Despite our mild temperatures, it has been a cold dark winter for Jets fans. I’m sick to my stomach about the prospect keeping some players on our roster who are clearly not team guys. That said, the Combine will be in full swing this weekend and we can once again bask in the only thing the Jets have had for the last 40+ years - potential. I have started to look at some of the prospects in this year’s draft and have assembled an initial watch list of 38 prospects. You can click here to download the list. The Jets obviously have a lot of needs but, as of now, here’s who I’d like to see the Jets draft:
1st round / 16th pick: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
After the combine and individual workouts and as free agency starts to take shape, my list will almost certainly change but, as of now, I actually like these guys quite a bit. A lot of NFL 3-4 OLB’s are converted from college DE’s. Alabama is one of the few elite college programs that run an NFL style 3-4 defense and have an elite OLB entering the draft. I think he’d be a good fit for the Jets in a definite area of need.
2nd round / 47th pick: Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State
We are in obvious need of help on the offensive line. I like to draft offensive lineman either really early or really late in the draft. With high picks, offensive lineman tend to be safer bets (there are fewer busts than in other positions). You can also find real value in the late rounds. There are many reasons why I like Zebrie Sanders. He is highly skilled, powerful, durable and versatile (he can play both sides of the line). He’s a very bright guy and has high character (he is an Eagle scout). We need to start replenishing the void of high character guys in the locker room. Offensive lineman, given their historic durability, is a great place to start. Plus if things get a little tense in the locker room, Zebrie can break out his viola and calm the team’s nerves (although I could see Bart Scott going Jim Belushi on him).
3rd round / 78th pick: Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin
Wide Receivers are deep in this year’s draft and there’s a good chance that we could pick up a good one in the 3rd round. If Al Toon’s son is still on the board for our 78th pick, I think the Jets would be smart to nab him. While Nick Toon has had to battle some nagging injuries at his Dad’s alma mater, at 6’ 2" and 220 lbs he has the physicality to become a starting WR in the NFL.
4th round / 108th pick: Harrison Smith, SS, Notre Dame
I like drafting Safeties and Running Backs in the middle rounds. While I’m not that impressed with this year’s crop of Safeties (other than Mark Barron of Alabama), Notre Dame’s Harrison Smith is ranked as this year’s third best Strong Safety and should be on the board for our 108th pick. Harrison is properly sized at 6’ 2" and 212 lbs and is a hard hitter. He will definitely be a bit of a project but he was very productive in college and should be able to contribute immediately on special teams.
5th round / 146th pick: Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State
Robert Turbin of Utah State is a big, powerful and surprisingly quick running back that is also a reliable receiver and blocker. He could be an every down back for the Jets or at least push Shonn Greene and provide some competition. Turbin has some durability concerns as he missed an entire season with a torn ACL. There is also some concerns about the limited competition he faced. That said, he was highly productive last year rushing for 1,517 yards and 19 touchdowns. He is well worth taking a flier on if he’s still available for the Jets 146th pick.
6th round / 177th pick: Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
While I’m almost never an advocate of drafting low character guys, Ryan Broyles has stayed out of trouble since he was arrested as a freshman for attempting to steal gasoline. I guess a positive is that he was caught so he must not have had much practice. Given that he hasn’t had any other incidents since then, he warrants a closer look. He has been the most prolific wide receiver in Oklahoma history. In addition, he could contribute right away in the return game. While he’s best suited as a slot receiver and his skill set is very similar to that of Jeremy Kerley’s, he’s definitely worth interviewing and working out.
7th round / 207th pick: Rhett Ellison, TE, Southern California
At this point in the draft I think teams should target guys that can contribute on special teams. While I believe we are in need of a good TE complement to Keller, I’m not sure Ellison is the man. Ellison is a guy that improved throughout his career at USC and will likely continue to improve. He was extremely versatile there playing TE, FB, WR and special teams (he even blocked a field-goal attempt). He is known as having very good intangibles and high character. He is also the son of an NFL linebacker. I think Ellison is the perfect selection for this point in the draft.
Please let me know what you think of these suggested selections.