Jets Mock Draft: Instant Contributors New York Can Find in Every Round
After a somewhat disappointing outing in free agency, the New York Jets are left with a lot more holes on their roster than they had hoped.
The good news is that they have a whopping 12 draft picks at their disposal to give their roster an infusion of young talent that they hope they can build around for years to come. Combined with their large number of selections, the enormous depth of this year's draft class gives the Jets a better chance to find instant contributors early and often.
Here are the latest draft projections for the Jets in every round.
All combine numbers courtesy of NFL.com.
Round 1: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Without any more "elite" cornerback prospects on the market, the Jets may be forced to use their top draft pick on a cornerback.
While Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert who is almost certain to be gone by the time the Jets select at 18. There are a handful of prospects who could fight for the No. 2 spot, including Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard but Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller makes the most sense for the Jets.
Fuller has everything the Jets are looking for in their corners: physicality, the ability to play press-man, a viciousness in the run game and enough ball skills to turn incompletions into turnovers. Fuller was able to ease concerns about his long speed with a solid time of 4.49 seconds at the combine.
The only turnoff for Fuller is that he is essentially a finished product, as he does not have many elite physical gifts that would make him a truly unique prospect, limiting his upside.
At the same time, he may be the most "pro-ready" cornerback in the draft, which makes him even more attractive to the Jets after they failed to land a high-caliber player at the position in free agency. If the Jets have to rely on a rookie cornerback to get them through this season, Fuller is their best bet.
Round 2: Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
The addition of Eric Decker gave the Jets much-needed help at wide receiver, but the Jets are still a long way away from completing their rebuild of the receiving corps.
The Jets still need an "X" receiver to stretch the field and open up some room for Decker—a role that Ole Miss' Donte Moncrief would be able to fill perfectly.
Boasting a 4.40 40-yard dash, Moncrief has speed that defenses must respect. Throw in his size (6'2", 221 lbs) and exceptional natural movement, and Moncrief has a ton of potential as a No. 1 receiver. He can also create separation using his agility and get off the press.
He is a bit rough around the edges as a route-runner, but his combination of size, speed and hands makes him the perfect target in the second round for a Jets offense that needs an injection of speed.
Round 3: Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
His teammate, Sammy Watkins, gets the vast majority of the press as a potential top-10 pick, but Martavis Bryant may be an even more intriguing prospect.
Blessed with exceptional long speed (4.40 40-yard dash) and good size (6'4"), Bryant excels as a deep-ball threat who can "high-point" the ball in the air. This makes him difficult to cover in the red zone as well.
Bryant's hands are the biggest concern. While he is good at timing, his jumps and coming down with contested catches, he is prone to dropping a few easier ones because of a simple lack of concentration. He is also a bit stiff as a route-runner, relying more on his speed to gain separation down the field.
Bryan will need some work before he develops into a well-rounded receiver, but he is a talented prospect who will add even more speed to the currently slow Jets receiving corps.
Round 4 (from Tampa Bay Buccaneers): E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri
The Jets may have used their top pick on a corner (in this situation), but that does not mean they should be content with the position the way it is.
E.J. Gaines has a good build for the position with long arms that are ideal for press-man coverage. He has experience in both press and off coverage, resulting in him having good instincts in anticipating routes.
While not quite as big as most NFL starters at 5'10", Gaines plays much bigger with his physicality in the run game. He is usually a solid tackler but is prone to giving up some extra yards when whiffing on a big hit instead of wrapping up.
The Jets do have some depth at corner, but Gaines could be the ideal replacement for Kyle Wilson in the slot, who is set to hit the open market in 2015.
Round 4: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
With two receivers and a cornerback under their belt, the Jets have one pressing need to address at the tight end position.
While not nearly as athletic or dynamic as a player like Eric Ebron or Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz brings a ton of value to the Jets at this point in the draft. He has reliable hands and is a workhorse in the blocking game, bringing back the lost trade of being a two-way tight end.
His ceiling is a bit limited, but he can be a perfect complement to Jeff Cumberland, who is a better receiver than he is a blocker.
By solidifying their biggest needs at the tight end, receiver and cornerback positions in the first four picks, the Jets can use the rest of their draft to focus on taking the best players available.
Round 4 (Compensatory): Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Based on their alleged interest in players like Maurice Jones-Drew, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets do not appear to be sold on the health of Mike Goodson, who is recovering from an ACL injury.
Rather than spend a premium on worn-down free agents, the Jets would be better off taking a flyer on a youngster like Baylor's Lache Seastrunk. Seastrunk excels as a perimeter runner who can outrun linebackers with his 4.46 speed, making him a perfect replacement for Goodson in a role as a third-down specialist.
The issue with Seastrunk is that he is much less effective between the tackles, limiting his potential as an every-down runner. Rarely does he break tackles and get yards after first contact.
However, for a Jets team that already has a one-two punch on early downs with Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory, Seastrunk will fit in perfectly taking care of third-down duties.
Round 5: Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
Even after adding Michael Vick, the Jets should not stop tinkering with the quarterback position until they find themselves a surefire franchise quarterback.
There is a lot to like about Zach Mettenberger as a prospect, starting with his physical tools. For one, he certainly looks the part at 6'5" with a thick build that will allow him to absorb hits. His arm strength is first-rate and can stretch the field in the right offense.
Where Mettenberger will struggle is in the mental aspects of the game. His decision-making can be downright poor at times, and his accuracy struggles when he starts to second-guess his decisions. He is not a natural "anticipator," throwing to targets as opposed to where they are going to be.
However, if Mettenberger is given some time to develop on the bottom of a roster in a low-stress environment, he may be able to get more comfortable with his game and develop the natural attributes that NFL quarterbacks must possess.
Round 6: Dion Bailey, S, USC
The Jets made a few upgrades to the cornerback position already, but their secondary is far from being a finished product.
With Antonio Allen and Dawan Landry taking care of the starting duties, the Jets could use a versatile do-it-all player to specialize in nickel packages—which is where Dion Bailey comes in.
Used as a hybrid linebacker/safety at USC, Bailey can fill the role that everyone expected Antonio Allen to fill. Now that Allen has flourished as a coverage specialist, Bailey will be useful as a part-time linebacker in nickel and dime situations who can also be used in coverage.
Bailey is not as big of a hitter as Allen, but his above-average athleticism and tremendous instincts make him a prefect role player in Rex Ryan's multi-dimensional defense.
Round 6 (Compensatory): James Gayle, DE, Virginia Tech
Now that the secondary received a healthy infusion of young talent, the Jets can start to add young pieces to the aging parts of their front seven.
Virginia Tech's James Gayle is a pass-rushing specialist who can bend the edge or power through tackles. He improved his hands in his senior season, becoming more polished with an array of moves at his disposal.
However, Gayle can be a bit liable against the run, as he does not seal the edge as well as he rushes the passer. He tends to get a bit too high in his stance, taking away his leverage.
For the Jets, Gayle's skill set suits them well for their current needs. With Calvin Pace back in the fold, Gayle could contribute on special teams and as a situational rusher, developing his technique in the run game behind Pace.
Ideally, as soon as the Jets move on from the 33-year-old Pace, they will have a young, developed linebacker in Gayle waiting in the wings.
Round 6 (Compensatory): Trai Turner, OG, LSU
The Jets were able to bring back Willie Colon to give them a veteran starter at right guard, but they need some insurance in case Colon's torn bicep interferes with his performance or even if left guard Brian Winters begins to falter in his second season.
Turner is a power run-blocker who can seal edges using his raw athleticism. Boasting a 4.93 40-yard dash, Turner excels in making downfield blocks in space as well.
He can be taken advantage of in his pass protection, particularly when going against quicker pass-rushers. His lack of lateral agility causes him to go off-balance far too easily.
Still, Turner would not be forced to start right away. He will be able to develop on the bottom of the Jets roster and provide depth behind the two projected starters, Colon and Winters.
Round 6 (Compensatory): Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest
After addressing just about every single need with their first 10 picks, the Jets may as well take advantage of the unusual wide receiver depth in this year's class.
Wake Forest product Michael Campanaro will not overwhelm with speed (although he did clock a nice 40 time of 4.46 at the combine), but he is a quarterback's best friend as a player who finds the holes in coverage and fights for contested catches.
Campanaro's biggest liability is his height. At 5'9", he will be restricted to the slot at the next level. He also suffered a handful of injuries as a senior (he played in only eight games), raising the question as to how durable he can be in the NFL.
The Jets already have a good slot receiver in place in Jeremy Kerley, but they need a player who can be a viable replacement in case he goes down. Too often, the Jets offense has sputtered with Kerley because the unit was too reliant on him.
Round 7: Richard Rodgers, TE, California
A glorified receiver, Richard Rodgers offers good value this late in the draft as a "joker" tight end who can be used all over the formation in the passing game.
Rodgers will not overwhelm with speed or explosiveness, but he has great length, size (6'4") and body control that will make him a difficult matchup for just about anyone, especially in the red zone.
Rodgers has potential as a blocker because of his size and aggressiveness, but he was rarely used as such at Cal.
The former high school receiver has a lot of work to do in terms of cleaning up his routes and developing any kind of technique in the blocking aspect of the game, but he has a good amount of upside at a position of need, providing excellent value this late in the draft.