Rookies' Watch for New York Jets' Training Camp
The New York Jets are a franchise in rebuilding mode, so a successful crop of rookies is highly important to the team's future.
As a whole, the Jets' 2013 draft was solid. The front office, led by new general manager John Idzik, managed to not only claim talented players, but also fill out many of the team's glaring weaknesses.
With such an inexperienced roster, many of the selected rookies have a decent chance of claiming starting jobs in their first NFL seasons.
Here's a quick look at the Jets' rookies heading into training camp.
Draft Status: Round 1
Weight: 201 pounds
College Production: 136 total tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 6 interceptions, 41 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 touchdown in three years as a starter. 2012 consensus All-American and All-SEC first team.
Analysis: Dee Milliner was a projected top-five pick entering the 2013 NFL draft, and the Jets were extremely fortunate that the gifted cornerback fell to them at ninth overall. Milliner's slight fall was probably due to his health concerns, as he has already had five surgeries at the age of 21. However, Milliner managed to stay on the field during his collegiate career, so he does possess top-notch endurance.
Milliner is a physical cornerback with exceptional coverage skills. His aggressive playing style can lead to big plays by opposing offenses, but it also allows him to make big plays on the ball. Milliner is also a strong tackler in the running game and possesses nice straight line speed.
The Alabama product led the nation's most dominant college defense last season. While he may never get out of the Jets' shadow of Darrelle Revis, he should develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber player for years to come.
Draft Status: Round 1
Weight: 294 pounds
College Production: 112 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 4 pass deflections, and 4 forced fumbles in two years. 2012 All-SEC second team.
Analysis: The selection of Sheldon Richardson with the 13th overall pick in this offseason's NFL draft was met with a mixed reception from Jets fans. Richardson is undoubtedly a talented player, but many questioned if he could fit into the Jets' defensive scheme.
However, Richardson seems to have been a solid choice, as he has impressed coaches this offseason and projects to be one of the team's starting defensive ends.
Richardson boasts stellar athleticism and quickness off the snap, and he is a force when rushing the passer. While his run defense could improve, his combination of size and speed will prove difficult for opposing offensive lineman to handle.
Expect Richardson to have a solid training camp and a surprisingly productive rookie year.
College: West Virginia
Draft Status: Round 2
Weight: 218 pounds
College Production: 11,662 passing yards, 8.0 yards per attempt, 98 touchdowns, 21 interceptions, 67.4 completion percentage, 153.5 passer rating, 342 rushing yards, and 4 rushing touchdowns in four years.
Analysis: Geno Smith was the most polarizing and highly publicized prospect in this year's NFL draft, but the Jets undoubtedly got the draft's most talented quarterback at a bargain rate.
Questions remain about Smith's character and his ability to handle pressure, but he has all the tools of a future franchise quarterback. Smith possesses pinpoint accuracy, above-average mobility, superb vision and a quick delivery.
Smith will compete with Mark Sanchez for the starting job in training camp, but Sanchez has to be considered the favorite due to his experience. Even if Smith doesn't win the job in his rookie season, one thing is for certain—Smith is the future in New York.
College: Kent State
Draft Status: Round 3
Weight: 310 pounds
College Production: 50 career starts (school record), three-time all-conference selection in four years. 2010 All-MAC third team and 2012 All-MAC first team.
Analysis: The Jets desperately needed a replacement at guard after the departure of Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson this offseason, and they got one in third-round draft pick Brian Winters.
A tackle at the collegiate level, Winters does not have elite speed nor quickness, but his weaknesses will be masked at guard. Winters possesses top-notch durability and toughness, and he plays extremely physical. Winters' blocking technique, size and strength are also strong points of his game.
Winters will compete with veteran addition Stephen Peterman for a starting job throughout training camp. With experience and all the physical tools to be a solid NFL guard, Winters could be a Week 1 starter.
Draft Status: Round 5
Weight: 308 pounds
College Production: Started 25 games at both right and left tackle in two seasons. 2011 All-ACC second team and 2012 All-ACC first team.
Analysis: Oday Aboushi may never be a solid starter at the NFL level, but he will provide excellent depth along New York's offensive line.
Aboushi has his fair share of strengths as well as weaknesses. Aboushi possesses excellent strength and size, and is a very physical and aggressive player. However, he lacks athleticism and quickness, and his arm length leaves something to be desired. The Virginia product will have a tough time handling elite pass rushers on the outside.
Aboushi has little-to-no chance of claiming a starting job in his rookie season, but he should be solid in part-time action. Expect him to make a limited impact.
Draft Status: Round 6
Weight: 311 pounds
College Production: 63 total tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 4 pass deflections in four years.
Analysis: William Campbell was a prized high school prospect, but he never lived up to the hype in his collegiate career where his production was subpar and his impact was limited.
Campbell played on the defensive line at Michigan, but the Jets are expected to transition him to the interior offensive line. Campbell will have to learn the ins and outs of his new position, so his impact early his career will be little to none. However, Campbell possesses the brute strength and colossal size to be a solid backup if he can adjust accordingly.
College: Wake Forest
Draft Status: Round 7
Weight: 246 pounds
Draft Status: 49 games, 51 receptions, 405 yards, 7 receiving touchdowns, 50 carries, 160 rushing yards, and 3 rushing touchdowns in four years.
Analysis: Tommy Bohanon could end up being a real steal for New York if used properly. Bohanon isn't much of a runner, but he makes up for it in other areas of the game.
Bohanon is a tremendous blocker, as his strength is top-notch and his physicality is superb. The Wake Forest product can also be a factor in the passing game where he boasts good hands and surprising quickness.
Bohanon could emerge as one of the finest blocking fullbacks in the NFL as soon as his rookie season, and he should immediately upgrade New York's running game.
Undrafted Free Agents
Undrafted Free Agent List (Courtesy of NFL.com)
Central Florida OLB Troy Davis; Hawaii CB Mike Edwards; Clemson OL Dalton Freeman; Northern Arizona OT Trey Gileo; Northern Arizona OL Roosevelt Holliday; Iowa State DL Jake McDonough; Cal (Pa.) CB Rontez Miles; Texas A&M DE Spencer Nealy; Boston College TE Chris Pantale; South Florida OL Mark Popek; Tennessee WR Zach Rogers; Lehigh WR Ryan Spadola; Bethune-Cookman WR K.J. Stroud; Marshall WR Antavious Wilson.
Analysis: The Jets signed a slew of undrafted rookie free agents earlier this offseason. While most of them won't make it past training camp, a few have a chance to make a real impact.
Wide receivers Marcus Davis and Zach Rogers both had successful college careers and both have good upside at the NFL level. With the Jets' receiving corps in flux, a successful training camp by either player could open a roster spot.
Cornerback Mike Edwards and safety Rontez Miles both have a decent shot of not only making the final roster, but also of making an impact in their rookie seasons. Edwards has blazing speed and good ball skills while Miles has all the tools to be a solid zone cover man.
Clemson product Dalton Freeman could also sneak onto the team with an impressive training camp as the backup center to Nick Mangold.