Now that the first couple of weeks of free agency have passed and the collegiate pro days have begun, much attention has turned to the NFL Draft. The New York Jets, armed with 12 selections, are one of the teams to watch. Last year, the Jets were able to walk out with the Defensive Rookie of The Year, a cornerback that finished the season winning rookie of the month honors, a potential franchise quarterback, and an improving left guard.
This year, while Idzik has opted to not spend the Jets’ ample cap space on veterans or quick fixes, the Jets still have some holes as we gear up towards draft season. Idzik’s preferred approach has been to build through the draft and use free agency to supplement what you already have in place. He did use free agency to attack some holes. They replaced Austin Howard with a new right tackle, so there’s no hole there anymore. Willie Colon was resigned, so 4/5ths of the offensive line from last year returns intact.
The Jets upgraded wide receiver by adding Eric Decker. They, also, brought in competition for Geno Smith by signing the best free agent quarterback available in Michael Vick. Idzik also, resigned some of the Jets’ own free agents. With trade rumors swirling regarding Pro Bowl WR DeSean Jackson, the Jets could conceivably end up with less draft picks than the 12 they have now. Assuming they don’t trade for Jackson, they enter the draft with the 18th, 49th, 80th, 104th, 115th, 137th, 154th, 195th, 209th, 210th, 213th, and 233rd selections. Compensatory picks are ineligible to be traded, but the Jets can still use their other 8 selections to move up or down as they see fit.
Some have argued that you can’t get starting caliber talent in the later rounds. Considering the Jets need a starting CB and a TE, they don’t have as many holes as some would say. Barring no additions, Jeremy Kerley would start opposite Eric Decker (and yes, he can be more than a “slot” receiver). Calvin Pace would start at OLB, with Darrin Walls starting opposite Dee Milliner. I, for one, am very high on Walls but believe the Jets draft a cornerback as is. In any event, let’s take a look at a breakdown of the last 13 drafts to see just how many Pro Bowlers have been found during rounds three through seven.
First Round: 164
Second Round: 66
Third Round: 33
Notable 3rd Round Pro Bowlers: Frank Gore, Justin Tuck, Evan Mathis, Jamaal Charles, Mike Wallace, Navarro Bowman, Jimmy Graham, Justin Houston, Russell Wilson, Nick Foles
Fourth Round: 30
Notable 4th Round Pro Bowlers: Jared Allen, Shaun Phillips, Owen Daniels, Elvis Dumervil, Stephen Gostkowski, Dashon Goldson, Geno Atkins, Jordan Cameron, Julius Thomas,
Fifth Round: 22
Notable 5th Round Pro Bowlers: Michael Turner, Trent Cole, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman
Sixth Round: 19
Notable 6th Round Pro Bowlers: Tom Brady, Andy Lee, Derek Anderson, Antoine Bethea, Nick Folk, Greg Hardy, Antonio Brown, Alfred Morris
Seventh Round: 9
Notable 7th Round Pro Bowlers: TJ Houshmanzadeh, Scott Wells, Matt Cassel, Cortland Finnegan
Analysis: The 2004 draft produced more Pro Bowlers in rounds 4, 5, and 6 than in the second and third combined. The 2005 draft’s third round produced more pro bowlers than the second round, and the fourth round produced as many as the second. The 2006 and 2007 drafts produced more pro bowlers in the 4th round than the third round, and almost as many as the second rounds. In the 2008 draft, the fifth round produced more pro bowlers (3) than the third and fourth rounds combined.
The 2009 draft was the first time that more pro bowlers were taken in the second through sixth rounds combined than the entire first round. The same number of pro bowlers was taken in the 6th and third round in the 2010 draft. In 2011, two pro bowlers each were selected in the second through fourth rounds. More pro bowlers were taken in the 6th round than third-fifth rounds combined in the 2012 draft. Over the last 14 drafts, the fourth round (where the Jets hold multiple picks) has produced almost as many pro bowlers as the third round. The sixth round (where, again, the Jets hold multiple picks) has produced almost as many pro bowlers as the 5th round as well.
Now, lets’ take a look at the players taken over the last 14 drafts at every spot the Jets are picking at this year. I consider a pick a “successful” pick if the player becomes a contributor for their team. A star next to a player’s name donates that the player was actually selected by the Jets; I included this so you guys can have a history of the Jets’ success picking in these slots.
18th: *Chad Pennington, Jeff Backus, TJ Duckett, Calvin Pace, Will Smith, Erasmus James, Bobby Carpenter, Leon Hall, Joe Flacco, Robert Ayers, Maurkice Pouncey, Corey Liuget, Melvin Ingram, Eric Reid
Success Rate: 12/14
Analysis: A very productive spot to be picking at as everyone taken in this spot flashed at one point or another, with the exception of Erasmus James. Flacco won SB MVP, while Pouncey’s now a Pro Bowler and Eric Reid flashed as a rookie last year. The one that will stick out for Jets fans is Chad Pennington, who orchestrated the 41-0 drubbing of the Colts in the playoffs and was one of the more accurate passers in NFL history.
49th: Johnathan Hankins, Kendall Reyes, Ben Ijalana, Taylor Mays, Max Unger, Desean Jackson, Kenny Irons, *Kellen Clemens, Marcus Johnson, Keiwan Ratliff, Eddie Moore, Levar Fisher, *Lamont Jordan, Dwayne Goodrich
Success Rate: 3/14
Analysis: DeSean Jackson and Max Unger are both Pro Bowlers. Lamont Jordan was Shonn Greene before Shonn Greene, and rushed for over 1000 yards as the Raiders’ feature back in 2005.
80th: Darrell Jackson, Kevan Barlow, Will Overstreet, Courtney Van Buren, Caleb Miller, Dustin Fox, Clint Ingram, Paul Williams, Bryan Smith, Kevin Barnes, J.D. Walton, Chris Culliver, Jamell Fleming, J.J. Wilcox
Success Rate: 3/14
Analysis: Will Overstreet had a good career at outside linebacker. Jackson and Barlow had a few productive seasons. Everyone else on this list hasn’t done much of anything.
104th: Jelani Jenkins, Joe Adams, Luke Stocker, Alterraun Verner, Kaluka Maiava, Beau Bell, Jay Moore, Cory Rodgers, Travis Daniels, Isaac Sopoaga, George Wrightster, Alex Brown, Orlando Huff, Kaulana Noa
Success Rate: 2/14
Analysis: Verner is a top 5 cornerback in the league, and led the league with 23 passes defended last year. Alex Brown provided depth and finished his career with 45.5 sacks and 5 interceptions.
115th: Frank Moreau, Moran Norris, Tony Beckham, Lee Suggs, Nat Dorsey, Marviel Underwood, Will Blackmon, Leroy Harris, Dre Moore, Stanley Arnoux, Phillip Dillard, Kendall Hunter, Coty Sensabaugh, Landry Jones
Success Rate: 2/14
Analysis: Kendall Hunter and Will Blackmon are quality backups and special teamers. Hunter has started to see more carries as Frank Gore’s primary backup.
137th: Jesse Williams, Malik Jackson, Buster Skrine, Perrish Cox, Jason Phillips, John David Booty, La’Ron McClain, Terna Nande, Ronald Fields, Josh Scobee, Terrence Holt, Randy Fasani, Matt Lehr, Clark Haagans
Success Rate: 4/14
Analysis: Perrish Cox has been a solid cornerback and special teams player. La’Ron McClain and Josh Scobee are two of the better player sat their positions. Clark Haagans was one of the better run stopping outside linebackers in the league for a handful of years.
154th: Muneer Moore, Darnerian McCants, *Jonathan Goodwin, Donnie Nickey, Michael Turner, Robert McCune, Marcus Maxey, Clifton Ryan, Kroy Biermann, Marcus Freeman, Andrew Quarless, Richard Sherman, Korey Toomer, Chris Thompson
Success Rate: 5/14
Analysis: Jonathan Goodwin made the Pro Bowl in 2009, and has started 93 consecutive games at center. Michael Turner went from Ladainian Tomlinson’s backup to a feature running back in Atlanta, and has rushed for over 7,000 yards and over 60 TDs in his career. Kroy Biermann has become a good backup defensive lineman. Andrew Quarless replaced Jermichael Finlay and had 32 catches for 312 yards. Richard Sherman is arguably the best cornerback in football today.
195th: Alan Bonner, Nick Mondek, JT Thomas, Antonio Brown, James Davis, Donald Thomas, Deon Anderson, JD Runnels, Craig Bragg, Jeris McIntyre, Antonio Garay, Lamont Brightful, Dan O’Leary, Michael Hawthorne
Success Rate: 2/14
Analysis: Antonio Brown is the lone Pro Bowler from this spot, although Michael Hawthorne had himself a good career in New Orleans. Brown has become an elite wide receiver, despite being selected so late.
209th: Eric Chandler, Alex Lincoln, Chad Williams, Tim Provost, Shane Olivea, Rob Pettiti, Ethan Kilmer, Corey Hilliard, Matt Flynn, Bernard Scott, Levi Brown, Johnny Culbreath, Aaron Brown, Brice Butler
Success Rate: 2/14
Analysis: Matt Flynn won a few games for the Packers season last year, as he was able to keep the team afloat until Aaron Rodgers returned, and has now proven himself an adequate backup QB. Bernard Scott is a quality backup running back.
210th: Demetrius McCray, Audie Cole, Andrew Jackson, Cody Grimm, Vance Walker, Brian Johnston, Jordan Kent, Zach Strief, Reggie Hodges, Raheem Orr, Tony Gilbert, Bryan Fletcher, Harold Blackmon, Brad St. Louis
Success Rate: 1/14
Analysis: Zach Strief saves this spot from a complete hog wash.
213th: Mike Green, Anthony Denman, Pete Campion, Yeremiah Bell, *Darrell McClover, Derek Anderson, James Wyche, Chase Pittman, Chauncey Washington, Paul Fanaika, Willie Young, Brandyn Thompson, Richard Crawford, Michael Mauti
Success Rate: 2/14
Analysis: Derek Anderson once threw for over 3700 yards and made the Pro Bowl as he led the Browns to their only winning season in the last decade. Former Jet Yeremiah Bell has carved out a nice career for himself, as he’s entering his 10th year in the league.
233rd: David Bass, Drake Dunsmore, Lawrence Guy, Jim Dray, Sammie Stroughter, Justin Forsett, Chandler Williams, Devin Aromashodu, Jonathan Fanene, Christian Morton, Chance Pearce, Tim Wansley, Marlon McCree, Drew Haddad
Success Rate: 3/14
Analysis: Forsett, Aromashody, and McCree are the only contributors to come out of this spot. McCree was the best one, as he played 8 years and notched 16 career interceptions.
The Jets will have an opportunity to add quality throughout this year’s draft, regardless of the spot they’re picking. They have the opportunity to add impact players early and, as I hope this provided evidence of, there’s no rule that says you can’t get impact players late. This is how you build a sustainable winner, and it’s time for Idzik and his scouts to earn their money by assembling the best possible collection of talent they can. The draft has been used by perennial contenders like the Ravens and the Steelers to circumvent the salary cap, if you will, by adding low cost talent that they can then resign, or trade, later. The Jets seemingly have adopted the same motto. Welcome to the adult table Gang Green.