In one of the biggest offseasons in the history of the franchise, the New York Jets will officially be selecting 6th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. With no head coach or general manager currently in place, it is hard to imagine what will take place during that time.
What we do know is there are plenty of prospects that could help fill out a depleted roster, with a potential huge roll of the dice at quarterback expected to be on the board when the Jets do select…
Jameis Winston will be on the board when the Jets select 6th overall:
I’m not a fan of making ‘bold predictions’ like this for the NFL draft, but this scenario seems highly likely. Noise is beginning to build that the league is not as sold on Winston as many fans seem to be.
The five teams that pick in front of the Jets are the Buccaneers, Titans, Jaguars, Raiders, and Redskins. The Jaguars and Raiders appear to be committed to their rookie quarterbacks taken in the 2014 NFL Draft. After the dysfunction the Redskins have dealt with at quarterback, rolling the dice on Winston seems unlikely.
This leaves the Buccaneers and Titans as the two most likely teams to select him before the Jets. Assume Tampa Bay selects Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, what do the Titans do? Based on a recent conversation I had, a source familiar with the situation stated that the Titans are happy with what they saw in rookie Zach Mettenberger and would prefer not to use the 2nd overall selection on a quarterback.
Jim Wyatt who covers the team also had an interesting take on the situation this week, seeing neither quarterback likely ending up in Tennessee. This leaves an extremely high probability that Jameis Winston will be on the board when the Jets pick in the first round. Do they take the chance?
It really depends on the staff and general manager in place, but it certainly seems to be an interesting situation that will be the talk of the offseason right up until May.
The best option for the Jets is to take the most talented player on the board, seeing as they have so many holes. From a realistic point of view, that will most likely be at outside linebacker or an offensive lineman.
The key names to keep an eye on at outside linebacker at 6th overall are Shaq Thompson, Randy Gregory, Dante Fowler, Bud Dupree, and Vic Beasley. Thompson is a playmaker that would instantly add speed to the linebacking core. Gregory, Fowler, Dupree, and Beasley are all edge rushers that can be the final piece to building a top tier pass rush in the front four.
At offensive line there are also quite a few options. If Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley declares, he is the best pass protector in the group. He is an athletic edge protector that has succeeded at both right and left tackle throughout his Notre Dame career. He was the right tackle for a 2013 offensive line that allowed only 8 sacks on 429 pass attempts, an astonishing number.
I have brought up LSU senior left tackle La’el Collins multiple times in this series. He is a Greg Robinson esque mauler that could also make a difference at guard right away, much like 2013 Cowboy’s rookie Zack Martin has done this season.
The last name to keep an eye on in this group is Iowa left tackle Brandon Scherff. Much like Collins, he displays power that would translate quite well at guard. Unlike Collins, he might be best suited their full time. Either way, all three players would instantly upgrade a unit that could certainly use some help.
Talk about a tough question. My current rankings I have Fowler first, Bud second, and Vic third out of these three. Fowler is the only one of the three I see as a top ten prospect. Bud is more of a top 15-20 player, while Beasley is in the 15-25 range.
My concerns with Beasley are that he may never transition into a 3 down outside linebacker, meaning he could be a liability vs. the run in the NFL. Even with that concern, his pass rush ability is to hard to pass up.
As for two other players I’d like to throw in the mix here, I think Randy Gregory is also a top ten prospect. The last one is Shane Ray who is getting a lot of praise in the scouting community, but I currently see him as a fringe first rounder at best.
My concern with Ray is that he wins too often with speed around the tackle, which often does not translate to success as a rusher in the NFL. If he can develop an array of moves that help him win inside, he enters the same tier as the other 4 players I previously mentioned.
Hidden Gem of the Week: Durell Eskridge, FS, Syracuse
Eskridge is a tall (between 6’3 and 6’4), lanky (205 pounds) true free safety that fits what the Jets need on the back end. Watching his film reminded me of former Alabama free safety HaHa Clinton-Dix, in both good and bad ways.
Eskridge often plays a true ‘center field’ role at Syracuse. He roams sideline to sideline, helping whatever cornerback is beat over the top on intermediate-deep routes. His straight line, long stride speed especially aids him on vertical routes.
Eskridge gets eaten up when he is needed to help in run support or on screen passes at the line of scrimmage. Blockers latch on to his tall, lanky frame gaining easy leverage.
On film Eskridge knows how to wrap up low quite well, he just needs to learn how to disengage blocks at the 2nd level and in the flats to do this more often. A lot of this is based on learning how to take the right angle to the ball carrier. He’ll need to prove he is not a liability as a tackler on the back end to transition into being a full time starter.
Right now I see Eskridge as an early 4th round pick who has a valuable skill set that ( and in high demand) as a single high safety who can roam in coverage.
Follow Connor Rogers: @CRogers_NFL