Final Thoughts Heading Into NFL Draft

The amount of speculation and rumors has reached such a high level right now that it has me counting the seconds until 8 PM so we can see what actually happens. Actually, the draft has been one-upped by the decision of the NFL to follow the legal rulings against them (their record in court in starting to resemble the Panthers record on the field last season) and open the doors to all team facilities tomorrow…so let’s hope it is hopping in Florham Park, as the Jets look to get over the hump of the AFC Championship Game, where their season has ended the past two years. There is also talk free agency and trades could be open by Monday morning…which means the amount of NFL news coming out in the next few days could make all of our computers explode.

When it comes to the Jets, they have consistently been linked with two players over the past few months, Phil Taylor and Akeem Ayers. Personally, I don’t think Taylor will end up being the guy. As a matter of fact, here are my thoughts on what will happen with that 30th pick tonight:

Jets Stay Put at #30 (70%) – If Muhammad Wilkerson happens to fall this far, I think the Jets jump on him and hope Rex Ryan turns him into his next Haloti Ngata. However, in the likely case that Wilkerson is gone, I think it is between Akeem Ayers and Brooks Reed, with Cameron Heyward being an option if both are off the board.

Jets Trade Back (30%) – The Jets trade back into the second round with one of the quarterback hungry teams who are looking to move to #30. In this spot, the Jets could look at Stephen Paea or Jabaal Sheard. Perhaps, they will catch a break and still be able to snag Ayers, Reed, or Heyward if they don’t move back too far.

Final Prediction – In the end, I think the Jets end up with Ayers who didn’t blow anybody away with his combine numbers but produced on the field at a major program, which is more important than any workout.

TOJ’s Final Mock Draft

AJ’s final mock draft before the festivities kick off this extended weekend…

1. Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton

Everyone has Newton going with this pick, and I can’t argue.

2. Denver Broncos- Marcell Dareus

Denver had a thrilling competition with the Texans last year for the league’s worst defense, I was really tempted to put Patrick Peterson in this spot as that is what I would do but it seems the Broncos like Dareus more.  Denver might also look to trade out of this spot, if the price is right.

3. Buffalo Bills- Blaine Gabbert

Buffalo looks to land their franchise QB.  Chan Gailey will let Gabbert sit at least the first half of the season behind Ryan Fitzpatick before giving him a shot.

4. Cincinnati Bengals – AJ Green

The best WR in the draft, doesn’t get out of the top five. It will be interesting to see how the circus in Cincinnati plays out this year.

5. Arizona Cardinals- Von Miller

Miller experiences a bit of a slip, but should feel a lot better going to Arizona than Buffalo or Cincinnati.  The Cardinals get a very nice consolation prize with the top two QB’s off the board, and new defensive coordinator Ray Horton gets a new toy to play with.

6. Cleveland Browns – Julio Jones

The Browns have a tough choice between Jones or Robert Quinn, I’m going to go with Jones here, Mike Holmgren will want to improve the offense ASAP, and Jones is a physical receiver who will be able to get open over the middle for Colt McCoy.

7. San Francisco 49ers – Patrick Peterson

I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I dropped Patrick Peterson any lower; he is the best player in this draft and is prime for a long and prosperous career.

8. Tennessee Titans – Nick Fairley

Once a contender for the #1 pick, the buzz on Fairley has cooled off a bit, but that does not mean the kid can’t play.  While the Titans could look in different directions, I don’t think they will be able to pass up on him, even if he does have football character issues, which are the worst variety in my opinion.

9. Dallas Cowboys- Tyron Smith

The Cowboys are a bit handcuffed into drafting an OL and the best one will still be on the board with the #9 pick.

10. Washington Redskins- J.J. Watt

The Redskins pick up a very talented player here who is versatile enough to move back and forth between the 5 and 3 techniques.  However, look for the Redskins to perhaps trade out of this pick, they apparently really like Jake Locker, so if they think they could move back, pick up some extra picks, and get Locker I think that’s what they will do.  They could also potentially trade back into the 1st round with the Jets if Locker is available at 30.

11. Houston Texans-Robert Quinn

The Texans war room is ecstatic that Quinn, a definite top ten talent, drops to them at 11.  Quinn on the other hand is not happy at all and will use this as motivation for an explosive season and an even more successful career.

12. Minnesota Vikings – Anthony Costanzo

The Vikings pass on a couple of high quality defensive prospects to fill a pressing need at Tackle.  Costanzo is the top rated tackle at this point and the BC Offensive Line reputation speaks for itself.

13. Detroit Lions- Prince Amukamara

The Lions find themselves in unfamiliar waters this year as they pick outside of the top ten.  But fear not, they still are able to land a very highly touted CB.

14. St. Louis Rams – Aldon Smith

The cat is out of the bag that the Rams would love to have Julio Jones playing for them next year, but with him off the board St. Louis drafts a player who is able to get to the QB.

15. Miami Dolphins – Mike Pouncey

In my first mock I had Ingram at this spot to help the Dolphins running game, but Pouncey has the opportunity to improve their running game just as much if not more than Ingram.  Pouncey comes in and starts day one for the Phins and replaces my least favorite player in the AFC east not named Tom Brady, Richie Incognito.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars- Ryan Kerrigan

The Jaguars try to bounce back from one of the most perplexing picks since Darius Heyward-Bey in Tyson Alula.  Like the Jets, the Jags have an aging defensive line and will need to infuse some youth (and talent) sooner or later.

17. New England Patriots – Cameron Jordan

Jordan is the best available DE at this point in the draft and will fit well in a Belichick defense (who doesn’t).  The Patriots continue to reload on the defensive side of the ball and put more pressure on the Jets to sure up their offensive line.

18. San Diego Chargers – Corey Liuget

The Chargers are fortunate to get Liuget at this point in the draft who has tremendous upside and will be able to make an impact in 2011.  Liuget plays both the run and pass very well.

19. New York Giants- Gabe Carimi

The boring team in New York misses their guy in Pouncey but is still able to find a quality lineman in Gabe Carimi.  It seems that offensive line is the pick here for the Giants and they will take the best available linemen whether he plays guard or tackle.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Da’Quan Bowers

Da’Quan Bowers’ draft stock has been like a game of shoots and ladders.  Lately, he’s been riding the biggest shoot on the board but finally lands in Tampa Bay, and for the second year in a row the Bucs get a very talented defensive line prospect.

21. Kansas City Chiefs – Derrick Sherrod

Sherrod should be able to step into the right tackle role that the Chiefs so desperately need.  If nothing else, Sherrod has experience on his side playing 50 games and only missing three to injury.

22. Indianapolis Colts- Nate Solder

Solder is a monster at 6’8’’ 319 pounds and should be able to help the Indianapolis running game that struggled all of last year.  While the trendy thought is that the Colts will pick up a QB with this pick, I don’t think they pull that trigger yet and instead address a more pressing need.

23. Philadelphia Eagles- Brooks Reed

The Eagles are pretty much set on the offensive side of the ball and while they need a tackle, with Sherrod and Solder off the board, a OL would be a reach at this point.

24. New Orleans Saints- Adrian Clayborn

Defensive end is a big need for the Saints and Clayborn is a great value pick at 24.  Clayborn’s battle with Erb’s Palsy, which leaves him temporarily paralyzed in the upper arm, has been well documented in the last couple of months which is why he drops this far, but he is a top 15 talent that has overcome a lot in his life and will continue to defy odds as a Saint.

25. Seattle Seahawks- Jake Locker

While I think Mallet is probably the third best QB prospect in this draft, he seems to be doing everything wrong and might even slip into the third round.  Locker is an extremely athletic player that Pete Carroll will love to have on his team.  Accuracy is a concern which is why he goes this late in the 1st round.

26. Baltimore Ravens- Jimmy Smith

Jimmy Smith is an exceptional talent that has been hurt by “character issues,” meaning he got drunk in college. (OMG!) He is an absolute steal at this pick as he can go toe for toe with Prince Amukamara.

27. Atlanta Falcons- Justin Houston

The Falcons take a bit of a gamble with Houston, as the biggest concern with him is his motor.

28. New England Patriots- Mark Ingram

Ingram is a tough back who will compliment everyone’s favorite story Danny Woodhead in New England’s offense.  Ingram has been dropping like a ton of bricks lately but he finds a home with New England.

29. Chicago Bears- Danny Watkins

There is no getting around it in Chicago, Jay Cutler has gotten ROUGHED UP during his time in the Windy City and the Bears need to do something about it immediately.

30. New York Jets- Muhammad Wilkerson

Why not? This would be a huge steal for the Jets at this point as teams seem to really like Wilkerson’s skill set.  He is exactly what the Jets need and offers a lot more hope than Phil Taylor who is practically already drafted by the Jets if you look around different mock drafts.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers – Phil Taylor

Taylor doesn’t slide after the Jets pass on him as the Steelers defense looks to avoid the curse of Super Bowl losers and get back to the playoffs.

32. Green Bay Packers – Cameron Heyward

Cameron Heyward got out of Ohio State at just the right time and his luck continues as the defending Super Bowl champions draft him with the last pick in the first round.  Dom Capers will coach the heck out of Heyward and he should fit well in his defense.

NFL Draft: How Will Jets Rivals Handle Round One?

Despite not winning the division, the New York Jets have been the AFC East team to go the furthest in the playoffs the past two years. So yes, I would say New England and certainly Buffalo and Miami are chasing them. Here is a quick look at where the Jets divisional rivals are picking in round one and what type of talk has been surrounding those picks —

Buffalo Bills – #3

There is plenty of speculation about the Bills drafting their quarterback of the future, whether it ends up being Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert depending on how the board breaks. Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller has also frequently been tied to the Bills. I have a tough time seeing them pass on a quarterback. This franchise badly needs a shot in the arm and either Newton or Gabbert could supply that.

Miami Dolphins – #15

Running back Mark Ingram was a popular pick for awhile but there are now questions about whether he is really a first round talent. The more recent speculation has been that Miami will officially end the Chad Henne era by taking a quarterback, specifically Ryan Mallett. If they decide to ignore their skill positions, center Mike Pouncey would be a safer pick and would help boost their inconsistent offensive line.

New England Patriots #17 and #28

We know New England won’t hesitate to move around the first round but if they stay put, their defensive and offensive lines have been rumored to be the target areas. Cameron Jordan, a defensive end from California and Boston College offensive tackle, Anthony Castonzo have been popular picks. There has always been some chatter lately about them targeting Mark Ingram if the Dolphins decide to pass on him.

Draft Week Arrives: Uncertainty Surrounds Jets

Round one of the NFL Draft is only a few short days away and despite having an idea of what direction we think the Jets will go in, position wise, the 30th selection in the draft remains very up in the air. Will the Jets…

  • Address their defensive line by adding Muhammad Wilkerson if he happens to fall to them or by taking Phil Taylor despite his the injury concerns? Could they add a five technique like Cameron Heyward?
  • Improve their pass rush by taking Akeem Ayers, Justin Houston, or Brooks Reed to play outside linebacker? Ayers has been a popular pick  for the Jets the past few months, yet Reed is becoming a hot name and shooting up many draft boards. Houston has questions about his motor and consistency, which should make the Jets gun shy considering that whole Vernon Gholston thing.
  • Surprise everybody and ignore their defensive front seven in round one and add to their secondary or maybe reach for a wide receiver. Cornerback Jimmy Smith would be intriguing if he fell to 30 and Rahim Moore is the best safety on most people’s draft board and he should also be available. Wide receivers Leonard Hankerson and Jonathan Baldwin would be reaches but the Jets could be feeling a little desperate with Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, and Brad Smith all free agents.
  • Disappoint all the fans who show up Thursday night and trade out of the first round. Mike Tannenbaum might want to trade back into round two to acquire more picks and then look to target somebody like Stephen Paea or Jabaal Sheard.

The Jets front office is rarely predictable. Regardless, you would assume this will be a defensive heavy draft for the Jets who need to get younger and improve their depth at all three levels. You would also think the Jets want to leave this draft with at least six players, if not more considering they have only made seven selections the past two years.

Late Round Prospects For Jets

We have been paying a lot of attention to whom the Jets are going to pick with their first round selection, but one guy cannot account for all of the Jets needs. Mid round picks are essential for the development of a championship team. With the Jets not having a second round pick, the need to land quality players in the later rounds is even bigger.

The first late round prospect we will look at is Chykie Brown (pronounced shock-ey) who  is an athletic cornerback from the University of Texas.  There is little doubt that he would be a project for Dennis Thurman, but some believe his athleticism should be enough for the Jets to take a chance on him.  His long arms and athleticism make his ball skills the strongest part of his game.  However, he does not have the best awareness on the field and can sometimes be thrown around a little by bigger receivers, on top of that, he does not offer much in terms of run support.  Going into a draft with Rex Ryan at the helm, cornerback is always an option, especially this year with uncertainty around who is coming back and who might change positions in the Jets secondary.

On the other side of the ball, the Jets might be looking to improve their wide receivers.  One guy who the Jets could take a look at is Austin Pettis.  Pettis is a tough, hard-working player who the Jets could move into the slot position.  He is more quick than fast as he ran a 4.56 40 at the combine but had a combine best 20 yard shuttle at 3.88.  He has good hands andsome big play potential, however he seems to be a one-speed player who lacks the ability to consistently separate from NFL man coverage.  Personally I think the Jets needs for a receiver is overstated, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to roll the dice on a hard working player. 

Back to defense, the Jets might be wise to pick up a safety sooner than later and that guy could be, if he falls, Ahmad Black from Florida. Coming out of a program like Florida, Black has played in big games and should be able to handle the pressures of playing football in January.  He was very productive in college and is able to read the QB eyes and keep the play in front of him.  Black has the athletic ability to play center field in a Rex defense and is much more comfortable in that role than playing press man to man.  Black has the potential to be a productive player at the next level, he is one of the better safety’s in a weak class and the Jets would have to get him in third round if he even drops that far.   

The last guy we will look at is Mississippi State linemen Pernell McPhee.  Rex has shown the ability to be able to get production out of average talent at the defensive line position.  McPhee is best against the run; he uses good leverage at the point of attack and is able to get into the backfield.  Against the pass, he isn’t quick enough to get around the edge and to consistently get to the quarterback.  He does have a bull rush which was effective in college, but he will need to expand his pass rushing skills if he wants to stay on the field in the NFL.  It might be tough for him to transition to the 5-technique but there is nobody questioning his motor so if picked, hopefully he will work to get better.

One Week Out Jets Draft Thoughts

A few scattered thoughts on the Jets draft plans with round one only one week away…

1. Mike Tannenbaum had his pre-draft press conference today and shockingly said a whole bunch of nothing. He did continue to seemingly randomly rave about backup defensive end Marcus Dixon. To me this sounds like damage control for when the Jets let Shaun Ellis walk or attempt to low-ball him on a contract offer. Dixon looked okay in very limited action last year, yet it would be very foolish to expect him to handle a starting role on the defensive line next season.

2. Tannenbaum and VP of college scouting Joey Clinkscales said the Jets have 8-10 players they are targeting with the 30th pick. One man’s guess at those players — Phil Taylor, Cameron Heyward, Muhammad Wilkerson, Akeem Ayers, Justin Houston, Brooks Reed, Jimmy Smith, Ryan Kerrigan, Stephen Paea, and Corey Liuget

3. The Jets claimed they aren’t concerned about the reports on Phil Taylor having chronic foot problems. We will only know if they are lying if they decide to pass up on him at #30.

4. If the Jets stay put with their six selections, which is unlikely from their history. I would guess they add in no particular order: DL, OLB, WR, S, ILB, CB.

5. With the first round one week out. I am going to guess there is about a 5 percent chance the Jets move up in the first round. Keep in mind, they have only drafted seven players over the past two years and only have six total picks this year. Besides who is going to be there in the 18-22 range that the Jets will be desperate to trade up for?

6. I think it is much more likely the Jets will trade down and look to acquire more picks to improve their defensive depth.

7. If the Jets stay put, I’d say the favorite is either Phil Taylor or Akeem Ayers, with Brooks Reed and Jimmy Smith (if he is on the board) being dark-horses. Also if Muhammad Wilkerson falls to #30, which is doubtful, I think the Jets would pounce on him.

Plenty Of Work To Be Done On Rex’s Pride And Joy

The number of question marks surrounding the New York Jets defense heading into the Draft is at a somewhat worrisome number. Rex Ryan is a great defensive mind, who has the ability to get more out of less, yet the Jets have holes to fill at all three levels of their defense if they want to remain among the league’s elite units.

Defensive Line – Even if the Jets decide to re-sign Shaun Ellis (which they should) and Trevor Pryce doesn’t retire. They still need both a defensive end and a defensive tackle to improve their depth and youth at the position. Phil Taylor out of Baylor has been a very popular pick for the Jets in mock drafts and his selection would likely allow Sione Pouha to get some work at end. However, spending a first round pick on Taylor or somebody like him shouldn’t stop the Jets from potentially adding another lineman later in the Draft or via free agency (if it ever starts).

Linebacker – The long term replacement for Bryan Thomas needs to be found as the Jets look to improve their pass rush. If the right defensive lineman isn’t available at number 30, Akeem Ayers and Justin Houston have been linked to the Jets. Both players have question marks surrounding them, yet they would have a year or two to function as only pass rush specialists behind Thomas as they learn to become full-time players. The Jets could also use depth at inside linebacker behind David Harris and Bart Scott. Josh Mauga and Jamaal Westerman don’t seem to be any more than special teams players at this point.

Secondary – It is time to accept the fact that the Jets will always need corners and safeties as long as Rex Ryan is their head coach. Everybody is worried about the Jets front seven, while forgetting three of their top four safeties are free agents, along with two of their top three corners. They need to decide what they are doing about bringing Antonio Cromartie, Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, James Ihedigbo, and Drew Coleman back, along with supplementing the position through the Draft and likely a free agency move or two. Personally, I think Pool will be brought back to start opposite Jim Leonhard and they will add a safety later in the draft to groom behind him. At corner, the Jets better pray Kyle Wilson is ready to take his game up about five notches if they let Antonio Cromartie leave.