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.

Scouting Notre Dame’s Top NFL Draft Prospects in 2013

Frank Giasone looks at the top NFL prospects from Notre Dame and if any of them would fit with the New York Jets

11-201-0-ND-Army-3

A big welcome to Frank Giasone who is going to assist Chris Gross and Zev Sibony with the Turn On The Jets NFL Draft Coverage. In the aftermath of the National Championship Game, Frank takes a look at Notre Dame’s top NFL prospects, while Zev will be looking at Alabama’s (coming soon)…Both will also take into consideration if any of the prospects could be a good fit for the New York Jets – 

While Monday night’s National Title Game was certainly nothing short of awful, the team that found itself on the losing end – the No. 1 ranked (please, try not to laugh) Notre Dame Fighting Irish- really does have some NFL-ready talent coming out in the 2013 Draft this April. Although some Draft stocks may have fallen with Monday’s performance, the overall sentiment remains that this Irish team has a few prospects that appear talented enough to help the Jets in the future.

Today we’ll take a look at the top six potential Notre Dame draft picks in 2013, and see which ones, if any, the Jets should target this April.

Manti Te’o (ILB) – Drafting Te’o has been a highly debated topic within Jets circles the past few months. The middle linebackers’ impressive senior season has led some to deem him the Draft’s “best pick”, while others have gone as far as  comparing him to Ray Lewis. His performance on Monday night will surely temper the enthusiasm of a lot of people, as questions now arise regarding Te’o’s ability to shed blocks against the behemoths up front in the NFL. Although Te’o may turn out to be a successful inside ‘backer in the NFL, organizational needs make him a doubtful option for the Jets in Round 1.

Tyler Eifert (TE) – Eifert is another one of the guys that lots of Jets fans are clamoring over. Arguably the highest rated player coming out of South Bend (as far as the Jets needs and system), Eifert boasts the natural ability and size that should translate in this, the ever-evolving world of the tight end. With Dustin Keller’s “Injury Tour” (also known as his Jets career), likely coming to an end, April’s Draft is the perfect place to find his replacement. This time around, Jets fans everywhere are hoping Rex & Co. can find a more complete TE, versatile enough to contribute both in the passing game and as a run blocker. Eifert looks like that guy.

Standing at 6-foot-6, 255 lbs. the Notre Dame TE’s most prevalent attributes are his skills as a receiver. Efiert shows terrific hands and quickness, the ability to go up and catch the ball at its highest point, and solid route running. While most Jets fans want to hear that Eifert will still be on the board when the Jets hit the podium in Round 2, the truth is that he will most likely hear his name called sometime late on Day 1. There’s also the possibility that Eifert could go as high as the top 20 (a team like Chicago may have interest, although glaring needs on the OL make the selection debatable), or at No. 22 to St. Louis. The most likely scenario – assuming he slides past No. 22- is that he’ll find himself as a late Day 1 selection, possibly as Jermichael Finley’s replacement in Green Bay or as the heir apparent to Tony Gonzalez in Atlanta. If the Jets really like him, they’ll probably need to sneak back into the first 20-26 picks or – the less likely option – trade down from No. 9

Interesting Note: Only one TE has been taken in Round 1 since 2010 (Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati, Pick No. 21).

Zeke Motta (FS) – The possible departures of Laron Landry and Eric Smith (the latter more highly anticipated than the former) means the Jets, once again, need to figure out the safety position. Motta doesn’t project as a starting FS in the pro’s, but he does exhibit great size, and is a sure tackler who makes his presence felt on the field. Motta’s strengths are his physicality and intelligence, but his fit in a two-safety system at ND  -and his flaws in coverage – make some nervous that he’s susceptible to getting beat deep by NFL wide receivers.

With that being said, his open field tackling and special teams potential make him an interesting Day 3 option.

Prince Shembo (OLB)- While the talented junior has yet to declare for the ’13 NFL Draft, Shembo’s intangibles make him an intriguing prospect as a 3-4 OLB. Impressive speed, quickness off the ball and a high motor, in addition to his sure tackling and ability to fight through blocks, helped him to 52 tackles and 7.5 sacks in 2012, as he seemingly came out of nowhere to shine for the second-ranked run defense (seriously, stop laughing) in college football. The junior also shined at DE when the Irish defense switched to 4-3 looks, increasing his overall value. Shembo may decide he’s better off heading back to school for his senior season, as he’s currently projected to be a Day 3 pick. If he does declare, he’s another interesting option for the Jets ever-needy linebacker corp.

Cierre Wood (RB) – Wood, another Notre Dame junior who has yet to declare for the draft, is a one cut runner who exhibits quickness getting to the second level. Never afraid to lower a shoulder into a defender, the ND ‘back is at times too indecisive behind the line of scrimmage, meaning his decision-making and instincts will need to improve if he wants to have success in the NFL. Another concern with Wood is the absence of breakaway speed that many teams covet in a running back. Doubtful that the Jets will have interest if he declares, especially with Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell on the roster.

Kapron Lewis-Moore (DE) – Lewis-Moore saw his draft value plummet Monday night, after a torn ACL in his right knee took him out of the game in the first half. The injury occurred on the same knee that cut Lewis-Moore’s 2011 season short with a torn MCL. Before the injury, Lewis-Moore was projected as a fifth or sixth round prospect at the DE position, capable of having success at both the three and five techniques in the NFL. With the severity of the injury, and the probable 1-year rehab following surgery- Lewis-Moore may find himself undrafted.

Turn On The Jets 2013 NFL Draft Big Board 1.0

Chris Gross with his first big board for the 2013 NFL Draft

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Turn On The Jets is going to have the NFL Draft covered from every angle in the coming months. Chris Gross will lead our coverage along with Frank Giasone and Zev Sibony. Make sure to check back for daily updates. When the site redesigned (February 1st) we will have a separate page archiving all our draft coverage, so it easily sorted amongst the rest of our content. Take it away Chris —

To kickoff our draft coverage here at Turn On The Jets, we bring you our initial TOJ Big Board – An overall look at who we feel are the best 20 college prospects poised to enter this year’s NFL Draft. As the draft process unfolds, this board is sure to have some changes to it on a week-to-week basis, so be sure to check for updates as we enter the days leading to the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, and individual workouts heading into April. This list will expand to 25 and eventually 30 players in the coming weeks as we review more film of potential prospects. Let’s jump right in.

1.) Chance Warmack, Guard, Alabama6″3″ 320 lbs: It is extremely rare to have an offensive guard ranked at the top of college prospect rankings, but Warmack has been a stud on the best offensive line in the nation this year. The Crimson Tide ran for an average of 224 yards per game out of a pro-style offense in an a conference that yields NFL caliber defenses in terms of personnel and scheme. Warmack has excellent strength at the point of attack, and combined with his fantastic footwork and ability to get to the second level, he is surely a can’t miss prospect this year.

2.) Star Lotuleli, Defensive Tackle, Utah6’4″ 325 lbs: Lotuleli may not get the exposure that he would if he played on a team in the SEC, but he is the surest defender in this year’s class. A rare combination of size, strength, and quickness will make him a fit in any scheme at the next level. He is big and strong enough to be an effective Nose Tackle in a 3-4, while possessing the explosiveness and agility to be a playmaking 3-technique in a 4-3. There hasn’t been an interior defensive lineman this versatile since Ndamukong Suh came out of Nebraska a few years ago.

3.) Jarvis Jones, Outside Linebacker, Georgia – 6’3″ 241 lbs: Jones leads a loaded class at outside linebacker this year. 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.

4.) 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. Like Warmack, Joeckel is a can’t miss prospect.

5.) Damontre Moore, Defensive End, Texas A&M – 6’4″ 248 lbs: Moore has drawn comparisons to the last great Texas A&M defensive prospect, Von Miller, and for good reason. He has that 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. Moore 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.

6.) Bjoern Werner, Defensive End, Florida State – 6’4″ 255 lbs: Werner is one of those prospects that immediately jumps off of the film due to his unstoppable motor. Having moved from primarily a 6I technique in his junior season, Werner has shown his athelticism and ability to be an excellent edge rusher this year. In terms of pure strength, Werner may be the best at his position this year, which will make him an appealing prospect for either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. The combine will be key for Werner’s stock as a 3-4 OLB as there are some concerns about whether or not he possesses the athleticism needed to make the transition from having his hand on the ground for the majority of his reps. Intellectually, Werner has shown over his career at Florida State that he has no problem grasping new concepts in terms of his position.

7.) Barkevious Mingo, Defensive End, LSU – 6’5″ 240 lbs: Surely some boom or bust potential here, Mingo has the upside that can allow him to develop into a stud at the next level. While his 2012 production took a bit of a hit, Mingo’s athleticism and elusiveness to evade blockers are what stand out on film the most. At 6’5″ he certainly has the frame that NFL scouts look for in pass rushing prospects, and should be able to add some weight that will make his size adequate in the pros.

8.) Dee Milliner, Cornerback, Alabama – 6’1″ 197 lbs: Milliner may be a bit underrated on most boards right now, but make no mistake he is the clear cut leader of the cornerback class this year. There are some concerns about his man coverage abilities, but having played his entire collegiate career under defensive backs guru Nick Saban, there should be little doubt about his knowledge of the position and coachability. Like most players in his category, the combine will be an effective tool to measure how far his stock rises or falls as we head closer to April.

9.) Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle, Michigan – 6’7″ 302 lbs: Lewan is poised to be the next great Big 10 lineman at the NFL level, and for good reason. Aside from his immense size, Lewan shows excellent footwork and hand technique that will allow him to contribute almost immediately next season. His tenacity is something that cannot be coached, but is surely required to play the position.

10.) Manti Te’o, Inside Linebacker, Notre Dame – 6’1″ 248 lbs: While Te’o will likely see his stock fall in the next few weeks due to a rather lackluster performance in the BCS National Championship, remember he was going against the best interior lineman in the entire nation. His performance against Alabama will certainly raise some red flags and question marks about whether or not his productivity from Notre Dame can translate to the NFL, but let’s not forget his impressive overall body of work as the foundation of his defense for the past 4 seasons. Te’o has the rare intangibles that will make him a sure upgrade for any team in need of an interior linebacker.

11.) Johnathan Hankins, Defensive Tackle, Ohio State – 6’3″ 335 lbs: It is surely tough to gauge how Ohio State defensive lineman will translate to the NFL due to the poor track record in recent years (Vernon Gholston!), but Hankins has immense size and strength that make him a force at the point of attack. He certainly is not as versatile as some of the other defensive lineman in this year’s class, but he has the potential to be a very productive pro.

12.) Jonathan Cooper, Offensive Guard, North Carolina – 6’3″ 320 lbs: Cooper is a bit of an underrated player in my opinion, but the agility he possesses at his size will make him a very good pro. He consistently shows the ability to blow defenders off the ball at the point of attack, as well as having arguably the best range, in terms of getting to the second level, out of any interior lineman in this year’s class.

13.) Ezekiel Ansah, Defensive End, BYU – 6’6″ 273 lbs: Ansah is a prospect who is sure to see his stock soar following the combine and his individual workouts. An extremely raw prospect, having finished just his second year of playing football, Ansah flashes very unexpected instinct and recognition. While there is serious boom or bust potential here, having seen his growth in his very small sample of time playing the game, I feel very comfortable about how he will grow in the NFL. Ansah was originally recruited to BYU to run on the track and field team, and his athleticism is evident on film, particularly considering his immense size.

14.) Alec Ogletree, Inside Linebacker, Georgia – 6’3″ 237 lbs: A converted safety, Ogletree has the top end speed that NFL teams are looking for in interior linebackers that is needed to match up with the league’s new wave of athletic tight ends. His superior sideline to sideline ability allow him to be a menace on the field as he has great ability to tally up a large number of tackles on any given day. The biggest concerns for Ogletree will be how well he can adapt to becoming a downhill player at the next level. However, given his size and athleticism, he has the potential to end up being the best at his position in this year’s class down the road.

15.) Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Notre Dame – 6’6″ 250 lbs: Eifert comes from a school that has consistently produced quality NFL tight ends throughout their history, and there is no reason to believe he is not the next to join that class. A massive target, Eifert shows tremendous ball skills, and a great ability to leap over defenders. His overall top end speed is the only concern as of right now.

16.) Sheldon Richardson, Defensive Tackle, Missouri – 6’4″ 295 lbs: Richardson accumulated an astounding 75 tackles and 4 sacks this past season, eye-popping numbers for an interior defensive lineman. A very physical player, Richardson flashes excellent technique in terms of both hand and footwork, along with a relentless motor that is vital to the position.

17.) Dion Jordan, Defensive End, Oregon – 6’7″ 243 lbs: Jordan is very high on some boards out there, but to me he has the biggest bust potential out of any player at his position this year. While he certainly has the range and athleticism to be a very effective OLB in a 3-4, Jordan does not show as consistent a level of tenacity as I like to see out of defensive lineman. Durability will be a concern moving forward as well, as he is poised to missed the Senior Bowl due to an injury sustained in his last game.

18.) Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, Texas – 6’1″ 218 lbs: Vaccaro is very intellectually impressive, as his film reveals his great ability to recognize routes and react to them. He has the long frame that NFL scouts look for in an early round safety, and he has shown he can be effective in the run game as well. His range does not scream “elite” by any means, but in the right scheme, Vaccaro can excel.

19.) Geno Smith, Quarterback, West Virginia – 6’3″ 208 lbs: Smith is probably the most athletically gifted quarterback in this year’s class, but is any quarterback truly worthy of a first round grade this year? I am not sold on that notion one bit. However, Smith put together a very impressive season at West Virginia, that is being forgotten due to his poor performance in the Pinstripe Bowl against Syracuse. Smith may be more of a developmental prospect, but his size, athleticism, and overall body of work at WVU, particularly his completion percentage, will make him an intriguing player for a team in need of a quarterback in the late first/early second round.

20.) Eddie Lacy, Running Back, Alabama – 6’1″ 220 lbs: Lacy flew a bit under the radar this season as a major beneficiary of the nation’s best offensive line, however, he has put together an extremely impressive body of work over the course of his career at Alabama, having averaged nearly 7 yards per carry throughout his three seasons with the Crimson Tide. Lacy has excellent size and strength, combined with fantastic balance and vision that should translate well to the NFL. His top end speed will be the biggest concern, but a strong combine performance will put those questions to bed, further boosting his draft stock.