Turn On The Jets 12 Pack – Sizing Up The 18th Pick Edition

Joe Caporoso looks at the options with 18th overall pick for the New York Jets

The 18th overall pick is wide open for the New York Jets. Outside of running back, what position truly isn’t in play? Most see the team focusing on wide receiver, tight end, or the secondary and those thoughts aren’t misguided but offensive line, linebacker, quarterback and even a hybrid defensive lineman are not completely off the table. Let’s take a quick run through some prospects and positions commonly associated with the team:

1. Odell Beckham Jr, Wide Receiver, LSU – Considering I don’t anticipate Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans being available, Beckham Jr is my favorite option at wide receiver. Despite being 5 foot 11, 198 pounds, he has a huge catch radius and aggressively attacks the football. Beckham Jr also possesses very good speed and can create in the open field. I’m not insane about comparisons to NFL players but I will be dropping in a few throughout this article and his game reminds me of Steve Smith. He would fit in nicely as the Jets primary “Z” receiver in 2014, while Eric Decker could man up “X” the majority of the time. Beckham Jr is pro-ready and should hit the ground running this summer wherever he lands.

2. Brandin Cooks, Wide Receiver, Oregon State – Our man Connor Rogers is leading the Cooks bandwagon and not without good cause. He is a tantalizing playmaker who will bring a much needed big play element to the Jets offense. The pre-draft comparisons of Cooks to DeSean Jackson aren’t crazy. If the Jets did pass on him, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Eagles snap him up. His lack of size is a little concerning but I’d say he is a better and more polished wide receiver prospect than Tavon Austin was last season.

3. Marqise Lee, Wide Receiver, USC – Cooks and Lee are my 4A and 4B top receivers after Watkins, Evans and Beckham Jr. Lee has a bit of a boom or bust feel to him but was one of the best players in the college football only two seasons ago. There are valid concerns about his durability and consistency catching the football but if he reaches his potential, he could end up being the second best receiver to come out of this class behind Watkins. Lee’s game reminds a bit of Santonio Holmes (in his prime Holmes, not what we’ve seen the past few seasons).

4. Eric Ebron, Tight End, UNC – The top tight end on the board, who is unlikely to be available to the Jets at 18. However, if he did manage to fall that far, I would be fairly surprised if the Jets didn’t pounce on him. As a matter of fact, if he fell to the 14-15 range, it wouldn’t stun if they hopped up a few spots to get him. Ebron’s game still needs refinement but he could be a game changing talent working the middle of the field for any offense. The Jets badly need help at tight end and Ebron could immediately become both a safety blanket and playmaker down the seam for Geno Smith. It is worth bearing in mind that Ebron will be a 21 year old rookie, he is still going to grow into his body and develop as a player.

5. Jace Amaro, Tight End, Texas Tech – A notch below Ebron as a prospect and is somebody you would feel better about talking at 28 instead of 18, which could be a scenario that unfolds if the Jets either trade back or trade up into the back end of the first round after making their pick at 18. Amaro was consistently productive working out of the slot as a “move” TE for Texas Tech and would be an immediate weapon for the Jets in the middle of the field. While Jeff Cumeberland is more stiff, upright and looks like an average split end being miscast as a tight end, Amaro would be a more dynamic option with increased versatility.

6. Darqueze Dennard, Cornerback, Michigan State – The top cornerback in this year’s class, who is an even more intriguing target because he plays “Rex Ryan” style football at his position. He has the skillset to thrive in a man heavy scheme and would project to starting week 1 opposite of Dee Milliner, potentially allowing the Jets to be set at corner for the next 4-6 years. If he makes it to 18 (a major if), it is hard to imagine Rex not banging on the table for him.

7. Bradley Roby, Cornerback, Ohio State – More likely to be available at 18 than Dennard but a clear cut below him talent-wise. He has tremendous athleticism and is the type of player that could be moved around a defensive formation to cover a variety of different receivers. This likely wouldn’t be a “popular” pick but Roby isn’t poor value 18 and if the board breaks a certain way, this wouldn’t be a stunning selection.

8. Justin Gilbert, Cornerback, Oklahoma State – Most people’s #2 overall corner and the flashiest player at the position with the most upside. The Antonio Cromartie comparisons are not unfounded. Gilbert could have a rough initial transition to the pros and needs major refinement to his technique. If Dennard is off the board and the Jets are going corner at 18, Gilbert has more potential than Roby but also a higher chance of being a bust.

9. Safety – We have broken down HaHa Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor here but my gut says the Jets aren’t going to go safety at 18. The position has been devalued by this defense for the past few years and I just can’t see them sinking a first round pick into either of these prospects. Both prospects have the ability to push Dawan Landry out of the starting lineup but again, I think the Jets will wait until the middle rounds to add a player to the mix at safety.

10. Quarterback – Nobody knows exactly what type of tumble Teddy Bridgewater and/or Johnny Manziel could be looking at, if one at all. There is a good chance the Jets will have intriguing quarterback options with their 18th pick but I would be very surprised if they selected one before the 3rd or 4th round. It is fair not be sold on Geno Smith but if I was betting on it today, he will be the team’s starting quarterback in week 1.

11. Offensive Line – Evan Silva recently mocked Xavier Su’a-Filo to the Jets and a few others have suggested targeting either a guard or tackle. I do think the Jets will add multiple offensive lineman in this draft but I don’t think it will be until the middle and late rounds.

12. Defensive Line/Linebacker – There is a better chance of the Jets adding a player at linebacker or a hybrid defensive lineman with the 18th pick than quarterback, safety and offensive line in my opinion. Kony Ealy has been linked to the Jets in a few places and does give off a Rex vibe because of his versatility. 

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports

  • Kyle

    I still can see idzik taking Pryor at 18. He’s an all around safety that can contribute immediately. Who did seattle select in 2010 in the first round? Oh yeah Earl Thomas. I’ve heard Pryor being compared to him.

  • Jetbiker69

    My ranking would be Lee, Beckham, Cooks, Amaro, Dennard, Roby, OLB, Safety, OL, QB I like Lee’s separation skills is elite. Lee’s drop production is more due to him recovering from a knee injury and poor QB play. If his 2012 numbers were in 2013 Lee would be a top 10 pick. I am concerned about Beckham’s lack of production and Cooks’ size concerns me. Amaro is more the type of TE Marty Mornhinweg likes than Ebron. OLB could be a possibility 2nd round. I don’t see the Jets picking a CB until round 3/4. QB could be a possibility in round 4/5. I have a feeling Idzik is thinking about getting 2 first rounds. I would trade the 2014 3rd round pick and 2015 2nd round pick to jump back into the first round.

  • tariq

    i hope we have a good draft get a wr ss db and another wr tall fast quick with speed

  • tariq

    we need a good seconary to break on the ball jump in front of the wr and tight ends

  • KAsh

    Since Lee is in town for a visit, I’ll start with him. His hands were not inconsistent when he caught 118 passes in 2012 and he has never missed a game in his college career until a serious knee injury on a return mid-game caused him to sit out the next week and then hobbled him for another three. So his durability concerns involve one incident in three years of being a marked man to the defenses he came across and his inconsistency was not there until he had two different quarterbacks throwing him the ball, often in the same game. (His inconsistency once again disappeared once those two quarterbacks were whittled down to one.) Had him and Watkins both come out last year, Lee would be the one hailed as “NFL-ready” while Watkins would have “a bit of a boom or bust feel to him.”

    I would be fine with Ebron. He needs a lot of polish and I do not know if he is motivated enough to put in the effort, but he could be a Dustin Keller-esque receiving tight end at worst. I still think the tight end prospect in this draft with the best chance of becoming elite is ASJ. I think Amaro is too risky. Out of 106 receptions last year, Amaro caught less than ten as either a traditional Y-tight end or an H-back. While Cumberland “looks like an average split end being miscast as a tight end,” Amaro played like one. We do not know how well he runs routes because he rarely ran them lined up inside, where the important thing to running routes is powering through bumps by linebackers and then outmaneuvering stronger defensive backs.

    Finally, why is Roby below Dennard “talent-wise”? Roby has talent in bundles – he might be the most athletically gifted corner in the draft – he just cannot cover very well. He got burned multiple times by every kind of receiver last year, to the point his own coach stopped lining him up against #1 receivers – his coach did not put a safety over top to help Roby, rather just gave Roby’s job to someone else – but all this has been forgotten because he jumped high and ran fast in a T-shirt. It is undeniable that Roby is talented, but he is a likely bust and not worthy of consideration until the third round.

    I would be happy with Lee, Mosley, Clinton-Dix (get a safety that can cut off pass routes and get from one sideline to the other, and you solved your pass defense woes), Dennard, Gilbert, or Ebron. I think the draft is loaded this year, but few of these prospects come with guarantees.

  • Frank Antonelli

    I would be thrilled if we pick Beckham. I believe he would be the top rated receiver if he were on a pass happy team instead of the run heavy LSU offense. He was also limited by the clowns LSU had playing QB during his time there. I always have thought that a receiver’s hands are vital and his hands measure at an impressive 10″. He also runs great routes. I really think this is exactly the player the Jets need to complete their off season makeover of the offense.

    P.S. I hope we’ve learned our lesson in selecting over rated players from USC.

  • Joe Caporoso

    Thanks for reading/commenting!

    Frank – Agreed on ODB. Very pro-ready prospect who has many different elements of his game to admire.

    Kash – Lee has an immensely high ceiling. However, you cannot ignore the inconsistencies in his game. He is a legitimate 1st round pick but personally I’d prefer Watkins, Evans, ODB and maybe even Cooks to him. As for Amaro you couldn’t be more incorrect by saying he rarely ran routes lined up inside, he basically caught every single pass last season from the slot, which requires powering through bumps from linebackers and outmaneuvering stronger defensive backs. Cumberland has mostly been used as a split end or the receiver furthest to the outside of the formation, where he has been thoroughly average at best, his game isn’t similar to Amaro at all and his ceiling (which we may have seen by now) is nowhere near Amaro’s. Also on Ebron, not sure how you can question his “motivation” unless you know him personally. He is a 20 year old kid, who was a beast last season, with plenty of room to grow.

    When I said “talent-wise” that was meant as talent at playing cornerback, not just athletic talent. Athletically? Roby matches up well enough to Dennard. As an overall corner prospect? He is below Dennard, who has a look of a legitimate man to man corner already.

    Kyle – I think it is probably overrating Pryor a bit to compare him to Earl Thomas, who is the best safety in the NFL right now…by a decent margin. Pryor is a quality mid to late 1st round prospect but again, I just can’t see the Jets going safety that high…I’m not saying I agree with it, but it would be out of character to how the defense was dealt with the past few seasons.

  • Dan in RI

    Thanks for the run down. I think it is almost 50-50 at this point whether the Jets target WR or CB in the 1st round. I know most people (both experts and fans) are in favor of picking a WR (or TE, if his name is Ebron) in the first, but based on past history and how much Rex likes his corners, it would not surprise me in the least if we go CB–especially if either Gilbert or Dennard are still available at 18. It would shock the pants off me if we went OL or QB. And OLB only if someone really exceptional is still available (say, someone the Jets had ranked in their top 5). Fortunately, this draft is deep enough at WR and CB that waiting until the 2nd is not a disaster at either position.

  • KAsh


    You are going to have to be more specific: what inconsistency do you see in Lee?

  • Joe Caporoso

    My thought with Lee is that his junior year needs to be taken into equal account as his sophomore year. He sustained injuries to three different parts of his body last year and does not have a frame built to sustain punishment over the middle, where he has struggled to make catches in traffic. Is his ceiling higher than Beckham Jr? Probably. But I view Beckham Jr as a more reliable prospect, with a more complete game and a body better built to run all the routes on the tree.

  • The NYJ have improved the WR position over the FA period, and when you couple that with the depth this draft has, I think they’re more likely to take a DB in round 1. That position group, as a whole, has more question marks than any other (except QB, which overrides everything). Milliner had a very good December, but still has a lot ot prove, especially as Rex’ #1 CB. Walls is an unknown, Landry is not a playmaker and Allen is still unproven. Jarrett is basically an unknown. Wilson is a solid nickel, but maybe not solid enough, in the team’s eyes, as they felt it necessary to bring in Patterson, a player who had a outlier year, and has proven to be less than durable.
    I continue to believe they will try and trade down in an attempt to acquire another top 100 pick.

  • Dan

    A trade down is more likely than a trade up, but ultimately I see them staying put at 18 and taking the BPA. Someone will drop to 18 from among Dennard, Beckham, Cooks or a top Safety or OL choice. If they can get Dennard I think they take him above all others likely to be available at 18. If he’s gone they go WR. Of course I am just guessing. What the hell do I know? Good article though Joe.