The first round of the first Draft of the John Idzik Era has come to its end. The Jets have two new defensive players, Dee Milliner and Sheldon Richardson. This night ended up being surprising to say the least. Below are some thoughts on the night that was.
Dee Milliner Pick:
My issue isn't with the player here. It's about the big picture of what the Jets did this week. They traded Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We've already been over the pros and cons of that. There is no need to rehash. What is the effective result of taking Milliner at 9?
Essentially the Jets created a hole they felt was so gaping that they had to fill it with their most valuable commodity. Nobody could reasonbly expect Milliner to ever be as good as Revis, though. So they got the 13th pick for Revis and used the 9th pick on Milliner. In effect, the end result was to move back four slots in the first round in exchange for a downgrade at cornerback and $16 million in cap space a year before the Jets would have had around $35 million in cap space anyway.
And the real kicker is that cornerback was one of the few positions this team was in solid shape so the upgrade to the roster isn't as big as it would have been at a position of bigger need.
Sheldon Richardson Pick:
As befuddling as the big picture behind the Milliner pick was, the Richardson pick was even more confounding. Again, the issue isn't the player as much as it is the fit. Richardson is a quality prospect who will get top notch coaching. The problem is the Jets used first round picks the last two years on players who play the same position. Quinton Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson are both defensive ends in the 3-4 who slide inside on four man lines on passing downs. That is where Richardson projects.
The Jets have gaping holes almost everywhere else on their roster. The position Richardson plays is literally the one place where the Jets have front end young talent. Where does Richardson fit? Is he going to just be a rotational guy? Is he going to reduce the playing time of Coples and Wilkerson thus reducing their impact? It would have been one thing if the Jets were planning on trading Coples and Wilkerson to get back into the first round and maybe pick up a few other selections.
There has to be some kind of balance between best player available and need. If Geno Smith was the top player on the Colts board when they picked in the first round, they would not have taken him. They already have Andrew Luck. Geno would have sat on the bench, and the impact of his selection would have been reduced since somebody was blocking him from getting playing time. Richardson will get more playing time with the Jets than Geno would have in Indianapolis, but the concept remains the same. He has two really talented guys blocking him.
There's really no other way to put it. This was a luxury pick. The Jets were also arguably the team that could least afford a luxury pick. They have gaping holes at nose tackle, safety, and outside linebacker. There were players available who made sense at 13. That is before we even talk about the mess the offense is and remains. Instead, the Jets got a guy who profiles to be a backup.
Beyond that, I think a lot of people are going to question whether Richardson was really the best player available there. This feels like taking Bryan Thomas instead of addressing glaring needs when Shaun Ellis and John Abraham were in place all over again.
The era of leaks continues:
We have heard a lot about how secretive the Jets have become under John Idzik and how there are no more leaks. I found this a bit overblown, but this narrative is gone. It felt like every news agency under the sun was reporting the Jets loved Tavon Austin in the 24 hours leading up to the Draft. Teams got the message they would have to jump the Jets to get Austin, and the Rams did just that.
I usually don't take much from introductory press conferences, but I found it striking when John Idzik answered a question at his. Idzik was asked whether he felt comfortable being the decider, and he said he viewed his job as making sure the people in the room came to a consensus.
It was a reminder that the only thing that changed was the general manager. The same scouting staff was there. Rex Ryan was still the head coach. Idzik was only one man. It seems pretty clear that the same people who have had influence in the past still have influence. After tonight, the Jets have now used five consecutive first round selections on either cornerbacks or 3-4 defensive ends. The Jets say they got two of the top four players on their board. It feels like Rex Ryan had a ton to do with that. We know he loves cornerbacks and interior linemen.
If you ever saw Wedding Crashers, you might remember Bradley Cooper's character yell out, "Crabcakes and football: That's what Maryland does!" Tonight I say, cornerbacks and interior linemen: That's who Rex drafts! No wonder this team has such gaping holes at nose tackle, outside linebacker, and safety before we even begin to talk about what the offense looks like.
Incredibly on a night where they had two top fifteen picks, it feels like the upside of this night is the Jets only marginally improved their team. Absolutely none of the glaring needs this team has were addressed. The Jets targeted the only positions on their entire team where they were already in good shape. This is the kind of drafting you do when you have a contender, not when you have the most needs in the NFL.
It's too early to write the Idzik Era off, but it is off to a very disconcerting start. It's one thing to have a plan I disagree with. Right now I don't ever see that there is a plan.