Obtaining RB Chris Ivory may have been as significant as any draft pick.
Before examining the career expectations of the Jets' 2013 draft class, let's look at how the draft compared with the experts' predictions.
Here's what the Jets' draft accomplished:
- The Jets added two probable defensive starters in cornerback Dee Milliner and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.
- Geno Smith joined the 2013 competition for the starting quarterback job.
- Guards Brian Winters and William Campbell, as well as tackle Oday Aboushi, will vie for spots on the offensive line. Winters is the leading candidate for a starting role.
- Fullback Tommy Bohanon will compete with Lex Hilliard for that position.
In addition, the Jets traded their fourth-round pick to New Orleans for running back Chris Ivory.
What do the Jets think they accomplished?
- They bolstered the offensive line and backfield. Whoever plays quarterback will benefit from a bolstered offensive line, a new running threat in Ivory and a new receiver out of the backfield in Tommy Bohanon.
- They found a younger and more economical replacement for Darrelle Revis. Dee Milliner may not be everything Revis was, but he has the tools to be outstanding in his own right.
- They improved their interior pass rush. Sheldon Richardson should combine with Antonio Garay to improve quarterback pressure up the middle and complement ends Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples.
- They added a potential starting quarterback. Mark Sanchez's hopes for self-redemption in New York met another obstacle in the person of Geno Smith.
Here's what they failed to do:
- They didn't add an outside pass-rusher. Most experts predicted the Jets would pick an outside linebacker in the first round. They didn't even though Jarvis Jones was available. Outside pressure will have to come from Antwan Barnes.
- They didn't draft a safety. It looks like either Antonio Allen or Josh Bush will start opposite Dawan Landry.
- They didn't draft a wide receiver. It wasn't necessary to draft a quarterback in 2013. The Jets could have used that pick to select a wide receiver like USC's Robert Woods.
- They didn't draft a tight end. That's not completely accurate. Granted, they could have used their second-round pick to take San Diego State's Gavin Escobar. What they did instead was pick Tommy Bohanon in the seventh round. He's listed as a fullback but played tight end as well. He may get work in both positions.
However, the Jets' collection of undrafted free agents includes players who address these needs. The team's announcement notes that Chris Ivory was once an undrafted free agent himself,
On paper, the Jets' 2013 draft class will improve the team.
However, the rush to draft a quarterback cost the team a chance at a wide receiver or tight end in the second round. In addition, the Chris Ivory trade, while potentially improving the backfield, may have cost opportunities to address areas of greater need. The Bills took free safety Duke Williams immediately after the pick the Jets traded to get Ivory.
The Jets weren't going to address all their needs with one draft, unless they obtained more picks. Maybe that's why they hung on to Tim Tebow for so long, releasing him once there was no chance of getting even a seventh-round pick in trade.
That's enough lamenting what might have been. It's time to look at who the Jets took and how they might help the team.
Bohanon averaged 5.6 yards per touch for 565 yards from scrimmage.
The direction Tommy Bohanon's NFL career takes depends on whether he plays many roles adequately or one role well.
In his post-draft news conference, Tommy Bohanon described the many roles he played during his college career at Wake Forest. They included special teams, tight end, halfback and the position for which he was drafted, fullback.
According to Jets senior personnel executive Terry Bradway's comments at the post-draft news conference, fullback is Bohanon's projected role:
I think he's a real good fit. Number one, he's a tough kid, he's got size, he runs well. I'm very impressed with the way he catches the ball. I think that's a big part of this offense. He's shown that in live games, he's shown it in the Senior Bowl. He's a good catcher out of the backfield. A lot of qualities of a traditional fullback, he has those. We were lucky to be able to pick him up in the seventh round.
However, should Bohanon not wrest the starting fullback job from Lex Hilliard, his versatility suggests another possibility: tight end.
Critics of the Jets' 2013 draft cite the team's failure to select a tight end. Bohanon could be the answer to that criticism.
He was much more productive as a receiver than as a ball-carrier during his college career. Bohanon's number of rushing and receiving touches were practically equal.
However, his 51 receptions yielded 405 yards, 7.9 yards per catch. On the other hand, his 50 rushes yielded 160 yards, 3.2 yards per carry. Of Bohanon's 10 collegiate touchdowns, seven came through the air, including five in his senior year.
This differential was not consistent throughout Bohanon's college career. He mentioned that In his senior year, Wake Forest's offense changed from a pro-style set to more of a collegiate spread formation.
Plus, his stat sheet reveals nothing about how the play-calling might have changed during that time. For example, his yards per carry may have fallen because he became a short-yardage specialist.
At the NFL combine, Bohanon demonstrated both upper-body strength and vertical explosiveness, attributes desirable in a tight end. He led running backs in the bench press workout with 36 repetitions, a testament to his strength and endurance. He placed among the top 10 in the vertical jump as well, indicating an ability to catch passes over his head.
Bradway's comments, Bohanon's news conference, college statistics and combine grades suggest several possible career paths, the first being competition with Hilliard for the fullback job.
If Bohanon doesn't beat out Hilliard at fullback, he'll have to make his initial mark on special teams, using his strength and endurance to protect the kicker or punter.
Bohanon could be the dark horse of the Jets' draft, taking over as the starting fullback or tight end. However, he may have to prove himself through special teams work first.
If Bohanon can accept gradually increasing offensive responsibilities, he could become a starting tight end or fullback. Otherwise, he'll be a journeyman at best, migrating from team to team at minimum wage.
William Campbell's NFL hopes may require switching from defense to guard.
Even though he hasn't played guard since sophomore year, William Campbell must rely on that experience to make a career in the NFL.
It's probably because while Campbell has the physique to play defense, he lacks the instincts and technique. Jets' director of college scouting Jeff Bauer cited the opinion of one of Campbell's college coaches:
"You see him as a defensive tackle, he's a big guy, plays hard, he's physical. He's not the most gifted pass rusher, not a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage." He said, "You know, this guy really is going to do best as an offensive guard."
NFLDraftScout.com's Dane Brugler writes of Campbell:
Built like an oak door, but too often that door is blown open as he struggles to anchor off the snap. Doesn't appear to understand arm and hand technique, struggling to disengage blocks. Needs to improve his timing and motor; doesn't appear to always play with a full tank. Below average career production with just 5.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks.
After the 2013 pro day at Michigan, Gil Brandt of NFL.com observed:
Campbell ran the 40 in 5.22 and 5.15 seconds. He had a 27-inch vertical jump and an 8-foot-11 broad jump. His short shuttle time was 4.71 seconds and three-cone time was 7.28 seconds. Campbell had 35 strength lifts of 225 pounds. In high school, Campbell was a three-year starter at offensive tackle and a two-year starter at defensive tackle for Cass Technical (Mich.) High School. There is a feeling that he might be a better offensive line prospect than defensive lineman in the NFL.
In other words, the Jets will not try Campbell on defense. They will utilize his past as a guard during his early college career. During his news conference, Campbell opined that his days as a two-way player would help the transition.
Guard is a position of opportunity on the Jets. Vladimir Ducasse and Willie Colon top the depth charts right now, but Ducasse has not played well and Colon is strongest against the run. Competition for starting roles should be wide-open.
However, Campbell's lack of recent experience at guard will work against him. Brian Winters is probably the most likely draftee to win a starting guard position. Campbell can still make the Jets playing special teams and could also play guard on specific downs, depending on his blocking strengths.
For example, since projected starter Willie Colon is strongest as a run-blocker, Campbell might do well to concentrate on pass-blocking, with the goal of platooning with Colon on the way to an eventual starting job.
Oday Aboushi will compete with Autsin Howard for the right tackle job.
Unless Oday Aboushi proves the critics wrong, he'll have to fight hard to start at right tackle. Otherwise, he'll be the odd man out on Sundays.
Assume Aboushi doesn't win the starting right tackle job from Austin Howard. Howard should be tough competition. After all, the Jets placed a second-round tender on him when he became a restricted free agent.
If Aboushi doesn't take Howard's job, he'll never be activated for games unless he can substitute in more than one role. He'd have to play at least both tackles, for example.
Unfortunately, if the critics are right, Aboushi plays right tackle and only right tackle.
NFLDraftScout.com puts it this way:
Despite his own talents and the success of past Virginia blockers, Aboushi will likely be asked to make the transition to the right side in the NFL. He lacks elite athleticism and balance as a pass blocker. His physicality and aggression, however, could help him emerge as a starter early in his career.
Mike Mayock of NFL.com reacted to Campbell's selection as follows:
I've been crying for offensive linemen. I felt like he was a right tackle only. That's not a good thing because if you're not a starter you won't be an active man on Sunday. He has to compete to make a spot on the Jets.
Someone forgot to tell Aboushi how inflexible he is. At his news conference, he expressed a willingness to play wherever he was needed. He didn't get into specifics, but if his skills match his attitude, he could prove the cynics wrong.
If he can't, and Howard wins the starting job, there may still be a light at the end of the tunnel for Aboushi. Howard is only signed for 2013. If the Jets want to groom Aboushi as his possible replacement, they have the following options:
- Keep Aboushi on the 53-man roster. The Jets would lose some game-day flexibility, but he'd be safe from the waiver process.
- Put him on the practice squad. Aboushi would have to clear waivers first. But as a member of the practice squad, he could spend 2013 learning the right tackle role without costing the Jets a spot on the 53-man roster. Should Howard pursue free agency in 2014, Aboushi would be ready.
In other words, 2014 could be Aboushi's breakout year.
Brian Winters will compete for a starting guard position.
There seems to be some confusion about the direction Brian Winters' NFL career should take.
Winters has played left tackle through most of his college career. However, NFLDraftScout.com's Rob Rang maintains:
...Winters' NFL future may lie at right tackle or perhaps even inside at guard. He has the requisite height to play on the outside, but he has developed into a standout based more on his physicality and toughness rather than elite athleticism.
Rang also writes, "...Winters' value lies in his toughness, physicality, durability and potential versatility."
NFL.com's Mike Mayock adds, "I said in the second round they needed to start building the offensive line. This kid can start on either guard or he can learn to play at tackle."
It doesn't matter what the critics think. With the Jets in 2013, guard is the best opportunity on the offensive line. Winters offers the balance, footwork and hand technique to excel at pass-blocking, while his upper-body strength and endurance enable him to maintain run blocks to the play's completion.
Were it not for his below-average arm length and foot speed, Winters could continue to play left tackle in the NFL. However, with D'Brickashaw Ferguson in that position and Austin Howard on the right, the Jets are relatively secure at tackle.
Winters could compete with Vladimir Ducasse for a starting guard position. Should he not start immediately, he has the flexibility to substitute at either guard or right tackle, while playing on special teams as well.
In other words, Winters should make the team one way or another. The question is how long it will take for him to assume a starting role.
Geno Smith at Yankee Stadium. Little did he know his NFL home would be close by.
There's going to be another Jets quarterback controversy in 2013. It's not Geno Smith's fault, but it may be the undoing of his NFL career.
First will come the training camp competition. Geno's selection in the second round of the 2013 draft makes him the fifth quarterback on the Jets' 2013 roster. He joins Mark Sanchez, David Garrard, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms.
Each man will have limited opportunities to showcase himself. There are a limited number of snaps in training camp. Even more limited are the snaps with the first unit.
If the Jets don't make additional cuts before preseason games begin, allocating game-time snaps presents another challenge. The leaders in the competition will get the most. However, time with the first unit will still be limited.
So it's going to be tough for each man to catch the coaches' eye. Even if two more, say Matt Simms and Greg McElroy, depart before training camp starts, a competition between three quarterbacks will still be hard to run.
However, the Jets promised us a competition, and they have delivered on that promise.
Now let's say that training camp is over and Geno Smith makes the team. He'll have his own set of challenges regardless of his role:
Fans will expect miracles. Learning the West Coast offense is enough of a challenge without being under constant scrutiny. With the New York media chronicling every success and failure, Smith will be performing under a microscope.
If he doesn't perform like RGIII, Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson, fans will call not only for his head, but for Rex Ryan's and John Idzik's heads as well. The Jets may draft another quarterback in 2014, tossing Smith aside.
Worst-case scenario: The Jets become a "quarterback carousel," trying and discarding different quarterbacks year after year after year.
Whoever starts had better do well, or he'll face a repeat of the Tim Tebow scenario. However, cries of "GE-NO!" will replace the cries of "TE-BOW!" that Mark Sanchez heard last year.
Smith will be a polarizing influence by his very presence. He won't bring Tebow's credentials, but he presents a fresh face associated with success at the college level.
Moreover, unlike Tebow, Smith will see action if the Jets' offense stagnates. Should he succeed, he'll be a conquering hero. Otherwise, he'll share the same fate as his predecessor and the quarterback carousel will begin again.
Smith has the tools to be the Jets quarterback of the future, but not the immediate future. He needs to improve his ability to read blitzes and make his mechanics consistent, even under pressure.
He'll also need to improve his performance in windy conditions such as those at MetLife Stadium. Here's part of an assessment from NFLDraftScount.com's Rob Rang:
...Fails to account for blitzers too often for a quarterback with his experience. Inconsistent setup and delivery, failing to set his feet and resulting in some fluttering passes. Has struggled in poor weather conditions, including the final game of his career (New Era Pinstripe Bowl). Demonstrative leadership will be considered a negative by some. Took virtually all of his snaps out of the shotgun in a relatively simple offense.
When Smith learns to be more consistent in his setup and delivery, he'll be ready to start in the NFL. Until then, throwing him into the starting job will result in unnecessary turnovers stemming from poorly thrown balls. That sounds like issues Jets fans want their quarterbacks to avoid.
Richardson may provide more QB pressure from the interior defensive line.
Sheldon Richardson was probably not a name Jets fans expected to hear as a first-round draft choice. Most draft experts expected the Jets would select an outside linebacker, and Jarvis Jones was still available.
What kind of career should Richardson expect with the Jets?
With all the talk of drafting linebackers, offensive linemen, wide receivers and safeties, many didn't consider the defensive line as an area of need. However, while the Jets signed free-agent nose tackle Antonio Garay to replace nose tackle Sione Pouha, they didn't replace starting defensive tackle Mike DeVito.
Richardson might be considered DeVito's replacement. However, he will be expected to provide more quarterback pressure than DeVito did.
The Jets' need for a top-flight outside linebacker this draft was predicated on the need to apply more pressure on quarterbacks. They'll face such top names as Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Joe Flacco, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan in 2013.
In 2013, expect nose tackle Antonio Garay and Richardson to supply more of that pressure than did their predecessors Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito. Defensive ends Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples should improve their 2012 performance. Linebacker Antwan Barnes will contribute from the outside.
At least, that seems to be the plan.
In fact, having Wilkerson, Coples and Barnes may turn what NFL DraftScout.com's Rob Rang perceives as a weakness into a strength. Rang writes of Richardson:
...More productive rushing the passer, recognizing the dump-off pass and pursuing from behind with passion than actually getting home for the QB sack (just three sacks in his "dominant" 2012 campaign).
In other words, Richardson may not get many sacks next year, but he'll pursue many a quarterback into the waiting arms of Wilkerson, Coples or Barnes.
That's how Richardson will make his mark in the NFL next year. If he learns not only to pursue but to close the deal, he'll become a star.
Milliner will exchange Alabama crimson for green and white.
Geno Smith is not the only Jet draftee whose NFL career begins in controversy. Consider the lot of top draft pick Dee Milliner. Smith may replace a quarterback who was mediocre at best in 2012. Milliner will be compared with a future Hall of Famer—former Jet cornerback Darrelle Revis.
It's not that Milliner will inherit Revis's coverage responsibilities. They will fall to Antonio Cromartie. Instead, Milliner will compete with Kyle Wilson for his starting cornerback job.
Should Wilson win out, Milliner will still see action as the third cornerback in nickel and dime formations.
However, whenever Milliner plays, comparisons to Revis will be inevitable. Worse, they'll be of the kind where the new guy never gets credit, only blame.
If Milliner covers successfully, that's expected. If he intercepts a pass, he'll get applause.
However, when Milliner surrenders a long gain or drops a sure interception, the cheers will quickly become jeers. "Revis would have never let that happen" will be a common refrain.
Milliner has one ally: time. The longer he plays and the higher his standard, the more appreciation he will get. He may never surpass Revis, but will hopefully gain recognition in his own right.
Mike Mayock of NFL.com likes Milliner's chances for success:
Essentially, New York traded Darrelle Revis for Dee Milliner and a three next year. I've got him as my second-rated corner on the board. For me, he does everything. He plays press man. He can play off man. He understands zone concepts. He tackles, which is rare.
If Milliner has a thick skin, patience with himself and continues to learn, he will do more than win a starting job. He will team with Cromartie to form perhaps the best pair of cornerbacks in the NFL.