Despite not winning the division, the New York Jets have been the AFC East team to go the furthest in the playoffs the past two years. So yes, I would say New England and certainly Buffalo and Miami are chasing them. Here is a quick look at where the Jets divisional rivals are picking in round one and what type of talk has been surrounding those picks —
Buffalo Bills – #3
There is plenty of speculation about the Bills drafting their quarterback of the future, whether it ends up being Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert depending on how the board breaks. Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller has also frequently been tied to the Bills. I have a tough time seeing them pass on a quarterback. This franchise badly needs a shot in the arm and either Newton or Gabbert could supply that.
Miami Dolphins – #15
Running back Mark Ingram was a popular pick for awhile but there are now questions about whether he is really a first round talent. The more recent speculation has been that Miami will officially end the Chad Henne era by taking a quarterback, specifically Ryan Mallett. If they decide to ignore their skill positions, center Mike Pouncey would be a safer pick and would help boost their inconsistent offensive line.
New England Patriots #17 and #28
We know New England won’t hesitate to move around the first round but if they stay put, their defensive and offensive lines have been rumored to be the target areas. Cameron Jordan, a defensive end from California and Boston College offensive tackle, Anthony Castonzo have been popular picks. There has always been some chatter lately about them targeting Mark Ingram if the Dolphins decide to pass on him.
Round one of the NFL Draft is only a few short days away and despite having an idea of what direction we think the Jets will go in, position wise, the 30th selection in the draft remains very up in the air. Will the Jets…
- Address their defensive line by adding Muhammad Wilkerson if he happens to fall to them or by taking Phil Taylor despite his the injury concerns? Could they add a five technique like Cameron Heyward?
- Improve their pass rush by taking Akeem Ayers, Justin Houston, or Brooks Reed to play outside linebacker? Ayers has been a popular pick for the Jets the past few months, yet Reed is becoming a hot name and shooting up many draft boards. Houston has questions about his motor and consistency, which should make the Jets gun shy considering that whole Vernon Gholston thing.
- Surprise everybody and ignore their defensive front seven in round one and add to their secondary or maybe reach for a wide receiver. Cornerback Jimmy Smith would be intriguing if he fell to 30 and Rahim Moore is the best safety on most people’s draft board and he should also be available. Wide receivers Leonard Hankerson and Jonathan Baldwin would be reaches but the Jets could be feeling a little desperate with Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, and Brad Smith all free agents.
- Disappoint all the fans who show up Thursday night and trade out of the first round. Mike Tannenbaum might want to trade back into round two to acquire more picks and then look to target somebody like Stephen Paea or Jabaal Sheard.
The Jets front office is rarely predictable. Regardless, you would assume this will be a defensive heavy draft for the Jets who need to get younger and improve their depth at all three levels. You would also think the Jets want to leave this draft with at least six players, if not more considering they have only made seven selections the past two years.
We have been paying a lot of attention to whom the Jets are going to pick with their first round selection, but one guy cannot account for all of the Jets needs. Mid round picks are essential for the development of a championship team. With the Jets not having a second round pick, the need to land quality players in the later rounds is even bigger.
The first late round prospect we will look at is Chykie Brown (pronounced shock-ey) who is an athletic cornerback from the University of Texas. There is little doubt that he would be a project for Dennis Thurman, but some believe his athleticism should be enough for the Jets to take a chance on him. His long arms and athleticism make his ball skills the strongest part of his game. However, he does not have the best awareness on the field and can sometimes be thrown around a little by bigger receivers, on top of that, he does not offer much in terms of run support. Going into a draft with Rex Ryan at the helm, cornerback is always an option, especially this year with uncertainty around who is coming back and who might change positions in the Jets secondary.
On the other side of the ball, the Jets might be looking to improve their wide receivers. One guy who the Jets could take a look at is Austin Pettis. Pettis is a tough, hard-working player who the Jets could move into the slot position. He is more quick than fast as he ran a 4.56 40 at the combine but had a combine best 20 yard shuttle at 3.88. He has good hands andsome big play potential, however he seems to be a one-speed player who lacks the ability to consistently separate from NFL man coverage. Personally I think the Jets needs for a receiver is overstated, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to roll the dice on a hard working player.
Back to defense, the Jets might be wise to pick up a safety sooner than later and that guy could be, if he falls, Ahmad Black from Florida. Coming out of a program like Florida, Black has played in big games and should be able to handle the pressures of playing football in January. He was very productive in college and is able to read the QB eyes and keep the play in front of him. Black has the athletic ability to play center field in a Rex defense and is much more comfortable in that role than playing press man to man. Black has the potential to be a productive player at the next level, he is one of the better safety’s in a weak class and the Jets would have to get him in third round if he even drops that far.
The last guy we will look at is Mississippi State linemen Pernell McPhee. Rex has shown the ability to be able to get production out of average talent at the defensive line position. McPhee is best against the run; he uses good leverage at the point of attack and is able to get into the backfield. Against the pass, he isn’t quick enough to get around the edge and to consistently get to the quarterback. He does have a bull rush which was effective in college, but he will need to expand his pass rushing skills if he wants to stay on the field in the NFL. It might be tough for him to transition to the 5-technique but there is nobody questioning his motor so if picked, hopefully he will work to get better.
A few scattered thoughts on the Jets draft plans with round one only one week away…
1. Mike Tannenbaum had his pre-draft press conference today and shockingly said a whole bunch of nothing. He did continue to seemingly randomly rave about backup defensive end Marcus Dixon. To me this sounds like damage control for when the Jets let Shaun Ellis walk or attempt to low-ball him on a contract offer. Dixon looked okay in very limited action last year, yet it would be very foolish to expect him to handle a starting role on the defensive line next season.
2. Tannenbaum and VP of college scouting Joey Clinkscales said the Jets have 8-10 players they are targeting with the 30th pick. One man’s guess at those players — Phil Taylor, Cameron Heyward, Muhammad Wilkerson, Akeem Ayers, Justin Houston, Brooks Reed, Jimmy Smith, Ryan Kerrigan, Stephen Paea, and Corey Liuget
3. The Jets claimed they aren’t concerned about the reports on Phil Taylor having chronic foot problems. We will only know if they are lying if they decide to pass up on him at #30.
4. If the Jets stay put with their six selections, which is unlikely from their history. I would guess they add in no particular order: DL, OLB, WR, S, ILB, CB.
5. With the first round one week out. I am going to guess there is about a 5 percent chance the Jets move up in the first round. Keep in mind, they have only drafted seven players over the past two years and only have six total picks this year. Besides who is going to be there in the 18-22 range that the Jets will be desperate to trade up for?
6. I think it is much more likely the Jets will trade down and look to acquire more picks to improve their defensive depth.
7. If the Jets stay put, I’d say the favorite is either Phil Taylor or Akeem Ayers, with Brooks Reed and Jimmy Smith (if he is on the board) being dark-horses. Also if Muhammad Wilkerson falls to #30, which is doubtful, I think the Jets would pounce on him.