New York Jets 2014 Mock Draft: Who Is the Ideal Pick in Every Round?
The New York Jets have an abundance of cap space and a multitude of draft picks, granting promise to a team ideally on the rise.
General manager John Idzik has all the resources needed to construct a roster capable of contending next season, making it crucial to draft players ready to make an impact. The Jets could have as many as 12 draft picks in May's draft, courtesy of compensation from the Darrelle Revis trade and qualifying picks from previous players.
New York must address several key areas of need this offseason, including wide receiver, tight end, cornerback and safety. The Jets' most pressing need is at receiver, where they've suffered from a severe lack of talent over the past few seasons.
This year's draft crop of college players features a ton of big-time playmakers, like Clemson wideout Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M vertical threat Mike Evans.
The Jets need to concentrate initial draft efforts on offense for a change. That sentiment goes against the grain in the mind of head coach Rex Ryan, who has undoubtedly had a major influence in New York drafting a defensive lineman in each of the previous three first rounds.
Idzik and Co. have the luxury of holding four picks in the first three rounds of the upcoming draft, enabling the Jets to fill multiple voids with top-tier prospects.
The purpose of the following mock draft is to identify the ideal draft pick for the Jets in each round which they hold a guaranteed selection:
7. Storm Johnson (RB)
The Jets' run game was respectable in 2013, but they need a big-bodied back who can find the end zone. Central Florida running back Storm Johnson could be that guy.
At 6'0'' and 215 pounds, Johnson embodies speed and power. He scored 17 touchdowns from scrimmage in his final collegiate season while averaging 5.3 yards per carry.
New York ranked sixth in rushing offense in 2013, averaging 134.9 yards on the ground per game. The team frequently struggled to score touchdowns in the red zone, though.
The Jets resorted to using defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson in certain goal-line situations, specifically because they don't have a power back on the depth chart who can plow through defensive fronts.
According to CBS Sports, Johnson is ranked as the 19th-best running back available in this year's draft. He'd be a steal in the seventh round, though, where the Jets would be hard-pressed to pass him up.
6. Deion Belue (CB)
The Jets spent a first-round pick in 2013 to select former Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner, who played alongside Deion Belue in his final collegiate season.
New York figures to be in the market for another cornerback this offseason, specifically because of uncertainty surrounding Antonio Cromartie's current contract.
The Jets' current lead cornerback has openly stated his desire to remain in New York for the remainder of his pro career, but it's unknown if that feeling is mutual.
Cromartie owns a $14.8 million cap number next season, an inflated figure that seems impractical after an injury-plagued season that saw his skills begin to depreciate.
At 5'11'' and 183 pounds, Belue doesn't feature elite NFL size. He's an aggressive defender who is typically successful because of his ability to gain positioning at the catch point, according to CBS Sports.
Belue assembled a solid senior season as Alabama's top cover corner, recording 20 total tackles, three passes defended and an interception. He could pair well with Milliner in the future as both players develop and would be a strong sixth-round selection for the Jets.
5. Tyler Lockett (WR)
Tyler Lockett capped an impressive junior season in 2013, registering 81 receptions for 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns.
At 5'11'' and 175 pounds, Lockett isn't a huge target, but he features above-average athleticism and gigantic leaping ability.
The fleet-footed receiver ran back four kickoffs for touchdowns in his first two seasons at Kansas State before becoming the Wildcats' best receiving threat last season. He runs a sub-4.50 40-yard dash, demonstrating quickness off the line of scrimmage.
The Jets desperately need to revamp their receiving corps this offseason. Lockett projects as a fifth-round draft choice. He's a dual-threat receiver who offers value on special teams.
The Jets need a playmaker like Lockett. He would be a solid selection in the later rounds of the draft.
3. Jeremiah Attaochu (DE/OLB)
Jeremiah Attaochu is an effective edge-rusher who excelled as a down lineman in his senior season.
The Georgia Tech standout racked up 37 solo tackles, including 16 for loss, and 12.5 sacks while playing defensive end in 2013.
The Jets need to solidify their core of linebackers this offseason and acquire a player capable of wreaking havoc on opposing ball-carriers in the backfield. Attaochu has serious upside and should be able to fill that void in his rookie season.
At 6'3'' and 242 pounds, Attaochu has the size and speed needed to be a force on the Jets defense. His versatility as a down lineman who can also attack from the stance gives him added value, especially in Ryan's defensive scheme.
The Jets defense relished a resurgence in 2013, largely because of an influx of young players. Attaochu could be next in line.
3. Dion Bailey (FS)
The Jets secondary noticeably struggled in 2013, ranking 22nd in the league. A major reason for that was because of the lack of talent at safety.
New York needs to shore up its secondary in order to play next level defense in 2014. USC free safety Dion Bailey is the brand of player the Jets need at that position.
Bailey transitioned into a role at safety after playing linebacker for his first two collegiate seasons. At 6'0'' and 200 pounds, Bailey has appropriate size to man his position.
He recorded 44 solo tackles, including 6.5 for loss, six passes defended and five interceptions. He's a playmaker on defense, able to read the field and react in coverage. He features above-average vision and showcases strong closing speed.
Bailey was an all-conference player at two different positions in college, signifying strong athletic ability. He'd be a solid draft selection in the third round.
2. Troy Niklas (TE)
After enduring the sideshow otherwise known as Kellen Winslow, the Jets need to acquire a starting-caliber tight end this offseason.
Troy Niklas is a pass-catching machine who can fill that void for New York. He was able to showcase his skills on a premier level after earning a starting spot at Notre Dame.
Niklas aptly replaced former collegiate standout Tyler Eifert, registering 32 catches for 498 yards and five touchdowns. At 6'6'' and 260 pounds, Niklas has the size to develop into an excellent run blocker to complement his pass-catching skills.
The Jets' best tight end expected to be on the roster next season is Jeff Cumberland, who posted respectable numbers this season but seemingly isn't talented enough to be start.
Adding a player like Niklas to the Jets offense would increase the red-zone efficiency. It would also give quarterback Geno Smith a reliable target to throw to over the middle of the field.
Niklas grades as a second-round pick, where he should be slotted on the Jets' big board.
1. Mike Evans (WR)
Former Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans is a formidable playmaker capable of changing the complexion of a game in an instant.
Evans capped a stellar collegiate career in 2013, racking up 1,394 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns on 69 catches. He averaged a whopping 20.2 yards per reception, signifying his big-play potential.
The Jets need to overhaul their receiving corps this offseason. Drafting a player of Evans' caliber would greatly improve the potency of their offense. The Jets lack game changers, disabling their offense from sustaining drives and putting points on the scoreboard.
Drafting Evans would be a no-brainer for the Jets' front-office brass if he falls to No. 18 overall, where the Jets are slotted to make their first selection.
Evans features big-time size at 6'5'' and 225 pounds. His height makes him difficult to handle in coverage while his speed makes him tough to tackle in open space.
Rob Rang of CBS Sports considers Evans a "physical receiver" who uses his size and strength as leverage against defenders. He features outstanding hand-eye coordination and can effectively extend his arms to make freak catches in stride.
Evans is a huge red-zone target and an efficient vertical threat, despite not having electric speed burst ability. The Jets would be lucky to snag Evans, but he would be an ideal pick.