Before reading bold predictions, look at the draft's potential dark side. Even the best picks can go bust. With so many relative strangers in the Jets' 2014 draft class, the possibility of failures looms large. Here are some possible disasters.
Neither Cornerback Makes the Team
Both Dexter McDougle and Brandon Dixon present an intriguing combination of strengths and weaknesses. No one is perfect, but the weaknesses of McDougle and Dixon could be flaws that prevent their success in the NFL.
McDougle brings to the Jets an impressive combination of speed, quickness, agility and team spirit. His biggest problem, apart from a lack of size, is durability. Injuries to his knuckles, collarbone and shoulder reduced his playing time.
McDougle underwent shoulder surgery after that injury limited his senior season to three games. The injury kept him from participating in the NFL Scouting Combine. If that's a portent of things to come, his professional career may not last beyond training camp.
Durability isn't Dixon's issue. Learning Rex Ryan's defense might be. He has the physical tools, says his NFL.com profile, to be the kind of press cornerback Ryan loves. Dixon's issues lie elsewhere.
He reputedly needs extra time, extra repetitions, to learn complex assignments. That's probably OK during training camp, if he has time to work on his own.
There's less preparation time once the season starts. That's especially true in short weeks, such as before a Thursday night game. How Dixon responds to such situations could determine his long-term future.
If neither McDougle nor Dixon overcomes their deficiencies, the Jets' cornerback situation will revert to its pre-draft condition.
The New Wide Receivers Don't Stretch the Field
For months, we've understood that the Jets offense needs a wide receiver who can stretch the field. He must be fast enough to elude the swiftest defenders and be strong enough to withstand the pounding from the NFL's best press coverage cornerbacks.
In the 2014 draft, the Jets got all of those things. Unfortunately, they may not have come in one package.
The most promising vertical threat comes in the form of 5'9", 165-pound Jalen Saunders. The former track team member ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine, 0.01 second slower than Odell Beckham Jr. and Sammy Watkins.
NFL Network's Mike Mayock called Saunders "one of [the] most physical receivers in football." Mayock thinks Saunders can play either in the slot or outside. Saunders' NFL.com profile suggests his size fits the slot better. Essentially, the argument goes, he'll last longer.
Shaq Evans and Quincy Enunwa have better builds. Both are 6'0" or taller and top 210 pounds.
Evans' NFL.com profile summarizes his potential in two words: "possession receiver." His 4.51 time in the 40-yard dash is identical to that of Mike Evans, but Shaq lacks Evans' size and leaping ability, which limits him as a deep threat.
Enunwa, the sixth-round selection, has the best combination of size and speed. The 6'2", 225-pound wideout might be this group's sleeper. His 4.45-second 40-yard dash time at the combine compares well with Beckham, Watkins and Saunders. His profile calls him a ”Big, tough, athletic, West Coast receiver who broke out as a senior." That breakout may account for his late draft selection.
Saunders should make the team because of his punt return skills. Evans and Enunwa will have to prove that someone should have taken them sooner. They are legitimate candidates for the outside receiving position opposite Eric Decker. If neither rises to the occasion, the Jets will have one new slot receiver in Saunders but be no better off on the outside than they were before the draft.
Disaster time is over. It's time for some bold predictions.