We're so close to the draft I can taste it. There's a lot of names being thrown around as 1st round picks. Most commonly for a #16 pick are WR Floyd, OLB Upshaw, OLB Iingram, and a few Cordy Glenns. I don't think I've heard much more than that. Instead of looking at it as who is the best player, I try to think of it as who will bring the most value to this team immediately, and what round do you get them in? For instance we can all agree that a player like Desean Jackson and a player like Marques Colston have two different types of games. They are both pro bowl players, both wide receivers, but one will put up large numbers of catches and the other is a home run hitter. If the Jets had to take a free agent, which player is more valuable to them? A guy that can stretch the field and take the top off the defense, or a guy Sanchez can complete 100 passes to? I don't know the answer but, I'm going to attempt to make a value board based on what the projected player can do in this offense and this defense respectively.
If you want to see some weird conclusions follow me, some of them may even make sense.
I'll start with the 4 team needs as noted by everyone on the planet. Outside linebacker, wide receiver, tackle, and safety.
Wide receiver best value:
Greg Childs Arkansas in the 3rd round
Nick Toon Wisconsin in the 2nd round
Michael Floyd Notre Dame in the 1st round
Michael Floyd is not on my list as a 1st round candidate for 1 reason. His height/weight/speed measurables are good, but I don't care as much as his on field performance. 2011 he 100 catches which is a lot for a college football season. However he was 27th in total yards a game. He averaged 11.47 yards a catch. It's not an abberation , because in 2010 he had 80 catches and 12.97 yards a catch. For a 1st round pick I want an explosive play maker, because you can draft a possession receiver in almost any round in an NFL draft. The only time Floyd put up good numbers in yards per catch was when he was second fiddle to guys like Golden Tate. Tate hasn't panned out in the NFL, And I think Floyd will pan out, but not as a star. I'll pass on decent starter for a no brainer star in the 1st round.
I have Greg Childs ranked as my most valuable wide receiver because he has all the intangables that Floyd does without a 1st round pricetag. He has side 6'3, he has speed 4.39. He has a track record of over 14 yards a catch. Following Childs I have Nick toon who has put up very steady numbers of 14.9 yards per catch. Obviously Wisconsin runs the ball, but considering the Jets will be running the ball, I think his game translates well to the NFL, and specifically to what the Jets want to do. He will block, he will catch well, and he will make tough catches. He will have the hands of a Jericho Cotchery and the blocking of a Hines Ward. People label him a possession receiver, but he posted a 4.38 at Wisconsin's pro day to go along with a 6'2 and 215 pound frame. While teams shy away from him because of his upside, the Jets can get a polished receiver ready to go.
My value board says skip Michael Floyd, and get Childs or Nick Toon. They will both do what Floyd does, for a lower round and at a better rate.
Big names are Upshaw, Ingram, Perry, Curry, and Mercilus. Followed by 2nd tier Branch, Irvin, etc.
Pass rushing reigns supreme Terrell Suggs, Clay Matthews, on back to Junior Seau. I don't think Rex cares 1 bit about dropping back into coverage as much as he does getting to the QB in a hurry. Point blank, who is the best pass rusher in the group? That dictates the value, because in a Rex Ryan defense how often did Terrell Suggs drop back on 3rd downs? Best all around player is Courtney Upshaw, but he won't be a number one because he is all around good at everything but not a terrific pass rusher.
Whitney Mercilus Illinois 1st round
Vinny Curry Marshall 2nd round
Courtney Upshaw 1st round
Again Courtney Upshaw is a great player. But all around OLB's are on this team in Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace. Whitney Mercilus although a 1 year wonder is a very confident player and had 9 forced fumbles to go along with his 16 sacks. He plays all over the line, which is great for this defense. My personal favorite is Nick Perry, but if I have to be honest Mercilus presents the best value for what the Jets want to do. That represents a player who doesn't worry about coverage and gets after the quarterback every play relentlessly.
Vinny Curry in round 2 also represents great value because he does the same thing, in a different way. He uses strength and leverage and also produces lots of sacks, fumbles, and tackles for loss. He has done iit the past 2 years and although he played in the MAC conference, he dominated at the Senior Bowl showing the step up in competition doesn't effect what he does.
I think either one of those 2 players will be better suited as a pass rusher than Upshaw who will be a great player, but not a great pass rusher. Mercilus could be another Clay Matthews, while Upshaw could be another Bryan Thomas. Before you knock Bryan Thomas, coming out he was a 6'4 260 OLB/DE who could run a 4.4 set the edge, and bash the QB. He has been underrated for years. Anyway, that's my 2 cents.
Melvin Ingram doesn't make my list because despite the fact he has 19 sacks in 2 years he has 1 forced fumble in his last 3 seasons. He is also a redshirt senior, and all his sacks came against teams with sub par QB play, which makes me think he gouged and then starved. Again, this is just a preference, and he is a good player, but he doesn't do enough outside of his 19 sacks in 2 seasons to justify a first round pick. He had good measurables, and a good workout showing speed and flexibility, but I think of all the players he could be the Vernon Gholston of the bunch.
Best value for a pass rusher is Mercilus, Curry, and Upshaw because of his overall ability.
It is hard for me to judge offensive line talent. I understand foot movement and bend in hips, arm length are all importan, but it's hard to judge a good college tackle from a great one. Run blocking in particular is easier in college because of the smaller nature of the defensive players, pass blocking is harder to judge because how often does a specific tackle see top notch pass rushers at the college level? I think players are judged mainly on their run blocking dominance, but on their "projected" pass blocking ability from drills, individual workouts, and all star games. The Jets need a tackle with great run blocking, but better pass blocking than Hunter.
This is a very unspectacular group of offensive tackles to me. Everyone outside of Kalil has some kind of issue. Bobby Massie is considered raw, Zebbrie Sanders got destroyed by every pass rusher from Coples to Ingram in the senior bowl. Mike Adams is inconsistent and not very strong. Reley Reif being the other top tier tackle is now moving into the top 15 and he is considered just ok. I don't see drafting a tackle, and many people are going to complain if the Jets don't. I think they will look at tackles later in the draft and find a 5th-7th rounder with 3 or 4 years starting experience like they did with Matt Slauson. They may also wait out cuts and pick up a free agent similar to the Jared Gather and Bryant Mckinnie signings late last off season.
Value for tackles:
Nate Potter Boise State 5th round
Levy Adcock Oklahoma 5th round
Andre Datko Florida State 6th round
Josh Oglesby Wisconsin 6th round
Nate Potter is 6'6 and 303. He is more a of zone blocker, but he has a great football knowledge, and he comes from a program that has ready made players with a shorter learning curve. Boise state doesn't beat teams with top tier athletes, they beat teams year after year with smart, solid football players. Potter has something like 30 starts and can play left or right tackle. I think he could take the job from Wayne Hunter and immediately supplant Vlad Ducasse.
Levy Adcock was high on a lot of peoples boards early in the year, but for some reason everyone forgot about him. I looked at about 5 draft boards and he is rated as low as a 6th or 7th rounder at this point. Other tackles with better combine and workout numbers have jumped into the middle rounds ahead of him. Adcock is still 6'6 and 320. He didn't allow a single sack all of 2010. He played right tackle and switched to left tackle last year. I don't know where other teams rank him, but if he's still available round 4-6 the Jets should trade up to get him, or draft him when the pick comes up.
Andrew Datko was a 2nd or 3rd round pick, but he had a shoulder injury which limited him to 4 games. He's 6'6 and 320 or so. He has a injury history with shoulders, but he is a starter by year 2 and maybe year 1 on a lot of NFL teams if his shoulder injury history is behind him.
Josh Oglesby and Wisconsin are synonymous with running the ball and big mauling lineman. Oglesby is no different. If the Jets truly run a run based attack with a 60/40 split, this guy could be a gem. If they run a 50/50 ratio his value isn't as great. He is a mauler in the run game, and he has been doing it for years. He is considered strictly a right tackle though, but that is just what the Jets need.
Safety is another position that has been mentioned as a weakness. This is not a good year with everyone agreeing on Mark Barron followed by either Harrison Smith or George Illoka. The Jets signed Laron Landry for 4 million. He will definately be the starting strong safety. The free safety is up for grabs between Jim Leonhard, Eric Smith, and maybe another late free agent signing.
George Illoka Boise State 3rd round
Harrison Smith Notre Dame 2nd round
Mark Barron Alabama 1st round
George Illoka is a tall guy who I don't really like, but they say he covers a lot of ground and runs well. I've seen video of him, and his speed seems straight line, he doesn't seem fluid at all. Because of the drought at safety his value has been pushed up from a 3rd rounder which he should be, to a 2nd rounder where he'll probably be drafted.
Harrison Smith I like alot. He is active, he looks for contact. He is decisive in seeing a play and getting to it. I've seen him cover running backs, tight ends, and receivers all pretty well even diving to break up passes. He is best suited to be a strong safety, but maybe he can be squeezed into a free safety role.
Mark Barron is a wild card. He had a hernia surgery, he is better as a strong safety in college. He also didn't make a ton of plays despite his high draft grade. He had 2 INT's this year and 3 INT's last year. He also doesn't break up a ton of passes, 10 combined passes defended in 2 years. What you get with him though is intangible. He is an aggressive hitter. He is a field general lining up players like Jim Leonhard did, which created big plays for the other guys around him, but not for himself. Robert Lester who plays free safety is often the beneficiary of Barron. I don't think any one of these players could come in and start at free safety except Mark Barron, and his value isn't high enough to draft him in the 1st round with pick 16. I think you might see a whiff on all 3 players because Illoka is likely to be drafted higher than is reasonable due to lack of depth at the position.
The Jets will draft a safety in April, and it will be a combination of a player with size, experience, and athletic abilty to groom, as the starting free safety will be either Jim Leonhard again or Eric Smith. Before we bash Eric Smith, realize he played all year with a groin tear which limits mobility, and he also played special teams. If he only played defense, and wasn't injured his season would have been much better.
Brandin Hardin Oregon State 5th round
Dequan Menzie Alabama 5th round CB/S
Brandin Hardin is a cornerback that is 6'2 and 220 or so. He was overly aggressive and physical, so Oregon State converted him to safety because they had no one who could cover. He's a super athletic, physical, and quick to the ball kind of guy. He was graded as a 2nd round pick last year, but had a shoulder injury that cost him most of a season. A safety with corner experience that can cover and is physical is a great value in the 5th round.
Dequan Menzie was a cornerback in Alabama, but because of the depth he moved all over the field to safety and nickel back. All the defensive backs coming from Nick Sabans system are head and shoulders better than DB's at any other school. He started at corner, moved to nickel, and played safety. He broke up 11 passes on defense. Anyone who can start at corner and slide inside and cover players in space as a nickel is good enough to play free safety in my book.
I see a pass in the 1st 3 rounds on safties and a draft in round 5-7. Possibly one of these players. The value for what they due, the versatility, and the fact that no one in the first 3 rounds would start anyway, puts these 2 guys higher as a late value than the early guys with less value.
last up Running Back
This is a running team again, so it obviously needs a star running back. I don't agree. The Jets finished top 5 in rushing with Thomas Jones in 2009 and Ladanian Tomlinson in 2010. Last year being the aberration because they did not run as much. Before that they won rushing titles with Curtis Martin. The point is, none of those backs are premier running backs. They are top 10-15 at the time,but not the best back in football. I do not believe that historically you need a high draft pick bell cow running back, especially when you run with more than one guy. It was Lamont Jordan when Curtis Martin was here, then Leon Washington, and finally Shonn Greene.
Doug Martin Boise State Round 2
Robert Turbin Utah State Round 4
David WIlson Virginia Tech Round 2
Doug Martin is a complete back. He's strong 28 bench reps, he has great balance, and he can cut very well, and has good vision. He's a downhill runner and doesn't get pushed back. If Shonn Greene can't be the #1 back Martin who is durable could take that role next year.
Robert Turbin has the 2nd most value to me because of what he does well. He is a fast, strong, power runner between the tackles. He is no mus no fuss. He breaks big runs and if he is in a 1 on 1 situation he will win. He has an injury history,but as a 4th rounder he is the new Shonne Greene. One cut and hit the hole hard.
David Wilson is a mystery to me. Who knows who the starting running back was for Virginia Tech the season before this? I don't know. But whoever that guy was beat this guy out as a starter. If you couldn't start on your own college football team until this year it makes me wonder. Still he is very good. Virginia Tech also has a history of good college running backs that turn into so so NFL running backs. I still like him a lot because he has speed, and you can see it. You can't teach speed. He also has passion, and he plays with it. I like players that are pumped up when they play and not cerebral all the time.
Rex Ryan gets 1 draft pick every year. He drafted a back in John Connor and he drafted a back in Bilal Powell with "his" pick. Now there is talk of if the Jets need a running back to start if Greene and McKnight can't get it done. I think Rex will draft a running back again. I think the pick is Robert Turbin who is a Rex Ryan kind of pick. 28 bench reps 4.5 speed, and 222 pounds sounds like a pretty good 4th rounder.
Trades are impossible to predict, so there will definitely be one.
1st round: Whitney MercilusOLB / Vinny Curry OLB if there is a trade back
2nd round: Mark Barron S trade up if he slides/ Doug Martin RB/ Nick Toon WR/ David Wilson RB
3rd round: Greg Childs WR/ Robert Turbin RB/ George Illoka S
4th round: Tim Tebow QB/RB/ minister/ colt leader
5th round: Levy Adcock T/ Dequan Menzie CB/S / Brandon Hardin CB/S
6th round: Nate Potter T/ Adrew Datko T/ Josh Oglesby T
7th round: Shawn Powell P/ Drew Butler P/ Drew Wiley WR/RB/KR/PR / Jaques Smith OLB/DE/ Sammy Brown OLB