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The New York Jets 2014 NFL Draft Parallel Universe

The first round of the 2014 NFL draft is looking more and more like it will eventually be remembered as quite a class, especially at the wide receiver position but what would have happened had we gone somewhere else.

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

I listen to a lot of NFL podcasts, and two of my favorites are the NFL's official "Around The Leagye" podcast and the  ESPN "Football Today" podcast. Over the last few weeks, they have quite rightly been singing the praises of several first round draft picks, including Odell Beckham who I think everyone loved here going into the draft and Mike Evans, a player who was highly regarded by most as well. It got me thinking about the Jets and Calvin Pryor who's been solid without being a game changer. I thought about all the possibilities, and if we knew what we knew now, how would we have drafted?

I imagine if we knew what we knew now, we'd move up 7 spots ahead of the Giants to take Odell Beckham Jr. Obviously in this scenario we're the only team who has access to that information. However that opens up way too many possibilities. So for the sake of this argument, I'm keeping all 17 picks previous to ours the same and we simply have to choose from the possibilities open to us at #18. So with this in mind, the following players would be off the board:

Jadeveon Clowney, Greg Robinson, Blake Bortles, Sammy Watkins, Khalil Mack, Jake Matthews, Mike Evans, Justin Gilbert, Anthony Barr, Eric Ebron, Taylor Lewan, Odell Beckham Jr, Aaron Donald, Kyle Fuller, Ryan Shazier, Zack Martin and C.J Mosley.

I'm sure a few people would love to have one of those players on this team over Pryor.

First of all lets take a look at the selection. Calvin Pryor is a Jet and he by no means has experienced a terrible season. He hasn't made the impact we would have hoped, but he was by and large played at FS, in a deep cover safety position, a position that did not meet his skill set. As a result we saw him take numerous bad angles to the football, miss a few tackles, be late on a few coverages and he barely made a mark as an impact player.

There were four safeties taken in the first round. Calvin Pryor was first off the board, closely followed by Ha-Ha Clinton Dix at selection #21, Deone Bucannon at #27 and Jimmie Ward at #30. For the sake of this argument, I'm also going to put in any safety that has played at least 200 snaps for their respective teams.

Player Snaps Overall Grade Tackles Sacks QB Hits QB Hurries Missed Tackles Completion % Against Yards YAC TD's IINT's Pass Defenses QB Rating
Calvin Pryor 563 +3.8 33 1 1 2 12 71.4% 62 24 1 0 1 103.9
Ha-Ha Clinton Dix 841 -5.1 67 1 1 2 14 56.0% 187 66 0 1 2 63.3
Deone Bucannon 644 -8.7 47 2 1 2 7 85.1% 400 215 1 0 1 109.2
Jimmie Ward 270 -6.4 16 0 0 1 0 72% 196 71 4 0 2 134.3
Dezmen Southward 202 -4.8 12 1 1 0 4 60.0% 97 34 0 1 0 52.9
Brock Vereen 291 -3.8 16 0 0 0 5 25.0% 1 6 0 0 0 39.6
Tre Boston 254 +4.0 18 0 1 1 1 50.0% 68 16 1 0 2 130.6
Terrence Brooks 245 -2.1 17 0 1 1 3 66.7% 150 38 0 0 1 109.7
Pierre Warren 220 -1.3 15 0 0 0 7 85.7% 91 33 0 0 0 118.8

Looking at the table above, it's obvious that Pryors tackling has been a big problem area this year. Although he has only had one touchdown thrown into his coverage, his poor angles have resulted in several others where he did not have principal coverage responsibility. However looking at the above, would anyone swap Pryor for another safety? I certainly wouldn't swap him with Ha Ha Clinton Dix at the minute or Deone Bucannon who are the only safeties to have played a similar amount of snaps. Tre Boston is showing well early, especially for a 4th round draft choice, so I'm playing devils advocate. Lets say the 14 weeks worth of stats are indicitive of how these players will perform going forward. We take Tre Boston in a later round and we have our first draft selection wide open. I want to know who you would select and why, lets just run through some of the players who were available, I'll give my thoughts on their current production and you can tell me who you would draft.

Brandin Cooks - Wide Receiver - Drafted #20 overall by the New Orleans Saints

Stat line - 53 receptions, 550 yards, 3 touchdowns. 171 YAC, 2 dropped passes

In his first career game Cooks caught 7 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown and with an array of receiving threats in New Orleans he started to establish himself as a realiable receiver for Drew Brees. Unfortunately in week 11 he broke his thumb, forcing him to the IR. He has had a very solid rookie campaign and it's unfortunate for Cooks that it has been overshadowed by his injury and the unbelievable performances by the rookie receiving class in general. However the future is bright for Cooks who will look to follow up a strong rookie season with a dominant year two.

Johnny Manziel - Quarterback - Drafted #22 Overall by the Cleveland Browns

Stat line - 15/27 for 143 yards, 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 1 rushing touchdown

I happen to think Manziel gets a bad rep, but admittedly some of it is completely self inflicted. He came in against Buffalo and did a nice job offering a spark and using his legs to instigate a touchdown drive. However his start this weekend against the Bengals was nasty, I'm talking all out stinking up the joint. He threw two interceptions, one of them a terrible decision. Only one completion went over 10 yards and the Browns ran 5 offensive plays in the Bengals half all game. It was about as bad a debut as you could possibly expect as a rookie quarterback. It's still early though and count out Johnny Football if you dare.

Darqueze Dennard - Cornerback - Drafted #24 Overall by the Cincinnati Bengals

Stat line - 58 snaps, 4 tackles, 1 sack, 4 receptions given up on 8 targets, 1 TD, 1 Pass Defense

I'll be honest, I thought Dennard would come in and be an impact player from day one, with how physical he played and his ability flipping his hips to run with receivers, I thought he would come in straight away and stake a claim for a starting spot. However he's found himself behind Terence Newman, Adam Jones and Leon Hall and while he's played well when he has seen the field, he hasn't played enough to get a good grasp on his pro potential. In Rex's system where he would be asked to play more man coverage in pressure defense, would he be excelling right now? He certainly would have had an oppurtunity.

Jason Verrett - Cornerback - Drafted #25 Overall by the San Diego Chargers

Stat line - 230 snaps, 19 tackles, 2 touchdowns against, 2 pass defenses, 1 inteception

Verrett is actually rated by PFF as the best rookie corner currently playing in the NFL. He has exceptional scores on coverage and positive scores against the run. He was having a fantastic rookie campaign before finding himself on IR with a labrum tear to his left shoulder. I saw a couple of games earlier in the season where his coverage ability really sood out, he's phsical but he's also extremely smooth in and out of breaks that help him mirror receivers. San Diego will be hoping to have him back in plenty of time for off-season workouts.

Kelvin Benjamin - Wide Receiver - Drafted #28 Overall by the Carolina Panthers

Stat line - 67 receptions, 952 yards, 9 touchdowns, 9 dropped passes, 1 fumble

Kelvin Benjamin has been a revelation. He still drops way too many passes and his concentration is very inconsistent along with his hands. However you can't argue with his production, over 65 receptions, nearly 1,000 yards and one score away from a double digit touchdown season. He just makes plays when he needs to, there is nothing else to say about he. He is dominant and physical and he knows how to use his body. He doesn't have to be a crisp route-runner when he can dominate so much with his physical attributes.

Teddy Bridgewater - Quarterback - Drafted #32 Overall by the Minnesota Vikings

Stat line - 10 starts, 223/351 for 2451 yards, 63.5% completion, 11 TD's, 10 INT's, 1 Rushing TD

Teddy hasn't quite had the effect that some would have hoped for, but with a QB taken at the end of the first round, that stat line isn't the worst one you'll see. He has at times looked tentative, not wanting to force the ball downfield and instead settling for shorter high eprcentage completions. However he has also shown a good arm that can make all the throws with touch. He needs to get a little more composed in the pocket and he needs to avoid getting happy feet. He has a fantastic base to improve in 2016 however and I have little doubt he'll make the next step.

So there we have it. Some suggested alternatives for our first round draft pick in 2014. As mentioned, Pryor is really coming on, so I'm not saying I wouldn't want him. However I thought this would be a good discussion.