Our final 12 Pack before the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. We will have one last round of likely incorrect mock drafts and predictions leading into Thursday night. Hopefully, we will see some of you out at Five Mile Stone in NYC for our live podcast/draft party. On to 12 observations, thoughts and predictions about the Jets draft plans…
1. The Wild Cards – The primary four decision makers in the Jets war room will be Mike Maccagnan, Rex Hogan, Brian Heimerdinger and Todd Bowles. All four are in their new position for the first time of their career, making it nearly impossible to project what this team will do in the NFL Draft. By all accounts, this group has been on complete lock down in Florham Park so I’d be wary of any “leaks” around the team’s plans. The logical assumption has been they will stay put at 6, probably add an edge rusher or look to trade back. Those are safe bets but for all we know they have Marcus Mariota ranked as the top player on their board and will be aggressively looking to move up to make sure they get him.
2. The Mariota X-Factor – It feels like the absolute lowest he could go is number three. If the Titans decide to pass on him and do not trade with San Diego, a team like Cleveland could look to swap with Jacksonville to move up using their two first round picks as ammunition. According to the draft value chart, the Jets would need to trade their second round pick (37th overall) and their fourth round pick (101st overall) to move up from 6 to 3 in that scenario. Do you make that move? Personally, I think the price is too steep. Yet, on the other hand if Mariota was on the board at 6, I have a tough time seeing the Jets passing him up. The decision on Mariota is going to be the first major domino that falls in the NFL Draft because it is hard to project how serious Tennessee is about their dedication to Zach Mettenberger. The rumors of potential interest in Mariota from San Diego, Cleveland, St. Louis, Philadelphia and the Jets won’t dissipate until we finally hit Thursday night.
3. No, Todd on Todd – Todd McShay sparked a little debate yesterday by mocking running back Todd Gurley to the Jets with the 6th overall pick. To be blunt, I find it asinine to take a running back that high, even if it was a transcendent prospect (which Gurley is not, particularly coming off an ACL injury). Running backs are a dime a dozen. How many UDFAs and mid-round picks like Justin Forsett, Arian Foster, DeMarco Murray and Alfred Morris do we have to watch before recognizing that? This is a loaded class of running backs, you can find production approximate to what Gurley will bring in the middle rounds. Last season, of the top 20 rushers in the NFL only three were first round picks and only two of those three even went over 1,000 yards. The only one who did was not on the original team that drafted him. Find your running back with a middle round pick or on the free agent scrap heap, their production is immensely dependent on the offensive line anyway.
4. Accumulate – I’m not sure if they will be able to engineer a trade back at #6 but it would be surprising if the Jets didn’t trade back at some point and leave with more than six players. Mike Maccagnan is a life long scout. I find it hard to believe he won’t be interested in accumulating more picks to help fill out the roster with “his” home grown talent. This new regime has already demonstrated that the previous two draft classes are going to have to compete like crazy for playing time and roster spots by the sheer volume of depth signings that have been made. I’d bet the Jets strongly consider finding a way to move back in round 3 or round 4 for additional picks this year.
5. Positional Expectancy – If I had to guess, these are the order of positions I would consider it most likely for the Jets address at some point in the NFL Draft: 1) Edge 2) Running Back 3) Offensive Line 4) Wide Receiver 5) Quarterback
If the Jets don’t end up with Mariota in the first round, the only other quarterback I could see them considering is Garrett Grayson in the 4th round.
6. The Offensive Big Board
- Jameis Winston
- Amari Cooper
- Kevin White
- Marcus Mariota
- Brandon Scherff
- DeVante Parker
- La’el Collins
- Todd Gurley
- Melvin Gordon
- Andrus Peat
7. The Defensive Big Board
- Dante Fowler
- Vic Beasley
- Leonard Williams
- Bud Dupree
- Marcus Peters
- Danny Shelton
- Randy Gregory
- Eric Kendricks
- Shaq Thompson
- Shane Ray
8. Size – Lance Zierlein recently commented that Todd Bowles will stay true to his Bill Parcells coaching tree and not draft a “light” linebacker early in the first round. Could this mean Bud Dupree would be taken by the Jets before Beasley, if it came to that? Dupree is very much in play for the Jets at 6, particularly due to his versatility. It shouldn’t be considered a “shock” if he is taken there.
9. The Safe Bet – I’m not crazy about taking a wide receiver in the top ten, for similar reasons outlined above about taking a running back. You can find the production in later rounds. It is a luxury position in the NFL, meaning you can win consistently without elite talent at the position. Beyond that, the Jets have a good amount of talent already accumulated at receiver. However, Amari Cooper is probably the safest pick in this draft so it would be hard to be too frustrated if the Jets did take him. Mike Maccagnan has been in a draft room that has taken two first round receivers (Andre Johnson and more recently/relevantly DeAndre Hopkins) so Cooper just may be the most likely offensive player the Jets consider at 6, if they don’t covet Mariota.
10. Ascending Receivers – It wouldn’t shock me to see the Titans consider Kevin White with the 2nd overall pick or for the Miami Dolphins to look at trading up into the top ten for either White (if he starts to fall) or DeVante Parker.
11. Crazed Macc – The most encouraging thing I heard in a recent trip to Florham Park was that GM Mike Maccagnan has been “maniacal” with his draft preparation and that unless you are involved with football decision making, you cannot get near him.
12. The Picks – We will have a final wave of mock drafts next week but if you asked me today who were the three players the Jets were most likely to leave the first round with, I’d say Dupree, Mariota and Cooper. I’d also watch for a running back in round 2 or 3.