New York Jets' 8 Biggest Scouting Combine Takeaways
Now that the annual NFL Scouting Combine is over, the time is now for the Jets and all of the other teams to digest the results and determine whether or not they need to make any adjustments to their draft board.
The combine may provide clues as to how good or bad a player is, but it is not the whole picture by any means. Finding a way to use the combine results to make adjustments to a draft board, not wholesale changes, is the best way to derive results from the combine.
For the Jets, the focus will clearly be on the skill positions given their massive needs at the position. The combine will give them a chance to pick apart the small differences that separate what is a strong group of wide receivers and tight ends.
Here are eight takeaways the Jets can make from this year's combine.
*All combine results courtesy of NFL.com.
Tight Ends Disappoint
Given their immense need at the position, the Jets are rooting hard for every tight end to give them every reason possible to be drafted early. Unfortunately for them, most of the tight end class did far less than impress at the combine.
Texas Tech's Jace Amaro was one of the most disappointing players at his position. He was rather heavy for a player who is used more like a "joker" tight end than a classic, in-line tight end at 265 pounds. He followed it up with an unspectacular 4.74 40-yard dash.
Meanwhile, Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins was unable to compete at all in the 40 because of a knee injury. He told NFL Network that he didn't know if he was even going to be ready for his pro day.
Eric Ebron and A.C. Leonard had solid workouts in their own right, but no one else from the group really stood out, speaking to the lack of depth of talent there is at the position this year. Meanwhile, many players looked great in some drills and struggled in others—Oregon's Colt Lyerla posted a great 40 time (4.61), but he was less than impressive in the catching drills.
As a whole, this combine provided more questions than answers for the tight ends.
Logan Thomas the Tight End?
Logan Thomas may not quite have the makeup of an NFL starter without a considerable amount of development, but there is good evidence that he may have what it takes to be a tight end at the next level.
Thomas was originally recruited to Virginia Tech to play tight end, and it is easy to see why. We already knew Thomas had the size (6'6", 248 lbs), but he proved his speed and explosiveness with a 4.61 40-yard dash and a 35.5" vertical.
Thomas will get a chance to play quarterback first, but there is no downside to having some extra physical tools to help a team in a different way if his conventional position does not work out.
For the team that needs a new backup quarterback and a tight end, the polarizing draftee makes plenty of sense for the Jets.
Cornerbacks Proving Their Worth
It may not be the most popular direction to go in, but drafting a cornerback is becoming an increasingly more possible option for the Jets in the first round.
Not only is there a fair amount of uncertainty at the position because of Antonio Cromartie's bloated contract, but this year's crop of cornerbacks is looking more and more impressive as the draft process wears on.
Three of the top cornerbacks all had tremendous workouts. Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert posted a blazing 4.37 in the 40 and put up 20 reps on the bench. Kyle Fuller of Virginia Tech eased some of his speed concerns with a solid 4.49 40-yard dash of his own.
Meanwhile, Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard solidified his spot as the consensus top cornerback with an impressive 4.42.
If the Jets are committed to taking the best player available, it is becoming more and more likely that a defensive back will sit atop their draft board when they pick in the first round.
Odell Beckham Jr. Impresses
Just about everyone expects the Jets to use a high draft pick on a pass-catcher and for good reason. This class is loaded with quality prospects at just about every level of the draft.
One of the more intriguing prospects is Odell Beckham Jr. of LSU. Beckham Jr. is a bit on the short side (5'11") but has tremendous body control and route-running ability, making him a possible first-round prospect.
However, there were some legitimate concerns about his speed prior to the combine, which he vanquished with a stellar 4.43 40-yard dash, including a 1.50 10-yard spilt.
Beckham appears to have everything it takes to be a top receiver, but his size may push him down to the middle of the first round—where he should reach the Jets. Based on his results, they have to be excited about the possibility of drafting LSU's top receiver prospect.
Michael Sam's Stock Takes a Hit
The most polarizing mid-round defensive end prospect in history was going to be of interest to the Jets regardless of his off-field issues. Michael Sam is a pass-rushing specialist and could have been a tremendous fit for the Jets as a situational rusher in the mold of Antwan Barnes.
However, after his disappointing showing at the combine, Sam will only be a Jet if he is available at a bargain price in the draft.
His mediocre 4.91 in the 40-yard dash and his pedestrian 25.5" vertical jump did nothing to prove that Sam was anything more than an average athlete—which is a massive problem for a player who is supposed to be an explosive edge-rusher.
To make matters worse, Sam struggles against the run. With his only asset—his explosive pass rush—coming into question, what else is there for Sam to offer?
To his credit, he was very well-spoken at the combine and handled his situation with as much confidence and class as anyone could have expected. But unfortunately for him, he only hurt his draft stock with his underwhelming numbers.
Jimmy Garoppolo Is on the Rise
With a quick release that makes quarterback coaches salivate, Eastern Illinois prospect Jimmy Garoppolo looks like a tremendous answer for the Jets' need for young competition for Geno Smith. As Bob Glauber confirms in the video above, the Jets met with Garoppolo at the combine.
Part of the reason why Garoppolo is such a perfect fit for the Jets is because he can be had for less than a first-round pick. However, as more and more teams get a close look at him, it is becoming far less likely that the Jets will be able to draft him without coughing up their first-round pick.
With an impressive showing at the combine, Garoppolo is starting to look more and more like a possible sleeper to wind up in the first round when all is said and done.
While this may seem a bit far-fetched at this point, all it takes is for one team to fall in love with a prospect to take in the first round.
It is extremely unlikely that the Jets would dare draft Garoppolo as early as the first, but the fact that another team may do so is erasing his possibility of winding up in New York after the draft.
Brandin Cooks Flies Up Draft Boards
Another prospect who is certain to be on the Jets' draft board is Oregon State's Brandin Cooks.
Cooks was one of the top players at the combine, boasting a lightning 4.33 40-yard dash and a 3.82 20-yard shuttle. He looked smooth and athletic in all of the position drills as well.
Based on his tape alone, Cooks is a late second-round pick at best. However, Cook's tremendous combine makes him a potential high second- to low first-round pick, even if he is a bit rough around the edges in regard to the rest of his game.
Prior to the combine, the Jets could have had a chance to take Cooks in the second round. However, after this strong showing, they may have to trade up into the second round or back out of the first round to take him at a reasonable position without "reaching."
Eric Ebron Is out of Reach
Once a common choice to be taken by the Jets in many early mock drafts, it is beginning to become more and more apparent that North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron will be long gone before the Jets pick at 18.
Weighing in at an impressive 6'4", 250 pounds, Ebron oozes athleticism with his fluid movements and seamless transitions—all of which were on display at the combine. His 4.6 40-yard dash all but ensures his status as a top-15 pick.
Eric Ebron tacks on 4.60 to his profile. Could double as the GPA for his stock. Will be surprised if he's around past 10. #NFLCombine— Chris Sprow (@SprowESPN) February 22, 2014
While this will likely result in the Jets rating him higher on their draft board, it also means that just about every other team will, making it unlikely that he will be available for the Jets without an aggressive trade up.
Recovering from the previous regime's mistakes that were largely caused by its draft-day aggressiveness, it seems unlikely that general manager John Idzik will be so aggressive to trade up for Ebron, especially given the depth of this class.
However, if Ebron makes it past 10 and drifts down the draft board, the tight end-needy Jets may start to get anxious and pull the trigger on a trade.
If nothing else, the Jets can take comfort in the fact that they picked a tremendous year to be in the market for a wide receiver.
Not only are there five or six first-round receivers in this class, but there are a slew of mid- to late-round prospects who the Jets can get tremendous value on later in the draft. Even players who had poor showings, such as Jarvis Landry, are still quality prospects in their own right who will tumble down the draft simply because of the sheer depth of players at the position.
However, the influx of quality receivers does not guarantee that the Jets will select one with their first-round pick.
A strong performance from the cornerbacks puts the position in play for the Jets' top pick as well.
One position that did take a hit was the tight ends, in particular the top prospects not named Eric Ebron. While Ebron may have vaulted his way out of the Jets' reach, Jace Amaro and Austin Seferian-Jenkins may have cost themselves a chance to be taken in the first round based on their results (or lack thereof).
There are a lot of directions in which the Jets can go, especially with their early picks, given the depth of this draft class as a whole. If they can hit a home run in this draft, they will be set up with a lot of quality players on their roster for years to come.