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 West Coast Offense Primer

A primer on how the New York Jets offense will need to change next season

marty-mornhinweg

The New York Jets have made a fairly radical shift in their offensive scheme by hiring Marty Mornhigweg as their new coordinator. Mornhigweg brings his unique brand of the “West Coast Offense” with him from Philadelphia, which will be quite a departure from Tony Sparano’s “Ground and Pound, JV High School Playbook.”

Over the next few weeks, we are going to do a number of pieces covering different aspects of the offense. Obviously “West Coast Offense” is a large umbrella term. Yes, Mornhigweg is a disciple of the system and will bring many elements of it with him but the offense he ran in Philadelphia is far from a carbon copy of what Bill Walsh ran in the 1980s or the systems that Jon Gruden, Mike Holmgren or Steve Mariucci used, among others.

To help focus on Mornhigweg’s specific offense, we are going to have Michael Nolan write a piece for us in the coming week. Nolan is a previous NFL Films and NBC Sports employee who is also a die-hard Eagles fan that has seen every game Mornhigweg called for them and he will speak to how he changed the play-calling from Andy Reid and how he varied it from Donovan McNabb to Michael Vick to Nick Foles quarterbacking.

In the meantime, we are going to provide a general overview of the West Coast system and what is required out of the various offensive positions in it, along with how the Jets personnel fits.

A Little History – Bill Walsh is considered “The Godfather” of the system, which he developed as an assistant coach for the Cincinnati Bengals and saw perfected as a Head Coach of the San Francisco 49ers with Joe Montana under center, en route to three Super Bowl titles. Since then many coaches from the “Walsh Tree” have ran derivatives of the offense to varying degrees of success and with their own unique spin on it. A few recent examples would be by the offense Mike Holmgren ran in Seattle with Matt Hasselbeck, what Jon Gruden ran during his time with Oakland and Tampa Bay and the Andy Reid/Marty Mornhigweg’s offense in Philadelphia with Donovan McNabb, Mike Vick and then Nick Foles.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s you had quarterbacks like Joe Namath and Johnny Unitas calling their own plays, based off whatever had been repped for certain situations in practice during the week. Walsh’s system gave the play-calling responsibilities to him or the offensive coordinator over the quarterback and frequently worked off a script early in the game that wasn’t altered, regardless of the game situation. Over time more responsibility has been shifted back to the quarterback in terms of having the freedom to audible and avoid working off such a specific script.

General Principles – The WCO looks to spread the defense out and attack heavily in a horizontal, quick-hitting passing game. Generally, it is pass heavy with the short passing game, replacing many elements of the running game. Three-step and five-step drops are frequently used, making the timing between the quarterback and receiver even more critical than usual. Due to the spread formations, versatility and speed are key traits of running backs and tight ends. In the running game, a zone scheme is usually used more heavily than a gap blocking scheme, although Marty Mornhigweg loves to run sprint draw which uses man or gap blocking.

Personnel 

Quarterback – Accuracy in the short to intermediate passing is crucial, along with the ability to make quick reads. Mobility is a plus because rollouts could frequently be used. Looking at Mark Sanchez (because whether you want to admit it or not there is a decent chance he starts next year), Mornhigweg could run a simplified version of the offense like he did for Michael Vick. Basically, he could cut the field in half and have Sanchez work on 1-2 read route combinations. Sanchez has shown an ability to throw the slant route and quick in-cut well (both critical routes in this system) and has also been productive on rollouts. Of course 2012 Mark Sanchez can’t do anything that resembles NFL quarterbacking in any system. However, 2010 Mark Sanchez? The West Coast offense could be an interesting fit for him.

Wide Receiver/Tight End – Receivers need to run precise routes and be smart enough to read a defense on a high number of option routes, making the proper break that is in sync with the quarterback. They also must be able to consistently catch the football in traffic and create yards after the catch. The three main positions are split end (Braylon Edwards/Stephen Hill), a larger receiver who will line up predominantly on the weak side, work mostly as a possession receiver but can get off press releases and take advantage of the defense with an occasional deep post when the coverage is rolled away from him. The flanker (Santonio Holmes/Jeremy Kerley) is usually the primary play-maker and can move all over the formation. The slot (Jeremy Kerley/Santonio Holmes/Jordan White) works tighter to the formation and is a quicker player who is adept at reading defenses and finding the soft spot in zones or beating linebackers/safeties in coverage.

2010 Santonio Holmes could be a beast in this offense because of his quickness and run after the catch ability, not the more recent version of Holmes who has been lazy on his routes and completely out of sync with the rest of the offense. Jeremy Kerley should also flourish because of his route running ability and ability to make people miss in space. Stephen Hill has an uphill battle because he doesn’t run precise routes at all and struggles to catch the ball in traffic, which makes keeping Braylon Edwards on the cheap that much more important.

At tight end, the ability to flex out and be a pass catching option is critical. Dustin Keller’s likelihood of coming back increased substantially with the Mornhigweg hiring. Keller should catch plenty of passes in this system, both in the intermediate passing game and as a checkdown option. If the Jets get some kind of consistency at quarterback, a 4 wide set with Keller and Kerley working in the slot, with Holmes and Edwards/Hill on the outside will create plenty of match-up problems for a defense.

Running Back – Good-bye Shonn Greene. Running backs in this system must be versatile and strong pass catchers with the ability to split out and run crisp routes. They also need speed to take advantage of the lanes created in spread formations and to run sprint draws. Greene’s chances of returning went from 5% to 0% with the Mornhigweg hiring. On paper, Joe McKnight’s skill set is a terrific fit but can he stay healthy and can he protect the football? Bilal Powell should also be a decent fit but only as a secondary option. Look for the Jets to address running back in the first three rounds of the draft, with a player like Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor being a potential target.

Offensive Line – Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson shouldn’t have problems in this system and right tackle Austin Howard should also be a good fit. Howard is a strong run blocker who will be able to get out in front on sprint draw, while the three steps and rollouts should help mask his deficiencies in pass protection. The Jets still need to figure out guard with both Matt Slauson and Brandon Moore free agents, but theoretically either would be solid enough fits in a predominantly zone blocking scheme.

Turn On The Jets Off-Season Roundtable – Wide Receiver

The TOJ staff discusses how the New York Jets should handle wide receiver this off-season

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Welcome to our off-season review of the New York Jets roster at Turn On The Jets. Each week we are going to attack a different position. We will have a roundtable discussion on it, Steve Bateman will submit a film breakdown examining it and our draft staff will look at potential prospects the Jets could add. So far we have covered quarterback and running back, this week we move to wide receiver – 

How should the New York Jets handle wide receiver this off-season?

Joe Caporoso – The situation for the New York Jets at wide receiver isn’t quite the mess that many of their other offensive positions currently are but plenty of questions marks still exist. Jeremy Kerley had a terrific season and was the team’s most consistent player on offense in 2012, racking up 56 receptions and 827 yards which are monster numbers considering the team’s passing game last year. We know he will be back and be a critical part of the offense, likely working primarily from the slot.

Outside of Kerley, the question marks begin. 2012 second round pick Stephen Hill will be back after an inconsistent and generally disappointing rookie campaign. He must improve his route-running and ability to catch the ball in traffic if he wants to play major reps next season at split end. The team would be wise to bring back Braylon Edwards on a veteran’s minimum deal as insurance. Edwards ran strong routes in his three games with the team last year and looked like he still had plenty to give. If Hill’s development isn’t coming along well enough, Edwards can handle major reps on the outside and excel in the three-step game, particularly on slants and in-cuts.

Santonio Holmes is coming off major foot surgery and the team’s owes him a significant amount of guaranteed money. It is not out of realm of possibility that they will cut bait or look for a trade partner. Holmes has the skill set to be productive in Mornhigweg’s scheme, if he is the focused player he was during the 2010 season. However, the Jets cannot afford the same type of lazy route running and lack of communication with the quarterback they saw from him at times in 2011 and 2012. His fate remains up in the air but if Holmes is back in 2010 form, along with Edwards returning on a cheap deal, the Jets have the potential to have a deep, talented group of receivers. A four-wide featuring Holmes, Edwards, Kerley and Hill would be difficult for any defense to deal with.

At the bottom of the depth chart, don’t look for Clyde Gates or Chaz Schilens to return. In theory, Jordan White should have a skill set that is a perfect fit for the Jets new offense so maybe he will make some noise in training camp. Don’t look for the Jets to be too active in the free agency or trade market at receiver, with other positions taking priority this off-season. If they could stockpile draft picks, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Jets add a mid-round or late-round prospect to develop down the road but it would be shocking to see them select a receiver before round four.

Chris Gross – While the New York Jets have an abundance of offensive personnel issues to address this offseason, one position that may not necessarily need a total overhaul is wide receiver. The most important issue for the Jets receiving corps is health. It is imperative that Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill return at full strength from each of their respective injuries. Holmes was lost for the season with a Lisfranc injury in week 4, while Hill suffered a less severe leg injury later in the season.

It will be interesting to see what new General Manager John Idzik decides to do at the position, considering the newly hired Marty Mornhinweg will be implementing a West Coast Offense. Holmes and the emerging Jeremy Kerley seem to fit the bill in terms of wide receivers meant for this offense, but neither are viewed as the type to stretch the field for big gains. Each of them are stronger in the short passing game, while making runs after the catch. Hill would presumably be the player relied upon as the deep threat, with his tremendous speed and size, but he certainly still has a lot of growing to do.

Braylon Edwards is another interesting case. Edwards was brought in late last season as a move of desperation for an offense that was down to starting Clyde Gates and Mardy Gilyard opposite Kerley. Idzik was part of the front office in Seattle that released Edwards last season, just prior to the Jets claiming him off of waivers. If I had to guess, I’d say Idzik does not opt to bring Edwards back. He has been part of a group that has recently parted ways with him, and Edwards does not necessarily fit the bill of an effective WR in the West Coast Offense. Edwards is more of a possession receiver, with a small amount of ability after the catch at this point in his career. If he is brought back, it will likely be on a one year, incentive based deal.

stephen-hillSo outside of Holmes, Kerley, and Hill, who will be playing wide receiver for the Jets next season? With the current state of the salary cap, the Jets will need to have a very good draft, as well as landing a budget free agent, who they can get the most bang for their buck out of. That immediately rules out all of the big name players that will be hitting the market this offseason. Dwayne Bowe, Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings, Victor Cruz, and Wes Welker can all almost certainly be disregarded, barring any type of major trade that frees up cap space for New York. More realistic options in the free agent market would include players like Louis Murphy, Josh Cribbs, Kevin Ogletree, or Jerome Simpson. None of these players will be nearly as effective as the prior, but they would come at a much cheaper rate, and each of them have the ability to provide production beyond their pay grade, if utilized properly.

The trade market is quite possibly the most interesting aspect of the Jets offseason to monitor. We have previously explored the idea of moving CB Antonio Cromartie in an effort to maximize his trade value and relieve some much needed cap space. One possibility that Idzik could explore for Cromartie, is moving him to the Minnesota Vikings for Percy Harvin. Minnesota could certainly use help in the secondary having surrendered the 9th most passing YPG last season, with 244.2, and also generating the 4th least number of interceptions, with just 10. A player like Cromartie would greatly bolster the production level of this struggling secondary, while providing a nice veteran presence for young players like Harrison Smith to lean on.

Conversely, Minnesota and Harvin have publicly been at odds over Harvin’s contract situation since the conclusion of the 2011 season. Rumors have been floated for about a year about Harvin being moved, but Minnesota has been reluctant to do so thus far. Perhaps a package including Cromartie could finally entice the Vikings to rid themselves of Harvin and any lingering contract disputes.

For New York, Harvin would come in and likely become the primary receiving option right away. His skill set would fit nicely with what the Jets are moving toward on offense, having a a slightly more physical, larger style of play than Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson. Attaining a player like Harvin would then allow the Jets to explore the option of trading players like Santonio Holmes. Whether or not they would be able to find a partner for such a deal remains to be seen, but it would certainly be something that would be looked at in the hypothetical scenario of Harvin, or a player of that mold, being acquired.

Realistically, the Jets are likely to sign a low cost free agent, while taking a chance at a later round receiver in this year’s draft. For who those players could potentially be, be sure to check back Thursday, as our draft team breaks down the best wide receiving options for the Jets in the 2013 draft.

Mike Donnelly –  The Jets wide receiver position was an absolute wasteland last year, littered with players like Jason Hill, Mardy Gilyard, Clyde Gates, and Chaz Schilens. The unit’s best player, Santonio Holmes, was injured early in the season and was placed on IR. The 2nd round draft choice, Stephen Hill, was banged up numerous times throughout the year and when he did take the field, he showed an impressive ability to drop passes. Oh wait, that wasn’t a good thing at all, nevermind.

The best and most effective player week in and week out was clearly Jeremy Kerley, who actually had a very solid season and proved that he can be a major contributor going forward. The only other reliable option was Braylon Edwards, who was brought in toward the end of the season after being cut by Seattle due to a knee injury. It’s not too often you see a team pick up a starting receiver during week 14 after he was just cut by another team, but that is just what Mike Tannenbaum was forced to do.

As we all know by now, the Jets hired Marty Mornhinweg as their new offensive coordinator and he will be bringing his west coast offense with him. So what does that mean for the receiver position going forward and what changes will be made? Surprisingly, I don’t think the position will look all that different in 2013. Santonio Holmes will almost certainly be back due to his contract. Holmes tends to get lazy in his route running, but he has explosive after-the-catch ability and he could return to his big playmaker days. Stephen Hill is going to be here as the new coaching staff tries to develop him, because while his hands are made of stone, you can’t teach a player be be 6’4” with blazing speed. Jeremy Kerley is going to be back as well and play a major role as the slot receiver, which is a huge position in Mornhinweg’s offense. Look for him to have a ton of catches next year.

The other player likely to be back in 2013 and play a role for us? Braylon Edwards. Braylon loves being a Jet, and he was productive down the stretch, even though our quarterback position was a catastrophe. I don’t think the Jets are going to use a high pick on a WR this year, and will choose to develop Hill and Kerley instead. Under that scenario, we need a solid veteran to rely on along with Holmes, and Edwards fits the bill. He provides a tall target that can get deep down the field, and most importantly, his price tag will not break the bank. With the Jets salary cap situation being what it is, that is unfortunately going to be a major factor when shaping the 2013 depth chart. The Jets have pressing needs all over, so I don’t expect the WR position to be addressed in a major fashion. What we see is what we’ll get, whether we like it or not.

TJ Rosenthal – Vision for how the Jets should revamp the WR position is blurred until a new system is in place with a QB who can deliver the ball accurately and on time in it. As for the current roster, if the Jets go to a West Coast style, we could envision Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley thriving. Stephen Hill? We are not sure that system highlights what his strengths are.

Chaz Schilens and Braylon Edwards are not exactly constant quick hit speed guys to us but size will be needed in the red zone and on short yardage slants. The one WR Jets fans might want to see more of in a short spread passing game could be a healthy Jordan White. I believe he led the nation in catches as a senior in college. Reception monsters thrive in west coast systems.

The Jets clearly need WRs via free agency and the draft. The aforementioned group even with an elite QB is not good enough. New GM John Idzik will work within budget constraints in the attempts to fix the issue. We can’t expect Idzik to fix the problem with any one or two particular WR’s until we see who will be throwing the ball. Footwork, throws on time, hitting tight windows. Making good decisions. Give us that QB before we start to fill in who fits best on the outside.

Turn On The Jets Championship Weekend Picks

The Turn On The Jets gives their picks for Championship Weekend

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The Race for Steak is down to the final three games and it appears we have a winner clinched, although second place is still up for grabs. 

CURRENT STANDINGS

1. Rob Celletti (140-117-7)

2. Chris Gross (134-123-7)

3. Mike Donnelly (134-125-5)

4. Chris Celletti (129-129-6)

5. Joe Caporoso (119-138-7)

Joe Caporoso

Last Week (2-2)

  • Atlanta (+4) over San Francisco
  • Baltimore (+8) over New England

Mike Donnelly

Last Week (2-2)

  • Atlanta (+4) over San Francisco
  • Baltimore (+8) over New England

Rob Celletti

Last Week (2-2)

  • San Francisco (-4) over Atlanta
  • Baltimore (+8) over New England

Chris Celletti

Last Week (2-2)

  • Atlanta (+4) over San Francisco
  • Baltimore (+8) over New England

Chris Gross

Last Week (3-1)

  • San Francisco (-4) over Atlanta
  • New England (-8) over New England

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 Hire John Idzik To Be Next General Manager

The New York Jets have hired John Idzik to be their next General Manager

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After a long, meandering process the New York Jets have hired former Seattle Seahawks VP of Football Administration John Idzik to be their next General Manager. Here is Idzik’s full biography and in an article written on future GM candidates back in December, Albert Breer of NFL.com had this to say about him –

“Idzik is a sleeper to keep his eye on, because of his versatility. He’s a business side guy who runs the team’s cap but he also does some college scouting for Schneider (Seattle’s GM) and has a wealth of experience with franchise rebuilds, going back to Dungy’s Bucs.”

To summarize his current job – He runs Seattle’s salary cap while remaining active in personnel evaluations. He has been with them since 2007. Prior to coming there, he was the Senior Director of Football Operations for the Arizona Cardinals for three years and was a big part of building a roster that reached the Super Bowl. Before that he was with Tampa Bay for 11 years moving from Pro Personnel Assistant, Director of Football Administration, and finally to Assistant General Manager in 2001.

Idzik was also a graduate assistant coach at Duke University and played football collegiately at Dartmouth. His father was an assistant coach in the NFL for numerous teams including the Jets.

Is Idzik’s background primarily on the salary cap side of things? Yes. However, he comes from a football heavy background and has experience with scouting and personnel evaluations, much more so than Mike Tannenbaum did. Look for Idzik to remake the team’s scouting department and hopefully bring in a few strong-minded individuals on the personnel side of things.

No GM hiring is a slam dunk but Idzik has an impressive background and the Jets certainly did their due diligence on this search. It will be interesting to see if Idzik quickly parts ways with front office holdovers from the former regime like Terry Bradway and Scott Cohen. The team also still needs to locate an offensive coordinator, with Pep Hamilton, Hue Jackson and Marty Mornhigweg all remaining candidates.

Press Conference Notes For The Next New York Jets GM

How the New York Jets new GM can win over the fanbase immediately in his first press conference

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The next General Manager of the New York Jets will immediately face a highly scrutinized press conference, where he will answer to a group of bitter beat writers and angry,anxious fans. In hopes of him succeeding and seeing our generally miserable fan-base have something to be happy about, I have prepared the following suggested comments for his first press conference –

(Walk out wearing a Jets polo shirt, holding a clipboard filled with player evaluation notes, with a stop-watch around your neck and a visor on. Jets fans permanently hate “accountants or bean-counters” after Mike Tannenbaum the past few years. The worst possible thing you could do is come out wearing glasses, holding a calculator and use the word “process” more than once. So make yourself look like a coach or “A REAL FOOTBALL GUY”)

“Hello. Let me begin by asking Manish Mehta, Gary Myers or anybody from The Daily News to leave the room. You are banned from the building this season. Is this fully legal? I don’t know. But you can go preoccupy yourselves with fighting back for partial credentials, then come back to watch practice from 700 yards away and have 8 minutes of locker room access per day, where you are only allowed to talk with Tanner Purdum and Hayden Smith. Thank you and good-bye.

Second, Mark Sanchez isn’t going to be on the team next year. I just watched all the game tape from last year and I’m pretty sure him and Russell Wilson don’t play the same sport. Did you see those interceptions against Arizona and the turnovers against Tennessee? LAWD! I don’t care how much money we owe him, he won’t be here. The young man had a good run on the field and off the field…Kate Upton, Eva Longoria…KNOW WHAT I MEAN? Here’s hoping that out of the New York spotlight he can find success in the NFL or just a job alongside Joey Harrington and Jesse Palmer on a college pre-game show.

Third, Tim Tebow isn’t going to be on the team next year. We don’t need the media circus and quasi-cult following for a guy who caps out at being the 25th best quarterback in the league. He can’t throw and throwing is important in today’s NFL. No Sanchez. No Tebow. We’ll find a better quarterback for this year and for the long term and he will be prohibited from talking to GQ.

Pertaining to our offense, nobody will use the term “Ground and Pound” anymore or “All Weather Offense.” There will be no more eligible tackles on 35% of our snaps. There will be no “Wildcat.” We are going to run a competent NFL offense that can complete 15-18 yard passes down the field with some type of regularity. Our running backs will also have the ability to avoid ramming their heads into defenders in the open field and will instead look to make them miss tackles.

On defense…hey Bart Scott, shut up and you are cut. Calvin Pace? Too slow. You are gone too. Bryan Thomas, thanks for everything over the years except the recent apparent assault case on your girlfriend. Guess what? You aren’t coming back. We are going to find linebackers who are fast and can rush the quarterback.

Rex is going to be the coach and that is it. He will draw up Xs and Os and motivate our team. He will also put on 120 pounds and go back to being this guy. He will have no say on personnel decisions. Did you see John Conner play football? Rex will be at Taco Bell during the draft this season and has no choice in the matter.

ESPN won’t be at training camp this year. Woody Johnson will make no public comments related to football,because he sounds like an idiot when he does…sorry Woody. Our entire PR and media department has been fired because they are awful at their jobs. Our entire gameday entertainment department has been fired because they are awful at their jobs. No more celebrity J-E-T-S chants before games. No more announcing the special teams starters. No more fireworks after field goals. More flight crew! And Fireman Ed, here is my personal invite to come back next season and I’m only offering once, put back on that Bruce Harper jersey and come on back.

Fans, we have some work to do but turnarounds happen quick in the NFL. Stay with us.

…oh and Mike Francesa, you are an asshole and nobody associated with our organization will come on WFAN until you start working with Mad Dog again or retire.

Goodnight!”

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).

Should The New York Jets Move To A 4-3?

Should the New York Jets move to a 4-3 in 2013?

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The New York Jets defense has gradually declined the past few seasons, mostly due to a lack of speed at linebacker and an inability to consistently pressure the quarterback. Heading into 2013, the team will see three former starters at linebacker leave for cap purposes and declined play (Bryan Thomas, Calvin Pace, Bart Scott), along with both starting safeties and a key defensive lineman in Mike DeVito hit free agency. Looking at the current pieces they have and their cap space, does it make sense for the Jets to consider moving to use predominantly a 4-3 look, instead of a 3-4?

The strength of the unit is currently defensive line. Muhammad Wilkerson is coming off a terrific season and has the skill set to line up all over the formation, particularly at both a 5 and 7 technique (as our resident defensive lineman Chris Gross assured us). Quinton Coples is built to rush the edge in the 4-3 and can also slide inside to rush from defensive tackle in certain passing situations. Remember he was a double-digit sack guy at UNC in his junior year at DT. If resigned, Mike DeVito and Kenrick Ellis can play defensive tackle with Damon Harrison coming off the bench.

At linebacker, the Jets myriad of issues will be easier solved in  a4-3 than a 3-4. Considering they are stuck with David Harris and his bloated contract, he could slide over to playing weak-side backer which will help hide his speed limitations. Last year’s third round pick, Demario Davis has the speed and collegiate experience to play strong-side, which leaves the Jets to find a long term middle backer. If they stay in a 3-4, they need two outside linebackers and have very valid questions if Harris can play inside in the 3-4 competently. For depth purposes in the 4-3, Antonio Allen played the “spur” in college and can be a backup at strong-side linebacker and Garret McIntyre has shown enough to be a backup on the weak-side.

In the secondary, regardless of the system the Jets should be considering a trade of Antonio Cromartie to both free up cap space and receive draft compensation. A middle round pick and the extra available money could help fill the void in the middle at linebacker and potentially at safety since LaRon Landry will probably not sign here long term while Yeremiah Bell could return on a low-cost one year deal.

Rex Ryan is a smart enough defensive mind to handle this kind of transition. The current reality of the Jets defensive depth chart is that they are devoid of talent at linebacker, while they have strong pieces at defensive line. Why not focus the defense more around their strength, than their weaknesses?

New York Jets – Self-Scouting Will Be Critical To Future Success

The New York Jets must improve their self-scouting if they plan on improving in future years

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The New York Jets are expected to make the decision on their next GM in the next 24-48 hours, final candidates include John Idzik, Omar Kahn, Ted Sundquist and Scott Cohen. Regardless of who is hired, it is imperative the new General Manager revamp the team’s scouting department and gives a harshly, critical look to the entire roster. Terry Bradway, Cohen (if he isn’t hired) and other individuals prominently associated with building the current roster need to move on while Rex Ryan needs to be relegated to coaching, not giving input on personnel decisions.

The Jets roster is in a transitional period, to put it kindly. Their offense needs to be rebuilt nearly from scratch and their defense has to be worked around a few key, young pieces.

Offensively, your harsh reality is that the current team lacks a starting quarterback, starting running back, number one receiver, tight end, and two guards, nevermind a poor overall depth situation. Shonn Greene can’t get paid like a starting running back, which means you let him walk. Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow need to go, any way possible. If you can get Santonio Holmes off the roster now, do it because he won’t be on the team in 2014. Does it make sense to keep Dustin Keller here long term considering his limitations blocking and durability issues? Probably not, franchise him and look to move him for a draft pick. It is hard to see Matt Slauson and Brandon Moore coming back, which means you need two new starters upfront because Vladimir Ducasse isn’t a NFL caliber player.

It won’t be a one season rebuilding process on offense. It will take a couple of strong drafts and a few savvy free agency pickups and trades to build this back up. A temporary competent quarterback needs to be found (Matt Moore, Kyle Orton?) along with a long term solution, which is never an easy task. What will be critical is avoiding evaluation mistakes that lead to players like Wayne Hunter, Shonn Greene, John Conner and Stephen Hill being opening day starters in 2012.

Defensively, this team can’t realistically pay Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and LaRon Landry for the long term, not when they already have an excessively bloated contract sunk into David Harris and lack talent all over the rest of the roster. Fans won’t be happy if a guy like Landry walks or Cromartie is traded for a draft pick to free up cap space but there is logic behind hypothetical decisions like that. This team has the makings of a young, elite defensive line with Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples and Kenrick Ellis under contract but linebackers need to be found to compliment them.

There can be no more pushing off finding a pass rusher or hoping a scrap-heap player like Aaron Maybin can lead the way in sacks. The Jets lack of overall speed at linebacker needs to be aggressively addressed in the draft and free agency. With the pistol and spread offense increasingly taking over the NFL, the days of players like David Harris, Bart Scott, Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas being starters is over. Yes, I included Harris who is coming off a putrid year and needs to dumped as soon as it becomes contractually feasible.

The team’s new GM and scouting department has to avoid pitfalls like making a plodding, two-down linebacker the highest paid player at his position in a league that is increasingly moving to spread offenses led by speedy quarterbacks. Considering the team’s current personnel and cap situation, it might be prudent to switch into predominantly a 4-3 while the roster is being remade.

Bold moves need to be made across the board and there can be no hesitancy to part with big names or big contracts in the process. The sooner this roster is torn down, the sooner it can be rebuilt.