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Dee Milliner's contribution at cornerback will be a key measure of the 2013 draft's success.
Most draft experts thought the Jets would select an outside linebacker in the first round. They did not. Nor did the Jets fulfill other expectations like filling needs at tight end, wide receiver and safety.
The first round was devoted to defense. After picking quarterback Geno Smith in the second round, the Jets used their picks in the third, fifth and sixth rounds to select offensive linemen and their last round to select a fullback. (They traded their fourth-round pick to New Orleans for running back Chris Ivory.)
Instead of lamenting what might have or should have been, it's time to evaluate the Jets' draft on its own terms. It is what it is; now to make the best of it.
Given the selections they made, the 2013 New York Jets’ draft must yield the following results to be an unqualified success:
- Cornerback Dee Milliner, defensive lineman Sheldon Richardon and guard Brian Winters must either start or receive significant playing time.
- Offensive tackle Oday Aboushi must assume Jason Smith’s backup role or earn a place on the practice squad.
- Guard William Campbell must either assume Vladimir Ducasse’s former role or earn a place on the practice squad.
- Fullback Tommy Bohanon must replace Lex Hilliard or earn a place on the practice squad. (The Jets only carried one fullback in 2012.)
Geno Smith’s case is not so clear.
It’s no surprise that the Jets drafted a quarterback. Otherwise, there might have been a small riot among fans. In Smith, the Jets have the highest-graded quarterback prospect from the NFL Scouting Combine.
So far, Smith has shown that he can make impressive throws if he sets up properly. That may be his undoing. If Smith can’t quicken his setup time to meet the demands of the faster-paced NFL, he will join the ranks of top college quarterbacks who couldn’t succeed at the next level.
It’s too early to pass final judgment. However, the Smith pick will succeed if he wins the 2013 starting job outright or shows enough improvement to be a viable candidate in 2014.
As for the others, Richardson has made the best impression. Milliner won’t have an opportunity to showcase himself until he recovers from shoulder surgery. As for Winters, Rex Ryan is eager to see how he plays in pads.
The late-round picks Aboushi and Campbell made their mark as part of an all-rookie line. New York Jets’ blogger Eric Allen dubbed William Campbell the “dark horse candidate” of the draft during rookie camp. Ryan said of Campbell, “He’s the kid that really intrigues me... I’m surprised Campbell’s not making mistakes.”
In short, no one has shown he is incapable of filling his projected role. However, until Milliner takes the field, Winters puts on pads and Smith gets preseason game action, grading the draft can only be preliminary.