Welcome to the first installment of “Round Two Tuesday” For the next nine weeks, I’ll be breaking down two potential prospects the New York Jets could target with picks #37 and #49 in the upcoming NFL Draft…
Game changing players like Brett Favre, Larry Allen, Drew Brees and Michael Strahan were all products of the second round, and while it may not garner the same fanfare as its opening night counterpart, round two is where winning franchises are born.
Dynasties are solidified in the second round, and as most Jets fans know, the team has dominated the art of finding the round two busts. Aside from the recently retired David Harris, and the potential from second-year safety Marcus Maye, the Jets have curated an embarrassing collection of second round flops, it’s almost impressive.
But I’m an eternal Jets optimist, I’m not here for all that doom and gloom, the curse is over baby! I’m throwing on my Maye jersey and peddling hope to anyone willing to buy it.
But wait.. back to doom and gloom: Did you know this will be the fourth time since 2000 that the Jets have had pick #49? The result: LaMont Jordan, Kellen Clemens and Jace Amaro. Not ideal.
Okay, now I’m done, back to the optimism!
This week we’re heading into the trenches to take a look at two prospects poised to add some major bite to whichever team they land with.
James Daniels – Center – Iowa
Sheesh! Aside from Mo Wilkerson, was there a more disappointing player in 2017 than Wesley Johnson? This writer had sky-high expectations for Johnson after he filled in admirably for Nick Mangold in 2016, but the five-year pro out of Vanderbilt withered in the starting role.
An upgrade at the anchor spot should be top of mind for Mike Maccagnan this offseason, and while there are appealing options on the free agent market, grabbing Daniels in the second could be be the best move.
While outshined on the national stage by fellow Big Ten pivot-man Billy Price of Ohio State, Daniels is my favorite center in the class, and a perfect fit into Rick Dennison’s zone blocking scheme.
Daniels thrives on the second level, using his plus athleticism to quickly shift off his first assignment and move upfield. This allows him to clean up on inside linebackers breaking towards the ball carrier.
Daniels is a bit smaller than the prototypical center at just under 300 pounds. Most coaches will likely look to add some weight to his 6’4″ frame, but he’s thick and has strong enough hands to get by without it. As you can see below, Daniels is already a road-grader, so any extra weight that hinders his elite athleticism isn’t worth the additional strength.
Daniels offers immediate, high quality starting value in the run game and very reliable pass protection. At only 20 years old, Daniels has all the tools to develop into a pro-bowl talent for the next 15 years.
Taven Bryan – Defensive Lineman – Florida
It’s nearly unbelievable to think in a matter of weeks, the Jets will lose their third star defensive lineman in as many years. The once-dominant defensive line of 2015 is all but history now, and so a rebuild is imminent. Priority One: find a player who can compliment the best player on the roster, Leonard Williams.
A player like Taven Bryan
Wildly athletic with a motor that truly never stops. Bryan is raw, no doubt, but he has no glaring weak spots in his game, he generates pressure, sets the edge well, there’s some elite potential there. To be honest, I wanted to feature him this week while I still could; it’s very likely that after a big weekend in Indianapolis, he’ll earn himself first round consideration.
One thing I’ve learned about Maccagnan & Bowles is that they highly value a player’s versatility. While most of his collegiate career was spent as a 43 DT, Bryan has shown the ability to produce from anywhere on the line. Most scouts peg him as a five-tech, 34 end, which is where I see him in Bowles’ scheme, where he’s likely to kick inside on passing downs. At 6’4″ 291 lbs, he’s about ten pounds lighter than Williams, but still a great size match to what Bowles looks for in his ends.
The 22 year old Gator will need to be coached up in the beginning, his technique needs to be refined and he could stand to add a couple more moves into his pass rush repertoire.
Bryan may not be an instant contributor in year one, you pick him for his ceiling. People don’t just throw around J.J. Watt comparisons lightly, and for a kid who’s only been in the sport a few years to get them, the sky’s the limit.
Photo Credit: NFL.com