New York Jets Draft Pick Analysis: Guard Robert T. Griffin

Chris Gross breaks down New York Jets 6th round draft pick guard Robert T. Griffin

Chris Gross will be in the film room for Turn On The Jets breaking down all eight of the New York Jets draft selections. Today we look at 6th round pick, guard Robert T. Griffin. (At the bottom of the article, I offer a brief commentary on Griffin from the film I have watched). – JC

With their last of three selections in round six of the 2012 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected Guard Robert T. Griffin out of Baylor University. The Jets were expected to select an offensive lineman at some point in the draft due to the lack of depth up front. However, it came as a surprise to many that New York opted to wait until the end of the sixth round to finally pull the trigger on one of the many big men available this year. Griffin certainly has impressive size at over 6’6” 340 lbs, but there are several aspects of his game that currently prevent him from utilizing his massive frame.

The biggest flaw in Griffin’s game that was exposed in the wide-open offense that was run at Baylor is his lack of athleticism. Although he shows flashes of quickness and agility at times, Griffin more often than not struggles immensely in space. He was frequently asked to pull last season, but was very ineffective in this area. There were times when he blocked no one, times when he showed poor balance and coordination by falling on his face, and times when he flat out ran into one of his teammates. Griffin also showed very poor blocking ability at the second level. When asked to move beyond the line of scrimmage to block linebackers, something very common for any guard to do, Griffin never seemed to be able to get his feet underneath him, and would either be beaten with agility or by strength. His poor balance and lack of center of gravity would make him an easy target for linebackers to shed at their disposal.

Griffin also does not posses the footwork that you would look for in an NFL offensive lineman. He is not very explosive out of his stance, and has a hard time sliding in pass coverage. He also has a tendency to lean his shoulders forward leaving him extremely vulnerable to pass rush moves of both speed and strength. On some plays, Griffin looks as if he is lost, completely unaware of his assignment, causing him to turn his shoulders and allow defenders to come off his backside and make a play. Overall, his footwork is very inconsistent. In short spans, Griffin’s feet can look quick and agile, but the majority of the time his footwork is slow and ineffective in getting his massive frame to be in any position of use.

Although he has several inconsistencies and imperfections, Griffin does do some things well. He has great tenacity, and seems most comfortable in straight on man blocking. The vast majority of the time when defenders were lined up directly over him, Griffin would show the ability to get into them and use his strength and size to drive them off the ball. His footwork is best shown in his kick out blocks, as he proved to be able to get his head inside of defenders and drive them toward the sideline, opening running lanes up the middle.

However, he sometimes does not use his hands to his advantage. Griffin has a very poor habit of trying to block with his shoulders, which allows defenders to get into him and gain the leverage needed to move him around as they please. He also has a tendency to play far too high, allowing defenders to gain even more leverage on him. In order to develop successfully, he needs to work on staying low and improving his hand placement in the worst of ways.

There is undoubtedly some cause for concern in the play of the former Baylor guard. However, it makes some sense that he was appealing to the Jets. First of all, he was, as previously stated, the last of three sixth round selections, so there was very little risk in taking him. Also, his size is certainly attractive. If he can ever learn to apply the proper skill to his frame, he will have tremendous success in the NFL, but that is a very big “if.”

Griffin does have decent man blocking skills, so it isn’t a complete mystery as to why Tony Sparano and the offensive staff would be open to working with this young man. The bottom line is that he will certainly need time to develop. What will work in his favor for this season is the potential lack of depth along the offensive line. Depending on how the remainder of free agency plays out, Griffin could make the active roster simply for the need of an extra body. However, he would be much better suited on the practice squad for a season or two in order to grow and develop as an NFL lineman. Sparano is surely the right man to aid in his development, and at the point in the draft in which he was selected, Griffin’s potential payoff outweighs any risk associated with him. Because of his size, he does have tremendous upside. However, don’t expect anything too soon, as he is an extremely raw product.

New York waiting until the sixth round of the draft to select a lineman, especially one who is going to be such a work in progress, only solidifies the notion that they are ready to move into camp with Wayne Hunter and Vladimir Ducasse competing for the starting job at Right Tackle. Mike Tannenbaum and the coaching staff can say that Austin Howard will be in the mix as well, but everyone associated with this team knows that is simply untrue. Expect the Jets to look into adding a veteran that is still left on the free agent market at some point before the season, perhaps Vernon Carey, whose name has come up countless times due to his familiarity with Sparano. As for Griffin, he is a long way away from becoming a capable offensive lineman in this league, if ever.

Editor’s Notes – From the Baylor film I watched, Griffin doesn’t look like a player who merited a draft pick. The Jets clearly picked him because of his size and their faith in Tony Sparano. Griffin did show good drive blocking skills when he could get on his man, which does translate well to this offense. However he is very, very raw and simply gets lost out there way too much. His field awareness and ability to move around or get to the second level have a long way to go. He looks like the type of player to store on the practice squad for a couple of years.

New York Jets Rookie Camp – The Path To Playing Time

How can the 2012 New York Jets draft picks find themselves playing time this season?

The New York Jets eight draft picks and a large collection of undrafted free agents and tryout players will gather for a mini-camp this weekend. Focusing down on the eight draft picks, what will it take for each of them to receive playing time this season? Who will be their primary competition? Let’s take a closer look –

Quinton Coples – Regardless of whether Coples starts at defensive end or not, he is going to see substantial reps on the defensive line rotation particularly on third downs. In a way Marcus Dixon, Kenrick Ellis and Mike DeVito are competing for playing time with him but in reality Coples has a much different skill set than all three and will likely be used in many unique ways by Rex Ryan. Ideally, at a minimum Coples is a pass rushing specialist this year and then sees the rest of his game develop in the coming years.

Stephen Hill – Unless he bombs out in the pre-season, Hill will be the opening day starter at split end. He has too much speed and size to keep on the bench. Chaz Schilens and Patrick Turner will be competing to be his backup but shouldn’t see anywhere near the amount of playing time Hill does this season.

DeMario Davis – Outside of Aaron Maybin, Davis will be the fastest of the Jets linebackers. While I do not think we will see him in a starting role this season unless there is an injury, he should fill in for Bart Scott at inside linebacker in certain packages and could also line up at outside linebacker for Bryan Thomas to utilize his ability to cover the tight end. He will be competing with players like Josh Mauga, Nick Bellore and Garret McIntyre but considering his skill set and where the Jets drafted him, I’d look for Davis to both make the roster and be a regular contributor on defense.

Josh Bush – Bush’s skill set make him the most natural free safety on the Jets roster. Unless he is beat out by Tracy Wilson or DeAngelo Smith, he should immediately contribute in a handful of defensive packages and be the top backup to Eric Smith who is technically the team’s free safety even though he is miscast in that role.

Terrance Ganaway – He will be competing with Bilal Powell to be active on a weekly basis and then competing with Joe McKnight and Shonn Greene for playing time. His comfort of playing in an option offense makes him an immediate candidate to be a factor on offense when Tim Tebow is under center. Don’t be surprised if Ganaway ends up contributing a few hundred yards of offense this season.

Robert T. Griffin – As our breakdown later in the day will show, Griffin has a long, long way to go before becoming a contributor on a NFL team. This season he will compete with Caleb Schlauderaff and Austin Howard for a spot on the active roster. However, it is much more likely he will end up on the practice squad.

Antonio AllenMake sure you click the link to read Chris Gross’ full breakdown of Allen, who should end up being LaRon Landry’s backup this season, a contributor as a blitzer and play special teams. I’d be surprised to see a journeyman like Tracy Wilson or DeAngelo Smith beat him out.

Jordan WhiteMake sure you click the link to read Chris Gross’ full breakdown of White. He will compete with Patrick Turner and Eron Riley for a roster spot and projects to backing up Jeremy Kerley in the slot if he can make the roster.

New York Jets Draft Pick Analysis: Safety Antonio Allen

Chris Gross breaks down New York Jets seventh round draft pick, safety Antonio Allen

Chris Gross will be in the film room for Turn On The Jets breaking down all eight of the New York Jets draft selections. Today we look at 7th round pick, safety Antonio Allen. (At the bottom of the article, I offer a brief commentary on White from the film I have watched). – JC

When watching game film of New York Jets seventh round selection Antonio Allen, one thing is obvious; he is very much a true Strong Safety. Having played the “Spur” position during his collegiate career at South Carolina, Allen was a rover type safety for the Gamecocks, a position that is almost a strong safety/outside linebacker hybrid. Very rarely was he ever lined up as a true safety, and often times he was placed right in the box alongside the linebackers. Allen’s experience here has allowed him to develop many qualities that should assist his play at the next level.

One thing that stands right out about the 2011-second team All-American is his willingness to tackle. Allen is certainly not afraid to make a big hit, and fills the gap just as good, if not better, than most linebackers do. He seems very comfortable in the box, and is excellent against the run, a vital need for a strong safety in the NFL. He is no stranger to physicality, as on some formations at South Carolina he would line up right on the line of scrimmage, even in a three point stance during some goal line situations. His ability to shed blocks is elite for his position, and he is very aggressive when taking on lead blockers and pulling lineman, one of the reasons he led his team’s defense with 88 tackles. Allen is a tough kid who plays a very physical brand of football.

While his play against the run is very good, his pass coverage skills will most likely be more important to his success in the NFL due to the style of football that is most prevalent around the league. The majority of teams are moving toward pass-oriented offenses, many of which are using two tight end sets, especially in the AFC East with New England leading the charge. Allen’s play in this area during his collegiate career was not necessarily elite, but impressive.

Early in the 2011 season, Allen seemed much more raw in his coverage skills than he did later on in the year. The primary flaw in his game was that he seemed unsure of what he wanted to do. He would repeatedly fail to engage the offensive player, whether it was a slot receiver or tight end, as he would hesitate and allow them to initiate the contact. He would then have to rely on his long frame (nearly 6’2”) and strength to compensate. Allen would frequently be indecisive at jamming players, waiting until the last possible second to do so, often causing him to lunge at his target. This would usually throw off his balance and leave him a step or two behind in coverage. Because of this, Allen had to rely on his excellent range and closing speed to make plays. Although he was successful at this at the college level (second on the team in interceptions with 3), receivers in the NFL will be faster, and he will have to be much more fundamentally sound in his technique to avoid falling behind in coverage.

As the year progressed, though, Allen seemed to become much more polished with his hand speed and coverage ability. Later in the season, he became confident in what he wanted to do, whether it was jam his player or run with them, making him very effective in this area. He is a tremendously strong player, and when he uses his hands violently on his jams, he has a great ability to throw off the route of the offensive player, including the tight ends that he was often times manned up on. This will be key to his success with the Jets, as New York is desperate for players who cannot only cover the tight end, but also players who can disrupt what they want to do. Allen will benefit greatly from the Jets’ defensive coaching staff, especially with their planned intent to emphasize schemes and technique on how to defend tight ends during the offseason.

One of the brightest spots in Allen’s game is his blitzing ability. He is excellent at timing his blitzes, making him a serious threat to rush the passer. Sometimes, he comes in a bit recklessly, causing him to miss some tackles and run by plays, but for the majority, he is fantastic in this area and excels more often than not.

Allen’s role with the Jets will likely be limited this season if LaRon Landry can stay healthy. However, his aggressiveness and superior blitzing ability should get him into some packages that will allow Rex Ryan to send him after the quarterback or disguise various blitzes and coverages. For his rookie season, I’d expect New York to use him much like it used James Ihedigbo a few years ago, primarily as a blitzer, with a heavy role on special teams. Allen will provide good insurance in the event that Landry does get hurt, and should benefit greatly learning underneath the former first round selection out of LSU. Allen certainly has the potential to develop into a very important piece of New York’s secondary in the coming years. How he progresses in his coverage ability will be the key to his success.

Editor’s Notes – Allen is built to be the edge blitzer that Rex Ryan loves using his defensive backs for. The James Ihedigbo comparison makes sense but I think Allen has more potential in pass coverage. By that I mean, he can be utilized to jam tight ends off the line and help in short to intermediate coverage. Even if the Jets add another veteran to the safety position, Allen should stick on the roster because he fits in perfectly as a backup to LaRon Landry. Unless Landry gets banged up this season, I would only expect to see Allen in a handful of select packages on defense and on special teams where he has the physical skills to be an immediate asset.

The Jets got great value with Allen in the 7th round and he could very well be their long term strong safety if he reaches his potential and is utilized properly.

New York Jets: One Step Faster…How About Three?

The New York Jets have made their primary goal this off-season to get faster…thank god

When talking with reporters yesterday, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan revealed the team motto for 2012 is “One Step Faster,” and Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine conceded the Jets were a “dinosaur” last year when it came to matching the increased speed of the league. It is encouraging to hear the coaching staff admitting a problem that was disturbing to watch last season.

To say the 2011 New York Jets were slow is an understatement. Plodding? Sluggish? Decrepit? These are the type of words that come to mind when I think of Plaxico Burress trying to get separation between the 20 yard lines, Shonn Greene racking up 2 yards a carry, and Calvin Pace and Bart Scott needing a sun dial to time their rush to the quarterback. The Jets couldn’t make a big play against a 9 man defense last year and had circles run around them by the faster offenses in the league.

How will this problem be remedied? Replacing Burress with rookie Stepehen Hill is a nice start. Hill runs a 4.3 forty while I think Burress might have run a 5.3 forty last season. Yes, Hill needs to refine his route running but at a minimum he has speed and size that a defense must respect and should open up things underneath for Dustin Keller and Santonio Holmes. Beyond that, Jeremy Kerley will have a more prominent role this season and provides very good quickness and speed from the slot position. Chaz Schilens will be reduced to a reserve role after the selection of Hill but still can be utilized in certain situations. If you go 4 wide with Holmes, Hill, Kerley, and Schilens there is some serious speed on outside and in the slot.

At running back, Greene is who he is and that is not a big play back. However, better usage of Joe McKnight will bring needed speed to the running back position. Hopefully Tony Sparano uses McKnight in some of the ways he used Reggie Bush last year and can get him out in space. Tim Tebow isn’t a burner but obviously brings a potential big play element running the football from the quarterback position in the Jets Wildcat.

On defense, draft picks Quinton Coples and DeMario Davis add immediate speed to the front seven, while the rest of the unit was asked to drop weight. Ideally, their additions to the line-up will help free up Aaron Maybin, the team’s top speed rusher and Muhammad Wilkerson, last year’s first round pick. Calvin Pace may actually even be able to crack 5 sacks this year.

In the back end, the Jets did add Josh Bush and Antonio Allen through the draft and signed LaRon Landry. None of these guys are true burners but they should be able to help in the coverage of tight ends. Allen and Landry have the skill set to be physical off the line with them and Bush is a natural free safety that can line up in the centerfield spot. It should also be noted that one of the reasons the Jets drafted the previous mentioned Davis at linebacker was because of his speed and ability to match up with tight ends.

Are the Jets going to be the greatest show on turf? No. But hopefully they can start making plays over 20 yards with some type of consistency and won’t be sluggish chasing after players like Darren McFadden, Rob Gronkowski, and Tim Tebow (well, we don’t have to worry about that anymore).

New York Jets Draft Pick Analysis: Wide Receiver Jordan White

Chris Gross breaks down New York Jets 7th round pick, wide receiver Jordan White.

Chris Gross will be in the film room for Turn On The Jets breaking down all eight of the New York Jets draft selections. Today we look at 7th round pick, wide receiver Jordan White. (At the bottom of the article, I offer a brief commentary on White from the film I have watched). – JC

With the 244th overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected Wide Receiver Jordan White out of Western Michigan. In a move that first seemed to be New York looking to add some wide receiver depth to increase the competition heading into camp, this selection has the potential to be much more significant to the Jets. When putting in the game film of Western Michigan from last season, there are several things about Jordan White that jump off the screen right away. He is very confident, extremely tough, and runs some of the best routes you will see from any wide receiver in the draft this year.

Before becoming the Jets’ version of Mr. Irrelevant, White was posting Biletnikoff worthy numbers at Western Michigan. Last season, he caught an astonishing 140 balls for 1,911 yards and 17 touchdowns. Remember, Biletnikoff Trophy winner Justin Blackmon had 121 receptions for 1,522 yards and 18 touchdowns. Not to compare the two, but White’s production as a Bronco should certainly be noted. In 2011, White also had 8 games with over 10 receptions, including a season high 16 against Toledo, a game in which he racked up 238 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also had 7 multi touchdown games last year, and had at least one catch of 20 yards or more in every contest, including his season long 61 yarder against Ball State.

Prior to 2011, White also had 94 receptions for 1,378 yards and 10 touchdowns as a Junior. At Western Michigan, he was undoubtedly the workhorse of an offense that averaged over 35 points per game in 2011, while establishing himself as Quarterback Alex Carder’s unquestioned favorite target.

White’s immense production at Western Michigan can be linked to countless aspects of his game. His ability to find holes in coverages and create separation for himself is equivalent to, if not better than, some polished NFL veterans. He has excellent awareness, strong hands, and his route running has the capability of translating to the NFL immediately. He uses double moves effectively, and is very intelligent, constantly knowing when to cut routes short, or extend them.

One of the most important factors that hurt White’s draft stock was his limited sample of play against elite competition. Having played in the MAC West, White was hampered by the notion that he was excelling at a lower level, and could not have that same type of success in the NFL. However, in White’s small amount of play against more respected football programs, he rose to the calling in a big way. In 2011, three of his most productive games came against Big Ten opponents. In the season opener against Michigan, White had 12 catches for 119 yards. Against Illinois, who was ranked in the AP top 25 at the time, he tallied 14 receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown. And in White’s last game as a Bronco, the 2011 Little Caesars Bowl against Purdue, he reeled in 13 balls for 265 yards and 1 touchdown. Although the experience may not be great, he has certainly shown that he can succeed against higher-level defenses when asked to.

Along with the notion of not having faced enough elite competition, White’s physical traits were most likely the reasons for his draft slide. He does not possess the elite size, standing just under 6’0” 208 lbs, nor does he have the speed (4.69 40) to make him a number one receiver in the NFL. Many times in the draft, production like White’s takes a backseat to potential, especially in the later rounds.

Although White does have several positive aspects to his game, there are certainly some holes as well. He does not have great elusiveness, but makes up for it with his willingness to fight for extra yards. He is not going to make many people miss after the catch, but he will plug straight ahead and use his drive and strength to get the most out of every play. White also has much better speed coming out of his breaks than his 40 time would suggest, however it is unclear on how much that will assist his game at the next level.

While White does have good hands, and will make some spectacular catches at times, his range is very limited by his size and speed. Often times on deep routes, if the ball was slightly out of his reach, White would have difficulty transitioning to make the play. However, it is highly unlikely that he will be asked to run deep routes in the NFL, so this should not affect his play too significantly. He also needs to work on selling his routes on run plays to the opposite side of the field.

So how can White fit with the Jets? Of the games I watched on him last year, I could not help but compare his play to that of Jerricho Cotchery’s. White will never be a true number one receiver in this league, but has the potential to be a vital piece of any passing game. He was most productive last season between the 20’s, with 116 of his 140 catches coming in that area. This could make him a very valuable weapon to keep the chains moving throughout drives. Although most of his catches in 2011 came on first down with 63, he was also very effective on third downs, averaging 12.6 YPC. He could develop into a very nice third down safety net for Mark Sanchez. He is strong, smart, and most importantly, consistent. Sanchez would love to have someone he can consistently rely on, other than Dustin Keller.

For White, his place with the Jets will ultimately come down to a few key things: how well he picks up the offense, how he takes advantage of what limited reps he will get in practice, and the type of relationship he develops with Sanchez. While I do not think that any of these things will be a problem for White, especially with how reliable he became to Carder at Western Michigan, coupled with his displayed intelligence and high work ethic, he is going to have to prove why he was so productive in college, and may only have a small window of opportunity to do so. White can also show his worth by contributing on Special Teams, something that I would fully expect him to be able to do.

Although there are certainly no guarantees in this league, especially for late round draft picks, I would not be surprised at all if White ended up beating out Patrick Turner, Scotty McKnight, Logan Payne, and Eron Riley for a roster spot. His production in college combined with his obvious work ethic shown on film actually makes it likely that White will end up having some type of role with the 2012 Jets. Although his impact this year may not be significant, Jordan White could develop into a very solid NFL player at some point down the road.

Editor’s Notes – I really like the comparison Chris made to Jerricho Cotchery because that is who I was consistently reminded of when watching film on White. It is impossible to ignore the astronomical numbers he put up, regardless of the level of competition. White has a natural ability to find the soft spot in a defense and has reliable hands, particularly in traffic. The main question for him is, can he consistently get separation from NFL caliber cornerbacks? The Jets could offset some of these issues by working White out of the slot, where I expect him to spend most of his time.

In the immediate future, White projects as a logical backup to Jeremy Kerley in the slot receiver role. He will need to beat Patrick Turner and Eron Riley for a roster spot this season and to do that he must make an impact on special teams.

New York Jets Need To Put Finishing Touches On Roster

The New York Jets should consider making the following moves to solidify their roster

After reviewing the New York Jets post-draft depth chart, it becomes clear the team should consider making moves to solidify their roster. Nothing major is coming at this point as the team is clearly banking on substantial improvement from within by making better use of their resources, most notably on offense with Tony Spranao taking over for Brian Schottenheimer. However, that doesn’t mean a few tweaks can’t go a long way to helping insure the Jets are competing for a playoff spot this season.

You can argue about right tackle until your lungs are sore. At the moment it appears the plan is for Wayne Hunter and Vladimir Ducasse to compete for the position. You can allow that to occur while still protecting yourself to some degree. Keep in mind the Jets let Robert Turner walk in free agency and have very questionable depth behind their starters. Mike Tannenbaum can praise Caleb Schlauderaff all he wants, he has still never played a meaningful NFL snap. Right now he and the loser of the right tackle battle project the team’s top two backups. There is no logical reason to not bring a low cost veteran for insurance purposes. Vernon Carey makes too much sense to ignore since he is experienced at tackle and guard and has played in Tony Spranao’s offense.

Why not get him in sooner rather than later? Why wait until the offensive line shows signs of struggling in the pre-season? If not Carey, at least get another veteran who has seen some type of NFL action on the roster. You are currently one injury away from starting both Wayne Hunter and Caleb Schlauderaff, did we learn nothing last year?

Beyond that on offense, the Jets would be wise to add a blocking tight end. Simply put they don’t have one on their roster. Billy Bajema, Justin Peelle, and Jeff Dugan are all examples of players the Jets could sign to the veteran’s minimum and would help on a run heavy offense.

I don’t see them adding to wide receiver or running back at this point. A player like Braylon Edwards would only slow down Stephen Hill’s development. You traded up to get him, so put him out there. If healthy, Chaz Schilens will provide adequate depth. Edwards is more likely to go somewhere that he has a clearer chance to start, maybe St. Louis with Brian Schottenheimer now running their offense. At running back, there aren’t many impact players left out there. I’d rather see the team give Joe McKnight, Bilal Powell and Terrance Ganaway a real chance to become impact players instead of putting another veteran in the mix.

On defense, the Jets would be wise to add Yeremiah Bell and Chris Johnson, both who visited with the team last week. Many fans get sentimental about bringing Jim Leonhard back and while we respect what Jim did for the Jets the past few years, let’s be realistic here. Bell is bigger, more athletic and more durable than Leonhard. At this point, Eric Smith knows Rex Ryan’s defense well enough to mentor the younger safeties and if you are looking for a leader in the secondary, Darrelle Revis better be able to fill that role by now.

Johnson is a more reliable 4th corner than Ellis Lankster or Isaiah Trufant would be and would be another low cost addition. He would also be a solid special teams contributor.

You can never underestimate the importance of depth on a NFL roster and the Jets could go a long way to solidifying theirs by making a few minor moves.

Looking At New York Jets Post-Draft Depth Chart

TOJ breaks down the New York Jets post-draft depth chart and looks what other transactions could be on the horizon

At this point of the off-season, we are starting to get a good idea of what the New York Jets 53 man roster will look like heading into the 2012 season. There will still be a handful of minor transactions, injuries and surprises that could shake a few things up but here is a general overview of what we know and what to potentially expect in the coming months –

Quarterback – Mark Sanchez is going to be the starter. Tim Tebow will be the backup/option running/occasional h-backing guy and Greg McElroy will be the 3rd quarterback. Unless there is some type injury, these three are locks.

Running Back – Shonn Greene will be back as the starter. Joe McKnight should start out as the primary third down back and will hopefully get more of a chance to play to his potential under Tony Sparano. John Conner is the only pure fullback on the roster. After that it gets interesting, sixth round pick Terrance Ganaway is a bruising back who fits as a natural backup to Shonn Greene and is experienced running the option which should get him a chance for playing time when Tebow is on the field. Where does that leave last year’s fourth round pick Bilal Powell? I am not sure if the Jets will carry five backs or if Powell is good enough to beat out McKnight or Ganaway for a spot.

Tight End – Dustin Keller survived a few trade rumors and will be back as one of the Jets top options in the passing game. Beyond him, the depth chart is very cloudy. The Jets still lack a pure blocking tight end. Jeff Cumberland is a taller, slower version of Keller who is coming off major surgery. Josh Baker is more of a H-Back. Hayden Smith has a tough transition to make from rugby to football. I would not be surprised if the team added a blocking tight end at some point. It is a complete crapshoot who the number two tight end will be at this point and if the team will carry two or three tight ends.

Wide Receiver – Santonio Holmes is the number one. Rookie Stephen Hill is going to be given every opportunity to be the number two. Jeremy Kerley fits well as the slot receiver and should be a high impact player on the offense. Patrick Turner is experienced, familiar with Sparano’s offense and can contribute on special teams so he has the inside track at the number four spot. Recently signed Chaz Schilens has big play potential and if he can stay healthy should stick on the roster. It will be an uphill battle for seventh round pick Jordan White and players like Logan Payne, Scotty McKnight and Eron Riley. A safe bet for now is that they will carry five receivers (Holmes, Hill, Kerley, Turner, Schilens).

Offensive Line – We know Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson will be back as starters. Despite the objections of most rational people in the free world, it appears the plan is to have Wayne Hunter, Vladimir Ducasse and Austin Howard compete for the starting right tackle spot. My guess is that the Jets will see how they look in training camp and if it appears to be a disaster, they could place a quick call over to veteran Vernon Carey who knows Tony Sparano’s offense to step in. Mike Tannenbaum’s favorite player Caleb Schlauderaff projects as the being the top interior backup and rookie Robert T. Griffin could have a decent chance to make the team, if he shows the versatility to play guard and tackle.

Defensive Line – Arguably the deepest position on the team. As of now the starters are Muhammad Wilkerson, Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito. However, do not be surprised if DeVito is cut or traded at some point before the season to pave the way for first round Quntion Coples to step into the starting line-up. It would save the team 3 million dollars and the Jets have capable backups in Marcus Dixon and Ropati Pitoitua. Kenrick Ellis should also see a little more time this year spelling Pouha in certain situations.

Linebackers – David Harris remains one of the best inside linebackers in football. Calvin Pace is a good outside linebacker who can set the edge to help stop the run but has lost explosiveness in getting after the passer. The Jets are risking the other two starting spots to Bart Scott and Bryan Thomas. Scott looked just about finished last year but is returning at a lighter weight and can hopefully be the solid two down linebacker he was in 2009 and 2010. Bryan Thomas is coming off major surgery but should open camp as starting outside backer opposite Pace.

The depth is intriguing, third round pick DeMario Davis has an exciting skill set and should be able to help on passing downs this year and be the long term replacement for Bart Scott. Aaron Maybin will be a year better in Rex Ryan’s system as a pass rushing specialist and hopefully the addition of Coples will lead to him seeing more one on ones in pass rushing situations. Garret McIntyre, Josh Magua got experience last year and should be able to grab roster spots.

Corner – Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson are one of the better trios in the league. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets added veteran Chris Johnson to be their 4th corner. If not Ellis Lankster and Isaiah Trufant will be the frontrunners to compete for the spot.

Safety – LaRon Landry and Eric Smith are the starters as of right now and arguably rookies Josh Bush and Antonio Allen project as the top backups. I would not be surprised if the Jets added another veteran to the mix, whether it is Yeremiah Bell or Jim Leonhard for insurance.

Special Teams – Nick Folk and TJ Conley remain the frontrunners to return as kicker and punter, respectively. Tanner Purdum will be the long snapper.

New York Jets Draft Fit Over “Need”

Chris Gross breaks down the New York Jets drafting strategy to select players who fit their offensive and defensive scheme in 2012

With the 2012 NFL Draft officially in the books, the common theme among draft analysts seems to be placing grades on how each team did based on the players selected, and at which point they were taken. However, it is unfair to grade each team or each pick this early. Other than the fact that some of these guys have most likely not even arrived at their team facilities yet, there never seems to be enough emphasis placed on the value they hold with the particular team they’ve been drafted by. Often times when teams complete their drafts they are analyzed by how well they filled their needs and whether or not they got good value at the point in which they took particular players. However, there are variables not accounted for in this practice.

The first is that a team may not necessarily view their biggest needs the same as the people analyzing their draft. The Jets, for example, opted to pass on selecting what seem to be their most pressing needs this year – a Right Tackle, and a pass rushing Outside Linebacker. However, New York may not have viewed these positions as their highest priorities heading into the draft. There are several reasons for this.

First, with a new offensive coaching staff in place, and an offensive coordinator whose main area of expertise is with the offensive line, the team may feel that the players currently on the roster may be their best options at Right Tackle. Previously, at Turn On The Jets, we reviewed the idea that Mike Tannenbaum may still have faith in Vladimir Ducasse, a notion that seems to be getting stronger as each day passes without any activity at the position. It seems as though the Jets are confident that Tony Sparano will be able to get the most out of some combination of Ducasse, Wayne Hunter, and Austin Howard opposite D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Therefore, the Right Tackles available at certain points throughout the draft may not have held the same value to the organization as they would have with other teams.

Second, schematics of a team are often times omitted in draft evaluations. When Sparano arrived in New York this offseason, he made two things that he intended to do with the Jets’ offense very clear. He wants to be a run first team, and he wants to be able to stretch the field with big plays. Based on this, the Jets did very well in this year’s draft. Although the question marks with the team’s approach at Right Tackle will certainly be questioned into the season, and rightfully so, New York’s first three offensive selections all hold the potential to be excellent fits in Sparano’s system.

Terrance Ganaway is a very big, physical back, who will form a hard-nosed trio of runners with Shonn Greene and Tim Tebow. Robert T. Griffin should, at the least, provide some added depth to the interior of the offensive line this year, which has proved to be very crucial to this team, as displayed through the struggles it faced during Nick Mangold’s absence last season. Griffin has potential to develop and contribute nicely down the road.

Stephen Hill holds the greatest potential of all the offensive players selected by the Jets this year. Aside from the fact that his physical abilities give him one of the highest ceilings out of any player in his class, Hill seems to be perfect for the type of offense Sparano plans to implement. He has great size at nearly 6’5” and plays in the 215 lbs range with blazing speed (4.31 40). He comes from a run first offense at Georgia Tech, therefore he has a large amount of blocking experience, which will be critical to the Jets’ ground and pound approach. Most importantly, though, is his big play ability. The Jets were looking for a wide receiver to stretch the field and take the top off of opposing defense, and that is exactly what they got in Hill, who had nine catches of over 30 yards last season. He also has proved he can make people miss and create after the catch, so his big play ability is not just limited to the deep ball. To New York, Hill’s value was most likely higher than other receivers because of how well he fits with what they plan to do on offense.

Defensively, the Jets seem to have taken a similar approach. Although the verdict on selecting Quinton Coples over Melvin Ingram will be open for some time, New York most likely viewed Coples’ value as higher for what they plan to do schematically on defense. Rex Ryan seems to be focused on building this team’s pass rush from the interior before focusing on obtaining an edge rusher. Ryan has already declared that, although Coples has the athleticism to play OLB, he was brought to New York to put his hand in the dirt. Expect Ryan to run several different fronts defensively this year, as he could show more 4-3 looks than the Jets are used to. The Jets depth at defensive line is greater than it has ever been in the Ryan era, so it will be interesting to see how Rex uses that.

Among the other defensive players, DeMario Davis has the ability to be used all over the field. He will be more of a fit in the Jets’ scheme as a 3-4 ILB, but if Rex does choose to show more 4-3 looks this season, he has experience as an OLB there as well. Either way, his speed will likely make him a situational weapon for the Jets this year, as he will be able to provide help on passing downs in coverage and with blitzes from the interior.

Of the two safeties selected, Josh Bush has the potential to play right away because the Free Safety position is more open. Bush has deemed himself a safety with cornerback cover skills, so it will be interesting to see how the first team All-ACC product will do in the area the Jets struggled so badly last year. Antonio Allen will provide much needed depth at Strong Safety, while giving New York a bit of an insurance policy if LaRon Landry gets injured. Allen should contribute on special teams, and could be groomed behind the veteran leadership of Landry for the future.

It is difficult to judge how the Jets did in their draft this early. Many view them neglecting the most glaring needs on their team. While this may be the case, it is just hard to imagine an NFL team doing something like that without a plan. It is certainly fair to assume that the Jets did their homework on each player selected, and depending on what they intend to do in all three phases of the game this year, these guys were most likely viewed as the best fits for New York, which in turn made their value with the team higher than it may have been somewhere else. While the future of this team and these players is somewhat unclear at this point, the Jets, if anything, seem to have drafted for a particular type of identity, something that could finally provide some much needed stability in New York.

Initial Reaction – New York Jets 2012 Draft Class

Initial reaction to the New York Jets 2012 draft class. Boom or Bust.

 

The New York Jets left the 2012 NFL Draft with eight selected players. Many of the team’s decisions were somewhat surprising and fairly questionable. However, they did get good value in a few situations. Throughout the week we will be breaking down each player in-depth, looking at where they could fit in 2012 and beyond, along with plenty more. For now here are a few initial thoughts. The eight selections were as follows –

  • Quinton Coples – Defensive End – North Carolina – 1st round
  • Stephen Hill – Wide Receiver – Georgia Tech – 2nd round
  • DeMario Davis – Inside Linebacker – Arkansas State – 3rd round
  • Josh Bush – Free Safety – Wake Forest – 6th round
  • Terrance Ganaway – Running Back – Baylor – 6th round
  • Robert T. Griffin – Guard – Baylor – 6th round
  • Antonio Allen – Strong Safety – South Carolina – 7th round
  • Jordan White – Wide Receiver – Western Michigan – 7th round

Boom or Bust – The Jets rolled the dice with this draft class, many times choosing potential over production. The first three picks in particular have immensely high ceilings because of their athletic ability but viable questions about their transition to the NFL. At least with Hill and Davis, their motor/passion for the game is not in question. Coples is the player who needs to prove more than anybody that last year was a fluke situation and he can bring it 100 percent on every play.

In the late rounds, Bush was an off the radar prospect who apparently has the smarts to compensate for a lack of athleticism. Doesn’t that sound like Eric Smith? Ganaway had one big year and was aided by having RGIII at quarterback. However, he will now have the benefit of working with Tim Tebow in an option package.

Speed Kills – Without the question, the Jets got substantially faster and more athletic in this draft. Hill is a physical freak who has the ability to blow the top off of defenses in a way a Jets receiver hasn’t since the 1980s. Davis runs a sub 4.5 forty as an inside linebacker and should have a good chance to contribute immediately on passing downs.

How Is That Possible – The Jets didn’t select a right tackle or outside linebacker. We will get into this more throughout the week but this a borderline mind boggling decision. For now, it looks like they are ready to roll with Wayne Hunter, Bryan Thomas and Vladimir Ducasse all potentially playing big roles on the 2012 team.

Value Picks – Two stand out in particular to me, Antonio Allen in the 7th round and Terrance Ganaway in the 6th round. Allen was projected by many as a 3rd to 5th round pick but slipped because of how much time he spent in the box while at South Carolina. Allen projects as a traditional strong safety and provides needed depth behind LaRon Landry this year and could become the long term starter at the position. Ganaway is experienced with the option and could be an immediately productive player in the Jets Tebow package of plays. Bilal Powell should be on notice for a roster spot.

The Home Run – Even more so than Coples, I think Hill has the most potential to become the star of this draft class. He will start from day one and provide a much needed deep threat opposite Santonio Holmes. 6’5, 206 pounds, 4.31 forty is scary. Beyond that, Hill routinely produced monster plays down the field in college, is a willing and strong blocker on the second level and has a terrific attitude by all accounts. He could be a special player from the first second he steps on the field in this offense.

Question Coples – I have offered some harsh criticism for the Coples pick. I hate to hear motor/effort/attitude questions on a player. I also liked the Jets depth at defensive end and I’m not crazy about Mike DeVito potentially being moved to clear more reps for him. However, physically Coples has the ability to not just be a 10-12 sack guy but a 14-16 sack guy. Can Rex get it out of him?

New York Jets Draft: Thoughts On Hill And Davis

Thoughts on the Jets selection of Stephen Hill and DeMario Davis

A few quick thoughts on the New York Jets decision to trade up for wide receiver Stephen Hill and draft linebacker DeMario Davis

1. It appears the New York Jets are taking the best player available instead of looking to fill needs. They have ignored right tackle, outside linebacker, and safety despite major holes in their depth chart. With no picks in the 4th or 5th round, look for them to sign Yeremiah Bell, Chris Johnson, and maybe Vernon Carey down the road when they come to the realization that Wayne Hunter, Vlad Ducasse or Austin Howard isn’t the answer at right tackle.

2. I love the Stephen Hill selection, he is a physical freak who has the right attitude to take advantage of his natural abilities to become a big time player in the NFL. It is fair to question the value of spending a 2nd round pick on a receiver in a Ground and Pound offense but if Hill becomes the needed big play threat opposite Santonio Holmes and makes Sanchez that much better it will be worth it.

3. Davis is a great athlete with a high motor who will hopefully be starting next to David Harris at inside linebacker by next year. The Jets have put together the pieces to play a much larger share of snaps in the 4-3 instead of a 3-4. How about this for a 3rd down line up? Coples and Maybin at end. Wilkerson and Pouha at defensive tackle. Harris and Davis at linebacker. Revis, Cromartie, Wilson, Landry and a free safety in the secondary. That should be a line up that gets after the quarterback.