The TOJ Draft staff looks at what interior defensive lineman the New York Jets should consider in the upcoming NFL Draft
In continuation with our positional breakdowns of potential NFL Draft prospects for the New York Jets, we turn our attention to a position that, although very promising, will almost surely need some added depth this offseason. Today, our draft team provides a breakdown of the top five potential interior defensive linemen that could be selected by the Jets in April’s draft. These initial rankings are certainly subject to change as we progress through the entire pre-draft process, but as it stands now, these players are who we feel would be the best options for New York’s defense to add up front. Be sure to give our draft team a follow on Twitter, and to check out our previous breakdowns of potential quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and offensive linemen.
The interior defensive line situation for the Jets is quite interesting heading into the offseason. New York surely has young staples up front in Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples, as well as Kenrick Ellis, who flashed brilliance at times last season but struggled to stay healthy. Conversely, the Jets face questions regarding key players on the defensive front. Mike DeVito is an impending unrestricted free agent, and his price tag could end up driving him out of New York. While he is certainly not as flashy as the defensive ends aforementioned, DeVito is the blue collared, lunch pale type player that is a necessity to any defensive line. While it will be difficult to replace a player like DeVito, there are certainly a good amount of players of his mold at defensive tackle in this year’s draft class.
On a similar note, the Jets have uncertainty with nose tackle Sione Po’uha. Po’uha had arguably his least productive season as a Jet last year, largely due to a lingering back issue that hampered his ability to get off the ball and maintain leverage throughout the season. A release of Po’uha is seemingly imminent as it would clear some much needed cap space for Gang Green, while paving the way for Ellis to take over as the full time starter.
The situations of DeVito and Po’uha leave the Jets with some subtle needs along the defensive line. While it would be ill advised for New York to select a defensive tackle in the first round, considering the immense amount of need throughout the entire roster, do not be surprised to see one or two picks used on a defensive lineman this year, depending on how free agency plays out. With that being said, let’s take a look at who could be on the Jets radar come April. Continue reading “New York Jets Potential Draft Targets: Defensive Tackle”
Chris Gross with his second big board of NFL Draft Season. Who is rising and falling?
With the Senior Bowl in the books and the NFL Combine just two weeks away, we are beginning to get a better idea of where each NFL Draft prospect will rank among draft boards leading into April. Although there will likely be a few dramatic changes following Combine and Pro-Day performances, there are still an abundant amount of prospects whose value remains relatively clear at this point. Today, we bring you our first update of the Turn On The Jets 2013 NFL Draft Big Board. As more of the events aforementioned run their course, this board is surely subject to change, but for now let’s look at where each prospect ranks to current date.
1.) Chance Warmack, Guard, Alabama – 6″3″ 320 lbs: No change at the top for now, as Warmack is still the best player at his position in the entire country. He was the best offensive lineman on a team that ran for an average of 224 yards per game out of a pro-style offense in the SEC. Warmack has excellent strength at the point of attack, and combined with his fantastic footwork and ability to get to the second level. Warmack will be NFL ready from day one and should start right from the get go for whichever team selects him this April. It is a bit unclear where he may go, considering the value of the Guard position, but make no mistake, Warmack is one of the most talented players in the draft pool this year. Previously: 1
2.) Jarvis Jones, Outside Linebacker, Georgia –6’3″ 241 lbs: Jones is probably the most balanced linebacker in this year’s class. While he has the ability to be an effective 4-3 OLB, his combination of strength, explosiveness, and pass rushing technique make him an ideal fit as a 3-4 DE/OLB. Jones has the size and long frame to become a nuisance to offensive tackles in the NFL, and combined with his speed, agility, and relentless motor, he will be ready to come in and start for whichever team he ends up with from day 1. He has been declared by some to not have the ideal bend around the corner in his pass rush, but his film shows these notions to be untrue. Outside of Texas A & M’s Damontre Moore, Jones is the most dynamic pass rusher in a class that is full of them, but also displays a superior ability in coverage. Against the run, he struggled at times when facing the double team at Georgia, but in a 3-4 scheme with quality lineman in front of him, this should not be a concern, as he will likely see more isolation blocks against the tight end, and with his ability to set the edge, he should excel against the run, as well. Previously: 3
3.) Luke Joeckel, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M –6’6″ 310 lbs: Joeckel leads a very strong class of offensive tackles this year. A stalwart to the Aggies offense that yielded 2012′s Heisman Trophy winner, Joeckel fits the Matt Kalil, Jake Long, and Joe Thomas profiles as one of the NFL’s next great offensive tackles. While his size and strength are a key factor to what make him so great, it is his tremendous footwork that will allow him to be a day 1 starter when he enters camp. Joeckel will be NFL ready from day 1, like Warmack, but will face some competition for the top tackle spot after a strong Senior Bowl performance from Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher. Previously 4
4.) Damontre Moore, Defensive End, Texas A&M –6’4″ 248 lbs: Moore has the rare versatility to play standing up or with his hand on the ground, making him a perfect fit for any 3-4 defense in need of a pass rusher. However, he certainly has the frame and technique to be a stellar 4-3 end, where he may have more success at the next level, depending on how much weight he will be able to add. Either way, Moore is an extremely versatile prospect with a natural ability to rush the passer, something that is of high priority in today’s NFL. He accumulated 12.5 sacks this season largely due to his arsenal of pass rush moves and great ability to dip his hips and shoulders to get by opposing offensive lineman. Previously: 5
The TOJ Draft Staff looks at what offensive lineman the New York Jets can target in the NFL Draft
In continuation with our positional breakdowns of potential NFL Draft prospects for the New York Jets, we turn our attention to a position that will certainly be needed to added to via the draft. Today, our draft team provides a breakdown of the top five potential offensive linemen that could be selected by the Jets in April’s draft. These initial rankings are certainly subject to change as we progress through the entire pre-draft process, but as it stands now, these players are who we feel would be the best options for New York to add up front. Be sure to give our draft team a follow on Twitter, and to check out our previous breakdowns of potential quarterback targets and potential running back targets, for the Jets.
Chance Warmack, Guard, Alabama – 6’2″ 325 lbs – Warmack is arguably the best player at his position in the entire draft class. With New York likely losing at least one of last year’s starting guards to free agency, this position is among their greatest needs. Warmack would be an incredibly safe pick at 9th overall, but could possibly be attained if the Jets decide to trade down a few spots, considering the guard position isn’t normally valued as a top 10 pick. However, Warmack could be an exception to that notion considering his immense strength, footwork, hand placement, and ability to both drive defenders off of the ball and get to linebackers at the second level. Warmack is the total package. He is big, strong, quick, and incredibly tenacious. Selecting him in the first round would give New York stability at guard for the next decade.
Jonathan Cooper, Guard, North Carolina – 6’3″ 320 lbs –Cooper, although not quite the player Warmack is just yet, is undoubtedly the second best guard in the draft this year. Although Cooper does not possess the overall strength that Warmack does, he is incredibly quick for the position, slides his feet very well in pass protection, and uses his hands like a polished NFL veteran. Cooper will likely be a late 1st, early 2nd round pick, and if the Jets decide to pass on Warmack in the 1st, look for Cooper to be the guy with the 39th overall selection. His agility and strength in zone blocking will make him an ideal fit in Marty Mornhinweg’s system.
Barrett Jones, Guard/Tackle/Center, Alabama – 6’5″ 302 lbs – Jones is the only player in the history of the NCAA to win a National Championship while starting at each position on the offensive line. His versatility up front is unparalleled, which would give a team like the Jets some much needed flexibility in terms of depth on the offensive line. He is extremely intelligent, but has all the physical tools, as well with great strength, leverage, footwork, and overall quickness. His leadership is above and beyond any other lineman in the draft, and his toughness is unheard of, as was displayed by his admission to having played in the National Championship game while suffering from a Lisfranc injury. Jones could end up being a 3rd-4th rounder, with a chance of going in the late second. If the Jets decide to focus on positions outside of the offensive line with their first two picks, Jones is a player that must be on the radar in round 3.
Brian Schwenke, Guard/Center, California – 6’3″ 311 lbs –Although not quite as versatile as Jones, Schwenke proved to be effective at both guard and center last week at the Senior Bowl. His quickness is among the best at the position this year, and although he isn’t necessarily the most physically strong player, he makes up for it with his excellent technique and tremendous use of leverage. He shows very good feet in pass protection, and a very good ability to chip off of double teams onto linebackers at the second level. Like Jones, his versatility will be a plus moving forward. Schwenke is likely more of a 4-6 round player.
Larry Warford, Guard, Kentucky – 6’3″ 325 lbs – One of the heavier guards of the class, Warford certainly is not the typical immobile big man. As put on display in the Senior Bowl, Warford is deceptively quick, with a much better ability to get to the second level than the eye would tell upon initial impression. He has shown to be effective as a puller, as well, as he has an uncanny ability to maintain his feet and balance when blocking defenders in space. The combine will be big for Warford in terms of where he ends up being selected, but as of now he would hold solid value in rounds 3-4.
The Jets have an issue on the interior of their Offensive Line. No starting caliber Guards are on the roster. Slauson and Moore and Unrestricted Free Agents, and Vlad Ducasse isn’t starting caliber. Austin Howard was better than some people thought. His run blocking is really good. His pass protection is about average and there is room for improvement. Another thing is that he became a victim of Mark Sanchez holding onto the ball too long. With the switch to the West Coast offense, it should simplify things for Sanchez, thus making the O-Line not have to block for a full 8 seconds. You can’t expect linemen to block for that long without holding or giving up a sack. Just like you can’t expect much from a CB when plays break down and the WR improvises to meet the QB.
Based on need, the Jets need to leave this draft with 2 Guards, a Tackle and a Center for depth. Let’s look at the top 5 Offensive linemen the Jets should look at and where they should draft them:
Chance Warmack- Guard- Alabama- 6’3” 320 lbs- Quite simply, Warmack is the best. He is the best Guard in the draft and the Jets would be wise to use the 9th overall pick on him. Putting him between Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson would be incredible. The left side of the offensive line would be excellent and the running backs would have absolutely gaping holes to run through. Warmack will be a Pro Bowler sooner rather than later in his career. Not to mention, having a really, really good Offensive Line is at the foundation of every team that is a contender. 1st round. 9th pick.
Johnathan Cooper- Guard/Center- University of North Carolina- 6’3” 310 lbs- Cooper is the second best guard in the draft. He gets set quickly, has active feet and great hands. He is a really good run blocker and an even better pass blocker. He will be a starter in the league next year barring anything unforeseen. Since he is the second best guard in the draft, he will be taken in the 1st round, it is just a matter of when. If the Jets manage to trade down or get another 1st round pick, they can take Cooper in the middle to end of the 1st round and that would be a good get. You can still smack him between Feguson and Mangold and have an incredibly dominant left side. The drop off between Cooper and Warmack isn’t big enough where getting Cooper is “settling.”
Larry Warford- Kentucky- Guard- 6’3” 336- Warford was really good the whole week of the Senior Bowl and in the game itself. He was moving linemen all over the field, showing glimpses of Brandon Moore in his prime. Above average at run and pass protection and best suited as a Right Guard. He has a good lower body to drive defenders off the ball and can get out quickly when pulling. For his size, he has good straight-line speed, as well. Some cons are that he falls off blocks because of lunging occasionally, but that is a tendency that can be broken. He also dips his head in open space at times. He has a lot of experience with 25 starts and 35 appearances. After the Senior Bowl, his stock shot up a bit. He can likely be had in the late 1st round to the middle of the 2nd round. Once again, taking him with the Jets current 2nd round pick would only happen if they addressed a different need in the 1st round.
Barrett Jones- Alabama- Guard/Center/Tackle- 6’5” 311-Barrett Jones was probably the most experienced and versatile person on the best O-Line in the country at Alabama. I say more versatile because he has played at every spot on the line. On the three championship teams in ’09, ’11, ’12 he played Right Guard, Left Tackle, and Center, respectively. He is the ultimate depth-machine and would hold great value with the Jets. I saw a lot of grit and toughness from him while I watched him this last year. He played really well, and apparently, he was playing with a Lisfranc injury that he just recently got surgery on. Drafting Jones is a tough question to answer because we haven’t seen him since the Championship game because of his foot surgery. I think at latest he will get drafted by the second round.
Joe Madsen- West Virginia- Center- 6’4” 310 lbs-Throughout the week at the Senior Bowl, Madsen looked real good. He was moving D-Linemen all over the place and looked technically sound. For the Jets, he could be drafted to acquire depth. Madsen can sit behind one of the best Centers in the league and learn. Not only that, he can also learn other positions so he can be more helpful to the Jets as a team. I can see him getting drafted in the 4th or 5th round. He still has some work to do to be a starting caliber lineman in the NFL, but I can assure you he is already better than Vlad Ducasse.
Free agency is forcing the Jets to make a decision on the interior of the offensive line heading into the offseason. Brandon Moore isn’t getting any younger, and Matt Slauson was so bad in run blocking situations that Vlad Duccasse was actually seen as an improvement. With those questions looming, finding at least one guard in April’s NFL Draft has got to be a focus for the Jets.
While there’s the perceived notion that the Jets offensive line stinks, the truth is that it’s easily the most noticeable strength of a pathetic Jets offense. Austin Howard improved at right tackle throughout the season, and D’Brickashaw Fergusonand Nick Mangold both continued playing at a high level. The real issues on the line include a lack of depth, Slauson’s limitations as a blocker, and Moore’s age and contract concerns.
Personally, I can’t justify using the ninth overall pick on a guard—but anything goes on day two and beyond. Here’s a few offensive lineman that should be on the Jets radar moving forward:
Justin Pugh, Guard, Syracuse –6’5″ 301 lbs: Pugh spent three years playing the left tackle position for Syracuse, but after a very impressive showing at guard during the Senior Bowl, he’s now ranked among the top interior lineman in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Coming into the Senior Bowl the biggest knocks on Pugh were tied to his physical drawbacks and his struggles protecting the edge against some of the more ferocious pass rushers. But with the move inside, those deficiencies become less significant, allowing his more impressive attributes to boost him up draft boards.
As a guard, Pugh’s speed and movement help him reach the second level in a hurry, and while he still needs to add some size and refine the use of his hands, he is certainly an intriguing option to replace Matt Slauson at left guard.
Barrett Jones, Guard, Alabama- 6’5″ 302 lbs:– As Jets fans have seen in recent years, when Nick Mangold goes down, things get ugly…and fast. Although Jones would be best suited as a guard in New York, his résumé at Alabama illustrates extreme versatility on the offensive line; including two years at guard, one year at tackle, and another at center.
Versatility like that is tough to ignore, and it would certainly be convenient to have a viable option to move around the offensive line if need be.
Brian Winters, Offensive Tackle, Kent St– 6’4″ 310 lbs: Winters is another college tackle that appears better suited to play guard at the next level, mostly due to his wide base and good body control.
A blocker that on relies more on brute strength and toughness than anything else, Winters is quick off the snap and does a good job of using his hands to engage the defender. Although Winters likely has the size to play right tackle in the NFL –and while he lacks experience playing on the interior- developing as a guard may be his best bet moving forward. Projected to go sometime in the third or fourth round, Winters could be an interesting project for the Jets.
Jonathan Cooper, Offensive Guard, North Carolina –6’3″ 320 lbs: He’s the highest-rated lineman on my list, but in no way do I condone this selection with the ninth pick in the draft. Realistically, there’s no way Cooper falls into the second round, but he could be an option for the Jets if a “trade down scenario” plays out in April.
Cooper is so highly touted mostly due to his impressive speed, lateral movement, and footwork, along with his enormous frame. Cooper’s explosiveness and balance also are very apparent when watching tape, as he’s able to get to the second level with ease. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him climb into the top 20.
The TOJ Draft staff looks at what wide receivers the New York Jets could target in April’s draft
In continuation with our positional breakdowns of potential NFL Draft prospects for the New York Jets, we turn our attention to a position that, although is not a top need, wouldn’t hurt from the addition of a playmaker. Today, our draft team provides a breakdown of the top five potential wide receivers that could be selected by the Jets in April’s draft. These initial rankings are certainly subject to change as we progress through the entire pre-draft process, but as it stands now, these players are who we feel would be the best options for New York at wide receiver. Be sure to give our draft team a follow on Twitter, and to check out our previous breakdowns of potential quarterback targets and potential running back targets, for the Jets.
Keenan Allen, California, 6’3″ 206 lbs –While it is highly unlikely that Allen will fall to the Jets in the 2nd round, crazier things have happened on draft day. If Allen were to slip down to the 39th overall pick, it would be extremely difficult for New York to pass up on him, despite having taken a wide receiver in the 2nd round of last year’s draft. While Stephen Hill hasn’t even scratched the surface of his potential yet, the new front office in New York is in no way married to him as a piece of the puzzle moving forward. While there is no reason to give up hope on Hill yet, Allen is a tremendous talent that would hold excellent value as an early 2nd rounder.
Allen is a big body at 6’3″ and possesses above average top end speed, with very good ball skills and athletic ability. He has some of the strongest hands out of any player at his position in this year’s class and does a very good job of getting to the ball at its highest point.
Most importantly, however, is Allen’s character. He has been highly praised by coaches and teammates alike for his work ethic and overall coach-ability. He puts in an extensive amount of time studying film, as well as in the weight room. Everyone that has been close to him during his career at California seemingly cannot say enough about his drive and desire to better himself everyday. On an offense that is in dire need of attitude like Allen’s, combined with what can become elite playmaking ability, he would be an excellent selection at the 39th overall pick, despite the improbability that he falls that far. Still, a name to keep an eye on.
Robert Woods, USC, 6’1″ 190 lbs – Woods has flown a bit under the radar as of late, but his immense production as a Trojan should not be forgotten. Woods has adequate size, but the top end speed that can certainly stretch a defense and give his offense a real home run threat. Woods has sure hands and demonstrates a very quick initial burst off the line of scrimmage. He isn’t the most polished route runner, but he shows an ability to adjust his routes based on coverage and has knack for finding the holes in a zone, something that could allow him to thrive in an offense like Marty Mornhinweg’s. He is an extremely competitive player who will always fight for extra yards after the catch and, like Allen, puts in numerous hours in film study and in his physical training. Depending on how he performs at the combine, Woods could end up being a 2-3 round pick.
Tavon Austin, West Virginia, 5’8″ 173 lbs –While Austin certainly does not have the size of the previous two players, his speed and quickness are nearly unparalleled. He needs some fine tuning in his overall route running and ability to get off of press coverage, but Austin has the tools to be a weapon in a scheme like Mornhinweg’s. Picture him in a role similar to what DeSean Jackson had in Philadelphia under Mornhinweg, but a bit more versatile, as he has experience running the ball as well.
Markus Wheaton, Oregon State, 5’11” 182 lbs – Wheaton, like Austin, doesn’t have tremendous size, but is another receiver with big play ability. He does a good job of finding holes in zone coverage, and his excellent footwork and agility allow him to come in and out of his breaks with great fluidity, making curls, hitches, and comeback routes seemingly painless for him. Wheaton is also a very tough player, reportedly having played through some significant bumps and bruises at Oregon State. A fairly strong week of practice leading up to the Senior Bowl will likely help his stock.
Terrance Williams, Baylor, 6’2″ 201 lbs – The size and talent are certainly there for Williams, who can create excellent separation while maintaining an ability to properly adjust his routes when needed. The biggest question marks with Williams are his character. He has been cited for immaturity, and although has the ability to run good routes, can tend to get lazy at times. This will likely cause him to fall into the mid-late rounds, but if New York feels that his talent is good enough to take a chance on getting his mind and work ethic right, he could be worth a flyer in rounds 4-6.
The Jets can likely go into camp next year with a healthy and hopefully motivated Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Jeremy Kerley and have a group that can be sufficient, while continuing to develop 2012 2nd round pick Stephen Hill. Behind the receivers aforementioned, Hill can play without pressure to perform and get better naturally instead of being forced into a role beyond his capacity. Other than these 4 receivers, the Jets should build WR depth with 1 or 2 late picks in the draft.
Late 1st – Early 2nd
4th – 5th
4th – 5th
5th – 6th
If DeAndre Hopkins (82 rec, 1405 yds, 18 TDs) is available in the 2nd round, the Jets should snag him and not look back. Hopkins and Sammy Watkins were supposed to lead Clemson’s receiving corps, but Hopkins ended up outshining Watkins for the majority of the season. As far as receiving goes, he runs great routes, has great hands, and is a burner. He has the ability to beat a defense with precise routes or the deep ball. With the Jets going to a West Coast offense, this will be slam dunk if they can snag him. Watching film on Hopkins, he flashes some talent that resembles that of Julio Jones. Watkins will be tough to get, but if he falls to the Jets, there is a good chance New York looks long and hard at him.
Kenny Stills (82 rec, 959 yds, 11 TDs) was always a very consistent receiver for Oklahoma and quarterback Landry Jones. He is a decent blocker and needs to work on attacking the ball in mid air. Stills has great hands and can develop into a good NFL receiver. He can get separation from defenders and has deceptive speed. He had a small issue with a DUI but it was an isolated incident so I don’t believe it should be considered a major issue. He has average size but can make a play after the catch and is superbly athletic and flexible, which is important for WRs.
Quinton Patton (104 rec, 1392 yds, 13 TDs) was electric in his senior year at Louisiana Tech. He went against Mississippi State corner Johnthan Banks (possible 1st round pick) and after the game; Banks said he was the best WR he played against. Against Texas A&M, a team out of the SEC, he had 21 catches for 233 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is a strong receiver who can get separation and is also good enough attacking coverage to separate and create with the ball in his hands. He is very good at tracking the ball in the air, has quick feet and good coordination. He won’t test extremely well at the combine and coming from a smaller school may hurt his stock, but he can take the next step and play at an NFL level. There is a chance he is taken within the first 4 rounds, but if he slips, he could hold great value in rounds 5-7.
Tavarres King (42 rec, 950 yds, 8 TDs) has consistently jumped off of his college film at Georgia. While his stats aren’t over the top, he has the skill set to be an NFL caliber receiver. From going up to pluck the ball out of the air to getting separation, he can seemingly do it all, he just needs to be more consistent. This would be a developmental pick, but would give the Jets decent depth at the position in 2013. He can beat defenders over the top with straight-line speed and shows good stop, start, go type elusiveness to make defenders miss. He is above average at getting off press coverage, which makes sense because he played in the physical SEC. He would be a good get in the 5th or 6th round to help out the current Jets receiving corp.
The Jets wide receiver group has a number of questions that need to be answered as they prepare for the 2013 season, highlighted by a new-look offense and the continued absence of a legitimate No. 1 receiver.
The biggest challenge the group of wide receivers face coming into the season will be transitioning into Marty Mornhigweg’s “West Coast Offense”, which hinges on precise route running, sure handedness, and the ability to gain yards after the catch. Santonio Holmes, who essentially assumed No. 1 receiver duties by default, should thrive in the system—assuming he’s able to return fully from Lisfranc surgery, and stay motivated. The Jets will likely need to make it work with Holmes considering questions surrounding his rehab and his bloated salary will certainly limit trade options.
With Holmes injured, Jeremy Kerley emerged at the position to lead the Jets with 56 receptions and 827 yards in 2012. Kerley will likely continue building on his success in the pass-happy WCO, able to line up both at the flanker and slot position. But fans will have to wait to see what recently hired GM John Idzik decides to do regarding Braylon Edwards, although it makes sense to bring him back on a one-year deal, especially considering Stephen Hill’s infinite number of issues as a rookie.
With little wiggle room in the salary cap, the most likely scenario for the Jets is to select a receiver in April.
Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech, 6’0”, 202 lbs: Currently slotted to go somewhere in rounds two or three, Patton could find his way into the Draft’s top 40 picks by the time April comes around—especially considering the attention that he’s garnered during the first few days of Senior Bowl practice.
While he may lack the ideal strength and top end speed of an elite NFL receiver, the Louisiana Tech senior is still quick off the line of scrimmage, a very good route runner, and has the ability to consistently gain separation from defenders with his shiftiness and head fakes.
Patton will likely need to add strength in the coming months, as he has shown a tendency to have the ball stripped out of his hands before he can secure the catch.
Conner Vernon, Duke, 6’1”, 200 lbs: Vernon is a very interesting Day 2 option that displays reliable hands, crisp route running, and the versatility to play multiple receiver positions in the NFL.
The ACC’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards lacks ideal speed to thrive consistently on the outside in the NFL, but makes up for it with his precise route running and shiftiness in traffic, as well as his ability to find space in the defense.
Markus Wheaton, Oregon State, 6’1”, 183 lbs: Wheaton is another receiver likely to go early in Day 2. The Oregon State all-time leader in receptions boasts tremendous speed and solid route running, but his overall strength and the reliability of his hands are concerns.
Wheaton’s speed is clearly his biggest selling point and will certainly help him gain attention from NFL teams looking to stretch the field. But it’s his route running and ability to break tackles that help him turn short passes into long gains, making him a very interesting option for a team running a WCO.
Chris Harper, Kansas State, 6’1”, 228 lbs: Harper is a big-bodied receiver who possesses deceptive speed and is sure to get comparisons to Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin (6’1”, 220lbs) as April approaches.
While he lacks some quickness at the line of scrimmage, as well as the quick twitch some like to see in the NFL, it’s his deceptive buildup speed that allows him sneak behind defensive backs downfield.
Never afraid to go up and fight for the ball, the former Oregon quarterback also uses his size as an advantage, regularly punishing tacklers.
Brandon Kaufman, Eastern Washington, 6’4”, 214 lbs: Projected as a Day 3 selection, Kaufman boasts consistent and precise route running as well as reliable hands. While he lacks elite speed, he is deceptively fast considering his build, and has no problems lowering his shoulder into an oncoming defender.
His consistency on the field is what has most scouts impressed, despite playingagainst a lower level of competition at Eastern Washington. If still on the board in Round 6, he’s certainly an interesting option.
The Turn On The Jets draft team looks at who the New York Jets could target at quarterback in April’s NFL 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.