-box safety who covers the run well and has the speed to make plays behind the line. He's capable of covering running backs or tight ends, but doesn't have the hands to be a consistent interception threat.
Worse, Williams lacks the lateral agility to cover faster tight ends or slot receivers.
Still, Williams could be useful as a hard-hitting defender in run defense or safety blitzing.
Margus Hunt during SMU's game with Texas A&M
On the other hand, Mel Kiper Jr. has good things to say about Hunt.
"Pound for pound, Hunt is as good an athlete as you'll find in this draft.... Hunt could add a little bulk and could become a rotation player...with the potential to become that rare kind of impact pass-rusher in a 3-4 scheme from the defensive end position."
The Jets must improve their pass rush in 2013. However, that improvement must come from positions other than defensive end. They have two young defensive ends in Quinton Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson who already represent a team strength.
If the Jets draft someone who played defensive end in college, like Georgia's Jarvis Jones or LSU's Barkevious Mingo, it is with the intention of converting him to outside linebacker and improving the pass rush from the edge.
Hunt, at 6'8" and 280 pounds, would not fit that profile.
Instead, Kiper Jr.'s recommendation makes sense. If bulking up doesn't diminish Hunt's athleticism, putting on another 20 pounds and continuing to play defensive end is probably his NFL career path. It's a path, however, that he best follows elsewhere.
Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Andrew Kaufman offered another alternative: wide receiver.
Kaufman suggests "...Justin Hunter representing a downfield threat and Robert Woods more of an all-around receiver."
It may be a moot point anyway, with Hunt's projected upward mobility.
Justin Pugh from the Senior Bowl
In a January 16 conference call, Mel Kiper Jr. offered the following assessment of tackle Justin Pugh:
"As far as Justin Pugh goes, you think about what he can do as a critical, pass-blocking left tackle. I think he's got a chance to be a second-round pick. I think he's the kind of guy that is in a draft not heavy on left tackles, not being that strong at that spot after you get past (Luke) Joeckel and (Eric) Fisher. He could be the next-best at that spot. He could be the third guy in line, now, and end up being — with Lane Johnson from Oklahoma in that mix as well — in the early to mid-second round area."
Todd McShay likes Pugh as well. However, McShay sees Pugh as a first-round pick.
"Pugh made history this year as he was one of two non-seniors to participate in the Senior Bowl, a first for the annual all-star game. He might slip down the first round because of 2012 injury and short arms (only 32 inches), but he's a first-round talent on tape. He's very smart. Coaches praise his work ethic and ability to quickly pick up the offense and blocking schemes. Pugh also has good movement skills. He has patience and balance in his sets and once he's able to latch on can lock out with his arms and shuffle and mirror defenders."
As good as Pugh might be, the question is, how much help do the Jets need at left tackle as opposed to other places?
Current left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson is one of the anchors of the Jets' offensive line.
DJ Young, signed in January, is Ferguson's backup. Meanwhile, with the release of Jason Smith, Austin Howard sits alone at right tackle.
Here is Kiper Jr.'s answer, from his mock draft analysis:
"...I'm also addressing the need at guard in Round 2. Some believe Pugh can also work in at tackle, so you get some versatility. (I tend to think he's a guard or center.) Either way, he helps...."
Pugh's versatility is his attraction. He's going to play guard, while possibly backing up other positions.
Given that Ferguson and Mangold aren't getting any younger, Pugh might well be a pick worth considering.
Jonathan Cooper during a lull in the North Carolina-Miami game.
One of Todd McShay's alternate first-round picks is North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper.
JetPress.com quotes McShay's justification as follows:
"The Jets brought in G Willie Colon, but Vladimir Ducasse has become a second-round bust and New York could opt for the top guard on the board. In this case, that's Jonathan Cooper."
Mel Kiper Jr. appears committed to using the Jets' No. 9 first-round pick to draft an outside linebacker. However, should the Jets obtain Tampa Bay's No. 13 pick in a trade for Darrelle Revis, Kiper Jr. would consider North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper.
When New York Post reporter Justin Terranova asked him to speculate about that pick, Kiper Jr. said in part,
"...maybe a Jonathan Cooper.... Really the best player. They have so many need areas they don't have to force anything. Take the best player on the board."
Now that the trade of Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay is complete. Consequently, this McShay scenario is all but dead.
That was then, this is now.
It probably doesn't matter who's right. The Jets have long been predicted to select an outside linebacker No. 9. Cooper would have to drop past the Dolphins to No. 13 for the Jets to have a shot.
So much of Todd McShay's draft strategy for the New York Jets in version 5.0 of his mock draft focused on Darrelle Revis's status.
McShay had Alabama's Dee Milliner as the Jets' most likely pick should Revis leave.
That changed in version 5.1. McShay's first alternate to Millner, outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo regained the undisputed top spot.
According to JetPress.com, McShay justifies the pick as follows:
"Mingo's upfield explosiveness could be intriguing to coach Rex Ryan and his staff, who could surely put together a plan to maximize Mingo's skills."
Mel Kiper Jr. regards Mingo highly as well. In an interview with Justin Terranova of the New York Post, Mel Kiper Jr. calls Barkevious Mingo:
"...potentially a great pass-rusher....he has great pass rush instincts, tremendous speed, the size and the growth potential that you look for. He's a good kid, he works hard."
The overwhelming consensus among mock draft builders is that the Jets will draft an outside linebacker in the first round.
Georgia's Jarvis Jones and Mingo are the players mentioned most often.
If the spectre of the Revis trade did not loom over this draft, Kiper Jr. and McShay would agree on the positional goal for the Jets' first-round pick.
Mingo has the ability to appear overwhelmingly dominant, to make plays that make the viewer gasp. His backfield tackle of Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins in the first quarter of the 2012 Chick fil-A Bowl was such a moment.
Problem is, there were relatively few of them, less per season as his collegiate career progressed.
Mingo can be great, but he needs to be taught to disengage from blockers more effectively.
Sheer speed and athleticism won't get him results in a league that's fast and athletic. Hopefully he's coachable. If not, or if his coaching is ineffective, he could become another Aaron Maybin.
Fast, but a one-trick pony, easy to defend.
I'm rooting for coachability. I want that dominance wearing green and white.
Notre Dame WR DaVaris Daniels contests Milliner for the ball.
In version 5.0 of Todd McShay's mock draft, cornerback Dee Milliner was the first-round choice for the Jets in the event of a Revis trade.
TheJetPress.com quoted McShay's justification as follows:
"This turn of events is the perfect storm for a Jets team likely to part ways with disgruntled CB Darrelle Revis. Filling a major need with an elite player at this pick would be a slam dunk."
However, Mel Kiper Jr. saw Milliner gone well before the Jets' turn. In fact, Kiper Jr. described Milliner as a perfect fit for the Detroit Lions, so much that he advocated trading up for the Kansas City Chiefs' No. 1 pick.
That would have set up the Jets to draft an outside linebacker. We've discussed McShay's preference.
Now we turn to Kiper Jr.'s.
Mel Kiper Jr.'s "Fact or Fiction" debate with Todd McShay about Jarvis Jones' merits as a Top 10 first-round pick may illustrate the differences in approach between the two men.
Kiper Jr. seems to emphasize on-field performance, while McShay emphasizes evaluation metrics like 40-yard dash times and agility tests.
Take Kiper Jr.'s assessment of Jarvis Jones from his April 11 conference call:
"He was productive. He just didn't run well. Some don't. Look at Terrell Suggs. I think he goes in that top 15 to 17. I think he could go to New Orleans after 15, Pittsburgh at 17, maybe even as early as the Jets at nine. But if I had a say right now, it would be New Orleans at 15 or Pittsburgh at 17."
This comment is similar to Kiper Jr.'s opinion on "Fact or Fiction."
"...Jarvis Jones is one of the best pure football players in this draft. When you look at the production in the SEC as an outside linebacker, playing through an injury, for two successive years putting up tremendous numbers, tremendous motor, can beat you in a variety of ways, I think this is a guy that to me deserves to be a Top 10 pick. I know the 4.9 40 causes some concern about explosiveness, but...Terrell Suggs at the end of the day was a great player..., didn't bother him."
McShay, on the other hand, questions issues related to health, speed and lateral movement:
"...I think when you look at Jones, he's a great player and this is what's gonna happen. We're gonna go back and forth on this and it's gonna be as if I hate Jarvis Jones. I've got him in the bottom half of the first round. But when you talk about Top 10, spinal stenosis, potentially shortening his career, that's a concern. Then you run the 4.92, that's a concern. But the biggest thing for me is when you look at him on tape, he doesn't go laterally as well as he goes north, basically, and he doesn't drop into coverage very well. At 248 pounds, 6'2", he's only, he's really only a good fit for the Ravens, the Steelers, that type of 3-4 scheme. So it's a scheme fit that's the biggest concern...."
Kiper Jr. adds the Saints to McShay's list and suddenly the two opinions seem much closer. There's good reason for that. It turns out Kiper Jr.'s endorsement of Jones for the Jets isn't a testament to his belief in a player's heart and the quality of the competition faced after all.
Version 4.0 of Kiper Jr.'s mock draft gave Barkevious Mingo to Arizona as the No. 7 pick. Mingo was unavailable to the Jets. They needed a reasonable substitute.
Anyway, once the Revis trade changed the Jets, Kiper Jr. and McShay felt obliged to respond, as the next two slides discuss.
Tavon Autin (right) battles TCU safety Sam Carter.
Todd McShay released version 5.1 of his mock draft soon after the Jets traded Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay for this year's No. 13 pick and either a third or fourth-round pick in 2014.
Although cornerback Dee Milliner was still available, McShay re-established Barkevious Mingo as the Jets' No. 1 selection.
Then, at Tampa Bay's No. 13 slot, McShay inserted West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin. Oddly enough, McShay's previous mock draft had selected Austin as Tampa's No. 1 pick in the same draft position.
Austin's most interesting characteristic is his versatility.
He has run plays from wide receiver, running back and returned kickoffs and punts. He's considered especially dangerous once he catches the ball, often using his explosive acceleration to generate significant yardage.
He'd better be good to justify a first-round selection in a draft fairly deep in wide receivers.
However, Austin has interesting limitations, which may shed some light on the Jets' offensive strategies should they draft him.
Austin plays wide receiver exclusively from the slot position. Since the Jets already have Jeremy Kerley, it's curious that they would draft another slot receiver so early.
Then come thoughts of four wide receiver formations from such sources as the CFL and Jack Pardee's old "run-and-shoot" formations.
Is Marty Mornhinweg contemplating such formations in his new offense?
That would make a second slot receiver like Austin a vital cog in an updated, pass-oriented scheme.
Otherwise, in my opinion, filling needs on the offensive line and defense makes more sense than selecting a 5'8" wide receiver.
Chance Warmack was the top-graded player at the NFL Spring Combine.
If Mel Kiper Jr. is correct, the Revis trade will give the Jets one of the most highly-regarded players in the draft: Alabama guard Chance Warmack.
Kiper Jr.'s revised first round (version 5.1) does not include trades, such as Detroit's trade with Kansas City for the No. 1 pick. The Chiefs return to selecting Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel.
Instead, the Lions retain the No. 5 pick and still select Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner.
New Orleans uses its No. 7 pick to select Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher, which leaves Barkevious Mingo available. The Buffalo Bills select another Jets' prospect, guard Jonathan Cooper.
Since Milliner is gone, the Jets use their No. 9 pick to take Mingo.
Four selections later, at No. 13, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei has gone to Tennessee, while offensive tackle Lane Johnson has gone to San Diego and tackle D.J. Fluker has gone to Miami.
That leaves Warmack, whose spring combine grade was 0.1 point short of "Hall of Fame" caliber, available for the Jets.
In other words, the extra pick has given the Jets a guard scouts consider capable of starting in his first year in addition to the hard-charging pass-rusher they craved.
It has also yielded another surprise. Kiper Jr. and MacShay agree on the Jets' first pick!
If the Jets get a result like Kiper Jr. forecasts while maintaining the quality of their secondary, the Revis trade will not have been in vain.
Final Analysis: I prefer Kiper Jr.'s No. 13 pick to McShay's.
The Jets should strengthen the team's fundamentals before working on the skill positions.
To me, it makes no sense having a top-flight wide receiver if the quarterback is too busy running for his life to see who's open. Also, a good support system, as in offensive line, helps get more from the talent already there.
I saw Josh Norris's seven-round mock draft, Norris's picks for the Jets consisted of an outside linebacker, cornerback, quarterback, tight end, running back and three wide receivers.
I hope the Jets' final mix doesn't work out that way.
Granted, sometimes teams have to take the best that's available. I hope the Jets see better things available in positions like guard, safety, inside linebacker, nose guard and offensive tackle. Some of these positions need starters, some need more depth.
I hope the Jets resist the temptation to go for glamor before they are positioned to get the most from it.