With less than 4 weeks to go until the NFL draft, here is my best take on a Jets mock draft. To start, I will be trading away Big Mo to the Bears for their second round (41st overall) and sixth round (185 overall) picks . With the threat of Mo holding out again, no cap space to work with, and a log jam at 3-4 DE, the Jets really don't have any leverage to get the first round pick that Mo deserves. None the less, the Jets are "better off" in this scenario as they can now potentially resign Fitz and their draft class along with gaining another top-50 selection. Without further ado, here are my selections:
Round 1 (20th Overall): Taylor Decker, OT (Ohio State)
Decker is the fourth rated OT on my board, and I believe the top 3 (Tunsil, Stanley, and Conklin) will be gone before this pick. If Conklin falls I would take him over Decker. The Jets need to address OT, and if they are able to get Decker I would like to see th Jets cut Breno and keep Brick. However if they are able to grab Conklin, I would be fine with both being cut and the Jets relishing in even more cap space (Qvale could take over RT in this scenario). Regardless, the Jets address the RT spot here and instantly improve in the running game - although Decker's pass protection will need some work (can't be worse than Breno am I right?). I almost went with Spriggs over Decker here, the main concern being the fit. If this were a zone blocking scheme OL I would have taken Spriggs over Decker in a heartbeat - but since the Jets like to run a power blocking scheme - Decker is the better fit here despite his lack of athleticism.
Round 2 (41st overall from CHI): Cody Whitehair, OG (Kansas State)
The Jets have been extremely quiet along the offensive line so far this off-season. I don't buy it when the front office says our OL is fine - I believe they're saving up for guys in the draft they really like. With the Jets going OL with their first 2 picks they turn the teams biggest weakness into a potential strength with a bright future. Whitehair can line up at all 5 OL spots after playing LT in college - I anticipate him either taking over for Mangold in a year or two or moving to RT if Decker (or Conklin or Qvale) take over the LT spot. In the meantime he will make one heck of run-blocking guard for our new stable of backs.
Round 2 (51st overall): Chris Jones, DT (Mississippi State)
This is a case of BPA. Jones is a first round talent, and with the depth in this years draft at DT, one of them is bound to fall to 51st overall. I know many of use are critical of the high number of DL this team has - but personally I'm all for it. If Jones or another top DT falls to here (Javon Hargreave, Sheldon Rankins, and Jonathon Bullard would all also be options here if they fall). If Jones or another one of these guys develops then it makes next off-season easier if Sheldon Richardson decides to leave or he decides to go for a joy-ride with his little cousin again. It would also be a great move to try and replace a hole left by Mo in this scenario if for no reason other than depth/rotation purposes. If the Jets ignore this great draft class of DTs, I would hope they address OLB here and take Joshua Perry of Ohio State - although after the Carter signing I think it would be redundant
Round 3 (83rd overall): Xavien Howard, CB (Baylor)
I'm really torn over this pick. This is very good CB class this year, and with that there are several CBs here who I could imagine the Jets taking. The biggest selection here came down to Xavien Howard or Eric Murray (Minnesota). I chose Howard over Murray because of his superior upside on the outside and because Howard managed to runa 4.44 at his pro day (he ran a 4.58 at the combine, had that been his number at his pro day I would have gone with Murray here). I like Howard for his toughness and his ability to take on man coverage (as opposed to James Bradberry who projects as more of a zone corner), Murray also has toughness, athleticism, and the ability to mirror WRs in man coverage, however he projects more of a nickel corner at the next level and as such - the pick is Howard. I also like Howard over Deiondre Hall here, even though Hall is a superior press corner with freakishly long arms for a corner (nearly 34") he is not the athlete that Howard is, and being able to mirror guys down the sideline is more important to me than getting a good initial jam at the line (since that can be coached up anyways).
Round 4 (118th overall): Justin Simmons, FS/CB (Boston College)
I think Justin Simmons or Sean Davis is a great pick here with both being extremely similar options. They both boast outstanding speed and athleticism, both have played CB in college (with Simmons moving over to FS at BC but Davis playing CB his whole career due to lack of talent at the position in Maryland), and both could be great ball hawks while still being able to match up in man when necessary. The Jets need to start thinking of life after their overpaid DBs are gone, and I think both Davis and Simmons here have the potential to succeed Gilchrist and at the very least provide depth at the position while being a ST ace. I was also tempted to go with Cre'von Leblanc here, a nickel corner at the next level who plays with fantastic physicality and can make all of the play asked of him at FAU. Leblanc is also a good punt returner and would provide ST depth there.
Round 5 (157th overall): Devon Cajuste, WR (Stanford)
I am not sure if Cajuste will last this long, but I hope he does. Cajuste has outstanding hands and is huge for an outside WR. At the next level he projects to be an HBack as opposed to a pure outside WR, but he ran very well for his size (4.6 at 235 lbs) and at 6'4" with big 'ole mitts, he can post up on coreners in the red zone or create mismatches with LBs when outside of the red zone. I love this guy's potential - he could come in and unseat Enunwa from his role while potentially outplaying Amaro as well. Huge value in the late rounds and gives our offense another big bodied pass-catcher.
Round 6 (185th overall): Curt Maggitt, OLB (Tennessee)
Curt Maggitt would be coming off of the boards much higher than this if it were not for his injury history and his recent [alleged] involvement in the UT scandal. Recently, it was reported that a UT football player attempted to help a rape victim when the accused was a teammate of this football player. It was reported that Maggitt (who is not the accused player in question) assaulted the player who had been helping the rape victim (allegedly punched him in the face in the locker room). None of this is confirmed and the legal battle is ongoing. Maggitt is also currently injured with a hip injury, and Maggitt also missed the entire 2013 season with a torn acl. If Maggitt can get healthy, he is ideal fit at either ILB or OLB in our base 3-4 defense. I have him pegged as an OLB - where he lined up in college and was very productive and a team leader. He plays with a very high motor and everyone praises his character and work ethic.
Round 7 (241st overall): Tom Hackett, P (Utah)
I love Hackett's creativity in the punting game, Utah never just snapped it and punted it as quickly as possible like every single other team in all of football ever. Instead they used Hackett's creative talents to hold the ballfor a beat longer and even running right or left to make directional punts. All of this bought time to allow the gunners to get down field and suffocate returners. Oh, and Hackett has won the Ray Guy award for best college punter the past 2 years and he's able to drop balls in the 20 with ease (again, using a creative way of punting the ball to almost but back-spin on it). Hackett's creative techniques and personalty have no doubt put some teams off, and he isn't even the top punter in a lot of online rankings due to how non-traditional of a punter he is. However the Jets have been reported to be very interested in him and I am as well. I hope the Jets are able to take him here and revamp their punting unit. Oh and FYI this is my favorite pick in the draft because one, no more Quigley, and 2, Hackett is the man.
Matt Tralli, WR (Marist), Michael Pierce, DT (Samford), Josh Woodrum, QB (Liberty). Tralli projects as a Julian Edelman type slot receiver with similar special teams punt returning ability. Michael Pierce is a potentially elite level NT prospect who has been flying under the radar - an extremely athletic man for his size and strength. Lastly, Josh Woodrum is a pro-style accurate pocket passer. He's worth a camp invite and could surprise some people by making the roster.
I hope you all enjoyed my mock draft, you can see I went heavy on the secondary and offensive line because I believe in BPA and I see that those are the most talented and deepest positions in this years draft class (along with DT). I had originally planned on taking Dak Prescott in the middle rounds - but if he's not competing for a starting or backup role in the next 2 years, do we really need him (or any other mid to late round QB)? Geno is fine as a backup for this year, and hopefully Petty doesn't get thrown to the wolves and can spend another years developing. I think the Jets' best option is to resign Fitz and maintain another year of continuity at the QB position instead of shuffling the deck again and seeing what we draw. In this mock draft scenario, where Mo has been traded and Breno cut, there is another 20 mil in cap space available and we should be able to bring Fitz back for 10 mil and let the rest roll over into next off-season's cap. Let me know what you think in the comments below or what positions you would have rather focused on. I know a few people may kill me on not addressing the LB position but honestly, aside from the depth of ILB in the mid-rounds the talent just isn't there. All of the top LBs are OLB "tweeners" like Su'a Cravens, Travis Feeney, Leonard Floyd, etc. And all of the mid round guys of any quality are ILBs with good instincts and are thumpers - which we already have in Harris, Taiwan, Erin Hendersen, and Bruce Carter. Then as far as EDGE guys go - the talent simply isn't there in this draft. If Maggitt can get healthy then I think he is the steal of the draft and could be a very good starter in this league. We also aren't in as dire straits at OLB if Mauldin can take the next step in his development, and Bowles seems to believe in Catapano and we haven't even talked about the potential of Freddie Bishop from the CFL yet. I'm okay with holding out on OLB for a high upside injured player like Maggitt and then also waiting for the great EDGE group that's coming out in the draft next year.