New York Jets Potential Draft Targets: Defensive Tackle

The TOJ Draft staff looks at what interior defensive lineman the New York Jets should consider in the upcoming NFL Draft

In continuation with our positional breakdowns of potential NFL Draft prospects for the New York Jets, we turn our attention to a position that, although very promising, will almost surely need some added depth this offseason. Today, our draft team provides a breakdown of the top five potential interior defensive linemen that could be selected by the Jets in April’s draft. These initial rankings are certainly subject to change as we progress through the entire pre-draft process, but as it stands now, these players are who we feel would be the best options for New York’s defense to add up front. Be sure to give our draft team a follow on Twitter, and to check out our previous breakdowns of potential quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and offensive linemen

Chris Gross

The interior defensive line situation for the Jets is quite interesting heading into the offseason. New York surely has young staples up front in Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples, as well as Kenrick Ellis, who flashed brilliance at times last season but struggled to stay healthy. Conversely, the Jets face questions regarding key players on the defensive front. Mike DeVito is an impending unrestricted free agent, and his price tag could end up driving him out of New York. While he is certainly not as flashy as the defensive ends aforementioned, DeVito is the blue collared, lunch pale type player that is a necessity to any defensive line. While it will be difficult to replace a player like DeVito, there are certainly a good amount of players of his mold at defensive tackle in this year’s draft class.

On a similar note, the Jets have uncertainty with nose tackle Sione Po’uha. Po’uha had arguably his least productive season as a Jet last year, largely due to a lingering back issue that hampered his ability to get off the ball and maintain leverage throughout the season. A release of Po’uha is seemingly imminent as it would clear some much needed cap space for Gang Green, while paving the way for Ellis to take over as the full time starter.

The situations of DeVito and Po’uha leave the Jets with some subtle needs along the defensive line. While it would be ill advised for New York to select a defensive tackle in the first round, considering the immense amount of need throughout the entire roster, do not be surprised to see one or two picks used on a defensive lineman this year, depending on how free agency plays out. With that being said, let’s take a look at who could be on the Jets radar come April.  Continue reading “New York Jets Potential Draft Targets: Defensive Tackle”

Turn On The Jets 2013 NFL Draft Big Board 2.0

Chris Gross with his second big board of NFL Draft Season. Who is rising and falling?

With the Senior Bowl in the books and the NFL Combine just two weeks away, we are beginning to get a better idea of where each NFL Draft prospect will rank among draft boards leading into April. Although there will likely be a few dramatic changes following Combine and Pro-Day performances, there are still an abundant amount of prospects whose value remains relatively clear at this point. Today, we bring you our first update of the Turn On The Jets 2013 NFL Draft Big Board. As more of the events aforementioned run their course, this board is surely subject to change, but for now let’s look at where each prospect ranks to current date.

stock same1.) Chance Warmack, Guard, Alabama – 6″3″ 320 lbs: No change at the top for now, as Warmack is still the best player at his position in the entire country. He was the best offensive lineman on a team that ran for an average of 224 yards per game out of a pro-style offense in the SEC. Warmack has excellent strength at the point of attack, and combined with his fantastic footwork and ability to get to the second level. Warmack will be NFL ready from day one and should start right from the get go for whichever team selects him this April. It is a bit unclear where he may go, considering the value of the Guard position, but make no mistake, Warmack is one of the most talented players in the draft pool this year. Previously: 1

stock up2.) Jarvis Jones, Outside Linebacker, Georgia – 6’3″ 241 lbs: Jones is probably the most balanced linebacker in this year’s class. While he has the ability to be an effective 4-3 OLB, his combination of strength, explosiveness, and pass rushing technique make him an ideal fit as a 3-4 DE/OLB. Jones has the size and long frame to become a nuisance to offensive tackles in the NFL, and combined with his speed, agility, and relentless motor, he will be ready to come in and start for whichever team he ends up with from day 1. He has been declared by some to not have the ideal bend around the corner in his pass rush, but his film shows these notions to be untrue. Outside of Texas A & M’s Damontre Moore, Jones is the most dynamic pass rusher in a class that is full of them, but also displays a superior ability in coverage. Against the run, he struggled at times when facing the double team at Georgia, but in a 3-4 scheme with quality lineman in front of him, this should not be a concern, as he will likely see more isolation blocks against the tight end, and with his ability to set the edge, he should excel against the run, as well. Previously: 3

stock up3.) Luke Joeckel, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M – 6’6″ 310 lbs: Joeckel leads a very strong class of offensive tackles this year. A stalwart to the Aggies offense that yielded 2012′s Heisman Trophy winner, Joeckel fits the Matt Kalil, Jake Long, and Joe Thomas profiles as one of the NFL’s next great offensive tackles. While his size and strength are a key factor to what make him so great, it is his tremendous footwork that will allow him to be a day 1 starter when he enters camp. Joeckel will be NFL ready from day 1, like Warmack, but will face some competition for the top tackle spot after a strong Senior Bowl performance from Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher. Previously 4

stock up4.) Damontre Moore, Defensive End, Texas A&M – 6’4″ 248 lbs: Moore has the rare versatility to play standing up or with his hand on the ground, making him a perfect fit for any 3-4 defense in need of a pass rusher. However, he certainly has the frame and technique to be a stellar 4-3 end, where he may have more success at the next level, depending on how much weight he will be able to add. Either way, Moore is an extremely versatile prospect with a natural ability to rush the passer, something that is of high priority in today’s NFL. He accumulated 12.5 sacks this season largely due to his arsenal of pass rush moves and great ability to dip his hips and shoulders to get by opposing offensive lineman. Previously: 5

Continue reading “Turn On The Jets 2013 NFL Draft Big Board 2.0”

New York Jets Potential Draft Targets: Offensive Line

The TOJ Draft Staff looks at what offensive lineman the New York Jets can target in the NFL Draft

In continuation with our positional breakdowns of potential NFL Draft prospects for the New York Jets, we turn our attention to a position that will certainly be needed to added to via the draft. Today, our draft team provides a breakdown of the top five potential offensive linemen that could be selected by the Jets in April’s draft. These initial rankings are certainly subject to change as we progress through the entire pre-draft process, but as it stands now, these players are who we feel would be the best options for New York to add up front. Be sure to give our draft team a follow on Twitter, and to check out our previous breakdowns of potential quarterback targets  and potential running back targets, for the Jets. 

Chris Gross

Chance Warmack, Guard, Alabama – 6’2″ 325 lbs – Warmack is arguably the best player at his position in the entire draft class. With New York likely losing at least one of last year’s starting guards to free agency, this position is among their greatest needs. Warmack would be an incredibly safe pick at 9th overall, but could possibly be attained if the Jets decide to trade down a few spots, considering the guard position isn’t normally valued as a top 10 pick. However, Warmack could be an exception to that notion considering his immense strength, footwork, hand placement, and ability to both drive defenders off of the ball and get to linebackers at the second level. Warmack is the total package. He is big, strong, quick, and incredibly tenacious. Selecting him in the first round would give New York stability at guard for the next decade.

UNC FOOTBALL V GEORGIA TECHJonathan Cooper, Guard, North Carolina – 6’3″ 320 lbs – Cooper, although not quite the player Warmack is just yet, is undoubtedly the second best guard in the draft this year. Although Cooper does not possess the overall strength that Warmack does, he is incredibly quick for the position, slides his feet very well in pass protection, and uses his hands like a polished NFL veteran. Cooper will likely be a late 1st, early 2nd round pick, and if the Jets decide to pass on Warmack in the 1st, look for Cooper to be the guy with the 39th overall selection. His agility and strength in zone blocking will make him an ideal fit in Marty Mornhinweg’s system.

Barrett Jones, Guard/Tackle/Center, Alabama – 6’5″ 302 lbs – Jones is the only player in the history of the NCAA to win a National Championship while starting at each position on the offensive line. His versatility up front is unparalleled, which would give a team like the Jets some much needed flexibility in terms of depth on the offensive line. He is extremely intelligent, but has all the physical tools, as well with great strength, leverage, footwork, and overall quickness. His leadership is above and beyond any other lineman in the draft, and his toughness is unheard of, as was displayed by his admission to having played in the National Championship game while suffering from a Lisfranc injury. Jones could end up being a 3rd-4th rounder, with a chance of going in the late second. If the Jets decide to focus on positions outside of the offensive line with their first two picks, Jones is a player that must be on the radar in round 3.

Brian SchwenkeBrian Schwenke, Guard/Center, California – 6’3″ 311 lbs – Although not quite as versatile as Jones, Schwenke proved to be effective at both guard and center last week at the Senior Bowl. His quickness is among the best at the position this year, and although he isn’t necessarily the most physically strong player, he makes up for it with his excellent technique and tremendous use of leverage. He shows very good feet in pass protection, and a very good ability to chip off of double teams onto linebackers at the second level. Like Jones, his versatility will be a plus moving forward. Schwenke is likely more of a 4-6 round player.

WarfordLarry Warford, Guard, Kentucky – 6’3″ 325 lbs – One of the heavier guards of the class, Warford certainly is not the typical immobile big man. As put on display in the Senior Bowl, Warford is deceptively quick, with a much better ability to get to the second level than the eye would tell upon initial impression. He has shown to be effective as a puller, as well, as he has an uncanny ability to maintain his feet and balance when blocking defenders in space. The combine will be big for Warford in terms of where he ends up being selected, but as of now he would hold solid value in rounds 3-4.

Zev Sibony

The Jets have an issue on the interior of their Offensive Line. No starting caliber Guards are on the roster. Slauson and Moore and Unrestricted Free Agents, and Vlad Ducasse isn’t starting caliber. Austin Howard was better than some people thought. His run blocking is really good. His pass protection is about average and there is room for improvement. Another thing is that he became a victim of Mark Sanchez holding onto the ball too long. With the switch to the West Coast offense, it should simplify things for Sanchez, thus making the O-Line not have to block for a full 8 seconds. You can’t expect linemen to block for that long without holding or giving up a sack. Just like you can’t expect much from a CB when plays break down and the WR improvises to meet the QB.

Based on need, the Jets need to leave this draft with 2 Guards, a Tackle and a Center for depth. Let’s look at the top 5 Offensive linemen the Jets should look at and where they should draft them:

Chance Warmack- Guard- Alabama- 6’3” 320 lbs- Quite simply, Warmack is the best. He is the best Guard in the draft and the Jets would be wise to use the 9th overall pick on him. Putting him between Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson would be incredible. The left side of the offensive line would be excellent and the running backs would have absolutely gaping holes to run through. Warmack will be a Pro Bowler sooner rather than later in his career. Not to mention, having a really, really good Offensive Line is at the foundation of every team that is a contender. 1st round. 9th pick.

Johnathan Cooper- Guard/Center- University of North Carolina- 6’3” 310 lbs- Cooper is the second best guard in the draft. He gets set quickly, has active feet and great hands. He is a really good run blocker and an even better pass blocker. He will be a starter in the league next year barring anything unforeseen. Since he is the second best guard in the draft, he will be taken in the 1st round, it is just a matter of when. If the Jets manage to trade down or get another 1st round pick, they can take Cooper in the middle to end of the 1st round and that would be a good get. You can still smack him between Feguson and Mangold and have an incredibly dominant left side. The drop off between Cooper and Warmack isn’t big enough where getting Cooper is “settling.”

Larry Warford- Kentucky- Guard- 6’3” 336- Warford was really good the whole week of the Senior Bowl and in the game itself. He was moving linemen all over the field, showing glimpses of Brandon Moore in his prime. Above average at run and pass protection and best suited as a Right Guard. He has a good lower body to drive defenders off the ball and can get out quickly when pulling. For his size, he has good straight-line speed, as well. Some cons are that he falls off blocks because of lunging occasionally, but that is a tendency that can be broken. He also dips his head in open space at times. He has a lot of experience with 25 starts and 35 appearances. After the Senior Bowl, his stock shot up a bit. He can likely be had in the late 1st round to the middle of the 2nd round. Once again, taking him with the Jets current 2nd round pick would only happen if they addressed a different need in the 1st round.

Barrett Jones- Alabama- Guard/Center/Tackle- 6’5” 311- Barrett Jones was probably the most experienced and versatile person on the best O-Line in the country at Alabama. I say more versatile because he has played at every spot on the line. On the three championship teams in ’09, ’11, ’12 he played Right Guard, Left Tackle, and Center, respectively. He is the ultimate depth-machine and would hold great value with the Jets. I saw a lot of grit and toughness from him while I watched him this last year. He played really well, and apparently, he was playing with a Lisfranc injury that he just recently got surgery on. Drafting Jones is a tough question to answer because we haven’t seen him since the Championship game because of his foot surgery. I think at latest he will get drafted by the second round.

Joe Madsen- West Virginia- Center- 6’4” 310 lbs- Throughout the week at the Senior Bowl, Madsen looked real good. He was moving D-Linemen all over the place and looked technically sound. For the Jets, he could be drafted to acquire depth. Madsen can sit behind one of the best Centers in the league and learn. Not only that, he can also learn other positions so he can be more helpful to the Jets as a team. I can see him getting drafted in the 4th or 5th round. He still has some work to do to be a starting caliber lineman in the NFL, but I can assure you he is already better than Vlad Ducasse.

Frank Giasone

Free agency is forcing the Jets to make a decision on the interior of the offensive line heading into the offseason. Brandon Moore isn’t getting any younger, and Matt Slauson was so bad in run blocking situations that Vlad Duccasse was actually seen as an improvement. With those questions looming, finding at least one guard in April’s NFL Draft has got to be a focus for the Jets.

While there’s the perceived notion that the Jets offensive line stinks, the truth is that it’s easily the most noticeable strength of a pathetic Jets offense. Austin Howard improved at right tackle throughout the season, and D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold both continued playing at a high level. The real issues on the line include a lack of depth, Slauson’s limitations as a blocker, and Moore’s age and contract concerns.

Personally, I can’t justify using the ninth overall pick on a guard—but anything goes on day two and beyond. Here’s a few offensive lineman that should be on the Jets radar moving forward:

PughJustin Pugh, Guard, Syracuse – 6’5″ 301 lbs: Pugh spent three years playing the left tackle position for Syracuse, but after a very impressive showing at guard during the Senior Bowl, he’s now ranked among the top interior lineman in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Coming into the Senior Bowl the biggest knocks on Pugh were tied to his physical drawbacks and his struggles protecting the edge against some of the more ferocious pass rushers. But with the move inside, those deficiencies become less significant, allowing his more impressive attributes to boost him up draft boards.

As a guard, Pugh’s speed and movement help him reach the second level in a hurry, and while he still needs to add some size and refine the use of his hands, he is certainly an intriguing option to replace Matt Slauson at left guard.

Barrett Jones, Guard, Alabama- 6’5″ 302 lbs: –  As Jets fans have seen in recent years, when Nick Mangold goes down, things get ugly…and fast. Although Jones would be best suited as a guard in New York, his résumé at Alabama illustrates extreme versatility on the offensive line; including two years at guard, one year at tackle, and another at center.

Versatility like that is tough to ignore, and it would certainly be convenient to have a viable option to move around the offensive line if need be.

WintersBrian Winters, Offensive Tackle, Kent St– 6’4″ 310 lbs:  Winters is another college tackle that appears better suited to play guard at the next level, mostly due to his wide base and good body control.

A blocker that on relies more on brute strength and toughness than anything else, Winters is quick off the snap and does a good job of using his hands to engage the defender. Although Winters likely has the size to play right tackle in the NFL –and while he lacks experience playing on the interior- developing as a guard may be his best bet moving forward. Projected to go sometime in the third or fourth round, Winters could be an interesting project for the Jets.

Jonathan Cooper, Offensive Guard, North Carolina – 6’3″ 320 lbs: He’s the highest-rated lineman on my list, but in no way do I condone this selection with the ninth pick in the draft. Realistically, there’s no way Cooper falls into the second round, but he could be an option for the Jets if a “trade down scenario” plays out in April.

Cooper is so highly touted mostly due to his impressive speed, lateral movement, and footwork, along with his enormous frame. Cooper’s explosiveness and balance also are very apparent when watching tape, as he’s able to get to the second level with ease. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him climb into the top 20.

New York Jets Potential Draft Targets: Wide Receiver

The TOJ Draft staff looks at what wide receivers the New York Jets could target in April’s draft

In continuation with our positional breakdowns of potential NFL Draft prospects for the New York Jets, we turn our attention to a position that, although is not a top need, wouldn’t hurt from the addition of a playmaker. Today, our draft team provides a breakdown of the top five potential wide receivers that could be selected by the Jets in April’s draft. These initial rankings are certainly subject to change as we progress through the entire pre-draft process, but as it stands now, these players are who we feel would be the best options for New York at wide receiver. Be sure to give our draft team a follow on Twitter, and to check out our previous breakdowns of potential quarterback targets  and potential running back targets, for the Jets. 

Chris Gross

keenan-allenKeenan Allen, California, 6’3″ 206 lbs – While it is highly unlikely that Allen will fall to the Jets in the 2nd round, crazier things have happened on draft day. If Allen were to slip down to the 39th overall pick, it would be extremely difficult for New York to pass up on him, despite having taken a wide receiver in the 2nd round of last year’s draft. While Stephen Hill hasn’t even scratched the surface of his potential yet, the new front office in New York is in no way married to him as a piece of the puzzle moving forward. While there is no reason to give up hope on Hill yet, Allen is a tremendous talent that would hold excellent value as an early 2nd rounder.

Allen is a big body at 6’3″ and possesses above average top end speed, with very good ball skills and athletic ability. He has some of the strongest hands out of any player at his position in this year’s class and does a very good job of getting to the ball at its highest point.

Most importantly, however, is Allen’s character. He has been highly praised by coaches and teammates alike for his work ethic and overall coach-ability. He puts in an extensive amount of time studying film, as well as in the weight room. Everyone that has been close to him during his career at California seemingly cannot say enough about his drive and desire to better himself everyday. On an offense that is in dire need of attitude like Allen’s, combined with what can become elite playmaking ability, he would be an excellent selection at the 39th overall pick, despite the improbability that he falls that far. Still, a name to keep an eye on.

Robert Woods2Robert Woods, USC, 6’1″ 190 lbs – Woods has flown a bit under the radar as of late, but his immense production as a Trojan should not be forgotten. Woods has adequate size, but the top end speed that can certainly stretch a defense and give his offense a real home run threat. Woods has sure hands and demonstrates a very quick initial burst off the line of scrimmage. He isn’t the most polished route runner, but he shows an ability to adjust his routes based on coverage and has knack for finding the holes in a zone, something that could allow him to thrive in an offense like Marty Mornhinweg’s. He is an extremely competitive player who will always fight for extra yards after the catch and, like Allen, puts in numerous hours in film study and in his physical training. Depending on how he performs at the combine, Woods could end up being a 2-3 round pick.

Tavon Austin, West Virginia, 5’8″ 173 lbs – While Austin certainly does not have the size of the previous two players, his speed and quickness are nearly unparalleled. He needs some fine tuning in his overall route running and ability to get off of press coverage, but Austin has the tools to be a weapon in a scheme like Mornhinweg’s. Picture him in a role similar to what DeSean Jackson had in Philadelphia under Mornhinweg, but a bit more versatile, as he has experience running the ball as well.

Markus Wheaton, Oregon State, 5’11” 182 lbs – Wheaton, like Austin, doesn’t have tremendous size, but is another receiver with big play ability. He does a good job of finding holes in zone coverage, and his excellent footwork and agility allow him to come in and out of his breaks with great fluidity, making curls, hitches, and comeback routes seemingly painless for him. Wheaton is also a very tough player, reportedly having played through some significant bumps and bruises at Oregon State. A fairly strong week of practice leading up to the Senior Bowl will likely help his stock.

Terrance Williams, Baylor, 6’2″ 201 lbs – The size and talent are certainly there for Williams, who can create excellent separation while maintaining an ability to properly adjust his routes when needed. The biggest question marks with Williams are his character. He has been cited for immaturity, and although has the ability to run good routes, can tend to get lazy at times. This will likely cause him to fall into the mid-late rounds, but if New York feels that his talent is good enough to take a chance on getting his mind and work ethic right, he could be worth a flyer in rounds 4-6.

Zev Sibony 

The Jets can likely go into camp next year with a healthy and hopefully motivated Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Jeremy Kerley and have a group that can be sufficient, while continuing to develop 2012 2nd round pick Stephen Hill. Behind the receivers aforementioned, Hill can play without pressure to perform and get better naturally instead of being forced into a role beyond his capacity. Other than these 4 receivers, the Jets should build WR depth with 1 or 2 late picks in the draft.

Name School Height Weight Projected 40 Projected rd.
DeAndre Hopkins Clemson 6-1 200 4.40 Late 1st – Early 2nd
Kenny Stills Oklahoma 6-1 189 4.53 4th – 5th
Quinton Patton Louisiana Tech 6-2 195 4.58 4th – 5th
Tavarres King Georgia 6-1 191 4.49 5th – 6th

HopkinsIf DeAndre Hopkins (82 rec, 1405 yds, 18 TDs) is available in the 2nd round, the Jets should snag him and not look back. Hopkins and Sammy Watkins were supposed to lead Clemson’s receiving corps, but Hopkins ended up outshining Watkins for the majority of the season. As far as receiving goes, he runs great routes, has great hands, and is a burner. He has the ability to beat a defense with precise routes or the deep ball. With the Jets going to a West Coast offense, this will be slam dunk if they can snag him. Watching film on Hopkins, he flashes some talent that resembles that of Julio Jones. Watkins will be tough to get, but if he falls to the Jets, there is a good chance New York looks long and hard at him.

StillsKenny Stills (82 rec, 959 yds, 11 TDs) was always a very consistent receiver for Oklahoma and quarterback Landry Jones. He is a decent blocker and needs to work on attacking the ball in mid air. Stills has great hands and can develop into a good NFL receiver. He can get separation from defenders and has deceptive speed. He had a small issue with a DUI but it was an isolated incident so I don’t believe it should be considered a major issue. He has average size but can make a play after the catch and is superbly athletic and flexible, which is important for WRs.

Quinton Patton (104 rec, 1392 yds, 13 TDs) was electric in his senior year at Louisiana Tech. He went against Mississippi State corner Johnthan Banks (possible 1st round pick) and after the game; Banks said he was the best WR he played against. Against Texas A&M, a team out of the SEC, he had 21 catches for 233 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is a strong receiver who can get separation and is also good enough attacking coverage to separate and create with the ball in his hands. He is very good at tracking the ball in the air, has quick feet and good coordination. He won’t test extremely well at the combine and coming from a smaller school may hurt his stock, but he can take the next step and play at an NFL level. There is a chance he is taken within the first 4 rounds, but if he slips, he could hold great value in rounds 5-7.

Tavarres King (42 rec, 950 yds, 8 TDs) has consistently jumped off of his college film at Georgia. While his stats aren’t over the top, he has the skill set to be an NFL caliber receiver. From going up to pluck the ball out of the air to getting separation, he can seemingly do it all, he just needs to be more consistent. This would be a developmental pick, but would give the Jets decent depth at the position in 2013. He can beat defenders over the top with straight-line speed and shows good stop, start, go type elusiveness to make defenders miss. He is above average at getting off press coverage, which makes sense because he played in the physical SEC. He would be a good get in the 5th or 6th round to help out the current Jets receiving corp.

Frank Giasone

The Jets wide receiver group has a number of questions that need to be answered as they prepare for the 2013 season, highlighted by a new-look offense and the continued absence of a legitimate No. 1 receiver.

The biggest challenge the group of wide receivers face coming into the season will be transitioning into Marty Mornhigweg’s “West Coast Offense”, which hinges on precise route running, sure handedness, and the ability to gain yards after the catch. Santonio Holmes, who essentially assumed No. 1 receiver duties by default, should thrive in the system—assuming he’s able to return fully from Lisfranc surgery, and stay motivated. The Jets will likely need to make it work with Holmes considering questions surrounding his rehab and his bloated salary will certainly limit trade options.

With Holmes injured, Jeremy Kerley emerged at the position to lead the Jets with 56 receptions and 827 yards in 2012. Kerley will likely continue building on his success in the pass-happy WCO, able to line up both at the flanker and slot position. But fans will have to wait to see what recently hired GM John Idzik decides to do regarding Braylon Edwards, although it makes sense to bring him back on a one-year deal, especially considering Stephen Hill’s infinite number of issues as a rookie.

With little wiggle room in the salary cap, the most likely scenario for the Jets is to select a receiver in April.

NCAA FOOTBALL 2012: SEP 22 Louisiana Tech at IllinoisQuinton Patton, Louisiana Tech, 6’0”, 202 lbs: Currently slotted to go somewhere in rounds two or three, Patton could find his way into the Draft’s top 40 picks by the time April comes around—especially considering the attention that he’s garnered during the first few days of Senior Bowl practice.

While he may lack the ideal strength and top end speed of an elite NFL receiver, the Louisiana Tech senior is still quick off the line of scrimmage, a very good route runner, and has the ability to consistently gain separation from defenders with his shiftiness and head fakes.

Patton will likely need to add strength in the coming months, as he has shown a tendency to have the ball stripped out of his hands before he can secure the catch.

Conner Vernon, Duke, 6’1”, 200 lbs: Vernon is a very interesting Day 2 option that displays reliable hands, crisp route running, and the versatility to play multiple receiver positions in the NFL.

The ACC’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards lacks ideal speed to thrive consistently on the outside in the NFL, but makes up for it with his precise route running and shiftiness in traffic, as well as his ability to find space in the defense.

Markus Wheaton, Oregon State, 6’1”, 183 lbs:  Wheaton is another receiver likely to go early in Day 2. The Oregon State all-time leader in receptions boasts tremendous speed and solid route running, but his overall strength and the reliability of his hands are concerns.

Wheaton’s speed is clearly his biggest selling point and will certainly help him gain attention from NFL teams looking to stretch the field. But it’s his route running and ability to break tackles that help him turn short passes into long gains, making him a very interesting option for a team running a WCO.

HarperChris Harper, Kansas State, 6’1”, 228 lbs: Harper is a big-bodied receiver who possesses deceptive speed and is sure to get comparisons to Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin (6’1”, 220lbs) as April approaches.

While he lacks some quickness at the line of scrimmage, as well as the quick twitch some like to see in the NFL, it’s his deceptive buildup speed that allows him sneak behind defensive backs downfield.

Never afraid to go up and fight for the ball, the former Oregon quarterback also uses his size as an advantage, regularly punishing tacklers.

Brandon Kaufman, Eastern Washington, 6’4”, 214 lbs: Projected as a Day 3 selection, Kaufman boasts consistent and precise route running as well as reliable hands. While he lacks elite speed, he is deceptively fast considering his build, and has no problems lowering his shoulder into an oncoming defender.

His consistency on the field is what has most scouts impressed, despite playing against a lower level of competition at Eastern Washington. If still on the board in Round 6, he’s certainly an interesting option.

 

NFL Draft 2013: Senior Bowl Standouts

Chris Gross breaks down the Senior Bowl as he further previews the 2013 NFL Draft

With one of the most important events in the pre-draft process officially in the books, future NFL hopefuls will now return to their respective regions of training with intentions to get themselves in the best physical shape possible for the upcoming NFL Combine. While prospects are sure to see their stocks rise and fall in the coming weeks, mostly for a variety of factors that will be taken into account in the months leading to April, the 2013 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama told us a lot about the names to keep an eye on in the coming weeks. Some players solidified notions that were already established, while others went above and beyond the expectations many had for them entering last week’s practices, and ultimately through the game on Saturday. Others, unfortunately, may have hurt their stock by either not participating or by disappearing on the stage.

Let’s take a look at some names that were undoubtedly the top performers from Saturday’s Senior Bowl, followed by a brief overview of some other names we are likely to discuss in the coming weeks.

Stock Up

Ezekiel Ansah – DE, BYU – There has been a good amount of buzz surrounding Ansah in recent weeks. A very intriguing prospect due to his superior athleticism and physical prowess, Ansah certainly has his question marks as an inexperienced player, having played the sport for the first time just two years ago. However, there is no denying that Ansah was the best player on the field on Saturday.

While he showed some signs of struggle during the week of practice, Ansah put a lot of questions to bed by showing that he may not be as raw as the popular perception seems to be. The presumption that Ansah is a physically gifted, but extremely raw player, has stemmed primarily from his lack of experience. While he is by no means fundamentally and technically perfect, Ansah showed much more football skill, beyond his superior athleticism, than people have given him credit for.

Aside from using his speed and brute strength to win his battles against opposing offensive lineman, Ansah displayed a consistent ability to maintain leverage against his blocker, while showing excellent reaction time and an ability to shed blocks. During the week of practice, it seemed as though Ansah was trying to get by solely on physicality, as he was repeatedly beaten on technique and fundamentals. However, during the game, Ansah showed that, not only is he as physically gifted as many have thought, but he is a much closer to becoming a complete football player than what is perceived.

Ansah repeatedly reacted to blocks as if he had been playing the game to a time-span closer to a decade, rather than two years. When the opposing tackle would block down, Ansah would play it perfectly by striking the outside shoulder and reacting to what was coming next. If it was a pulling offensive lineman coming down hill to kick him out, Ansah did not waste a second to spill the play by attacking the inside shoulder of the blocker. If it was boot or sprint out to his side, Ansah would settle in after striking the offensive lineman, remain patient, rather than getting lured upfield, and pounce on the passer.

Ansah should a tremendous ability to set the edge against outside runs and fantastic strength and leverage against inside runs, often times driving the opposing offensive lineman into the backfield, while rarely giving up any ground. In short, he is much more NFL ready than we thought a week ago.

Being such a physical freak will now only benefit Ansah in the coming weeks. He will likely have a tremendous combine, and after he posts what is expected to be head turning numbers for his position, scouts will take a closer look at the tape and realize he is very close to being the total package. A top ten selection is certainly not out of the realm of possibilities for Ansah.

Eric Fisher – OT, Central Michigan – We knew a lot about Fisher’s ability going into last week, but he did even more to surpass the high expectations. All week in practice, Fisher displayed excellent technique in his footwork, hand placement, and ability to play low and get underneath defenders. He is extremely quick, has excellent balance, possesses a tremendous combination of both upper and lower body strength, and has the tenacity necessary for the position. He showed he can effectively pull with above average speed and ability to locate and block defenders in space. Fisher is undoubtedly going to challenge Texas A & M’s Luke Joeckel for the top offensive tackle in this year’s class. Barring some drastic unforeseen disaster at the combine, he is a sure top ten selection.

Kawann Short – DT, Purdue – A lot of people will talk about North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams as being the player to rise up draft boards and challenge Star Lotulelei and Sheldon Richardson as the top defensive tackle in this year’s class, but Short joined that conversation with a tremendous effort on Saturday. Short has immense size at 6’3″ 315 lbs which contributes to his fantastic strength, but where he really stood out on Saturday was in his quickness and hand speed. Short showed an excellent ability to constantly keep the opposing offensive lineman’s hands off of him, something that can become insanely frustrating to anyone attempting to block him. He can rush the passer from the interior with his brute strength, and just when the guard or center thinks they have his arsenal of moves figured out, he throws in a quick hand strike and club, using their aggressiveness against them, often leaving them falling face first on the ground while Short is wreaking havoc in the backfield. As it stands now, he is on the fringe of the first and second rounds, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see him sneak into the bottom half of the first. Still, don’t expect him to fall far if he makes it past the super bowl winner at 32.

Brian Schwenke – C/G, California – Schwenke was one of the most pleasant surprises of the afternoon. Not only was his versatility as both a guard and center on display – he took significant reps at each position – but he displayed some of the best footwork out of every interior lineman in the contest. Schwenke has a very good initial first step, very good short yardage quickness, and a fantastic ability to get off of double teams and get to the second level. When matched up against North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams, a projected first round pick, Schwenke held him in check the majority of the time, particularly against the pass. Schwenke did drop his head a couple of times, once that resulted in a quarterback sack, but he played an overall outstanding game. His ability to play both center and guard will only help his stock moving forward.

Larry Warford – G, Kentucky – Warford was certainly one of the biggest bodies at the Senior Bowl all week (6’3″ 343 lbs), but he is deceptively quick for that immense size. He showed the ability to pull a few times, but also displayed excellent footwork in the five yard box in the trenches. He is more of a power player, but his ability to get to the second level should not be discounted one bit.

Vince WilliamsVince Williams – ILB, Florida State – Williams was a late invitee to the game, but certainly took advantage of the opportunity to showcase himself. He was arguably the toughest player on the field for the majority of the time, something obviously crucial to the position he plays, and brought a level of intensity to his defense that seemed to inspire the play of those around him. Williams lacks the elite top end speed of an inside linebacker, but makes up for it with tremendous instincts, quickness, and ability to shed blocks. His drive and tenacity are among what makes him stand out as well. The combine will tell more about where Williams will likely be drafted, but as a mid-round prospect, he could end up being a steal.

Jonathan Cyprien – S, Florida International – In the absence of Texas S Kenny Vaccaro, Cyprien made his case as one of the top safeties in this year’s class. Cyprien showed very good awareness, ball skills, and an ability to get in and out of his breaks at a level need for success at the next level. Coaches raved about his work ethic and football IQ all week, something that will help his stock as scouts do their research on him. While he may not come from a top NCAA program, Cyprien could surprise many at the next level. Like so many others, the combine will be big for him.

Marquise Goodwin – WR, Texas – While Goodwin does not have the size of a primary receiver in the NFL, he made his case as someone who could become a very good slot receiver/utility man in the NFL. Goodwin was constantly finding ways to make plays with the ball in his hands, something that speaks volumes when considering the abysmal quarterbacking that was on display. With many NFL teams looking for players to put in versatile roles, like Green Bay’s Randall Cobb or Minnesota’s Percy Harvin, Goodwin is sure to peak the interest of many as we head into April.

The Rest

OL – While they did not play to the level of the offensive lineman aforementioned, Alabama’s DJ Fluker, Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson, and Kent State’s Brian Winters played very solid games. These guys have the tools and experience that will make them each quality players at the next level.

Players who still have a fair amount of question marks surrounding them moving forward include Justin Pugh of Syracuse, Oday Aboushi of Virginia, and Notre Dame’s Braxston Cave. Pugh is seemingly struggling to find his niche on the line against top level talent, while Aboushi, although tremendously built, seems to lack the overall strength and aggressiveness needed at the position. Cave has continued to struggle when competing against elite level defenders.

Datone-JonesDL – Datone Jones of UCLA made a very strong case to sneak into the top performers. He has a very good combination of short area agility and overall body strength, something that can make him a very effective 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. He is versatile enough to play standing up or with his hand on the ground, and has experience in such a scheme from his career as a Bruin. He will almost certainly begin to shoot up draft boards, presumably a late first or early to mid second rounder.

Jordan Hill of Penn State was another very impressive defensive lineman. Although he does not have great height (6’1″), he makes up for it by using very good leverage, hand speed, footwork, and overall technique. He is a gritty player who seems to play with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, the kind of mindset that can separate good defensive linemen from the average ones.

Other names that did things well include UConn’s Sio Jones, who has a motor that ranks among the best in the draft, Milliciah Goodman of Clemson, and Cornelius Washington from Georgia. LSU’s Lavar Edwards proved to be a very tough player, but lacks the overall quickness and physical strength that would be needed to make up for the amount of flaws in his technique. John Jenkins of Georgia is a massive body that can certainly clog holes and occupy blockers in the NFL, but has a very inconsistent motor. Everett Dawkins of Florida State also did some good things, but nothing significant enough to turn heads.

Possibly the most interesting defensive lineman was North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams. Williams flashed brilliance at times, but completely disappeared at others. He has all the physical tools to be great, but showed a tendency to get locked up with his blockers, rather than shedding and finding the ball. The talent is certainly there, but the consistency needs to be improved.

LBs – Outside of Williams, Zaviar Gooden of Missouri showed some tremendous speed, sideline to sideline ability, and very good range in coverage. He will likely need to go to a 4-3 scheme where his speed can be utilized as a SAM linebacker.

Khaseem Greene from Rutgers certainly was not bad by any means, but its tough to declare that his performance lived up to the production he achieved in college. He is unquestionably talented, but an average performance in this game could be a red flag to teams who may look to him having played the majority of his games against marginal competition.

Kevin Riddick (UNC) and Nico Johnson (Alabama) weren’t bad by any means, but were anything but extraordinary. Riddick made some nice plays, as did Johnson, but both of them struggled to get off of blockers at times, often finding themselves sealed to create run lanes.

RBs – It’s difficult to declare who the best running back in the game on Saturday was. Johnathan Franklin of UCLA was probably the most consistent of the contest, and showed that he can do a little bit of everything. Florida’s Mike Gillislee showed off his great speed and burst, and an overall good performance should have him climbing up some boards.

Stepfan Taylor was also very effective in limited reps. He showed arguably the best patience of all of his counterparts, including solid pass protection, and ability to be useful in the short passing game. Taylor, however, does not seem to have that top end speed to be a game breaker at the next level.

Kenjon Barner of Oregon surely has the speed and elusiveness to be a weapon, but he struggled mightily between the tackles. To his credit, it was a very unfamiliar offense to him. It will be interesting to see how team’s view Barner going forward. Based on the offense he came from at Oregon, and his play from Saturday, he will likely be looked at as a developmental back who can contribute immediately in certain packages. Barner could be very effective if placed in a stable of backs with a bruiser or two ahead of him.

RouseOne name that got some serious attention this week was Robbie Rouse out of Fresno State. While he is rather short for the position (listed at 5’7″), he is put together very well and runs with a low center of gravity. Rouse showed very good vision and patience, as well as a very solid burst through the hole. He has a very good motor and keeps his feet going until the whistle, or when brought to the ground on every play. It will be interesting to see where Rouse ends up.

WR – Somewhat difficult position to gauge based on how mediocre the quarterback play was, but the names that stood out most, other than Goodwin, were Markus Wheaton of Oregon State and Terrance Williams of Baylor.

DB – Overall impressive collective performance, but again, tough to gauge based on the quarterbacking. Overall, Desmond Trufant was the most impressive CB of the game. He put together a very strong week of practice which translated over to Saturday’s game. His has very fluid hips, comes in and out of his breaks well, has very good top end speed (see opening kickoff), and is deceptively physical.

Other defensive backs that did some good things include Duke Williams, Jordan Poyer, Jamar Taylor, Bacarri Rambo, and Robert Alford, who looked very good on Special Teams and in the return game as well. TJ McDonald flashed some quality play and is certainly a name to keep an eye on moving forward. Looks the part of a smaller Taylor Mays, but with much better overall coverage skills.

QB – Not much to say here. All were underwhelming, aside from EJ Manuel who was really the only one to show some type of consistency. Manuel can make plays with his feet as well as his arm, and has excellent size for the position.

Ryan Nassib of Syracuse continued to exhibit an inability to throw on the run, something that may hurt him in the NFL considering his height. North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon made some excellent throws, but more often than not was off target and wildly inconsistent. Like Glennon, Tyler Wilson, Landry Jones, and Zac Dysert were also inconsistent, but none of them made some of the throws that Glennon was able to. If it were any other year, it is highly likely that not one of these players would be selected in the first round, but with such a depleted class, in a quarterback needy league, some of them are sure to be over drafted. The lackluster performances will likely help solidify West Virginia’s Geno Smith as the first quarterback off the board, while USC’s Matt Barkley, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, will begin to sneak back up draft boards as well.

New York Jets: The Revis Debate

Revis

Outside of NFL Draft Prospects and potential free agent additions, the hottest debate topic circulating the New York Jets at the current time is undoubtedly the recent news that the Jets will look into trading Cornerback Darrelle Revis. When discussing a team’s best player, one who is arguably the best defensive player in the entire league, debates are destined to gain intensity. Unfortunately, there will not be much clarity on this situation until the new league year begins in March. However, there are certainly strong arguments that can be made both in favor of and against trading Revis. Here, the Turn On The Jets staff gives their take using three basic points –

1.) Position value vs. Contract Terms/Salary

2.) Possible Trade Compensation 

3.) Are Cornerbacks vital to success in today’s NFL?

Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments thread below or by giving us a shout on Twitter!

Chris Gross

1.) Position value vs. Contract Terms/Salary – It is surely difficult to argue against the value of a dominant cornerback in today’s NFL considering how offenses in the league have evolved over recent years. Darrelle Revis is surely more than just a cornerback, he is a player who consistently takes 1/11th of opposing offenses away on a weekly basis. When preparing for a Revis-led secondary, teams often need to adjust their game plans accordingly, taking away from time that would normally be spent on overall preparation against a team with two cornerbacks who are simply considered to be “good.”

Having said that, New York has two top tier cornerbacks on their roster. While Antonio Cromartie surely isn’t in the class that Revis consistently reminds us is occupied solely by number 24, he is a more than capable player who can be successful with money spent across the board to provide a better supporting cast.

The question here isn’t really whether or not the Jets should trade away their best player because, unfortunately, it runs much deeper than that. Speaking solely from a football standpoint, making Revis a Jet for life is a no brainer, something that 31 other teams would love to do, as well. However, this goes beyond what Revis can provide on the field. While it is easy to subscribe to the notion of “just pay the man,” the Jets would be foolish to commit $16 million per season to a cornerback, even if that cornerback has the potential to be among the greatest to ever play the position.

As noted above, offenses in the NFL are evolving into the most complex passing attacks that the sport has ever seen. The Jets, on the other hand, are well behind in this evolution. There is no denying how putrid New York’s offense was last season. In a nutshell, the Jets have been trying to invent the wheel while the rest of the league is nearing NASA like technology.

Yes, Tony Sparano proved to be a poor hire. The recent acquisition of Marty Mornhinweg as offensive coordinator has given some ray of hope for the Jets to begin to catch up with the remainder of the league in terms of offensive relevancy. Unfortunately, however, the Jets still lack vital components in their offensive personnel that can give them an offense capable of having success in today’s game. Paying that type of money to a cornerback would even further prohibit the Jets from acquiring the necessary players to put a competitive offensive unit on the field. The salary cap space that a long term contract like that would eat up would be crippling to a team that all but needs an entire offensive overhaul, outside of about 3-4 players.

When looking at the position value vs. money spent, consider the fact that only two quarterbacks, a position that is unquestionably the most important in the NFL today, make over $16 million per season, on average. Outside of Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, both of whom have won Super Bowls, Eli Manning (2 Super Bowls), Tom Brady (3 Super Bowls), Ben Roethlisberger (2 Super Bowls), and every other signal caller in the league make less money per year, on average, than what Revis is asking for. Tying up so much money at a position that, although important, could certainly be won with above average players at, would set this franchise back even further than the 6-10 mess that was on display this past season.

2.) Possible Trade Compensation – The notion that Revis’s value will be hindered by his ACL injury last season is a valid concern. However, the reality of the situation is that, with so many holes all over the roster, the Jets simply cannot afford to have two top tier cornerbacks eating up so much cap space.

The idea of trading Antonio Cromartie has been floated for a few reasons. First, it is easy to look at the numbers for next season and realize that Cromartie counts more toward the cap than Revis does. This is true. However, beyond 2013, Revis’s number will grow astronomically if given the salary he is reportedly seeking.

Look at some of the biggest contracts around the league and consider how much those annual salaries counted toward the cap last year. Peyton Manning had a 2012 base salary of $18 million, all of which counted against the cap. Drew Brees had a base salary of just $3 million, but counted for $10.4 million against the cap, a number likely to jump significantly next season. Eli Manning’s base was only $1.75 million, but counted for $9.6 million against the cap, a number that will likely increase as he enters the years of his contract with a larger base salary. Simply put, there is no way around the cap hit of a contract similar to the one Revis is looking to land. Terms can be altered and adjusted so some years are less than others, but the bottom line is that, at some point, that cap number is going to be a problem for whoever ends up paying Revis when they’re looking to spend money on the other 52 roster spots. If you’re a well balanced, strongly built team, this is not as significant of an issue. Unfortunately, the Jets are anything but.

Beyond the cap number, a growing desire to trade Cromartie seems to be out of the idea that, with Revis coming off of an ACL injury, the two players will have equal trade value. This could not be further from the truth. While Cromartie is certainly coming off one of the best, if not the best, years of his career, no team would be willing to part with more than a 2nd round pick for him. An injured Revis will likely garner not only a 1st rounder, but multiple other picks, and possibly players as well. As one General Manager has reportedly claimed, the interest in Revis could be “one of the biggest potential trade markets for a player ever.” Regardless of the season Cromartie had, it was in no way, shape, or form comparable to what a healthy Revis could provide. It is capable to win with a cornerback like Cromartie on a roster where money is spent to improve other positions, but alone, there is simply no way that his market is equivalent to that of Revis.

The amount of compensation that the Jets will get in return for Revis is surely a big factor in this decision, regardless of how anyone looks at it. Unfortunately, however, without a long term solution to keeping Revis, the trade needs to be done. The Jets can absolutely not allow Revis to enter a contract year, return to form, and then walk at the conclusion of the season, leaving them with nothing but a compensatory pick in return.

Revis is surely a once in a generation type player, but in terms of the current situation, that is a double-edged sword. Yes, it would be a tough decision to trade a player of his caliber. But at the same time, for a team looking to completely restructure their roster over the course of the next few years, there is no better trade piece to use outside of an elite quarterback or pass rusher.

Consider history for a moment. Prior to the 2009 season, then New England Patriot Richard Seymour found himself entering a contract year with the team that used the 6th overall pick to select him, only a few years prior. With no long term solution in place, and fear of losing him to free agency following the season with nothing in return, the Patriots traded the 3 time Super Bowl Champion, 5 time Pro Bowler, and 3 time 1st team All-Pro to the Oakland Raiders for a 1st round draft pick. Seymour was a player in his prime who had been a vital piece to the championships that New England had won earlier in the decade. How could the Patriots trade him away?

The answer is simple. New England had a long term vision for the overall well being of the franchise. The situation with Seymour was no part of that plan in anyway. For the Patriots, it was either let him play out his remaining year, let him hit the open market, and sign with another team, for absolutely nothing in return, or resign him to a long extension, and allow the one position to eat up a tremendous amount of salary cap space (Remember, Seymour was made the highest paid defensive player in the league in 2011 when the Raiders gave him a 2 year $30 million extension). To New England, there was really no positive solution to keeping Seymour, regardless of how vital he had been to the team’s past success. Instead, Bill Belichick and the Patriots front office jumped on such a significant offer from Oakland without blinking.

So, how did it work out? Since acquiring Seymour, Oakland has gone 25-39 over four seasons, while sacrificing a significant chunk of cap space and money to him, depriving other spots throughout the roster. Although Seymour was selected to 2 Pro Bowls as a Raider, the team never finished better than third in the AFC West since the trade was made.

The Patriots, on the other hand, used the 1st round pick sent from Oakland to select Nate Solder, a young offensive tackle who has been a key part to an offensive unit that has been among the best the league has seen in recent years. Since shipping Seymour to Oakland, New England has gone 49-15 with 4 divisional crowns and 1 Conference title. At the present time, the Patriots remain a few pieces away from a return to the Super Bowl, while Oakland will likely allow Seymour to walk as a free agent this year, with nothing to show for it outside of a third place divisional finish.

This is not to compare Seymour to Revis. Was Seymour the caliber of player that Revis was at the time of the trade? No, but he is certainly no slouch. Seymour had 3 championships, 5 Pro Bowl appearances, and was selected to 3 All-Pro teams. Unfortunately for him, however, his demands were not in the best interest of the franchise. New England sold high, and it paid off significantly. Coming off a serious injury, trading Revis now may not return the same compensation that trading him following the 2009 season would have, but with no long term solution in place, this is the highest his value will be while under contract with the Jets.

3.) Are Cornerbacks vital to success in today’s NFL? – Yes and no. With how the league is trending, having an elite, shutdown cornerback would presumably give any team a monstrous defensive advantage. This is certainly tough to argue, but in relevancy to other vital positions, cornerback ranks 4th behind quarterback, offensive line, and pass rushing defensive front 7 personnel.

Look to the final four team’s of this year’s playoff tournament. Not one of them sent a cornerback to the Pro Bowl, nor did anyone of them see a cornerback reach the All-Pro team. Conversely, when lumping quarterback, offensive line, and defensive front 7 personnel into one category, the Ravens, 49ers, Falcons, and Patriots collectively sent 13 players to the Pro Bowl, including 5 to the All-Pro 1st team, and 6 to the All-Pro 2nd team.

Is this to say team’s with quality cornerbacks are not successful? Of course not. Champ Bailey, a Pro Bowler and 2nd team All-Pro selection, was part of a Denver Broncos team that finished with a regular season record of 13-3, earning the AFC’s top seed. Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks, who made the Pro Bowl and was a 1st Team All-Pro selection, was a vital piece to his team’s success that included a divisional crown and finished one poor defensive drive short of reaching the NFC Championship Game. Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings of the Chicago Bears were both voted to the Pro Bowl, and received 1st and 2nd team All-Pro accolades, respectively. Chicago was tremendous at taking the ball away this season, and finished a respectable 10-6 in a tough division, but fell just short of the playoffs before seeing Head Coach Lovie Smith receive his pink slip.

So, on the question of whether or not cornerbacks are vital to success in today’s NFL, the answer depends on how an organization defines success. Is success a top seed in the playoffs, a divisional title, or a winning record? Or is success conference championships and Super Bowls? The majority of those employed by NFL teams will surely choose the latter.

Looking at recent Super Bowl champion teams, even the most dedicated football fan will have trouble naming each team’s starting cornerbacks. Conversely, when asked to name the quarterbacks or pass rushers on those teams, that same fan will rattle off names like Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Ben Roethlisberger, along with Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Michael Strahan, Clay Matthews, Will Smith, James Harrison, and LaMarr Woodley, among others. In fact, a 1st team All-Pro cornerback has not won a Super Bowl since Ty Law did it with the New England Patriots in 2003.

The bottom line is that while Revis is undoubtedly one of the best players in the NFL, his price tag is simply going to be too much for the Jets. This isn’t a matter of being too cheap to pay him. Woody Johnson has been bashed by countless fans and analysts over the past year for caring only about ticket sales and revenue. Why then, would he trade away his biggest attraction, rather than paying him his price? It is because this is a cap space issue. Simply put, Revis is worthy of some type of big pay day, there is no doubt about it. Will some team give him his record breaking contract? Probably. But that team will likely have nowhere near the amount of holes on their roster that the Jets do.

New York has been criticized for not investing enough into the offensive side of the ball, something that has been widely viewed as being the sole factor that has held them back from being consistently competitive over the past decade or so. For the Jets to end their streak of offensive ineptitude, they need to trade Revis and receive the proper compensation and salary cap relief that is needed to build a strong 53 man roster. The Jets have been top heavy in terms of player salary over the past few seasons, leading to average at best and very poor players occupying the remainder of the roster. New York cannot fix this by giving out the largest contract for a defensive player in the history of the NFL. Even if that player is Darrelle Revis.

Mike Donnelly

First, let me start out by saying I am firmly in the #KeepRevis camp, and I think John Idzik and the Jets brain trust should do everything in their power to keep their best player wearing the green and white in 2013 and beyond…like, until the day he steps into Canton as a Hall of Famer-type beyond. Let me tell you why.

1.) Position value vs. Contract Terms/Salary – I don’t buy into the whole “You can’t pay a CB that much money” line of thinking because to me, Darrelle Revis is far more than “just a corner”. He is not only the best corner in the league, he may very well be the best player in the league, and as such, he has a tremendous impact in each and every game he plays. I think he’s completely justified asking for a contract in line with what the top defenders are getting paid. I’m not saying to write him a blank check and break the bank to keep him, but with all the terrible contracts on this team, I think the front office should look to make changes elsewhere and find a way to keep the GOOD players, like Darrelle.

Currently, Mario Williams is the highest paid defender in the NFL. It’s not unrealistic for Revis to get paid in the same ballpark, because he does more for a defense than a guy like Williams. Offenses have to completely game plan around Revis each week and know where he is on every play. It’s not easy going into a game knowing that throwing to your best wide receiver isn’t going to be an option that day, but that’s exactly what #24 brings to the table. Remember in the 2010-11 playoffs when the Jets played the Colts? Peyton Manning refused to even look in Reggie Wayne’s direction. That’s a Hall of Fame QB-to-WR connection, and it was completely erased from the game. Again, he’s not just a corner. He’s an elite player and does things for a team that nobody else in the league can match. He deserves to get paid, and with a ton of money able to come off the books in the next two years (Pace, Scott, Harris, Holmes, Po’uha, Sanchez), there’s no reason Revis can’t be kept while the team is rebuilt around him by drafting and developing players.

2.) Possible Trade Compensation – I think this is where a lot of Jets fans are getting jaded. Many seem to think that trading Revis is going to bring in this great haul of draft picks that will allow the team to rebuild right away and build a dynasty like the Cowboys did by trading Hershel Walker. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no Walker-type haul coming our way. The best we can hope for is a mid-to-late-1st round pick and a mid-round pick thrown in. Revis is coming off a torn ACL and is going to demand huge money from his new team, which will severely limit his trade value. I’m not an economist or anything, but I’m pretty sure the “sell while value is lowest” strategy isn’t going to get us very far. Oh, and for the people kicking around trade proposals involving established players (I’ve seen Elvis Dumervil mentioned), that’s not going to happen either. If you’re going to trade for a guy who is going to get paid handsomely, why not just keep Revis?

Here’s another newsflash: Trading away Revis isn’t going to magically get us a franchise QB who is going to lead the team to prominence. Having extra picks is good, but the draft is a major crapshoot, where more players fail than succeed. More than likely, that extra 3rd or 4th round pick we pull in will at best give us a useful role player, while the 1st round pick will give us a good player that will hopefully one day grow up to be HALF as good as the guy we are giving away.

3.) Are Cornerbacks vital to success in today’s NFL? – I’m not going to say that if you were building a team cornerback would be the most important position to fill, but what I will say is that you would probably want a superstar defender who terrifies even the best quarterbacks in the league, and that is exactly what Darrelle Revis brings to the table. He shouldn’t be viewed strictly as a corner, but rather as a superstar defensive player who makes everyone around him better. Look what happens when he’s on the field: the #2 CB never has to worry about facing the other team’s best receiver; there’s no need for safety help, which enables the safety to come up and defend against the run more (something we lacked this year), or help out against tight ends and slot receivers since Revis is on his Island; the D can send an extra blitzer if need be.

I keep hearing “There are no Pro Bowl Corners in the Super Bowl” as a reason to trade Revis, and I don’t understand that at all. There’s a major difference between “great corner” and “Revis corner”, so it’s basically a moot point. The last corner to play on Revis’s level was Deion Sanders, and last time I checked, he had a few rings on his hand and nobody was trying to trade him for pennies on the dollar. I don’t see any All-Pro receivers playing in this year’s Super Bowl either by the way, does that mean the Lions should trade Calvin Johnson too? Players who perform at that high of a level transcend their position, and should be viewed as more. In my mind, when you have a Hall of Fame-type player, you keep him and do whatever it takes to build around him, even if he’s “just a cornerback”. The Patriots win every year not because they don’t invest big money in cornerbacks; they win because they have Tom Brady. We don’t have Tom Brady, and like I said, trading Revis isn’t going to magically fix that. It’s just going to make the defense–and the team–worse.

Some may say that there being no star CB’s in this year’s Super Bowl proves that Revis is expendable. I look at it the other way and see two excellent defenses battling it out, and I don’t think there’s any reason the Jets defense can’t be just as good or better than them in the coming years, like it was in 2009 and 2010. And the number 1 reason for that being possible is Darrelle Revis. Pay the man. #KeepRevis.

TJ Rosenthal

1.) Position value vs. Contract Terms/Salary

A healthy Darrelle Revis will make the Jets entire team better. Except if he holds out for, and obtains the type of money that will hurt John Idzik’s chances to gain a plethora of affordable useful pieces as a result.

The Jets defense can hold teams to under 23 (23.4 avg in 2012) points or so often enough without him, that it makes the notion of dealing him at least understandable. This, if Idzik believes he can help boost the Jets 17.6 scoring average by sending him elsewhere. If the new GM can add offensive guys who can contribute to one more TD a game, to a 24.0 scoring average in 2013, imagine what the Jets win loss record could be then.

Those are the numbers that we care about the most when it comes to the notion of Revis: Points scored and points given up. Will his exit help the Jets score more?

2.) Possible Trade Compensation 

Revis on two strong knees, if the Jets also throw a few perimeter guys in along with him, is worth a few first rounders..or a first and second rounder, and some vets in return. As it stands now, he’s worth less.

Maybe a club gambles away a first on Revis before seeing hos he looks in July, but we are looking more likely at a second and fourth or so for him right now. Which we believe is not enough to pull the trigger.

The bigger question comes down to, what does the Revis team want? What are they willing to fight for? We hear the “100 million dollar long term deal” rumors, but what is the truth? Once that is made known to the front office, then a clearer view can be had as to what is the more prudent path for Gang Green to take.

3.) Are Cornerbacks vital to success in today’s NFL?

Considering the type of style that Revis employs on the field Yes. Revis is not a clutcher, or a grabber. He’s a WR shadow thanks to great instinct and footwork. A guy who shuts down top threats outside, and who doesn’t get flagged for headhunting, or PI’s at all.

We are now entering a finesse phase of defense in the NFL, as the league tries to adapt to the increase of size and speed in it’s players, while concussions are being treated with the utmost caution.

Revis fits seemlessly into this new modern world that is built for passing games to succeed. He is one of the few who owns the skill set to slow it down.

He should not be dealt solely to alleviate a future cap issue. He should be dealt first and foremost, to reverse that seven point scoring differential we previously mentioned. Any other benefits of dealing him should be secondary.

We hope Revis stays, and that other solutions as to how to attack the personnel issues on offense are taken. We fear that they will not be. We worry on top of that, that Woody Johnson remembers the last two holdouts and is not in the mood for another one from the same player. Even if it is the great Revis Island.

Steve Bateman

1.) Position value vs. Contract Terms/Salary – If you want the top players you have to pay top dollar – that may sound blindingly obvious but it really is the bottom line in this whole debate. But here’s where it gets tough, because what applies to cornerbacks applies equally – if not moreso – to running backs, wide receivers, guards, and the myriad other offensive positions where the Jets need to reinvest during this off-season. So for me it’s not so much a question of can we afford to keep Revis, it’s more a case of whether or not we can afford to keep shovelling so much of our salary cap into a position which has become fundamentally devalued in the modern NFL (more of which later).

2.) Possible Trade Compensation – This is a team in transition. Or at least I hope to goodness that it is. If the Jets are going to become competitive again they have to address so many position needs that it would take a miracle for it to be achieved in one season through free agency. Consequently draft picks are going to be valuable beyond all measure over the coming years, and although I wouldn’t expect much more than maybe a third-rounder in 2013 with a conditional first in 2014, it’s sensible to look at the situation logically and build for the future by saying farewell.

3.) Are Cornerbacks vital to success in today’s NFL? – Darrelle Revis is way beyond great. In fact, he’s better than most people realize, because not only is he one of the three genuinely elite modern-day cornerbacks who can lay claim to the title of “Shutdown Corner” (add Rod Woodson and Deion Sanders) but he’s also plying his trade in a league where the odds have been stacked against him. Quite honestly, I find it hard to convince myself that he’s not one of the greatest players to have ever set foot on a gridiron.

But ironically, what makes him great is what also makes him expendable. In the modern game there’s a growing trend towards sacrificing cornerbacks at the expense of developing an effective pass rush. Why? Because with recent changes to pass interference rules, any team that tries to defend the pass by relying on its secondary is fighting a losing battle from the outset.

Therefore my preference – and the path I think the team will in fact take – would be to ditch Revis in order to bring in a couple of pass-rushing OLBs who are able to capitalize on the awesome two-gapping work of Mo Wilkerson. If Quinton Coples also continues to develop as a 3-4 defensive end – and there’s no reason to think that he won’t – then this is by far the Jets best chance of building an effective pass defense going forward.

In cap terms the Jets are down to their bare bones, and like it or not, Revis is a luxury that they simply can’t afford.

Turn On The Jets NFL Mock Draft 1.0

Chris Gross with his first mock draft of 2013, who will the Jets take at #9?

Goodell

Welcome to our introductory NFL Mock Draft here at Turn On The Jets. As we move closer to April, we will periodically update this series based on a variety of factors including Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, and Pro Day/Individual Workout performances, as well as adjusting to any free agency signings and trades, once the new league year begins. For now, let’s take a look at how the first round could shake out based on where each prospect, and NFL team, currently stand. Be sure to check back tomorrow, as our draft team breaks down the top 5 Wide Receiver prospects in this year’s class from a New York Jets perspective.

Check this out listed at DC Sports NFL Mock Draft Database 

Note: Picks 31 and 32 are subject to change based on Super Bowl Winner/Loser. For now, we will use each team’s overall regular season record to position their draft order. From this, San Francisco would get the 32nd pick, with Baltimore selecting before them at 31. This by no means indicates a Super Bowl prediction.

Joeckel1.) Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M: This is a very interesting spot for the Chiefs. Kansas City has a quality tackle in place in Branden Albert, but he is set to hit Free Agency this offseason. The Chiefs could opt to resign him, but letting him walk and selecting Joeckel, a player that can perform just as good, if not better than Albert next season, would make sense financially, and would give Kansas City a solid cornerstone to begin the Andy Reid era, as Joeckel is the cream of the crop in this year’s group of offensive tackles. Quarterback is certainly a need for Kansas City, but unfortunately for the Chiefs, there isn’t a player that has emerged as being worthy of the first overall selection just yet. Look for Reid to target a signal caller early in round 2.

damontremoore2.) Jacksonville Jaguars – Damontre Moore, Defensive End, Texas A&M: Jacksonville, like Kansas City, has a great need at quarterback, as former 1st round selection Blaine Gabbert has performed rather miserably in his short NFL career. However, no quarterback has emerged as a safe pick here for the Jaguars. Conversely, newly hired Head Coach Gus Bradley comes from a defensive background, and surely understands the value of having top notch pass rushers to send after quarterbacks. Coming from the Seattle Seahawks, Bradley has seen first hand how important pass rushers are to the success of a defense, having utilized rookie Bruce Irvin and veteran Chris Clemons significantly last season. With Bradley likely sticking to a 4-3 defense in Jacksonville, Moore makes perfect sense. Justin Babin will likely be back with the Jaguars, but at 32 years old, Jacksonville needs to think long term at the position.

Star3.) Oakland Raiders – Star Lotulelei, Defensive Tackle, Utah: Lotulelei may very well be the best defensive player in this year’s draft. He is versatile enough to fit in any scheme, having the explosion and agility to be a playmaking 3 technique, while also possessing the size and strength to be a run stuffing 0/1 technique. Oakland is very thin in the defensive front seven, and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly could be a cap casualty, as he is slated to make $19.5 million over the next three seasons. Kelly has certainly underperformed his contract, and could be the first to go in the cleansing process that is likely to take place in Oakland. Lotulelei would provide an immediate upgrade from Kelly, at a much cheaper cost, while giving the Raiders defense a building block for the coming year.s

bjoern4.) Philadelphia Eagles – Bjoern Werner, Defensive End, Florida State: Many expect the newly hired Chip Kelly to choose an offensive player with this selection. While that is certainly a good possibility, there aren’t any offensive skill players worthy of this selection. A lot will depend on how Philadelphia approaches free agency, but they certainly cannot ignore how abysmal their pass rush was last season, finishing on par with the Jets for 25th in the league in sacks, recording just 30 over the entire season. Justin Babin was released late in the season as a casualty of such a fault, and Werner would provide a tremendous upgrade almost immediately. He is extremely tough, has a tremendous motor, and shows excellent awareness regardless of where he is lined up. Depending on how Philadelphia moves forward, from a defensive philosphical stand point, Werner could end up being a perfect fit. He transitioned from primarily a 6I technique (inside shoulder of the TE) during his junior season, to more of an edge rusher for his senior year. He would provide great versatility to Philadelphia’s pass rush moving forward.

Milliner5.) Detroit Lions – Dee Milliner, Cornerback, Alabama: While Detroit is another team in need of adding offensive playmakers outside of Calvin Johnson, the defensive secondary in the motor city can certainly be upgraded. While they did not rank horribly in passing yards surrendered per game last season, they had an abysmal 11 interceptions throughout the whole year. Detroit has lacked a true ball hawk defensive back for years. With the strength of their defense coming from the defensive line, they need to finally complement Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, and Cliff Avril with a CB who will strike fear into opposing quarterbacks. Milliner is by far the best of the bunch this year. At nearly 6’1″ 197lbs, he has the size to match up with any opposing wide receiver, and having come from a collegiate career coached by defensive backs guru Nick Saban, he will be NFL ready from day 1.

Mingo6.) Cleveland Browns – Barkevious Mingo, Defensive End, LSU: Cleveland, like so many other teams, have struggled to find a premier pass rusher in recent years. Newly appointed defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, will be installing a very aggressive defensive scheme, according to recent statements. This bodes well for a player like Mingo, a guy with a bit of boom or bust potential, but also with an extremely high ceiling. With Horton proclaiming he will not be married to any particular scheme on defense, he can look to Mingo’s versatility to provide him with a weapon in the front seven. Mingo is athletic enough to play as an outside linebacker in a 3-4, and has the frame to add some weight if asked to put his hand on the ground in a 4-3. Cleveland could also look to add a starter on the interior offensive line, such as Alabama’s Chance Warmack, pairing him with former teammate Trent Richardson.

Fisher7.) Arizona Cardinals – Eric Fisher, Offensive Tackle, Central Michigan: It is no secret that Arizona has struggled up front in recent years, particularly last season, having surrendered a league high 58 sacks. Is it a secret as to why Kevin Kolb has struggled to find success in the desert? Opinions on Kolb will vary, but few quarterbacks can have success when they are constantly under that amount of pressure. Enter Eric Fisher. Fisher is a prospect who is quickly rising up draft boards, having put together some very impressive practices for the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. While quarterback is still a need for Arizona, there is no reason to reach for someone with the 7th overall selection while there are still so many holes up front.

Jarvis Jones8.) Buffalo Bills – Jarvis Jones, Outside Linebacker, Georgia: Jones is, to me, the premier linebacker in this year’s draft class. He is extremely aggressive, shows excellent bend and ability to turn the corner, while most importantly displaying a very high motor. This pick makes sense for a number of reasons. First, Buffalo needs a quality linebacker to put behind Mario Williams, who they paid a ridiculous amount of money to in free agency last year. Like the Jets, Williams was hampered by a lack of supporting cast, but still managed to accumulate 10.5 sacks on the year. Imagine what he could do if teams suddenly had to account for Jones’s ability to rush the passer as well? Secondly, look who selects directly behind the Bills. Do you think Buffalo wants to see New York select a player who could wreak havoc on whoever their quarterback may be in the coming years? Newly appointed Bills, and former Jets defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine knows a good deal about Rex Ryan and his desire to find his next Terrell Suggs. Combine that with his desire to attain versatile linebackers, and this pick becomes a no brainer for Buffalo.

chance-warmack9.) New York Jets – Chance Warmack, Guard, Alabama: This may not be a popular pick among some Jets faithful, but considering the board at this point, as well as the Jets poor play on the interior of the offensive line last year, the value for Warmack here is tremendous. There may not be a better player at their position in the country than Warmack, and with guards Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson set to hit free agency, the Jets will need to add at the position. Considering what will be available in the free agent market, Warmack is easily the best option for New York at the position. He will likely perform better than any free agent guard, while coming in on a low cost rookie contract. Place him on the line with Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Austin Howard, who has shown improvement with more playing time, and a guard to be named later, and all of a sudden the Jets have put together an offensive line that has the potential to rival what they had in 2009 and 2010.

Teo10.) Tennessee Titans – Manti Te’o, Inside Linebacker, Notre Dame: By the time the draft comes around, all of the recent nonsense regarding Te’o will likely be overlooked by his strong career resume, and an expected strong combine performance. This is certainly a bit of a risk, considering the mental issues that need to be taken into account, but from what it seems, Te’o has a good team of advisors that will steer him in the right direction during the interview process. From Tennessee’s standpoint, the Titans need a player who can anchor their defense for years to come. They have promising pass rushers up front in Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley, but the defense has lacked a true force in the middle since losing Keith Bulluck a couple seasons ago. While Te’o may not possess the sideline to sideline ability of some of his counterparts, he is a natural downhill player with the a knack for finding the ball.

11.) San Diego Chargers – Lane Johnson, Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma: San Diego, like many other teams drafting this early, have been poor on the offensive line over recent years. Phillip Rivers is still a very good quarterback, but one whose game desperately relies on protection. Johnson has put together a very good string of practices at the Senior Bowl this week, and is expected to run a sub 5.0 40 yard dash at the Combine. At 6’6″ and over 300lbs, numbers like that will cause his draft stock to soar. Considering Joeckel and Fisher are off the board at this point, Johnson becomes the best tackle available, and an immediate upgrade to a Chargers offense that will be looking to reclaim its old ways under new Head Coach Mike McCoy.

12.) Miami Dolphins – Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, Texas: Miami is a very intriguing team to watch this offseason. With around $40 million in available cap space along with 10 draft picks, including 5 in the first 100, expect the Dolphins to be very active when the new league year officially starts. That being said, this selection is extremely subject to change with their expected plethora of moves coming prior to the draft. Miami is in need of a big play wide receiver, but with so much available cap space, there is a high likelihood of them signing Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe, or Greg Jennings in free agency. That takes us to Miami’s defense. While this unit is surely nothing to laugh about, they have struggled at times to defend the pass. A cornerback would be ideal here, however with Milliner off the board, there is not much value in selecting a player like Johnthan Banks or another corner with the 12th overall selection. Vaccaro, on the other hand, is the top safety in this year’s class. He has great instinct, and has shown much better range than I had originally given him credit for in our initial big board. Depending on how he performs at the combine, Vaccaro could be very valuable in this spot. A pass rusher to place opposite Cameron Wake is another option for Miami.

13.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Dion Jordan, Defensive End, Oregon: Middle Linebacker is another position of need for Tampa Bay, but the Buccaneers are desperate for an explosive pass rusher to complement the emerging Gerald McCoy. Michael Bennett has been solid, but the other side of the defensive line remains an issue. Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and Da’Quan Bowers combined for just 7 sacks last season, partially causing the Buccaneers to finish 29th in the league in sacks, with just 27 as a team. Jordan could provide immediate upgrade in this area, as he has tremendous athleticism and the long frame to be a very good 4-3 defensive end in this league. Tampa Bay can then look to add to their linebacking corps in the 2-3 rounds.

14.) Carolina Panthers – Cordarrelle Patterson, Wide Receiver, Tennessee: Outside of Steve Smith, the Panthers group of wide receivers is rather lackluster. While running back may be a need, particularly if the team decides to part ways with Deangelo Williams, Cam Newton needs a target other than the aging Smith. Patterson has great size at 6’3″ 205 lbs, and is expected to run somewhere in the 4.4 range at the combine. This could end up being a great weapon for Newton, who struggled mightily at times last season, and a solid combination in the coming years.

15.) New Orleans Saints – Sheldon Richardson, Defensive Tackle, Missouri: New Orleans had an extremely poor season from a defensive standpoint last year, particularly against the run, having surrendered a league high 147.6 YPG on the ground. While their secondary was also lackluster, there are few, if any, teams that can have defensive success while giving up so many yards on the ground. Richardson has the quickness and overall speed to be a very disruptive 3 technique in the Saints’ 4-3 scheme, while possessing enough power to be a pure run stuffer in the middle.

Bernard16.) St. Louis Rams – Giovani Bernard, Running Back, North Carolina: St. Louis has done a tremendous job of bolstering their defensive personnel over the past few drafts. Offensively, they have been able to put a decent cast of playmakers on the field, but many of their top performers are often hampered by injury. Steven Jackson is set to hit free agency this offseason, and his asking price could be out of the range of what St. Louis is willing to pay him. Bernard would provide an excellent, young replacement for Jackson. While he should not be expected to produce at a level that Jackson might next season, he is extremely versatile, and has shown he can be an every down back. This would be a very nice transition for the Rams at the running back position, and they could address their other needs, namely Tight End, later on.

17.) Pittsburgh Steelers – Ed Lacy, Running Back, Alabama: Like St. Louis, Pittsburgh will have RB Rashard Mendenhall hitting free agency this offseason, who is very unlikely to return after a 2012 season that was hampered by lingering injuries and sudden character issues. Jonathan Dwyer and Issac Redman were solid last year, but neither have truly been tested as an every down back, and both will be restricted free agents. Conversely, the Steelers parted ways with Chris Rainey earlier this month following a domestic battery charge. One way or another, the Steelers’ backfield is poised for an overhaul, and Lacy is just the type of hard-nosed, downhill runner that Pittsburgh has valued as a vital piece of their offense over the years.

18.) Dallas Cowboys – Sharrif Floyd, Defensive Tackle, Florida: Dallas has players all over the roster, but have not been able to put anything together over the past few seasons for a variety of reasons. While there are still issues on the offensive line, the Cowboys have had recent off the field issues with their interior defensive lineman. The team could very well end up parting ways with Jay Ratliff, who was recently arrested for a DWI following a very poor 2012 campaigned highlighted by a reported argument with Owner/GM Jerry Jones in the locker room following a December 2nd win over the Eagles. If the Cowboys do, in fact, part ways with Ratliff, Floyd could provide an immediate replacement at defensive tackle. Floyd is an ideal fit as a 3 technique in Monte Kiffin’s Tampa 2 scheme, and has taken tremendous strides to repair his public image since facing NCAA violations early in his career at Florida.

dnews 0929fbccougars.spt   ja19.) New York Giants – Ezekiel Ansah, Defensive End, BYU: Ansah is tremendously gifted athletically, but is probably the most raw prospect in the entire draft. Having just over a year of experience playing the sport, Ansah was able to produce at BYU because of his superior athletic ability. However, his technique is very poor, as shown by his struggles during this week’s practices at the Senior Bowl. While there is certainly some bust potential here, there aren’t many teams who can grow pass rushers quite like the Giants, making this an ideal fit. With Osi Umenyiora likely leaving this offseason, and Justin Tuck beginning to age, Ansah could serve as an understudy to Jason Pierre-Paul and Tuck, and could potentially develop into the next great Giants pass rusher in a few years.

Alec Ogletree, Synjyn Days20.) Chicago Bears – Alec Ogletree, Inside Linebacker, Georgia: It is no secret that Chicago has some serious issues on the offensive line. However, Brian Urlacher is aging rapidly, and is set to hit free agency this offseason. Whether or not the Bears opt to move on from the player who has been the foundation of the franchise for over a decade remains to be seen. Regardless, if Urlacher is retained by Chicago, odds are it will be on a short-term, low cost deal. That will pave the way for an incumbent, Ogletree, to be groomed underneath him and progressively take over as the full time starter. Ogletree, like Urlacher, is a converted safety, so there may not be a better player to learn the position from. Offensive line is certainly another option here, but with the depth of the class, the Bears can address that need in the following rounds.

21.) Cincinnati Bengals – Johnthan Banks, Cornerback, Mississippi State: Cincinnati has put together a tremendous defensive front seven over the past few years. The back end of the defense has been solid as well, but Adam Jones will turn 30 next season and is entering free agency on the gradual decline of his career. Cincinnati can opt to let him walk, while drafting the young and promising Banks from Mississippi State to place opposite Leon Hall. At 6’2″ Banks has excellent size, and is best in man coverage, something Head Coach Marvin Lewis could use as a weapon. Banks would give the Bengals one of the most well rounded, youngest defenses in all of football.

22.) St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) – Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Notre Dame:  St. Louis certainly needs some offensive help to provide Sam Bradford with the best chance to succeed. Starting Matthew Mulligan at Tight End isn’t necessarily the best way to go about doing that. While Mulligan can be a decent backup TE, Bradford needs a reliable weapon in the passing game. Eifert is arguably the best in his class this year, with tremendous size and athletic ability. He has a knack for getting to the ball at its highest point, and has proved worthy as a blocker in the run game as well.

Smith23.) Minnesota Vikings – Geno Smith, Quarterback, West Virginia: The first curveball of this draft. While the Vikings have some holes across the roster that need to be addressed, it is difficult to see them confidently believing that Christian Ponder can take them where they want to go. While Ponder is signed through the next 2 years, his rookie contract makes him expendable, giving Minnesota flexibility at the position. Smith would provide a very interesting dynamic to the Vikings’ offense. His accuracy and playmaking ability would give them an entirely new dimension to work with. It’s very difficult to not get excited about an offensive core of Smith, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, and Matt Kalil.

24.) Indianapolis Colts – D.J. Fluker, Offensive Tackle, Alabama: While the Colts offensive line wasn’t a complete disaster last year, it can certainly be upgraded. Andrew Luck was sacked 41 times last season, the 9th most out of any other starting quarterback. Luck is without question the key to success in Indianapolis, so the Colts would be wise to protect their investment by adding Fluker, who would likely start at either tackle spot right away.

25.) Seattle Seahawks – Zach Ertz, Tight End, Stanford: Seattle had a tremendous season, one that certainly exceeded most expectations. Russell Wilson was fantastic during his rookie campaign, and looks poised to be an excellent quarterback for years to come. One dynamic that was missing from Seattle’s offense, however, was quality play from the tight end in the passing game. The Seahawks added Zach Miller last offseason, but injuries limited him to just 38 receptions for 396 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Seahawks would be wise to add a playmaker at tight end, and Ertz would be just the guy. Rivaling Eifert for the top TE in the class, Ertz would see significant reps right away, while adding another dynamic to Seattle’s already dynamic offense.

Bell26.) Green Bay Packers – Le’Veon Bell, Running Back, Michigan State: The Packers have lacked a quality running back for years and have been able to succeed solely on Aaron Rodgers and the passing game. It is about time for Green Bay to add their every down back, and establish a true running game, something that would give opposing defensive coordinators nightmares. While Bell certainly has his question marks, he is very underrated in terms of his elusiveness and agility. He is also the type of bigger back (6’2″ 240 lbs) who will provide a brutal downhill running style when it gets cold in the later months at Lambeau Field. Bell can also contribute as a receiver out of the backfield as well as a blocker in pass protection.

27.) Houston Texans – Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver, West Virginia: While solid offensively, Houston needs a dynamic playmaker on offense to pair with Arian Foster and Andre Johnson. The Texans’ receiving corps, beyond Johnson, is rather abysmal. Kevin Walter and Keshawn Martin aren’t terrible by any stretch of the word, but neither of them have the big play ability of Austin. Austin would bring an immense amount of versatility to an offense that is slowly becoming stale. His ability in the return game would also provide an added dimension to how the Texans could use him.

28.) Denver Broncos – Desmond Trufant, Cornerback, Washington: After seeing Torrey Smith roast Champ Bailey numerous times in Denver’s divisional round loss to Baltimore, it is no secret that the Broncos desperately need help in the secondary. Trufant, brother of Jets defensive back Isaiah and Seattle’s Marcus, could contribute immediately, either as an understudy to Bailey on the outside, or as the nickel corner. Beyond that, Trufant has the athleticism and fluidity in his hips that can allow him to become a starting perimeter defender in this league. As he has shown this week at Senior Bowl practice, he is certainly not afraid to be physical when asked to be.

29.) New England Patriots – Keenan Allen, Wide Receiver, California: While it is hard to proclaim that the Patriots need any help offensively, there are certainly some issues within the receiving corps that need to be addressed. Wes Welker is still a very dynamic playmaker, but his future in New England is currently uncertain. Beyond Welker, Brandon Lloyd is entering the twilight of his career, and although New England has two excellent tight ends in Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, they need players who can take some pressure off of them. Hernandez was banged up for a bit of this past season, and Gronkowski has been used so heavily in each of the previous two years, that he has been injured during the post season. For New England to have success in the playoffs, they need a healthy Gronkowski, and that starts with providing him with a supporting cast in the passing game that will not subject him to so much wear and tear. Allen is a very intriguing prospect, having the size (6’3″) that Tom Brady really hasn’t had in a receiver since Randy Moss. Allen has above average separation ability, decent top end speed, and good ball skills, but his character is what will make him a great fit in New England. Coaches at Cal have praised Allen for his work ethic and competitive drive that keeps him humble and hungry. Seemingly a perfect fit for Bill Belichick’s club.

30.) Atlanta Falcons – Sam Montgomery, Defensive End, LSU: Atlanta certainly put together an impressive defensive campaign in 2012, finishing 9th in the league in overall defense, however they finished 28th in team sacks, with just 29 total. Defensive End John Abraham is coming off of another double digit sack season, but will be 35 on opening day next year. The Falcons need to begin to think about his long term replacement, and Montgomery could very well be that player. While he is not nearly as athletic as his LSU counterpart, Mingo, Montgomery shows flawless technique on tape, and is much more balanced as a player. He shows a good motor on film, but the primary concerns are his off the field work ethic. Still, at pick number 30, he holds good value.

Minter31.) Baltimore Ravens – Kevin Minter, Inside Linebacker, LSU: Baltimore will be saying goodbye to the face of their franchise for its entire history after the Super Bowl, and will need to find a replacement for the soon to be retired Ray Lewis. Minter is the prototypical 3-4 Inside Linebacker at 6’2″ 242 lbs and is a tackling machine, posting double digit tackles in 5 contests this year, including an astounding 20 in an October loss at Florida. Minter has the range, tenacity, and instinct to start for Baltimore right away next season.

Sylvester Williams32.) San Francisco 49ers – Sylvester Williams, Defensive Tackle, North Carolina: It’s difficult to find needs on a team that has played as well as San Francisco over the past couple of years. That being said, the interior defensive line of the 49ers is beginning to get a little long in the face. Williams would be of great value at this point in the first round. He has an insatiable motor, tremendous hand work in his pass rush, excellent lateral speed and agility, and the strength to be a force against the run. With Justin Smith getting older, Williams would be a great selection that would allow the 49ers to make the transition from Smith, when the time is right, rather seamless.

New York Jets Hire Marty Mornhinweg As Offensive Coordinator

MM

In the wake of the New York Jets announcing the hiring of John Idzik as the organization’s next General Manager, the coaching dominoes have already begun to fall into place. Shortly after agreeing to terms with Idzik, the Jets have hired Marty Mornhinweg as Offensive Coordinator. Both of these hirings finally give the Jets a bit more stability moving forward, after a three week stint with both positions unoccupied.

Mornhinweg joins the Jets after 10 years spent in Philadelphia with the Eagles. Mornhinweg was hired by Andy Reid in 2003 as a senior assistant, became assistant head coach in 2004, and finally took over play calling duties in 2006 as the team’s Offensive Coordinator, a position he held through last season, prior to Reid being fired. During his seven seasons as Eagles’ Offensive Coordinator, Mornhinweg yielded five top 10 offenses and three top 5 offenses, while never finishing outside of 15th in overall offense. Before his tenure in Philadelphia, Mornhinweg worked in Green Bay as the Quarterbacks coach during the Packers’ 1996 Super Bowl XXXI championship season, followed by 4 seasons in San Francisco, serving as both Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks coach under Head Coach Steve Mariucci, and finally a brief stint as Head Coach of the Detroit Lions from 2001-2002.

MM2A long descendant of the Bill Walsh tree, Mornhinweg brings in vast experience in the west coast offense, indicating the Jets will be making a major shift from Tony Sparano’s failed Ground and Pound approach. A shift like this will be beneficial to the Jets, who have been far behind the ball in terms of offensive schematics over the past couple of years. A shift to a west coast style system will be a complete 180 degree spin for Gang Green. Previously under Ryan, the Jets have expressed their desire to be a run first team. Conversely, a west coast offense will use the pass to open up the run. How successful New York will be in their first season in this type of offense is unclear, but this kind of change was an absolute necessity considering the league’s recent offensive trends.

Mornhinweg also brings in an excellent history of quarterback experience. Having played the position in college at the University of Montana, Mornhinweg has been a key instrument in the development of players like Brett Favre (1995, 1996), Steve Young (1997-1999), Jeff Garcia (San Francisco 1999-2000, Philadelphia 2006, 2009), Donovan McNabb (1999-2009), and Michael Vick (2009-2012) among others. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Jets give Mornhinweg a chance to attempt to resurrect the career of Mark Sanchez, the former 5th overall pick who has regressed mightily in his previous two seasons as a pro. Sanchez played in a west coast offense under Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian during his days at USC with high success – 3,207 yards, 34 TD, 10 INT, 65.8 completion percentage during his final season. It is fair to assume that John Idzik will sit down with Mornhinweg to pick his brain about Sanchez before any decisions are made on the embattled quarterback’s future in New York.

Speculation will also begin to circulate about the Jets acquiring Michael Vick and Matt Flynn, both of whom have ties to Mornhinweg and Idzik, respectively, and are expected to become available, either via free agency or trade, when the new league year begins in March. However, internal decisions will likely need to be made at the quarterback position before any additional players are acquired.

This is a very solid hire for the Jets. Mornhinweg brings experience, innovation, and most importantly, something brand new. How well his schematics and system will translate to the current personnel are still unknown, but New York’s offensive ideology is finally beginning to head in the right direction.

New York Jets Potential Draft Targets: Running Back

The Turn On The Jets draft staff looks at what running backs the New York Jets could target in the upcoming NFL Draft

Bernard

In continuation with our positional breakdowns of potential NFL Draft prospects for the New York Jets, we turn our attention to a position of great need for a team that struggled mightily to generate any type of offensive excitement in 2012, running back. Today, our draft team provides a breakdown of the top five potential targets that could be selected by the Jets in April’s draft. These initial rankings are certainly subject to change as we progress through the entire pre-draft process, but as it stands now, these players are who we feel would be the best options for New York at running back. Be sure to give our draft team a follow on Twitter, and to check out our previous breakdown of potential quarterback targets for the Jets. 

Chris Gross

The running back position for the New York Jets in 2012 was, to put it nicely, abysmal. Shonn Greene flashed some quality against inferior defenses, but when put to the test of a contending defensive unit, he revealed himself as having nothing more than the ability of an average secondary option, capable of complementing a strong lead back. Greene will enter free agency when the new league year begins in March, and will likely be looking for a contract that exceeds his actual value to a team. Since the Jets are going to be operating on a relatively tight budget this season, it is more than likely that Greene will be allowed to walk to another team. While he is surely a capable 1B option, Bilal Powell remains under contract with the Jets at a much cheaper cost and is essentially just as effective, if not more so, than Greene in that role. Financially, depending on Powell to fill the 1B role, while letting another team pay Greene is the smartest, most realistic option for Gang Green this season.

So the question remains, where do the Jets turn to fill the void for that coveted 1A back? Earlier this week, we took a look at some potential scenarios that could play out as we move into the coming months. Looking ahead to the 2013 NFL Draft, the class of running backs may not posses a name that jumps off the sheet as the next Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Arian Foster, or any other premier NFL running back, but this group is deceptively deep, with a very good amount of talent throughout. Running backs in today’s NFL, with the exception of the players aforementioned and a few more, are generally viewed as one of the most disposable pieces of the roster.

However, as we saw this past season, a quality lead back can help an offense that struggles in a variety of places to overachieve. Minnesota had a very subpar passing game, but was able to earn a playoff bid on the back of Adrian Peterson. Marshawn Lynch aided the development of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson by giving the youngster a strong running game to lean on. Doug Martin, Alfred Morris, and a few others has similar effects on their respective offenses. An emergence of a strong running game in New England has made the Patriots offensive attack arguably the greatest we have seen in recent years, while the lack thereof in Green Bay handcuffed a team with an exceptional quarterback. While the league is certainly driven by quality signal callers, the running back position is still very much a vital piece to a successful offense.

That being said, the direction that the Jets decide to go in at the position, personnel wise, remains dependent on the hire at offensive coordinator, as does the majority of the offensive roster. However, there are certainly some names to keep an eye on as of right now that are sure to be appealing to any coordinator, regardless of scheme.

Lacy1.) Eddie Lacy, Alabama – 2012 stats: 204 attempts, 1322 yards, 6.5 YPC, 17 TD – Lacy has put together a very impressive career at Alabama, netting nearly 7.0 YPC over his three seasons as a member of the Crimson Tide. Having spent his first two seasons underneath Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram, and 2012 3rd overall pick Trent Richardson, respectively, Lacy emerged this season as a dominant force leading the Tide to a national championship. At 6’1 220 lbs, Lacy has the size of a prototypical power back, but possesses the top end speed and elusiveness of a dangerous speed back. In short, Lacy is arguably the most well rounded running back in his class. He maintains elite balance, while showing great vision and patience in waiting for his blocks to develop, giving him an excellent advantage. A very strong showcase in the National Championship game has boosted Lacy’s draft status over recent weeks, and an expected impressive showing at the scouting combine should propel him even higher. Depending on how the next few weeks play out, Lacy could be out of the Jets reach, unless, perhaps, New York trades down from the 9th overall selection to select him in the later half of round one, where he would currently hold more value.

2.) Giovani Bernard, North Carolina – 2012 stats: 184 attempts, 1228 yards, 6.7 YPC, 12 TD – Bernard has put together an impressive two seasons at UNC, having averaged over 5 YPC in each of them, including the astounding 6.7 this past year. Bernard is widely regarded as the top back in this class, and for good reason. Bernard has excellent speed and lateral quickness, coupled with fantastic vision and burst. Beyond that, he is a very capable pass blocker, while remaining a viable option as a passing target. He has the ability to take a check down pass for a larger chunk of yards than most backs would, and is certainly not afraid to stick his nose into pass pro. These aspects of his game cannot be valued. A back with the ability to be effective as both a blocker and receiving option in the pass game will keep defenses honest and unsure of any tendencies. Bernard certainly has the body of someone who will be a durable NFL back, displaying tremendous bulk, particularly in his legs. Bernard should perform very well in each of the pre-draft events, and is poised to be one of the first three backs taken this year. He would be a reach for the Jets at the 9th pick, but perhaps a trade down in the first, or a trade back into the bottom half of the first round would allow New York to get their hands on him.

3.) Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State – 2012 stats: 382 attempts, 1793 yards, 4.7 YPC, 12 TD – Bell is a player who may fly under the radar a bit, coming from a conference like the Big Ten, but make no mistake, Bell is a premier name in this year’s crop of running backs. His immense size (6’2″ 244 lbs) combine with fantastic strength, making him a nightmare to bring down in the open field. Conversely, he is deceptively elusive which gives him an edge that most backs at his stature do not posses. These tangibles give Bell a rare skill set, one that could translate tremendously to the NFL. He is one of the rare prospects, like Lacy, that has the ability to run through defenders, or make them miss with his surprising agility. The pre-draft events will be crucial for Bell. While his film shows a highly productive player with great potential, there are certainly questions on his top end speed, primarily concerning whether or not he will be able to break through the second level for a big gain in the NFL. If Bell, a known workhorse in his training regiments, can post a good 40 yard dash, while displaying the elusiveness and agility that his film shows in the combine drills, he may find himself as an early to mid second round pick, among the first few backs taken. He could very well be available when the Jets select in the 2nd round. His performance over the next few weeks will determine whether or not he will be worthy of that selection.

Ball 4.) Montee Ball, Wisconsin – 2012 stats: 356 attempts, 1830 yards, 5.1 YPC, 22 TD – Similar to Bell, Ball is a back who may get a bit overlooked due to the school he played his collegiate football for. However, Ball has been immensely productive throughout his career as a Badger, totaling an astounding 77 rushing touchdowns over his four seasons. At 5’11” 210 lbs, Ball certainly has the size of an NFL lead back, with elite speed and elusiveness separating him from the average player at his position. While Ball doesn’t have elite strength to carry defenders for extra yards, he does have great tenacity as he has shown he is not afraid to initiate contact with a defender, and will always fight for extra yards after contact. He is average at best in the passing game, but his intangibles will allow him to be coached up in the area at the next level. Ball should available anywhere between the 2nd and 3rd rounds, and depending on how the board plays out, could be a great selection for New York. He has the ability to step in as the opening day starter next season, with Powell or a free agent addition serving the role as the 1B back.

Barner 5.) Kenjon Barner, Oregon – 2012 stats: 278 attempts, 1767 yards, 6.4 YPC, 21 TD – Barner faces question marks surrounding how he may translate to a pro-style offense, having come from Chip Kelly’s read option system at Oregon, but he very well may be the fastest of all of this year’s backs. Barner is a tremendous big play threat in both the running and passing games, as he has displayed countless times during his tenure at Oregon, where he posted a 6.0+ YPC average in each of his four seasons as a Duck. A dual-sport athlete in college, Barner also excelled on the track team, while maintaining a strong enough training regiment to prepare him for each year’s football season. Coaches and teammates rave about his work ethic on and off the field, and for a team in need of offensive leaders, Barner could fit the bill. While it is unlikely he will be able to be an every down back at his size, he would be an excellent complement to a bigger running back, perhaps a free agent addition (Chris Ivory, anyone?), while growing into a larger role down the road. As it stands now, Barner is likely grading out in the 2nd-4th round range, but his 40 time at the combine could blow scouts away and propel him toward the top of the 2nd round.

Wild Card – Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina – 2012 stats: 143 attempts, 662 yards, 4.6 YPC, 11 TD – Lattimore was widely regarded as the premier back in this year’s class, however a gruesome knee injury ended his 2012 campaign short. Despite potentially being a mid to late round pick, as a result of concerns over how well his knee may heal, Lattimore has decided to enter the 2013 NFL Draft. This is a very intriguing situation. When healthy, Lattimore is head and shoulders above any of his counterparts. He has the prototypical size needed for an elite every down back at the next level, with top end speed far above average. Lattimore is extremely tough, and has a tremendous amount of versatility. He is very elusive for a back with his size, and his vision and patience is second to none. He has the best natural running instincts out of anyone in this class, and has a combination of size, power, agility, and speed that can make him an elite back in the NFL. The knee concerns are very real, however. It is unclear how far along he is with his recovery at this point, but rest assured that NFL scouts will be paying close attention to his medical progress as April draws near. With his stock likely to fall due to concerns over his knee, Lattimore could potentially be the biggest steal of the draft if he gets back to full strength next season. If he is there in the middle rounds, the Jets would be wise to take a flier on him, if he shows promising recovery progress.

 Zev Sibony

Rankings Based On Talent

Name Height Weight Projected 40 Round(s)
Eddie Lacy 6’0” 220 4.55 2nd round
Giovanni Bernard 5’10” 205 4.52 2nd round
Stepfan Taylor 5’11” 208 4.58 3rd round
Le’Veon Bell 6’2” 238 4.63 3rd or 4th round
Marcus Lattimore 6’0” 218 ?? 6th, 7th, FA

 

 

 

 

Rankings Based On Value 

taylor1 – Stepfan Taylor has been a 3 year starter at Stanford while accumulating some impressive stats. As a true sophomore, he had 1,137 yards and 15 touchdowns. His Junior and Senior years he exploded with 1330 yards and 1530 yards, respectively. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry over his junior and senior years while marching in for 23 touchdowns. He shows some versatility out of the backfield while catching passes, along with a good mix of speed and strength, and is definitely capable of being a 3 down back. Taylor has the best chance of being a true workhorse for the Jets next year. Taylor is also good in pass protection, which is clearly a benefit. For value, I think the Running back from Stanford will provide the best results. He is somewhat of a sleeper  and can be had in the 3rd, possibly 4th round

2 –  If Eddie Lacy is available in the top of the 2nd round, the Jets should draft him.. Lacy is, in my opinion, the best running back available in the draft. He played in the hardest conference and rushed for 1,322 yards, averaged 6.4 a carry and had 17 touchdowns. That is impressive, but he was running behind one of the best, if not the best, offensive line in the country. (That is all well and good because hopefully we can draft Chance Warmack at #9 and find a solid right tackle to shore up the O-line for next year.) Lacy also caught 22 passes for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns this past year. He has good speed and even better strength. If he is available at #39 overall, yes please.

3 – Le’Veon Bell is the same guy in stature as Shonn Greene. But that is where the similarities end. Bell weighs about 10-15 pounds more than Shonn but is much quicker. Not only is he quicker, he is stronger and actually makes people miss. He is quite the anomaly.  Another 3rd or 4th rounder that will provide great value.

4 – Giovani Bernard has carried the UNC Tar Heels the last two years. Both years he had at least 1.200 yards and 45 receptions out of the backfield. He averaged 5.24 and 6.7 yards per carry over the past two years, respectively, while having at least 14 total touchdowns each year. Not only being consistently good, he has the speed and ability to break off big runs and make people miss in open space. He can also return punts and did so with success this past year.

5 – Marcus Lattimore. While recovering from another gruesome knee injury, The Jets should consider taking a flier on Lattimore. When he is healthy, he has been one of the best, if not the best running back in the NCAA. He really has it all but just has to stay healthy.

Frank Giasone

With Shonn Greene and Gang Green likely parting ways this offseason, April’s NFL Draft is the perfect time for the Jets to find a versatile running back with big play speed. Bilal Powell should be back, and after a vastly improved 2012 season he’ll likely return with some anticipation. While he may or may not be feature back material, it’s fairly obvious to anyone watching that he can, at the very least, do what Greene has done in the No. 1 role. But Powell clearly won’t be able to do the job alone, and Joe McKnight hasn’t proved capable of an increased workload thus far, which means the Jets must address the running back situation either in free agency or the Draft.

1 – Giovani Bernard (UNC, 5’10”, 205 lbs): The sophomore RB might be off the board when the Jets get ready to pick in the second round, thanks in large part to his big play ability out of the backfield both as a runner and a receiver. Bernard is a hard runner who keeps his legs moving and consistently gains yards after first contact. The UNC ‘back shows patience at the line of scrimmage, a quick burst through the hole, and devastating moves in open space.

Despite some questions regarding the level of competition in the ACC, racking up over 1900 all-purpose yards (6.7 yards per carry, 10.4 yards per catch) and 19 touchdowns, is hard to ignore. Combine his abilities out of the backfield with great punt return skills and Bernard could be one of the most versatile Jets since Leon Washington.

He’s my No. 1 RB in the 2013 Draft, and it’s my guess that lots of scouts feel the same way. While he’s currently projected as a second round pick, a solid showing at the Combine or individual workouts could easily propel him up draft boards and into the first round.

2 – Eddie Lacy (Alabama, 6’1”, 22 lbs): After devastating the Notre Dame defense to the tune of 140 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the BCS Title Game, Lacy’s name has shot up Draft boards. One of the top running backs in the ’13 Draft, some experts are so enamored they have him projected to go in the first round.

A hard runner who keeps his feet moving and shows some quickness, Lacy is decisive when hitting the hole and flaunts an impressive jump cut and spin move. Not afraid to lower his shoulder into a defender, Lacy also shows promise as a receiver out of the backfield.

Lacy dominated the SEC racking up 1332 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns, along but some question the impact of rushing behind the best offensive line in the nation. Some other concerns include his top end speed and injury concerns.

Andre Ellington3 – Andre Ellington (Clemson, 5’9”, 190 lbs): Smaller than some of the other top running backs in the ’13 Draft, Ellington’s most impressive traits are his tremendous balance and footwork, as seen in his ability to break tackles and pick up yards after contact.

While the Clemson senior faces the same ACC questions as Bernard, he also boasts similar versatility as a runner, receiver and kick returner. Ellington shows the acceleration and explosiveness to create big plays, as well as patience running behind blockers, good vision and the ability to make strong cuts.

At only 190 pounds Ellington struggles with blitz pickup, tending to dive at a defenders knees rather than fully committing himself to the block, and has some questions regarding his durability. He’ll likely have to put on size to survive in the NFL, but his natural ability and highlight reel moves certainly make him an attractive option for the Jets after Round 2.

4 – Kenjon Barner (Oregon, 5’11”, 192 lbs): Barner also lacks the ideal size for a running back in the NFL and can sometimes struggle hanging on to the ball, but boasts some of the best big play ability at the position.

While Chip Kelly’s scheme may have enhanced his numbers over the past two seasons, his quick, shifty moves are undeniable and will likely translate in the return game. Certainly a threat as a receiver out of the backfield, Barner is projected to go sometime in the Round 4 or later and should garner lots of interest.

 5 – Johnathan Franklin (UCLA, 5’11”, 198 lbs): Franklin is another speedy prospect who capable of breaking a big gain at any time. Projected to go somewhere in the fourth round, the UCLA senior is similar to Barner in that they both share smaller builds, big play ability, and struggles with fumbles.

A patient runner with good vision, Franklin also struggles in pass protection (although showed progress in ’12) and lacks experience as a return man. Franklin emerged as a receiving threat in his senior year, finishing with 33 catches for 323 yards and two touchdowns (his previous season high was 10 catches in 2009).

New York Jets Potential Draft Targets: Quarterback

The Turn On The Jets draft team looks at who the New York Jets could target at quarterback in April’s NFL Draft

sanchez draft

In the coming weeks here at Turn On The Jets, we will be providing a position by position breakdown of prospects that could potentially be targeted by the New York Jets in this year’s NFL Draft. These prospects are not ranked based on where they may stand in the overall prospect pool. They are ranked based on the specific needs of the Jets, and the reality (or lack thereof), of New York targeting and potentially selecting them, taking into account not only on their ability and potential, but where they would be most valuable to the Jets based on the current state of the roster. Today, we begin with a look at potential quarterback prospects that New York could target. Be sure to give our draft team, Chris Gross, Frank Giasone and Zev Sibony a follow on Twitter, as they’ll be leading our NFL Draft coverage through April.

Chris Gross

While the play at the quarterback position was nothing short of a blooper reel for the better part of the 2012 season for the Jets, there are a surplus of holes on the roster that need to be addressed before touching the personnel that may be lining up under center in 2013. While quarterback is certainly the most important position in today’s NFL, quantity does not equal quality. New York cannot afford to stockpile mediocre quarterbacks hoping that one of them catches on, while ignoring their glaring holes at outside linebacker, offensive line, running back, inside linebacker, safety, and tight end.

While a top tier quarterback prospect would certainly mask many of the flaws that plague New York’s current roster, there is not one player in the 2013 draft who fits that bill. It is because of this that the Jets are highly unlikely to address this need via the draft in any round earlier than the fourth, if at all. Here is a look at some potential prospects who could potentially be available late on day two or early on day three in April’s draft.

EJ ManuelEJ Manuel, Florida State, 6’5″ 240 lbs – Manuel, to me, is one of the most intriguing prospects at the quarterback position this year. His size fits the bill of a prototypical NFL quarterback, but does his play? Manuel threw for an impressive 3,392 yards and 23 touchdowns at Florida State this past season, including a 68.0 completion percentage and a 156.0 passer rating. What’s encouraging about Manuel is that he has improved in each of his four seasons at FSU, in a career that allowed him to display his vast intangibles including 2010 Academic All-ACC recognition, receiving a community service award in 2011, and being named team captain for his junior and senior seasons.

The red flags on Manuel stem primarily from durability concerns and overall mechanics. His footwork and release need serious improvement for him to be effective at the next level, and he has sustained multiple injuries during his career as a Seminole. However, Manuel does a good job of making pre-snap reads and going through his progressions. He isn’t NFL ready by any means, but with a year or two of quality coaching and fine tuning his fundamentals, he can surely be a starting quarterback in this league. His draft stock will likely depend on how he performs in the upcoming pre-draft events (Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, Pro Day), but there is a chance he could be had in the late third, early fourth round this year.

Landry Jones, Oklahoma, 6’4″ 218 lbs – Jones was a highly touted prospect after a strong sophomore season at Oklahoma, but has tailed off recently. Still, he has been very productive during his tenure as a Sooner, having thrown for over 4,000 yards in each of his three seasons as a full time starter. Jones has the size and arm strength to be an effective NFL quarterback, but like Manuel, his mechanics are flawed at times. When Jones executes the proper footwork and release, his accuracy and zip are excellent. However, he has developed a tendency to extend his release longer than neccesary and, coupled with inconsistent footwork, his accuracy and arm strength have taken a hit.Landry Jones

What Jones needs to do is work on these fundamentals, while displaying a level of confidence in the interview process with NFL teams. There are some concerns about his mental makeup considering that his production has dipped in each of the past two seasons, following his strong sophomore campaign. Still, the potential is there for him to grow into a quality player in this league. Depending on how his pre-draft performances go, he could be in the same range as Manuel, availability wise.

Tyler WilsonTyler Wilson, Arkansas, 6’3″ 220 lbs – Wilson is another viable late round option. While his production at Arkansas has not been off the charts, some feel as though he has been hampered by a poor supporting cast (sound familiar?). Wilson, like the previous two players, shows inconsistencies in his mechanics, but flashes brilliance when fundamentally sound. He has proved an ability to throw accurately on the run which, depending on who the Jets offensive coordinator is next season, could be an appealing quality.

As a leader, Wilson has been highly praised by his coaches at Arkansas for his work in both the weight and film rooms, as well as having fantastic poise in tough situations. He has the mental makeup of a quality quarterback which could make him the pick for New York, considering the hit that they have witnessed Mark Sanchez take in that area this past year. His flaws can certainly be worked on, but his abilities are unlikely to garner him a selection until late day two, at the earliest. Again, a lot will depend on how he is evaluated in the coming weeks.

The Hot Names – Every year following the conclusion of the collegiate football season, there are a few “hot names” at each position; players who were marginal during their seasons, but put together stronger performances to finish the year. This year, at quarterback, the two players being most commonly discussed are Mike Glennon of North Carolina State and Ryan Nassib of Syracuse. While each of these players have the tools to be good players at the next level, the way each of their stocks are rising, they are likely to be selected in one of the first two rounds. Last year, neither would likely have been considered until day 3, however with a depleted class at quarterback this season, each of them could find themselves rising up draft boards, particularly if they have strong Senior Bowl performances. While both of these players could help the Jets current quarterback situation, don’t expect New York to use an early pick at the position this year, primarily for the reasons mentioned above.

Frank Giasone

Trying to find an NFL ready quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft is about as easy as, well, finding an NFL ready quarterback on the New York Jets roster. With names like Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, Tyler Wilson and Mike Glennon the leading candidates as April approaches, one thing is clear. A few teams are going to reach for a QB…and it’s not going to end well.

Here are my top five QB prospects for the Jets heading into the Draft:

Brad Sorenson, Southern Utah, 6’5’’, 235 lbs A BYU transfer, Sorenson is an intriguing small school “project” QB. His big build, strong arm and ability to fit passes into small windows are sure to the peak the interest of NFL scouts as Draft Day approaches. The senior also boasts surprising athleticism, accuracy throwing on the run, and does a good job of keeping his eyes downfield, even when pressured. Some concerns are his time spent in a shotgun-heavy offense, as well as the low level of competition in the Big Sky Conference, but his late round projections make him a great choice for the Jets.

Landry Jones, Oklahoma, 6’4”, 220 lbs The decision to return for his senior season may end up hurting Jones, as some view him as a second or third round prospect in 2013. After being ranked as high as third in last years QB class, Jones now find himself lumped in with the likes of Mike Glennon, Tyler Wilson and Ryan Nassib. While his stock has fallen, Jones still possesses the arm strength, accuracy and intelligence that made him a top prospect last year, making him an interesting option if he slides.

Matt Scott, Arizona, 6’2”, 200 lbs With mobile quarterbacks all the rage now in the NFL, Scott has a very good chance to climb up draft boards in the next few months. Extremely successful running Arizona’s spread-option offense, Scott is sure to draw comparisons to Colin Kaepernick as the ’13 Draft nears. For now he’s projected as a third or fourth round pick, but that could all change with an impressive showing at The Combine.

Mike Glennon, NC State, 6’5”, 232 lbs Glennon has been a popular name in college football the past two seasons and with good reason, as his impressive arm strength and accuracy have some projecting him as a top 10 pick in this years Draft. While he’s still needs work on his footwork and fundamentals, his ability to stand tall in the pocket and move efficiently certainly helps conjure up images of a future franchise QB.

Zac Dysert, Miami (Ohio), 6’3”, 228 lbs Dysert also spent a lot of time in the shotgun formation at Miami University, but shows good accuracy on short and intermediate passes. Not asked to go downfield often, Dysert lacks the zip on his passes some look for from a QB. He does a good job of keeping his eyes downfield consistently and is also athletic enough to run with the football, but he may be the biggest project QB on this list.

Zev Sibony

The draft this year is not stacked at Quarterback like it was last year. None of the quarterbacks in this year’s class fit the mold of Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. There are no players that are going to wow you in the first round, and few, if any, “steals” like Russell Wilson. I do not believe Geno Smith will be good in the NFL, nor do I think Matt Barkley will be. The USC curse is real. After that, you have Quarterbacks like Tyler Wilson and Tyler Bray who are both questionable picks. Landry Jones is still there, but he has underwhelmed this past season and I’m also not sure he will translate well into the professional league. None of this really matters because with the amount of holes the Jets have to fix, they aren’t going to spend a pick on a Quarterback in the first 4 or 5 rounds.

The Jets should address their quarterback situation in free agency by bringing in a veteran who can be a game manager. That being said, if the Jets choose to select a quarterback, they should target one of the following. The players below are likely to go undrafted and it should stay that way. This is a mix of the Jets having greater needs, combined with an underwhelming talent pool at the quarterback position in this year’s draft.

Colby Cameron, Louisiana Tech, 6’2” 205 lbs- 4147 yards, 68.8 completion percentage, 31 TDs, 5 INTs. Coming out of the WAC, one can’t really expect that much, which is why Colby will probably go undrafted. I have watched some film of him and I think if he had the proper quarterback coach, something may sprout from him. While he may not have the strongest arm, he shows great accuracy. He is strong in the pocket and has good touch on the long throws. Nothing to ogle about but things to consider.

David Fales, San Jose State University, 6’3” 220 lbs- 4193 yards, 72.5 completion percentage, 33 TDs, 9 INTs. He has the “prototypical” size of an NFL quarterback, but again, it is hard to go undrafted and become somebody in the NFL. Fales doesn’t throw the prettiest ball, but he makes the right reads. Then again, he is going against WAC competition so it is tough to get a great read on him.

Ryan Aplin, Arkansas State, 6’1″ 205 lbs- 3342 yards, 68.8 completion percentage, 24 TDs, 4 INTs. Aplin finished his season strong at Arkansas State with a bowl win over #25 ranked Kent State. He went 21/30, 213 yards and 1 TD. While not jumping off the page, Aplin seems to take care of the ball and make the right decisions. The quarterback also is a 4 year starter and got better each year he played. He likely wont be drafted but another QB that may surprise people if drafted by the right team with a good QB coach.

It is hard to be an undrafted free agent QB and succeed in the NFL. Typically there is a reason quarterbacks go undrafted. Tony Romo is a rare guy. Can Colby Cameron, Dave Fales or Ryan Aplin be the next Tony Romo? Unlikely. But it will be interesting to take a look at each of them as they go through the draft process.