New York Jets Mock Draft: Final 7 Round Predictions
It took longer than ever, but the 2014 NFL draft is finally upon us—and we are left even more confused than ever about what will happen.
As rumors swirl about the supposed rising and falling stock of various players, the most successful teams will ignore the noise, stick to their board and avoid paralysis by analysis. Attempting to decipher other teams' draft boards through media rumors is a quick way to lose sight of what is most important—assembling the most accurate board.
No one knows whom exactly the Jets will choose in the first round, but we can at least make educated guesses based on team needs and how the draft is expected to play out.
Here is a final mock draft for the New York Jets in 2014.
All combine results courtesy of NFL.com.
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
On Thursday night, the Jets will be playing a game of musical chairs in terms of deciding who they will use their first-round pick on.
No matter what happens in the first 17 picks, between the glut of talent at cornerback, wide receiver and tight end, the Jets will have a shot at one of the top prospects at one of their top need positions without having to trade up or reach back.
In the end, USC's Marqise Lee makes the most sense simply because the other players have a few less questions about their game and will thus be drafted a few spots higher.
Lee compares well to Santonio Holmes as an explosive athlete who can turn a short stick route into a 60-yard gain. He would be the perfect complement opposite Eric Decker, eating up all of the underneath stuff while Decker makes the contested catches downfield.
There two primary concerns with Lee as a prospect. For one, he had a steep dip in production from his breakout 2012 season, notching nearly 1,000 fewer yards and cutting his catches in half. Much of this can be attributed to his environment—he was dealing with poor quarterback play and underwent a coaching change halfway through the season.
Nagging knee injuries compounded his (relative) struggles, which will also cause some NFL teams to choose healthier players (like Odell Beckham, Jr.) instead of him.
The Jets, however, appear to have done their homework and have shown a strong interest in Lee:
No one knows who the Jets will wind up picking, but from an outside perspective, Lee makes the most sense because of the likelihood he is to be available.
Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
With the receiver position taken care of, the Jets can now focus their attention on the mess that is their No. 2 cornerback position.
At this point in the draft, all of the top prospects are sure to be gone, but Lindenwood product Pierre Desir should still be available and may wind up as one of the best cornerbacks in this class.
Despite playing against lower-level collegiate competition, Desir still possesses physical attributes that are difficult to ignore. At 6'1", he fits the mold of the increasingly popular large cornerbacks who can match up with the Megatrons of the NFL. His flexibility and great overall athleticism (as well as his 4.46 40-yard dash) make him an ideal press-man cornerback at the next level.
Desir notched an impressive 25 interceptions during his college career, but his level of competition (Lindenwood is a Division II school) will prevent teams from taking him in the first round. He did ease many of those concerns at the Senior Bowl, intercepting a pass in the game.
Because of the jump in competition, Desir does carry more risk than a player like Darqueze Dennard—but he may wind up being as good of a player, if not better, over time.
Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
The Jets have their underneath target in Marqise Lee, now is the time to give their offense an injection of speed.
Herron is a big-play specialist, using his deep speed and lateral agility to generate big plays both through the air and after the catch. He also has soft hands and adjusts well to poorly thrown passes—which is certainly a plus when working with a young quarterback.
However, his route-running is bit rough around the edges, and he was restricted to executing basic routes and screens at Wyoming.
Herron will take some time to adjust to the NFL game, as he learns the nuances of playing receiver. But the Jets can find a place for his talent as a specialist on offense and as a special teams contributor. With time, he could develop into the deep threat the Jets have not had since they parted ways with Braylon Edwards.
Round 4 (from Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
One of the more underrated players in this draft, Jared Abbrederis would be a much higher pick if he was a bit bigger.
A polished route-runner with good hands and flexibility, Abbrederis has the tools to contribute right away, especially for a depleted Jets receiver corps. He put on a show against top cornerback prospect Bradley Roby last fall (10 catches, 207 receiving yards), suggesting that he may be able to do the same against NFL-caliber cornerbacks.
Abbrederis is at his best at the top of his routes. He is terrific at selling his movements to throw defensive backs off balance, which is a skill seldom seen from young receivers.
Abbrederis' ceiling is a bit limited because of his smaller frame and average speed (4.50 40-yard dash), but there is no question that he could make an instant impact on the Jets offense and provide quality depth.
Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State
In theory, Jets have their starting five offensive line spots set for 2014, but there is too much uncertainty at the guard position to leave to fortune.
With Willie Colon recovering from a torn bicep and Brian Winters coming off a shaky rookie year, interior line depth remains a priority. The fact that last year's late-round picks, Oday Aboushi and William Campbell, could not escape the inactive list suggests that depth may still be an issue.
Meanwhile, North Dakota State product Billy Turner is an intriguing prospect. While a bit raw with his technical ability, Turner is a long, athletic player who could play either tackle or guard at the next level.
Ideally, Turner could fill the Jets' need for a swing tackle while developing his skills to become a starting-caliber offensive lineman.
Round 4 (compensatory)
Craig Loston, S, LSU
The Jets have a pair of viable starters in place at the safety position between Antonio Allen and Dawan Landry, but an injection of explosiveness and physicality is just what the doctor ordered.
Loston is a tremendously physical player who is known for making big plays both against the run and defending in deep coverage. His tremendous athleticism gives him plenty of upside, but it comes with a catch.
For as many big plays as he makes, Loston gives up just as many. He is also a liability in man coverage and has dealt with injuries throughout his career.
With the Jets, Loston would be able to immediately contribute on special teams while pushing for playing time behind Dawan Landry.
Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia
The Jets have addressed most of their top needs at this point, but the tight end position is still in desperate need of help with Jeff Cumberland being the only (relatively) proven player on the roster.
At 6'5", 258 pounds, Arthur Lynch certainly looks the part as an NFL tight end. His 28 reps on the bench at the combine showcased his most impressive attribute, his strength. Lynch is not the most dynamic athlete at the position, but his size and strength make him difficult to battle in the middle of the field and bring down after the catch.
For Lynch to succeed in the long term, he will have to develop as a blocker. His lack of balance will cause him to struggle against NFL defensive ends, and his inability to separate from pass defenders will be difficult to overcome.
Still, his size and character (he was a team captain at Georgia) will give the Jets enough to work with, especially given how thin they are at the tight end position already.
James Gayle, DE/OLB, Virginia Tech
The Jets have the outside linebacker position set for 2014 with Quinton Coples and Calvin Pace in place, but they are missing two key elements that could come back to haunt them down the line—edge pass-rushers and depth.
With his ability to bend around the edge and apply pressure on a consistent basis, Virginia Tech's James Gayle would fill both of those needs immediately.
Gayle is a natural "bender" who can beat tackles to the edge and has developed a repertoire of moves that allow him to get to the quarterback in a multiple of ways—which is exactly what the Jets need to complete their front-seven rebuild.
The downside to Gayle is that he can be a liability against the run, which makes starting early in his career unlikely. He also has average length that will make the transition to the NFL more difficult.
Initially, the Jets can use Gayle as a situational rusher while he develops his run defense behind the steady Calvin Pace. Ideally, when Pace's contract expires after the 2015 season, the Jets will have a player in place ready to fill in.
Round 6 (compensatory)
Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose State
With so many draft picks at their disposal, the Jets can create some security by stocking depth at positions that face future shortages because of pending free agents after this upcoming season. Next up is the slot cornerback position, where the incumbent Kyle Wilson is set to hit the open market in 2015.
Bene Benwikere has all of the classic traits of a slot cornerback—quicker than fast and better in zone than man. Benwikere, however, would struggle against the bigger receivers on the outside.
Benwikere showed high level of versatility at San Jose State, playing on the outside, inside and even at safety from time to time. He has good lateral explosiveness, allowing him to keep pace with quicker slot receivers.
However, he will be a bit of a headache for coaches because of his size. At just 195 pounds, Benwikere is a bit of a liability in the run game, which could limit him to third downs early on.
If he can put on some bulk and become more refined as a tackler, Benwikere could develop into the perfect replacement for Kyle Wilson.
Round 6 (compensatory)
Preston Brown, ILB, Louisville
Don't look now, but the long-tenured David Harris is set to hit free agency in 2015, potentially creating a massive hole at the inside linebacker position opposite Demario Davis. The Jets do like what they have in special-teamer Nick Bellore, who was given a tender in March, but they will need to add depth until the position is solidified for the long term.
An imposing, physical tackler, Preston Brown fits the bill of a classic, downhill inside linebacker. Brown's physical prowess sets a tone that is matched by few other defenders in this class.
A three-year starter, Brown was the leader of the Cardinals efense, making all of their defensive calls. Adjusting to the NFL game from a mental standpoint should not be a major issue with his extensive starting experience.
Brown is limited in terms of his overall athleticism—his stiff hips and and average coverage ability will limit him to run duties, which is exactly where the Jets will need help in lieu of Harris' eventual departure.
Round 6 (compensatory)
A.C. Leonard, TE, Tennessee State
A.C. Leonard put himself on the map with one of the best overall performances of the 2013 combine. He posted the third-fastest time for a tight end since 2006, a 4.43 mark that is even more impressive for a guy who weighed in at 252 pounds.
Leonard most recently played for Tennessee State, but he is not a case of an overlooked recruit. Leonard transferred from Florida after he arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge.
As a result, Leonard certainly carries some risk, but the risk-reward ratio at this point in the draft makes Leonard well worth the pick, especially considering how weak the Jets are at the position. So far, Leonard has not had any other run-ins with the law, suggesting that his incident in Florida was an isolated one.
If Leonard has truly moved on from his off-field incident, he could turn out to be one of the steals of the draft, especially if he falls to the sixth round.
Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina
Jeremy Kerley has proven himself to be a fine slot receiver, but the Jets have been far too reliant on him to be available week in and week out. When Kerley was out, the Jets offense stalled, leading to a season-killing losing streak halfway through the season.
Coastal Carolina's Matt Hazel is the prototypical slot receiver. His straight-line speed may be a bit underwhelming, but he makes up for it with good acceleration, body control and toughness over the middle. He is also an excellent blocker, unafraid to take on linebackers on his own.
While he is tough, Hazel does lack the ideal strength needed to break press coverage, which is just another reason why he would be limited to the slot in the NFL where "off" coverage is more prevalent.
Hazel's underwhelming frame and strength will limit his potential, but he can be a solid contributor if used in the correct role in the NFL.