In the first edition of the Jets draft preview, I offered insight into five possible first round draft picks that the Jets are interested in. This follow-up piece will highlight five more potential picks that seem to fit well into the Jets draft plans. The first draft piece focused mainly on offensive options. Primarily the focus was on receivers such as Mike Evans, Jordan Matthews, and Marqise Lee. This piece will showcase defensive options along with some offensive players.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu: Junior Cornerback Oregon 5'10" 185 lbs.
The Jets have struggled all season against the pass. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie has virtually disappeared as a threat to quarterbacks. Pro Football Focus has ranked Cromartie 103 out of the 107 corners they analyzed. The Jets 2013 first round pick Dee Milliner has had a major issue transitioning into the NFL. He has not lived up to his hype, and the former Crimson Tide corner is not showing signs of progression.
Many may find this to be a risky pick, but Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is a corner who shows potential to make an impact on an NFL roster. The same was said about Milliner when he declared for the draft last year. It may be risky to draft a corner again, but the secondary needs immediate help.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu was a highly touted high school recruit earning a 4 star rating from Rivals. He was a standout corner playing for Chino Hills High located in Chino Hills, California. As a true freshman at Oregon, Ekpre-Olomu apeared in all 14 games for the Ducks. He was a third team All-American as a sophomore. This year Ekpre-Olomu has been added to the watch list for the Thorpe, Nagurski, and Bednarik Awards. This season the Junior corner has been fairly quiet, only intercepting one pass. Despite only intercepting one pass, Ekpre-Olomu has been a solid tackler.
According to CBS Sports draft page, the Ducks corner runs a 4.52 40 yard dash. His speed isn't terrible... his lowest 40 has been clocked around 4.4 seconds. What he lacks is size, standing only at 5'10" and weighing only 185 lbs. This could create many mismatch situations against more physically gifted receivers. He has excellent footwork that makes up for his lack of size. He is very fluid and has great hip movement.
The Jets may go after Ekpre-Olomu if he is available. It could be a risky pick, but only time will tell.
Darqueze Dennard: Senior Cornerback Michigan State 5'11" 197lbs.
Darqueze Dennard has been gaining attention for his excellent play this season. The senior Michigan State corner from Dry Branch, Georgia is the favorite to win the Jim Thorpe Award. This season Dennard has intercepted three passes and has racked up a solid amount of tackles.
Dennard wasn't a highly touted recruit coming out of high school. Rivals gave the corner a two star ranking. He received offers from Utah State, Middle Tenn. State, and Michigan State. He signed with the Spartans and has been an important player for the stellar Spartan defense. As a freshman, he played in six games before suffering a knee injury. During his sophomore year, Darqueze had 42 tackles and three interceptions. He was a first team all Big Ten selection as a Junior.
The senior corner is fairly athletic. He runs a 40 yard dash between 4.4 and 4.5 seconds. Analysts praise Dennard for his speed stating that he rarely gets beat by receivers. NFL draft experts also feel that Dennard is a sound tackler. His cousin is New England Patriots corner Alfonzo Dennard. Darqueze has benefited from being part of a defense that is equipped with excellent players. Mel Kiper Jr. has been a huge fan of Dennard having this to say about the senior corner: "...I love his physicality, I love his tackling, I love his aggressiveness, all the areas of playing cornerback. If he runs well, late first, at worst probably early second (or) mid second.'' Kiper even went as far as comparing Dennard to NFL hall of famer Deion Sanders. Scouts have also been impressed by Darqueze's leadership amongst his teammates.
Some analysts say that Dennard's weakness may be his size, but he makes up for this by being extremely fast. Daruqeze Dennard has accepted a bid to the Senior Bowl. Dennard has been named the Big Ten defensive back of the year. He can only help his draft stock if he continues to play high caliber football. If he has an impressive combine look for Dennard to go early.
Davante Adams: Redshirt Sophomore Wide Receiver Fresno State 6'2" 216 lbs.
Coming out of high school Adams only received two scholarships: Fresno State and San Diego State. Adams made a name for himself as a high school basketball player. He perfected his athleticism by playing basketball. Adams decided to play his college ball at Fresno State. He has benefitted greatly from the stellar play of quarterback Derek Carr. Adams has put together a stellar 2013 stat line: 113 receptions, 1477 yards, and 22 touchdowns. Adams has been gaining praise for his excellent play.
His lowest 40 time (according to nfldraftscout.com) has been clocked at 4.46 seconds. He has adequate speed and excellent size. Adams stands at 6'2" and weighs a solid 216 pounds. He should be able to outwork corners with his physicality. He possesses excellent vertical leaping ability (42 inch vertical jump) and prime outside speed. Adams has solid hands and rarely catches the ball with his body. Analysts are quick to point out that as good as Adams is he has greatly benefitted from playing with an excellent quarterback. Some scouts are worried that he hasn't played against formidable opponents in the Mountain West Conference.
Despite some minor critiques, Adams is a great redzone target and deep threat. He needs to improve his route running and creating separation against skilled defensive backs. He has great body control in tough situations. Many analysts felt that Adams was more of a "Day 2" draft prospect. This feeling has changed slightly after Adams has put together an amazing season. He could be a great offensive addition for the Jets. Stephen Hill has been a bust to date. Adams could see immediate playing time with Gang Green if he continues to work hard and impress coaches.
Lamarcus Joyner: Senior Safety Florida State University 5'8" 190 lbs.
Joyner seems to be a solid second round pick for the Jets. Coming out of high school Joyner was rated the number one cornerback in the nation. He received a 5 star ranking from Rivals. As a freshman at FSU, Joyner played in 14 games at corner totaling 23 tackles and one interception. As a sophomore, Joyner was switched to safety. He would start all 13 games racking up 54 tackles and a sack. He earned All-ACC honors for his strong play. He continued to play well during his junior year. This year Joyner has helped anchor the Seminoles defense. FSU is currently the top team in the nation, and Joyner has been an intricate part of this run. Joyner has totaled 60 tackles, 5 sacks, and one interception.
Joyner is a high motor player who attacks at the point of contact. Analysts praise Joyner's instinct on the field. He has adequate speed and agility to help him in coverage. Coaches and draft specialists praise Joyner for his effort. He never has a "bad day", and has been greatly appreciated for his high motor at practice. He is a natural ball hawk and aggressive player. The main issue with Joyner is his size. Despite being a smaller player, he continues to work hard to improve his athleticism. He may have difficulty against big bodied receivers. Even though he is small in stature, Joyner does not shy away form contact.
The Jets secondary has been problematic all season. Safeties Dawan Landry and Antonio Allen have played mediocre football all year. The Ed Reed signing seems to be a waste. A young energetic player like Joyner would be a solid second round pick for the Jets.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins: Junior Tight End Washington 6'6" 276 lbs.
Many analysts feel that the Jets will draft a tight end with their first round pick. It's been a toss up between Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Eric Ebron. Coming out of high school, Jenkins was a highly touted 4 star recruit. Coaches were salivating at his size and athleticism. Last season Jenkins gained national attention after catching 69 passes for 852 yards and 7 touchdowns. This season Jenkins has caught 33 passes for 413 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Jenkins has excellent size for an NFL tight end. Standing at 6'6" inches and weighing 276 pounds, it is clear that he is a large individual. His size will help him physically compete against NFL defenders. Jenkins moves fluidly for a big bodied tight end. He is not the fastest player on the field, but he has decent speed (his 40 time varies between 4.6 and 4.7 seconds). He's very athletic and explosive off the snap. He has even spent time at defensive end and was a member of the Huskies basketball team as a freshman. He is a very aggressive blocker who attacks at the point of contact. He is able to angle defenders away from the play creating space for the runner.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins needs to improve his awareness on the field. Jenkins also needs to work on his route running. Although he is an aggressive blocker, he sometimes is beat on bull rushes from defenders. With the proper strength training and coaching, he can become an effective blocker.
Seferian-Jenkins was cited with a DUI on March 9, 2013. He plead guilty to the charge and served a day in jail. Jenkins has handled the issue very well having this to say:
"That was an experience that I never will and never want to go through again.... It's not just the embarrassment you're facing, it's the embarrassment you cause your family, your friends, the University, all the guys on the team that connect themselves with you. It hurt a lot of people" (NFL-bound Austin Seferian-Jenkins says DUI arrest was 'humbling' and 'embarrassing' Mynorthwest.com Thomas,L. 12/5/13)
Jenkins spoke to students at Ballard High School about the incident. The event was said to be "moving" and insightful for the students, teachers, and community members in attendance. Jenkins discussed how he felt "invincible" prior to the DUI incident. He said the event was extremely humbling. Austin Seferian-Jenkins discussed the emotional moment he shared with his mother after the DUI and how she was in tears.
Teams in the NFL should not shy away from drafting Jenkins because of his off-field issues. He has learned from his mistakes and has taken the proper steps to correct the problem. Overall, Austin Seferian-Jenkins is an excellent player who's physical tools and instinct are perfect for the NFL. He would be a solid draft choice for the Jets.
With today's win over the Oakland Raiders the Jets are sitting at 6-7. The last three games will be pivotal for the Jets. Depending on how the Jets finish, they should have a first round pick somewhere in the area of picks 11-16. There are many areas that the Jets need to improve in. It will be interesting to see where the Jets go with their draft choices.