New York Jets: 5 Creative Moves John Idzik Should Make on Draft Day
The New York Jets are armed with an arsenal of picks in the upcoming NFL draft, enabling general manager John Idzik to be flexible in making potential franchise-altering decisions. The Jets remain stingy in free agency, despite boasting sizable salary cap space, which indicates the front office brass is looking toward the draft to fill multiple glaring voids.
New York flaunts 12 draft picks in 2014, which increases the likelihood of Idzik leveraging certain picks to both trade up and trade down in order to nab specific players. While the Jets could use each selection to acquire rookie players capable of developing into difference-makers at their respective positions, New York is in dire need of immediate impact players at several key positions.
The fact Idzik has remained stagnant in free-agent negotiations is intriguing. He's fully adopted a "rebuilding" strategy for success as opposed to succumbing to the "reloading" tactic. The difference between the two methods of roster construction is significant. In essence, Idzik believes it's in the best interest of the franchise to build for the future, rather than blasting the team's salary cap in hopes of making a deep playoff run in 2014.
Regardless of Idzik's reasoning for maintaining a stingy approach in free agency, the Jets must address positional voids at cornerback, tight end, safety and wide receiver on draft day. The following slideshow previews five creative moves the Jets' front office brass should make on draft day in order to satisfy each need:
(Note: This article is entirely speculative.)
5. Trade Down in the First Round
At No. 18 overall, the Jets are almost assuredly going to miss out on several big-time playmakers, such as vertical speed threat Sammy Watkins and dynamic pass-catching tight end Eric Ebron. While both players likely remain atop the Jets' big board, neither player is likely to be available when Idzik and Co. take over the clock.
It's entirely logical for the Jets to simply select the best overall player in this position, especially considering multiple needs across the depth chart. Realistic possibilities in this spot include highly touted coverage cornerback Darqueze Dennard and wideout Brandin Cooks, who recorded an electric 4.33-second 40-yard dash time at the annual combine, according to NFL.com. Either selection would fill a glaring void on the Jets' roster and immediately improve its depth.
The Jets should seriously consider trading down in the first round to acquire an additional high-quality draft pick, though. They would be able to fill a crucial void on their roster by selecting big-bodied downfield target Jace Amaro near the bottom of the first round. Amaro is a starting-caliber player who boasts enormous upside. Trading down would satisfy the Jets' need for a tight end and also bolster their arsenal of draft picks.
According to Gil Brandt of NFL.com, Idzik was present at Texas Tech's pro day to scout Amaro, indicating the team has interest. Amaro should be available at the end of the first round, granting the Jets an opportunity to both snag an impact player on offense and acquire an additional high-quality draft pick, giving them 13 picks in total.
4. Bundle Two Fourth-Round Picks for a Third-Round Selection
The Jets own a total of three-fourth round picks. While the draft typically features quality mid-round players, Idzik should entertain the idea of bundling a pair of fourth-rounders to acquire an additional third-round selection.
The drop off in talent level from the third round to the fourth could be immense. The Jets need to draft players capable of filling starting roles next season. New York owns the 80th overall selection, a pick that can be used to address a variety of different positions. Adding another third-round pick to their arsenal would allow them to potentially acquire two starting-caliber players before the later rounds.
Theoretically, if the Jets were to draft a tight end (Amaro) in the first round and a wide receiver, such as beastly wideout Allen Robinson at No. 49 in the second round, they would be in prioritized need of either a cornerback or safety. It would also be possible for the team to shore up its pass rush in this spot, and select an outside linebacker.
Possible third-round selections include former Arizona State edge rusher Carl Bradford, former Florida State safety Terrance Brooks and former Florida cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy. Each player would help plug a gaping hole on the Jets' roster. Trading a pair of fourth-rounders for a third-round pick would give the Jets 12 selections, five of which could be in the first three rounds.
3. Draft Dri Archer (RB/WR) in the Fourth Round
Assuming the Jets hold onto their inherent fourth-round pick at No. 104 overall, they should have the opportunity to draft explosive game-changing talent Dri Archer, who would immediately improve the team's playmaking ability on offense.
Archer made a name for himself at the annual combine, clocking a near record-breaking 4.26-second 40-yard dash time, according to NFL.com. His elusive speed is a necessity in the modern-day NFL where offense dominates. The Jets have been void of a player capable of changing the complexion of a game in an instant throughout the Rex Ryan era. Archer should be available in the fourth round, where the Jets would be ill-advised to pass up the chance to draft him.
At 5'8'' and 175 pounds, it's entirely plausible for several teams to take a pass on Archer simply because of his size. The Jets shouldn't be one of them, though, especially considering their need to increase the viability of their offense. Archer averaged 7.8 yards per carry on 68 touches in his senior season at Kent State. His pass-catching prowess out of the backfield makes him dynamic. He recorded 25 receptions for 327 yards in 10 games last season, averaging 13.1 yards per catch.
Archer registered 20 touchdowns from scrimmage in his junior season, leading the nation with a stunning 9.0 yards per carry average on 159 rush attempts. He certainly doesn't fit the bill as an every-down player at the next level, but his athleticism cannot be ignored.
2. Trade Second-Round Pick for Johnathan Joseph (CB)
It's not a secret New York needs a frontline coverage cornerback capable of solidifying the Jets' secondary in 2014. Idzik and Co. have blatantly whiffed on several high-profile defensive backs in free agency this offseason, namely Darrelle Revis and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
The Jets spent a first-round draft choice on Dee Milliner in 2013. Milliner wasn't as impressive as advertised in his rookie season, but took some strides toward becoming a dependable cornerback in the NFL. It certainly wouldn't be far-fetched for the Jets to look toward the draft to fill their glaring cornerback void opposite Milliner, although it's very apparent New York needs an experienced player at that position.
If the Jets are able to successfully trade down in the first round and ideally acquire a second-rounder or premium third-round pick, they'd be in an advantageous position. It would enable the team's front office brass to trade either an inherent selection or an acquired draft choice for Texans' veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph. While reports don't indicate Joseph has been officially placed on the trading block, Michael Salfino of Wall Street Journal speculates the Jets could make a move for him.
According to Salfino, Joseph ranked as the fifth-best coverage corner in the NFL last season, allowing opposing receivers to catch 48 percent of intended passes. On the season, he totaled 64 tackles with 16 passes defended and three interceptions.
At 29 years old, Joseph remains one of the most efficient cornerbacks in the game. He would immediately improve the Jets' secondary. A trade with the Texans would hypothetically make sense, considering Houston is coming off a 2-14 season. Trading a second-round pick for Joseph would give the Jets a total of 11 draft choices, four of which would come in the first three rounds. It would also fill a glaring void on the depth chart.
1. Package Third-Round Pick and Late-Rounders for a Second-Round Selection
The Jets currently possess a total of five selections between the fifth and seventh rounds, where they'll be hard-pressed to acquire immediate impact players. While the later rounds can certainly help the Jets fill out their depth chart and potentially nab a sleeper, it would be more creative to attempt to leverage two of those picks in combination with a mid-rounder to perhaps acquire a second-round pick.
At the moment, the Jets own the 49th overall selection in the draft. They could use that pick to select a stud wideout, such as former Penn State standout Allen Robinson, who is possibly the most undervalued receiver in the upcoming draft due to the depth at his position. Robinson was brutally unstoppable in his final collegiate season, racking up 1,432 receiving yards and six touchdowns on 97 receptions.
At 6'2'' and 220 pounds, Robinson possesses an NFL build. He's a physical downfield target that has potential to develop into a premier talent, making him a player the Jets could immediately utilize on offense. His size and athleticism would pair nicely with newly acquired receiver Eric Decker, making it increasingly difficult on opposing defensive backs to shut down the Jets' passing game.
While the concept of trading a pair of late-round picks with a third-round selection to acquire a second-round pick might seem far-fetched and somewhat unconventional, it would allow the Jets to ensure themselves of adding an impact player. Making such as move, if the team is able to find a suitor, would give the Jets nine draft choices in total. Five of those picks would come in the first three rounds, not including the addition of Joseph.