TOJ New York Jets Mock Draft 3.0

TOJ rounds up all the recent mock drafts and gives his prediction for what the Jets will do in the NFL Draft

The NFL Draft is now only 6 days away. Here is an updated look at what multiple mock drafts have the New York Jets doing with the number 16 pick in the first round, along with our current prediction. Here at TOJ, we are looking to make it three years in a row of predicting the Jets first selection correctly, previously calling it right on Kyle Wilson and Muhammad Wilkerson.

Before we get into our third mock draft. Check out our previous draft coverage, led by myself and staff writer Chris Gross

To the mock drafts…

Don Banks, Sports Illustrated – Courtney Upshaw, Outside Linebacker, Alabama

Peter King, Sports Illustrated – Dontari Poe, Defensive Tackle, Memphis

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports – Courtney Upshaw, Outside Linebacker, Alabama

Evan Silva, Rotoworld –  Melvin Ingram, Outside Linebacker, South Carolina

Walter Football – Chandler Jones, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Syracuse

ESPN NFL Blog Network – Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame

Charley Casserly, NFL.com – Nick Perry, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, USC

TOJ – Melvin Ingram, Outside Linebacker, South Carolina

Analysis – The picks for the Jets are starting to move all over the place. A few weeks ago the consensus seemed to be Courtney Upshaw or Mark Barron but with Barron’s climb up most draft boards and Upshaw’s decline, it would be far from a surprise if the Jets ended up with neither. There is now talk that Upshaw could slide all the way out of the first round while Barron has stabilized himself as a top 15 pick that the Jets would be lucky to see available at #16.

More rumors have been linking the Jets to Melvin Ingram, who seems to be the most logical fit on the Jets roster. Many coaches could be scared away by Ingram not being a perfect fit in any one position, while Rex Ryan would embrace that versatility to line him up at outside linebacker, inside linebacker, defensive end and even defensive tackle. Considering Jacksonville’s apparent lack of interest in Ingram, there is starting to be some talk that he could slide to #16 which would be the best case scenario for the Jets, allowing them to get the player they really want without having to sacrifice any picks.

If the Jets were to trade up, Carolina is the most logical trade partner at #9. Mike Tannenbaum and Panthers GM Martin Hurney have worked together on draft day before when the Jets moved up to get Darrelle Revis. They also worked together on the Kris Jenkins trade. Unfortunately such a move would likely cost the Jets their second round pick this year.

One other option that is a little far fetched, if Trent Richardson somehow slips out of the top six. I would not be stunned if the Jets traded up to 7 to grab him. He is good enough and fits well enough with their identity that it would be worth it.

At the moment, here are my projections for the Jets first round pick in descending order of likelihood:

5. Trade Up For Trent Richardson – Crazier things have happened on draft days. If somehow he slips past #6, the Jets could look to trade with Jacksonville and take the draft’s unquestioned top back.

4. Stay Put And Take Michael Floyd – I don’t think the Jets would trade up for Floyd but if he falls to 16, depending on who else is available they would strongly consider him.

3. Stay Put Or Trade Back For Courtney Upshaw, Dont’a Hightower, Chandler Jones or Andre Branch – If the Jets miss out on Ingram, one of these players would be their next target at linebacker. Hightower is an inside linebacker but would provide the best value at 16. The Jets may now be able to trade back a few spots and still get Upshaw. If they want Branch or Jones, they should look at trading back into the mid 20s.

2. Stay Put Or Trade Up For Mark Barron – Unless Ingram is still on the board, there is nobody the Jets would be happier to see at #16 than Mark Barron. The Jets could also consider hopping over Dallas to try and snag him.

1. Stay Put Or Trade Up For Melvin Ingram – If Ingram falls to 16, the Jets are taking him. If they don’t think that is likely, they are going to make a strong push to move up to grab him.

NFL Draft: New York Jets Could Target Inside Linebacker

Chris Gross breaks down what inside linebackers the New York Jets should consider in the NFL Draft

With so much focus on who the Jets could target at Outside Linebacker, Safety, Wide Receiver, and Running Back in this year’s draft, little attention has been paid to the idea of New York selecting an Inside Linebacker in one of the early rounds. Many people forget that before the start of free agency, the Jets were reportedly shopping Bart Scott. No deal was ever made for Scott, but the intention to move the aging ILB shows that the Jets will be ready to get a younger player to pair with David Harris in the near future. There are three players worthy of the Jets taking in one of the early rounds.

1 – Luke Kuechly, Boston College – Kuechly is undoubtedly the cream of the crop of this year’s Inside Linebackers. With 516 career tackles at Boston College, including an astounding 191 this year alone, the 2011 Butkus Award winner is simply a tackling machine. Not only does Kuechly have ideal size at 6’3” 242 lbs, but his speed (4.58 40) and strength (27 reps) combined with his phenomenal football IQ and instincts to make him the prototypical Inside Linebacker. He would be a great fit with New York, but his value is likely in the top ten, and it is doubtful that the Jets would trade up to draft a position that is not its greatest need. However, if he somehow falls to them at 16, don’t be shocked if they pull the trigger on the BC product.

2 – Dont’a Hightower, Alabama – Hightower is one of the most intriguing players in the draft this year. With 83 tackles, 4 sacks, and 1 interception this past season, his numbers aren’t as impressive as Kuechly’s, but let’s not forget that he was on a defense with 3 first team All-Americans. Simply put, there was no room for one player to post huge numbers. Aside from statistics, Hightower’s measurables are what make him so interesting. At 6’2” 265 lbs, a 33 inch arm length, and great speed for his weight (4.68 40), Hightower is a player than can be moved all around the Jets’ scheme. He has the ability to play inside, while also possessing the intangibles to be a situational pass rusher off the edge. Rex Ryan could certainly be creative with his abilities, and this could possibly solve two needs in one, while grooming him to take over for Scott when the time comes. He should be available when the Jets pick at 16, and this has the potential to be an eyebrow raiser next Thursday night.

3 – Mychal Kendricks, California – Kendricks’ stock is rapidly rising as draft day approaches, and he is likely to be an early second rounder. At 5’11” 249 lbs, he certainly has the size needed to take on the double teams as a 3-4 ILB, while also possessing amazing speed (4.47 40) to make him a pass rushing threat from the inside (14 career sacks at Cal). The question with Kendricks will be if the Jets are willing to move up in the second round to get him. We have seen this act before when New York moved up in round two to grab David Harris in 2007, a move that was one of Mike Tannenbaum’s best decisions as GM. Expect the Jets to take a hard look at Kendricks if they don’t take Kuechly or Hightower. If he is available to them in the second round without having to trade up, it will be almost impossible for Gang Green to pass on a talent like this.

If the Jets do opt to pass on ILB in one of the first 3 rounds, there are several late round prospects they will take a look at. The top two late round prospects are Bobby Wagner of Utah State and Nevada’s James-Michael Johnson. However, despite being very quality, productive players, these two are a bit undersized to play 3-4 ILB, and will be much more suited to play MLB in a 4-3 scheme. I do not see either of them fitting into the Jets’ draft plans.

Audie Cole out of North Carolina State has a very high ceiling, but would be a work in progress. At 6’4” 246 lbs, he has great size and the production to go with it, posting 107 tackles and 5.5 sacks last season. However, his strength is well below average with only 15 reps on the bench press. This certainly will not cut it at the NFL level, especially in a 3-4 scheme, but his late round value may make him a worthy pick as a developmental type player.

Finally, New York could, and should, target Arizona State’s Vontaze Burfict in rounds 5-7. Burfict has been missing in action in every mock draft after a horrible combine, in which he weighed in at 248 pounds and ran a very below average 4.93 40-yard dash.

However, after the season, Burfict was a projected first rounder by several analysts including ESPN’s Todd McShay. Since then, his attitude issues and poor testing numbers have dropped him so far down draft boards that Mike Mayock of the NFL Network recently wrote that he sees Burfict going undrafted. That may be a bit extreme, especially when noting Burfict’s production at Arizona State the past two seasons, where he had 158 total tackles, 5 sacks, and 1 interception. His aggressive attitude that has seemed to scare many scouts away would fit perfectly with the Jets. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and has the swag that Rex Ryan looks for in his linebackers. If New York can grab Burfict in one of the last three rounds, it would produce a low risk, high reward scenario, and they should not hesitate to take a chance on him.