Draft Week is here. Football fans are excited. Can't wait to welcome the new superstars to the team. With these new guys, this year's team is now complete, no weaknesses!
Only it doesn't usually work out that day. Some Jets fans are probably dreaming of how great it will be to have a wide receiver trio of Decker, Marshall and Cooper, or White, or how great it will be to add one of the many edge rushers in this draft to the already formidable front seven. What havoc they'll create together! Well, it's nice to dream.
There is a reason GMs talk about using free agency to fill holes and the draft to add impact talent, regardless of position. The reason is, generally speaking, rookies do not fill many holes. Sure, the first round pick is going to play, but that doesn't mean he will play well. And the later picks are very iffy to even see the field all that much. What rookies don't generally do is dominate. It happens; Odell Beckham sure as heck dominated last year. But it is relatively rare, and should not be expected of any rookie, even high first round picks.
To illustrate, let's take a look at the last ten Jets drafts. Some of these drafts ended up being quite good, some quite poor, but few produced many rookie impact players.
Calvin Pryor plays plenty, but is as much a liability as an asset. Jace Amaro has a reasonably impressive rookie year for a tight end, and finishes with 345 yards and 2 TDs. Nice for a rookie tight end, plenty of promise in years to come, but outside of his one 10 reception big game, virtually zero impact on the team. No other draft pick makes any impact.
This is a high impact class, but generally for the wrong reasons. Dee Milliner, Geno Smith and Brian Winters all see extensive playing time, and all are liabilities, among the worst starters in the NFL at their respective positions. Milliner and Smith rebound in December, but the overall effect of each of the three is a negative impact on the team. Sheldon Richardson goes the other way, with a fine rookie year and a clear and substantial positive impact. No other draft picks make any real impact on the Jets.
Quinton Coples has a pretty good rookie year and a mildly positive impact on the team. Demario Davis plays some but is generally a liability. Stephen Hill has a great opening game and then disappears the rest of the year, with an overall negative impact on the team. No other draft pick has any impact.
Muhammad Wilkerson has a nice rookie year, starts every game, but he is far from the beast he later becomes. A positive impact on the team. The only other draft choice with any impact is Jeremy Kerley, who takes over in the slot by midseason and produces 314 yards and 1 TD. A nice start for Kerley, but minimal impact on the team. No other draft pick has any impact at all.
Kyle Wilson gets extended playing time and six starts. He does what he does his entire career; he takes up space on the field but rarely makes much impact. Joe McKnight gets 189 yards rushing and 20 yards receiving; zero impact. John Conner sees playing time, yet you'd never know it. Zero impact. Vlad Ducasse makes a nice bench ornament.
Mark Sanchez starts immediately, makes a big but mostly negative impact as one of the worst quarterbacks in football. Single handedly costs the Jets multiple wins. Shonn Greene is a valuable rotation player, accumulating 540 yards rushing and 2 TDs; a mildly positive impact. The only other draft pick, Matt Slauson, never plays.
Dustin Keller sees major playing time and has an excellent rookie year, one of the most productive rookie tight ends in the last twenty years. Yet he still produces just 535 yards and 3 TDs. A positive impact to be sure, but not in any way a game changer. Vernon Gholston has a legendary rookie year, dominating the league on his way to a hall of fame career, yet he inexplicably has zero impact. Dwight Lowery starts 10 games but is a well below average defensive back, a mildly negative impact on the team. No other draft pick has any impact.
Darrelle Revis. Revis the Great. Starts all 16 games, has a positive impact, but even Revis does not dominate his rookie year. A telling statistic: Revis makes 50+% more tackles in his rookie year than any other year of his storied career, a reflection of opposing quarterbacks constantly picking on him, and completing passes on him. You don't make tackles on incompletions. One could see the promise, but even Revis did not yet deliver the goods in a big way his rookie year. David Harris starts nine games, has five sacks, 90 tackles and 37 assists; a superb rookie year and a clear positive impact. Chansi Stuckey has a decent rookie year at wide receiver, with 359 yards and 3 TDs. It would turn out to be the finest year of his short career, but provides little positive impact to the 2007 Jets. No other draft pick makes any impact.
Probably the greatest draft of the last decade for the Jets. Brick and Mangold are both day one starters and both make a positive impact. Leon Washington has the finest year from scrimmage of his career, with 650 yards rushing, 270 yards receiving and 4 TDs. A positive impact. Eric Smith, Brad Smith and Drew Coleman all see non trivial playing time, but none make any noticeable impact.
Mike Nugent is the starting placekicker, and is one of the worst kickers in the NFL. Negative impact. Justin Miller starts eight games at cornerback and is very bad, but is very good as a kick returner. One negates the other; overall minimal impact. Kerry Rhodes starts all 16 games at safety and does a creditable job; a positive impact. Cedric Houston has 302 yards rushing and two TDs, and adds 66 yards receiving; minimal impact. No other draft pick has any impact.
So there we have it. Ten years of Jets draft history and rookie impact. This should give us some flavor of how much impact to expect from the incoming rookie class.
Only two years, 2006 and 2007, produced more than one rookie with more than a minimal positive impact on the team. The most likely outlook: look for the first round pick to make an impact, whether positive or negative, he will play. There may be one other draft pick who makes more than minimal impact. Beyond those one or two guys, particularly after a frenetic offseason that brought in numerous players capable of handling significant snaps in the NFL, the most likely scenario is the 2015 impact of the draft picks the Jets pick up in the next week will be near zero. Sure, the Jets might get lucky and bring in an all time great class that dominates right away. They might, but that's not the way you want to bet.
So when you're getting excited on this Draft Week about the prospects of watching x, y and z rookies putting the Jets over the top in 2015, it might make sense to keep in mind that is probably not how things will play out. The rookies are mostly for 2016 and beyond. Other than one or two picks the 2015 Jets impact players are almost all already on the team.