I have submitted just the one mock draft this season so far. So myself and Deb Borges (LilMissNYJet) thought it was about time we put our co-op draft together. This is something we did last year and hopefully something we can do for many years to come. There are hundreds of prospects suitable for drafting, so narrowing your choices down to eight (our confirmed selections this year) could be very difficult. Fortunately we seem to agree quite a lot when it comes to scouting and picking players that can come in and make a difference.
We managed to work through the mock quite quickly, until we got to the 5th round. We had 4-5 players that we wanted and had we had the confirmed compensation picks, we may have been able to squeeze them into subsequent rounds. However after some back and forwards discussions, we had a little tinkering to do and we have come to our final conclusions, and here they are in all their glory.
I would say my personal view of a draft is to take the best player available, if that player also fills a need on the team, that's a perfect storm. We have listed our eight selections below with our reasons for the selection.
Round 1 - Wide Receiver, Brandin Cooks. Oregon State, Junior
Stats: 128 receptions, 1730 yards, 16 touchdowns
DW: There is little doubt that we need some serious help with the offensive weapons we provide to Geno. Cooks is a player I was impressed with before he blew up the combine with his performance. You can find the scouting report I did earlier this year on him HERE. I like his explosiveness, his reliability, his hands and his route-running ability. I actually think some are under-valuing him. He doesn't have that elite size, but he just gets separation and he looks like such a smooth athlete. I personally think that #18 represents excellent value for a player who has some of the best characteristics to succeed. He gives Geno a reliable target you can really make things happen after the catch. In a west coast system the QB gets the ball into the hands of the play-maker quickly, Cooks will thrive on this and his short area quickness will allow him to get open. It's a match made in heaven as far as I'm concerned.
DB: It's no secret. Ask anyone with the slightest interest in the NFL and they'll tell you that the Jets biggest need going into the 2014 season is wide receiver. Luckily this draft is chock full o'talented ones and we've selected a top one with the Jets first round pick. Brandin Cooks' name has risen in popularity just like his production rose every season at Oregon State. He's a playmaker, and the Jets need as many as they can get. After an impressive combine performance, many are going back to look at film and seeing that his speed translates on the field as a threat outside and in the slot. Geno will be thanking Rex & Idzik for this early Christmas gift.
Round 2: Safety, Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois, Senior
Stats: 95 tackles, 2.5 for a loss, 1 sack, 7 interceptions, 10 passes defended
DW: Safeties have been a major talking point between myself and Deb for years now. So back in November time I asked her who her favourite safety was in this draft. She replied with Jimmie Ward and I think ever since then I knew we'd get him in this mock. Mainly because he is by far my favourite safety in this draft, I'd take him over Clinton-Dix and I'd take him over a lot of safeties who have been drafted recently. He is quite simply a play-maker, he proved to scouts he had the speed, and the reports coming from his pro day were as positive as they had been after tape evaluation. You can read the scouting report I did on Jimmie HERE. He takes good angles to the ball and he is excellent in coverage. He has excellent ball skills and his intelligence on the field is second to none. We haven't drafted safeties high recently, but now is the time to buck the trend.
DB: The first player David & I shared a brain on this winter was Jimmie Ward. Our mutual love for this safety made picking him up with the Jets 2nd Round pick a no brainer. Dane Brugler of CBS Sports stated today "if Ward wore a Bama helmet in college, more people would be talking about him as a Top 25 type" and I couldn't agree more. He's one of the nation's best ballhawking safeties. Smooth, agile, physical and competitive; he's missed one game in his career and ran a 4.45 at his ProDay last week... with a stress fracture. Drafting Ward is a start to putting the end to the never-ending revolving door of Jets safeties.
Round 3: Cornerback, Stanley Jean-Baptise, Nebraska, Senior
Stats: 41 tackles, 4 interceptions, 12 passed defended
DW: Are big physical corners going to be the hot-commodity in the NFL over the next few years? Quite possibly. Seattle like their corners to be big and physical, Idzik is a Seattle man and Rex loves corners. Here we have a fast, physical receiver who just screams intimidation. He actually looks to have the exact same build as Richard Sherman. His 40 was impressive, his vertical is explosive and if you watch the tape he looks as good as his drill performances would indicate. I actually think he could be the sleeper in terms of the CB position. I like his ability to press at the line and I like his length, he looks better in press-man coverage and that’s certainly a positive for the Jets. He is projected to be a 3rd round pick, so if he is there when we select I’m taking him all day.
DB: At this very moment, the Jets are most likely writing a check to help fill the hole left at cornerback when Cromartie was let go yesterday. Despite what free-agent acquisitions are made, Rex Ryan is the head coach and if there's one thing he loves it's cornerbacks. It also happens to be one of the positions where more depth is needed. As the biggest cornerback in the draft, Jean-Baptiste is a physically intimidating presence. He has the body of a linebacker, the speed of a cornerback and the ability to make plays on the ball from his days as a wide receiver. Hi instincts are as impressive as his size.
Round 3/4: Offensive Guard, Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
DW: So it seems as though this selection may turn out to be a 4th round pick instead of a 3rd round pick. However regardless of whether it turns out to be a 4th or 3rd, I’m taking big Mississippi State guard Gabe Jackson. I really just have to reiterate what Deb has said in reference to Jackson. He is a big man who has been commended as being a consistent performer in a pision that boasts some of the best defensive players in the country. He’s large but athletic; he has good feet and plays with a good base and good leverage. Protecting Geno is paramount to his development, so I’m taking a physical specimen like this in the 3rd/4th round, and I’d go so far as to say he could very well start and contribute from day one. That’s how good I think he can be.
DB: I put away my dream of grabbing Jared Abbrederis in the 3rd Round to show the Offensive Linemen some love. A key to the continued development of Geno Smith is making sure that he has a solid offensive line to protect him. Mangold, Ferguson & (hopefully) Howard can hold their own for now. Brian Winters is starting to demonstrate a more consistent level of play, but with Colon likely not returning and Abdoushi and Campbell being basically unknown, grabbing offensive line help is not a far fetched idea. Jackson is a massive lineman yet doesn't move like one. He's been described as one of the most consistently good offensive lineman in the SEC throughout his 4 years at Mississippi State and demonstrates the size, athleticism and tools to make an impact.
Round 4: Offensive Weapon, Dri Archer, Kent State, Senior
Stats: 527 yards rushing, 6 TD's. 327 yards receiving, 4 TD's, 2 returns 64.0 average 1 touchdown
DW: We simply had to fit Dri into this draft, we almost had it set but we had to squeeze him in. This meant jigging the whole middle round portion. He is the offensive weapon in this draft, he is lightning quick, and his open field moves are just ridiculous. He can contribute in several areas of the game, but as a receiver I think he can really go off. As I mentioned for Cooks, the WCO is designed to get the ball into the hands of receivers quickly and then set up the blocks to allow them to explode. Get the ball into Dri’s hands early and often and the Defense will tire. I have a really good feeling about Dri and this team needs offensive weapons.
DB: Here you go fans. Your much wanted, much asked for offensive weapon. If anyone deserves the "OW" designation in this draft it's Dri Archer. Unless you live under a rock you've heard about Archer posting the 2nd fastest 40 time since 1999 at the NFL Combine this year. As a runner, returner and receiver, if he hits the open field and big play is almost sure to happen. In the past I've had my reservations about the Jets knowing how to utilize a guy like Archer, but I have faith that isn't as much of a problem with Marty in charge.
Round 5: Linebacker, Christian Kirksey, Senior
Stats: 104 tackles, 5.0 for a loss, 2.5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 pass defended
DW: There is a chance he is gone here, a good chance. However there are some concerns about his size, so he may drop. We couldn’t really find a good value/projection spot earlier for a linebacker. However here seems just right. He has impressed everyone this off-season with his instincts, coverage ability and his sound tackling. Three things you really want in a linebacker. His athleticism is off the charts when it comes to his position and his closing speed is exceptional. I just love linebackers with instincts, and he has it in abundance. Seems like a good fit.
DB: There's a ton of talent to be had in these mid-rounds and while there may be a small possibility that Christian Kirksey may be gone just before pick #142 we feel pretty confident in the value and projection. Though some fans disagree, the Jets stellar front-seven can be even greater with improvements made at the linebacker position. Christian Kirksey is known as one of the better cover linebackers in the draft, he's known most for his pass coverage, doing most of his best work covering the slot/TE in space. His physicality, instincts and football IQ help overcome any objections regarding size
Round 6: Tight End, A.C Leonard, Tennessee State, Junior
Stats: 34 Receptions 441 yards, 13.0 yards per receptions, 4 touchdowns
DW: Meyer recruit, off-field issues, changing schools... usually all of these would throw up a red flag for me. However Leonard is back on track and he showed off his athleticism last month in Indy at the combine with some terrific numbers. The fastest 40 time and he looked fluid in his positional drills. He’s an impressive athlete if he can just hold it all together. 34 receptions 441 yards and 5 touchdowns from the TE position. I really like his potential and as Deb mentioned, the TE’s we were looking at were in rounds one and two and we just couldn’t fit them in ahead of two great value selections like Cooks and Ward. One of the future for sure, and it seems as though the Jets are shopping for a veteran TE in free agency.
DB: I have to say I'm surprised at myself that I'm not writing about a tight end further up on this list. Most of our favorite tight end prospects would be drafted in the 2nd round but Jimmie Ward won out in value there. A.C Leonhard however is a guy that could be a great grab this late in the draft though. A former Urban Meyer recruit (maybe I shouldn't have mentioned that?), Leonhard is moving on from some past off-field issues. After switching schools he put up good numbers at Tennessee State with his good hands, and raw athletic ability. He impressed many after posting the fastest 40 of all tight end prospects last month at the Combine and it could mean the difference for him.
Round 7: Tight End/ Full Back/H-Back - Gator Hoskins, Marshall,
Stats: 50 receptions, 821 yards, 15 touchdowns
DW: Did you really think that a draft me and Deb were involved in wasn’t going to involve a Thundering Herd player? Come on! Hoskins is a really impressive young man. He led the nation in touchdown receptions from the TE position the last two years. He can line up from the H-Back position, as a receiving FB, or you can even split him out wide. When you have a fullback who can block but also come out in a pattern and 1) create another weapon and 2) gives a security blanket to Geno, you have to consider it with a 7th round pick. I think this is a good pick based on value, projection, talent and scheme fit. You can’t get much better than that.
DB: No explanation needed for this pick. He's a member of the Thundering Herd and David and I have a yearly soft spot for Marshall players. Hoskins however will help cure me of my fullback frustrations which currently are not being alleviated by Tommy Bohanon. He just doesn't do it for me. Fullbacks with good hands are an important part of Morninwheg's offense. Though he translates best to H-back in the NFL, Hoskins led the nation in touchdowns by tight ends last season. His compact frame makes him run block effortlessly yet doesn't prevent him from running solid routes and making moves after the catch as well. He's a versatile, dynamic player and fits a need on the Jets offense.