It is a familiar process to anybody who follows the NFL Draft. Players skyrocket up draft boards, while simultaneously players who were popular months ago begin to see their stock steadily decline. Look at the case of three pass rushers associated with the New York Jets. A few months ago, it appeared South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram would be well out of reach for them with the 16th pick. Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw was a popular pick for the Jets but some questioned whether they’d need to move up a few spots for him. Syracuse’s Chandler Jones was considered a second round prospect who the Jets could trade back to target if they focused on a different position in round one.
Take us to today, where there is talk of Courtney Upshaw falling out of the first round, Ingram being available for the Jets at 16 and Jones potentially being taken even before Ingram.
Jones is 6’5, 247 pounds and has the long arms teams desire in their pass rushers. Many teams, including the Jets if they take him, believe he could make the transition from being a college defensive end into being a 3-4 outside linebacker. He has more explosiveness off the ball than Courtney Upshaw and most believe he has a higher upside. I am not sure if he actually will end up leapfrogging Ingram on draft day but if the Jets miss out on Ingram, it would no longer be a surprise if they took Jones over Upshaw.
Due to his versatility, Ingram has to be the top pass rusher on the Jets draft board. While many teams wouldn’t be happy with Ingram’s lack of a clear cut position, Rex Ryan loves it and would relish the chance to turn him into an improved version of Adalius Thomas during his Baltimore years. Ingram would likely see time at four different spots in the Jets defensive scheme and give them much needed explosiveness in their front seven.
The question for the Jets now becomes, can they risk waiting until #16 for Ingram? Most people seem to agree that Ingram is going to fall out of the top ten but there is increased chatter that Seattle could target him with the 12th pick. A move from #16 to #11 should’t be cost prohibitive for the Jets as they may be able to hang on to their 2nd round pick this year in the process.
Ultimately, it will come down to how badly the Jets want Ingram in comparison to other pass rushers in the first round. I think his versatility sets him apart enough that they will do what it takes to get him, even if it requires moving up a handful of spots. Jones is a tempting fallback but I still think he is valued too high at number 16. The Jets will hope Mark Barron is available if they miss out on Ingram but if he isn’t, it could come down to staying put and taking Jones or Upshaw.