New York Jets Final 2014 NFL Mock Draft Roundup
How you ultimately process this roundup of final mock drafts is a matter of timing. If you're reading this before the New York Jets select in the 2014 NFL draft, you're looking for information. If you're reading this after Round 1, you might get yourself a good laugh.
This roundup isn't as much about the choices the New York Jets make as it is about the scrutiny they will face after making them. There are areas of need on both offense and defense that the team did not address via free agency.
For the offense, it's about the skill positions, especially a No. 1 wide receiver. For the defense, it's about the secondary, especially cornerback.
As you review this roundup of 2014 mock drafts, note that the underlying analysis within each one often features rejected options as much as the analysis that champions the selection itself. That's an indication of tension if I ever saw one.
There's bound to be a surprise or two that these final mock drafts don't predict. If you called them from your armchair, however, be sure to let us know.
A Couple of Experts Whose Thoughts We Pieced Together
Mike Mayock, NFL Network: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Although Mayock is the NFL Network's best-known draft analyst, he did not release a mock draft until a May 7 during an NFL Network broadcast, and he believes the Jets will select Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
In his mock draft release special on the NFL Network, Mayock raved, "Along with Beckham, Cooks is the best route runner in this draft. He brings explosion after the catch and gives Geno Smith another target outside."
However, here are Mayock's thoughts on the Jets from a May 1 conference call:
From a corner perspective, the Jets could get a Kyle Fuller, a Bradley Roby perhaps. Everybody has different flavors at corner. From my perspective, Fuller, Dennard, Gilbert and Roby.
Verrett for them is more of a nickel. They don't need a nickel right now. It's those four corners they'd be looking at versus who is the highest rated wide receiver on the board at the same time.
I did a mock last night just sitting around here. I had Odell Beckham going to them, which I think would -be the third wideout off the board, really good value for them.
It's clear that Mayock understands the Jets' Round 1 dilemma, as he sticks with offense in both discussions.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
McShay's last mock draft was a collaboration with Mel Kiper Jr on ESPN.com. Kiper picked the Jets' Round 1 selection, which we will discuss later on in his individual slide.
McShay's last individual effort, version 5.0 (subscription required), shows that he believes the Jets will select wide receiver Brandin Cooks from Oregon State. During an April 24 conference call with ESPN New York's Rich Cimini, McShay sheds some light on his thinking.
McShay ranks Cooks as the draft's fourth-best prospect at wide receiver behind Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans and Odell Beckham Jr. Each of those players are gone by the 12th pick, however, leaving Cooks as the best wide receiver available.
He considered Justin Gilbert as well. The cornerback is available until the 22nd pick, but McShay questions his "scheme fit." He'd prefer Darqueze Dennard or Kyle Fuller for the Jets, but both are gone by pick 15.
Bucky Brooks, NFL.com
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Brooks' four-round May 1 mock draft persists with this selection that was a consensus pick for the Jets before the NFL Scouting Combine.
Brooks justifies the selection as follows: "Adding an explosive playmaker like Lee would help Geno Smith and Michael Vick become better playmakers from the pocket."
One reason that Brooks selects Lee is because many alternatives are gone. Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans and Odell Beckham Jr. are gone by pick 15. The Bills took tight end Eric Ebron with the ninth selection. Also, Brooks has cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard and Justin Gilbert gone by picks No. 10 and 11.
Brooks doesn't pick players such as cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Bradley Roby, and he has wide receiver Brandin Cooks going to the Chiefs at pick No. 23.
Dane Brugler, CBS Sports
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
In his final mock draft, Brugler targeted a potential No. 1 receiver for the Jets, stating, "The Jets took out the checkbook for Eric Decker in free agency, but chances are they aren't done addressing the wide receiver position, especially if a talent like Beckham is still on the board."
That's a standard rationalization for this pick. More interesting about Brugler's draft is that tight end Eric Ebron drops to pick 19. That provides room for speculation about how Brugler views the Jets' offensive direction. Taking Ebron with the 18th selection would have committed them to an offensive philosophy in which the tight end's receiving role took precedence over blocking.
Trade possibilities also present themselves. If the Jets trade the 18th pick (Round 1), 154th pick (Round 5) and 233rd pick (Round 7) to Cleveland for the 26th pick (Round 1) and 71st (Round 3) picks.
Brugler has the Browns use the 26th pick to select cornerback Kyle Fuller. With the 18th pick, they would have access to Jason Verrett and Bradley Roby as well. That would leave either the Cincinnati Bengals or San Diego Chargers without a cornerback. If one of those teams pursues another need, the Jets can take Fuller. If one of them takes Fuller, the Jets can take wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
Wide receiver Cody Latimer is the Eagles' Round 1 selection at No. 22 overall. In Brugler's scenario, Beckham might be available if the Jets trade down, leaving Latimer as an option.
Rich Cimini, ESPN New York
The Jets' blogger for ESPN New York participated in two mock draft projects. He did one himself for Jets' blog readers, and he participated in a second one with fellow NFL Nation reporters.
Brandidn Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Cimini issued two "mini" mock drafts this year. Version 2.0 came out on April 26.
Both versions only go as far as pick 18, but the thoughts of someone who covers the Jets in person on a day-to-day basis may prove interesting as the 2014 NFL draft begins.
Cimini's analysis is terse, but it sums up the Jets' key question, as he states, ” Tough call between Cooks and CB Justin Gilbert, but offense prevails over defense -- for a change."
The interesting thing about this draft is that wide receivers come off the board much more quickly than cornerbacks. Wide receivers Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans and Odell Beckham Jr. are gone after pick 12, while tight end Eric Ebron goes with the ninth pick.
Darqueze Dennard is the only Round 1 cornerback prospect gone by the Jets' turn to pick. The Jets choose a wide receiver instead despite having most top cornerback prospects available.
There's one problem with limiting a mock draft to 18 picks: readers get no idea of where the most beneficial trade down could occur. That probably didn't matter to Cimini. His interest was more focused on how the preceding 17 picks would affect the Jets' first selection.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
Cimini sticks with offense in this May 6 NFL Nation collaboration. Beckham and Cooks are available at No. 18. This draft emphasizes defense more than Cimini's solo effort, which explains Beckham's availability.
Participants got to seek trades in this draft, and there was a huge trade between the Bills and Texans in which Buffalo gave up its draft farm to get the No. 1 pick. Cimini's analysis discusses trade considerations in addition to the pick itself:
I talked to three teams about moving up for a wide receiver or a cornerback but didn't push it when it became apparent that at least one of our target players would be available at 18. Despite signing Eric Decker, the Jets still need a home run hitter at receiver, and Beckham Jr. can be that guy. That noise you heard in the background was Rex Ryan screaming for cornerback Justin Gilbert.
Cimini doesn't consider trading down to improve the Jets' positioning in later rounds. He could still get players such as cornerback Kyle Fuller and wide receiver Marqise Lee by trading picks with the Packers, as Bucky Brooks' mock draft roundup explains. However, since at least one of his "target players" remained available, Cimini did not move.
Rob Rang, CBS Sports
Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Rang represents analysts who believe the Jets will draft their third Round 1 cornerback of the Rex Ryan era. He explains the pick as follows:
Like the Ravens one pick ahead of them, the Jets may find that complementing last year's first-round selection with another physical, instinctive pass defender is the way to go. Like 2013 first-round pick Dee Millliner, Dennard has the length and aggression to excel in Rex Ryan's press-heavy scheme.
In Rang's draft, Justin Gilbert is the only cornerback off the board by the time the Jets select. There's no reason to trade down with Dannard available, but if the Jets wanted a wide receiver, they could work a trade with Green Bay for the 21st pick and still select Oregon State's Brandin Cooks.
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Kiper's final mock draft (subscription required) of 2014 was a joint three-round effort with fellow ESPN analyst Todd McShay. Kiper took the even-numbered selections, giving him the chance to select the Jets' first pick.
Kiper selected wide receiver Brandin Cooks from Oregon State. "Feeling pretty good about getting Cooks here—even sweeter after Todd reached on a tackle right the pick before," Kiper said. "Cooks is every bit the athlete of top WR pick from last draft Tavon Austin, and he provides this offense with an explosive new tool."
With that scenario, the pick makes sense. In Cooks' Pro Player Comparison video (featured on the next slide), Bleacher Report's Matt Miller raises questions about the 5'10", 189-pound receiver's ability to withstand the pounding he'd get from press coverage in the No. 1 role. Kiper's reference to Tavon Austin, whose strength is playing the slot, only reinforces the concern.
Nevertheless, if the Jets want to use the 18th pick on a wide receiver, the speedy Cooks may be their best bet. Other Round 1 possibilities such as Kelvin Benjamin or Marqise Lee are more suitable as later picks.
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report
Why, you ask, is the video about C.J. Mosley? It's no mistake. It represents an additional mock draft in which Bleacher Report's Matt Miller participated in toward the end of April. We'll cover it shortly.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
Miller released his last complete mock draft on May 5. His choice for the Jets was wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Here is Miller's analysis:
If the Jets had their way, this is how the draft would fall. Being able to stay at pick No. 18 and add a dynamic, big-play wide receiver is everything they could hope for.
Odell Beckham isn't just a wide receiver, though, as he has huge ability as a return man. Think of DeSean Jackson when trying to picture how a team will use the fleet-footed LSU wide receiver. He can line up in the slot, go in motion or play outside the hashes. With his speed, hands and after-the-catch skills, Beckham will open up the stale New York offense.
There's plenty of talent available for the Jets in the later part of this draft should they choose to trade down. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks stays on the board until the 23rd pick, and cornerback Darqueze Dennard is available until pick No. 25. Obtaining the 21st or 22nd pick would put them in good shape to get any cornerback besides Justin Gilbert should they choose to do so.
C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Miller took a different path as a guest on an April 29 podcast from "Mugs Fantasy Football." He participated in an impromptu mock draft with co-hosts Ryan Forbes and Johnny Rumford
In that draft, Miller followed a best player available strategy and selected inside linebacker C.J. Mosley. Miller acknowledged that David Harris and Demario Davis were an adequate inside linebacking duo. He views Mosley an upgrade in terms of quality, though, as he is a three-down inside linebacker who can play against both the run and pass, provided he stays healthy.
Beckham, Miller's choice in his own mock draft, was off the board by pick No. 18. Cooks was still available. Miller thinks Cooks is a reach at 18, and this mock draft did not allow for trades.
Mosley will help someone. I prefer to modify the best player available strategy in the early rounds by focusing on major needs. If wide receiver were my top priority in this no-trade situation, I would have reached for Cooks.
I'd save the best player available strategy for Day 3. Even then, I'd avoid positions such as the defensive line, the Jets' strength, and quarterback, where finding snaps for everyone might already be a challenge.
Philip Schawillie, Bleacher Report
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
I'm joining the bandwagon. It's time to send a message that rebuilding the offense is the Jets' offseason priority for 2014.
In 2013, the Jets drafted Geno Smith in part because of public desire to see them move beyond Mark Sanchez. There's a similar situation in 2014, except it concerns offensive skill positions.
The offense has played second-fiddle to the defense throughout the Rex Ryan era, and it's time to show the former some love.
The roundup of analyst discussions that you've read indicates that picking a wide receiver in Round 1 isn't a sure thing. The Jets' failure to sign a true No. 1 receiver or elite cornerback during free agency is why.
Here's what will happen. The Jets will follow a modified "best player available" strategy in Round 1. When their pick comes, they'll select at pick No. 18 if Beckham, Darqueze Dennard, Kyle Fuller or Justin Gilbert are still available.
It's possible. If the draft resembles the final mock drafts of Rob Rang or Matt Miller, Dennard will be available by the 18th pick. Miler's draft has Beckham available, too.
Their other option is to trade down to at least the 21st pick. Here the goal is twofold. First, they would like to get their Round 1 pick at a bargaining position that's more team-friendly. Second, it would improve the distribution of their later picks.
Only three of the Jets' 12 picks come within the first three rounds. You've seen a couple of proposed trades in these slides. They don't get the Jets more picks, but they do make the distribution of the Jets' picks more favorable by adding another pick to Day 2.
Cimini speculated that the Jets may trade up because of Beckham's increasingly high profile. It would surprise me, though. A team with multiple needs shouldn't lose picks for the sake of one player in a draft as deep as this one.
One more thing I'll watch with particular interest is the Jets' expected tight end selection. That could provide an insight into their offensive direction in 2014.
Assume it's the second round and Jace Amaro, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Troy Niklas and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are on the board. Expect a more wide-open, pass-oriented offense if the Jets take Amaro or Seferian-Jenkins than if they take Fiedorowicz or Niklas, whose inline roles are more compatible with a strong ground game.
So if you've read this mock draft roundup before the draft begins, sit back and enjoy the show. If you've waited until the show is over, I hope you're not laughing too loudly.
Follow Philip Schawillie on Twitter: @digitaltechguid