New York Jets Day 1 2014 NFL Draft Primer
It sure took a while, but we have finally arrived at the doorstep of the 2014 NFL draft.
With a dozen picks at their disposal, the New York Jets this year face a monumental draft under second-year general manager John Idzik. Not only does he get a chance to lay his foundation with all of the draft picks he has acquired over the past season, but he gets to run a full draft with his handpicked personnel in place.
Judging by their relative inactivity in free agency, the Jets plan on building their team through the draft, and this year's deep class of receivers and cornerbacks should allow them to do so, especially with twelve picks to use.
Here is a primer for the opening night of the draft as it pertains to the Jets.
Departures and Additions
The Jets were far less active in free agency than most expected, but they still walked away with big upgrades at key positions, if not at least treading water where they lost their own players to free agency. Instead of using his glutinous about of cap space to go "all-in" this year, John Idzik took a slow-and-steady approach, refusing to overspend on a player—even if it costs the team in the short term.
Of course, the upside to not spending too much is that it leaves the Jets with plenty of cap space to work with after the draft any beyond, even if they use all 12 of their draft picks:
The argument for the top spot is compelling for the receiver, cornerback or tight end position, but the specific importance of cover men in Rex Ryan's defense puts the position at the top of the list.
Not only are the Jets counting on Dee Milliner to make enormous strides in his second year after a rocky rookie season, they plan on starting a natural nickel cornerback (with a shaky injury history), Dimitri Patterson, on the other side. To compound matters, Kyle Wilson is set to enter free agency in 2015.
The Jets' lack of youth and talent at this position will force them to take at least one cover man in the first three rounds.
The Jets' receiving corps is much improved after the addition of Eric Decker, but adding a high-end No. 2 receiver is not going to be enough to rebuild the Jets' receiving corps. Specifically, the offense needs speed to help draw coverage and open things up for Decker and Kerley.
The good news for the Jets is that the unusual depth of this year's receiver class will allow them to get starters beyond the first round, but they must walk away with multiple prospects at this position to turn around their dismal receiver situation.
The Jets avoided disaster by retaining the incumbent Jeff Cumberland, but relying on the one-dimensional receiving specialist for quality production is risky business. Cumberland has yet to record more than 400 yards in a single season, so the odds of him suddenly exploding into a star player in his fifth season are minimal at best.
The Jets need as much help as they can get at this position, especially in the blocking game. If they can at least find a blocking specialist to pair with Cumberland for 2014, they at a minimum could be average at the position for 2014.
Keeping Calvin Pace in the fold gives the Jets a short-term solution opposite Quinton Coples, but the future at the left outside linebacker spot is foggy. New York needs a young pass-rushing specialist it can groom behind Pace and hope that this prospect can eventually develop into a full-time starter.
The Jets can afford to wait until the middle or late rounds to find this developmental player, but at least one of their twelve picks should be used on a player who knows how to get to the quarterback.
Between Willie Colon and Brian Winters, the Jets have a pair of starting guards on paper. However, the struggles of Winters in his rookie season and Colon's torn bicep should have New York feeling anything but secure at the guard position.
The team does have Oday Aboushi and William Campbell waiting in the wings, but neither player was able to get off the inactive list in 2013. The Jets need to keep bringing in competition until this position is solidified.
Dawan Landry was a solid, reliable player for the Jets last year, but they can certainly afford to get more dynamic and explosive at a position that has been relatively average since the team parted ways with Kerry Rhodes in 2010.
Because of more pressing needs at other positions, New York will have to wait until Day 3 to take a chance on a developmental prospect.
Don't look now, but longtime starter David Harris is set to hit the open market in 2015, and the Jets need to be prepared. The Jets did use a tender on special teams ace Nick Bellore, but they need to bring in more talent at this position so that they are not tied to retaining Harris after the season.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
The Jets have shown interest in a variety of first-round receivers, but all of the recent buzz is surrounding stud LSU prospect Odell Beckham Jr.
What makes Beckham most appealing is that his game can translate to the NFL immediately. A polished route-runner with great hands and body control, Beckham can step in and start right away opposite Eric Decker. His size (5'11") may not fit the mold of a classic No. 1 receiver, but finding holes in Beckham's game is a challenge.
Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
If the Jets decide to get defensive in the first round, few (realistic) prospects make more sense than Darqueze Dennard. A man-to-man coverage specialist, Dennard has a skill set that fits into Rex Ryan's defense like a missing piece to a jigsaw puzzle.
Dennard, however, may experience a draft-day slip because of medical concerns. He (impressively) played through a sports hernia in 2012, but the fact that he had two surgeries and dealt with other ailments may scare teams into going elsewhere.
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Marqise Lee is one more the most difficult receivers to grade in the 2014 class. Specializing in turning short routes into long gains, he followed his stellar 2012 season with a disappointing 2013 campaign in which he had roughly half his production in terms of both yards and receptions.
While injuries and poor quarterback play certainly contributed to his drop in production, NFL teams need to figure out if the Lee they are getting more resembles the 2013 or 2012 version.
Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
if the Jets are scared off by Dennard's medical issues, they still have other first-round options at the cornerback position, starting with Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller.
The most instinctive cornerback in this class, Fuller excels in off-man coverage, able to read routes before the receiver runs them. He is also extremely effective in run support and can compete for jump balls with his good length.
However, Fuller's relative stiffness makes him a bit of an awkward fit in Rex Ryan's press-heavy scheme, but his talent and physical gifts make his technical shortcomings easy to overlook.
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Far and away the best tight end in this year's class, Ebron gets selected by the Jets only if New York gets aggressive and moves into the top 10.
As costly as such a move would be, the Jets would be justified for doing so—Ebron's off-the-charts athleticism makes him the best tight end prospect since Vernon Davis. Putting him on the same roster as Jeff Cumberland would instantly turn the tight end position into a major strength.
Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
While not nearly as athletically gifted as Ebron, Jace Amaro is a more realistic, affordable first-round option at tight end for the Jets. He was hardly used as a blocker at Texas Tech, but he fits the "joker" role perfectly with his combination of size and hands.
His limitations as a blocker make him a bit of a reach in the first round, but he can be a viable fallback option.
Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The top cornerback on many pundits' boards, Justin Gilbert is the most explosive and dynamic cornerback prospect in this class. Gilbert has tremendous instincts and ball skills that allow him to make game-changing interceptions.
The question is not whether or not the Jets would want Gilbert on their team—it is whether or not he will be available without having to trade up. If Gilbert does somehow slip down to the second half of the first round, the Jets shouldn't hesitate to run to the podium with Gilbert's name on the card.
What Are the Experts Saying?
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN: Brandin Cooks
Feeling pretty good about getting Cooks here—even sweeter after Todd reached on a tackle right the pick before. 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.
Kiper makes a good point here comparing Cooks to Tavon Austin—unlike some of the other receiver prospects, Cooks can play in the slot and on the outside to give the Jets offense a versatile weapon.
Charles Davis, NFL.com: Brandin Cooks
Speed needed to help free up Eric Decker underneath. Cooks has plenty to spare.
Tough to argue with Davis' assessment here. Cooks is a bit undersized, but his speed would be ideal for what the Jets need opposite Decker and Jeremy Kerley. Plus, Cooks can help improve what was an Jets return game in 2013.
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com: Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham would team with Eric Decker to give Geno Smith (or Michael Vick) a talented WR duo.
The best aspect of landing Beckham is that he is both polished enough to step in and start immediately while having enough upside to continue to develop as his NFL career moves along.
Unfortunately for the Jets, Beckham's stock has risen to the point where the only way to acquire him is by trading up.
Bucky Brooks, NFL.com: Marqise Lee
Adding an explosive playmaker like Lee would help Geno Smith and Michael Vick become better playmakers from the pocket.
A disappointing 2012 campaign has caused Lee's stock to fall from a year ago, but he still knows how to turn a short stick route into a 60-yard gain. Lee would be able to fill the role Santonio Holmes never could as a go-to guy who can both move the sticks and occasionally generate big plays.
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.
Miller is spot on here in what Beckham would bring to the Jets offense. Not only is Beckham a big-play machine, he is a polished route-runner who can step into an NFL offense immediately and find a way to contribute. His athleticism and speed still give him room to develop.
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.
Rang hit the nail on the head in his analysis of Dennard and how he fits in the Jets defense. With tremendous strength and flexibility, Dennard is the premier press corner in this draft and would be able to step in and play instantly. However, speed concerns may limit his pro potential, which may cause him to fall all the way to the Jets at 18th overall.
Latest Rumors, Reports & Analysis
Will the Jets Trade Up?
The Jets may have a new general manager, but their aggressive ways of trading up the draft board may not be over. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the Jets have expressed interest in moving up for a specific receiver they covet.
With 12 picks at their disposal, the Jets certainly have the horses to make such a move, but they must still be mindful of how they are maximizing value. Even if they are able to trade up and land Odell Beckham Jr., is he really that much better than Marqise Lee or Brandin Cooks?
Even if all of the receiver are gone, they could still take a chance on one of the top cornerbacks or tight ends.
There is no harm in expressing interest at this point, but the Jets must be careful to over throw away their picks simply because they have them to spend.
Still Active in the Quarterback Market?
The Jets have a respectable quarterback depth chart between Geno Smith and Michael Vick, but that does not rule out a quarterback in the first round of the draft.
According to Rapoport, the Jets have maintained contact with some of the first-round quarterbacks, signaling that drafting one is not out of the question:
Interesting to hear #Jets keeping in regular contact with QBs slated to go in the first round. Maybe in case one falls. Maybe serious at 18— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 6, 2014
This is likely just a case of the Jets covering their bases in case one or more of them makes an unexpected tumble down the draft board. After all, for as many needs as they have, finding a franchise quarterback trumps all of their needs even with Smith and Vick on the roster.
Jets Enamored With Justin Gilbert?
The Jets may have expressed interest in offensive players, but that does not rule out a cornerback in the first round. Top cornerback prospect Justin Gilbert has spoken of how highly the Jets think of him:
Words spoken to prospects behind closed doors should hardly be taken as promises, but this as least signifies that cornerback is not out of the question in Round 1. If the Jets abstain from trading up and Gilbert or another top cornerback slips down the board, there is a good chance the Jets would take them to solidify their secondary once and for all.
Round 1, Pick 18: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Assuming the Jets stay put, the Jets will have a chance to draft one of the "second tier" of wide receivers—who they select will depend on how the first 17 picks play out.
Brandin Cooks is a bit undersized, but his explosive speed is exactly what the Jets are looking for in their search for a partner for Eric Decker. Cooks can also help out in the return game to provide even more value.
Round 2, Pick 49: Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
With the receiver position taken care of for the time being, attention must now turn to the cornerback position, where the Jets are set to start the injury-prone Dimitri Patterson opposite second-year pro Dee Milliner.
Pierre Desir may come from a small program at Lindenwood, but he has NFL-caliber traits that may allow him to develop into one of the best defensive backs in this class. This pick comes with some risk, but it could pay off big down the line.
Round 3, Pick 80: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
The Jets just need to take care the hole at tight end before they can enter a true "best player available" mode for the rest of the draft.
C.J. Fiedorowicz can be the solution to what's missing at the Jets' tight end position, which features just one (relatively) proven player in Jeff Cumberland. A true two-way tight end who can block and catch, Fiedorowicz will be able to step in and contribute immediately.
Round 4, Pick 104: Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
With all of their top needs taken care of, the Jets need to start cashing in on the depth of this receiver class.
Abbrederis has a smaller-than-ideal frame for an NFL wide receiver, but his route-running is as good as any in this class. Combined with tremendous hands and great flexibility, Abbrederis can be an instant contributor for a depleted Jets receiving corps.
Round 4, Pick 115: Dion Bailey, S, USC
Between Antonio Allen and Dawan Landry, The Jets have a serviceable pair of safeties to work with in 2014. However, an injection of youth and athleticism is more than welcome, especially with Landry set to hit free agency next offseason.
Dion Bailey has tremendous athleticism, but he needs to add more bulk to develop into a full-time safety. He can spend his rookie season on special teams and develop as Landry's eventual replacement.
Round 4, Pick 137: Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama
Bringing back Calvin Pace gives the Jets short-term security at outside linebacker, but the team must be prepared to move on from the 33-year-old Pace as soon as this season.
Adrian Hubbard does a lot of things well both against the run and in pass defense, but he is more of a jack-of-all-trades" than a master of any specific skill. Still, his experience in a 3-4 defense will allow him to make a seamless transition to the NFL. If Pace's age catches up to him, Hubbard should be able to step in without a huge drop-off in production.
Round 5, Pick 154: Antone Exum, CB/S, Virginia Tech
A physical, in-your face defensive back, Antone Exum would be a perfect fit in Rex Ryan's aggressive defense—if he's healthy. A torn ACL he suffered last summer held him out for most of 2013, putting his status up in the air.
Exum should be ready to start the 2014 season, but in what capacity remains to be seen. Injury concerns and questions about his speed may force him to move to safety, where his instincts and ball skills may be utilized more efficiently.
Round 6, Pick 195: Jon Halapio, G, Florida
Because of the uncertainty surrounding Willie Colon's torn bicep and the uneven play of rookie guard Brian Winters, the Jets come off 2013 needing to bring long-term fixes to the interior of the offensive line.
Jon Halapio is a force in the run game, but his lack of quickness makes him vulnerable to athletic defensive linemen. On the Jets, he will have a chance to develop his game on the bottom of the depth chart while pushing Oday Aboushi and William Campbell for a roster spot.
Round 6, Pick 209: Preston Brown, ILB, Louisville
With longtime starter David Harris set to hit free agency in 2015, the Jets need to tweak their depth so they are prepared for his possible departure.
Preston Brown is a big-time hitter who sets the tone with his physicality between the tackles. He can be exposed if asked to cover or make plays sideline to sideline, but keeping him as a two-down run defender might maximize his skill set.
Round 6, Pick 210: Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh
Devin Street has a lot of unteachable tools to work with in terms of his size and length (6'3"), but he could stand to put on a bit more weight to sustain hits in the NFL.
While he is not a speedster (4.55 40-yard dash), he can be a viable deep target with his hands and length. At this point in the draft, he is worth taking a chance on as a developmental prospect.
Round 6, Pick 213: Richard Rodgers, TE, California
With his long, athletic frame Richard Rodgers looks the part of a tight end, but injuries kept him from reaching his full potential at Cal. Rodgers brings effort both as a receiver and a blocker, but he is susceptible to drops and getting pushed around by bigger linebackers.
A better receiver than a blocker who was used all over the formation, Rodgers can be used on special teams and in red-zone situations until he develops into a more complete tight end.
Round 7, Pick 233: Cornelius Lucas, OT, Kansas State
The Jets did use a fifth-round pick on a developmental offensive lineman in Oday Aboushi last year, but he may be better suited to backup at guard than kick out to tackle because of his slow feet.
Cornelius Lucas will have to wait to hear his name called on draft day in large part due to a stress fracture he suffered in 2013, but the All-Big 12 player has a huge wingspan and can be molded into a possible starter a few years down the line.