The New York Jets could have as many as 12 picks in May’s first-year player draft, granting serious promise to a team that exceeded expectations in 2013. Photo Credit: espn.com
Jets' general manager John Idzik is about to initiate phase two of his long-term rebuilding plan, which includes shoring up the Jets’ depth on defense and revamping an offense totally decrepit of playmakers.
The Jets own four picks in the first three rounds of the 2014 draft, allowing the front office brass to address several key areas of need with high-quality prospects. New York figures to hold at least five picks on top of their guaranteed selections, enabling Idzik and Co. to wheel and deal in the war room.
The most pressing needs for the Jets include wide receiver, tight end, cornerback and safety. New York also needs to acquire a capable exterior pass rusher and at least one offensive lineman, considering the likelihood of losing Austin Howard and Willie Colon this offseason.
If the Jets amass 10 selections in the upcoming draft, they should be able to address each key area of need and greatly improve their 53-man roster for the 2014 season.
The following mock draft is based on Jets’ personnel needs:
*Indicates a non-guaranteed pick that could become guaranteed, depending on NFL compensatory rules
Round 1, No. 18: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The Jets need a dynamic pass-catching tight end to increase their ability to score in the red-zone. New York’s passing offense ranked second to last in the NFL in 2013, largely because of an inadequate core of receivers. Ebron could be the best option available at No. 18 overall, considering that other big-time downfield threats, like Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, will likely already be off the board.
Round 2, No. 49: Dion Bailey, FS, USC
The Jets’ passing defense suffered this season after losing All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis and smash mouth safety LaRon Landry. New York needs to draft a versatile safety that can excel in coverage and pressure the quarterback in blitz situations. Bailey has experience as both an outside linebacker and safety in college. He was an all-conference player at two different positions and aptly fits Rex Ryan’s exotic coverage scheme.
Round 3, No. 69: Jeremiah Attaochu, DE/OLB, Georgia Tech
New York needs to shore up their linebacking core by adding youth on the edge. Converted down lineman Quinton Coples failed to effectively transition into a pass rushing role from the stance last season, prompting a need for the Jets to draft an additional outside linebacker. Veteran OLB Calvin Pace enjoyed a resurgence in 2013, but isn’t a component of the Jets’ future. Attaochu is an explosive pass rusher that can blast through offensive lineman to penetrate the backfield.
Round 3, No. 80: Victor Hampton, CB, South Carolina
Current lead cornerback Antonio Cromartie is bound to become a cap casualty, creating a need for the Jets to replenish their depth chart at cornerback. Hampton doesn’t boast enormous size at his position, but he features raw athleticism that should translate well at the next level. Hampton is a physical defensive back that effectively jams receivers at the line of scrimmage, disabling targets from getting open downfield.
*Round 4, No. 114: Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
The Jets’ biggest need this offseason is wide receiver. Disgruntled veteran Santonio Holmes is unofficially finished in New York whereas draft bust Stephen Hill could struggle to earn a roster spot in camp. Coleman isn’t a premier draft selection, considering the Jets’ enormous need for an electric playmaker on the perimeter. But he features enormous size at 6’5’’ and 220 pounds, making him a serious weapon on the outside.
*Round 4, No. 134: Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State
Lockett showcased tremendous athleticism in his final collegiate season, racking up 1,262 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns on 81 catches. At 5’1’’ and 175 pounds, Lockett doesn’t boast big-time size. But his speed-burst ability figures to complement Jeremy Kerley in the slot, ideally freeing up downfield targets on the outside in four-receiver sets.
Round 5, No. 149: Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State
The Jets’ run game ranked sixth in the NFL in 2013, averaging 134.9 rushing yards per game. But the Jets struggled to pound the ball into the end-zone in point blank scoring situations, resorting to unconventional methods, like handing the ball off to defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Grice missed the final month of the college season due to injury, but rushed for 996 yards and 14 touchdowns in 11 games. At 6’0’’ and 207 pounds, Grice is a powerful runner that knows how to find paydirt.
*Round 5, No. 169: Wesley Johnson, OT, Vanderbilt
The Jets could be on the verge of losing two starting lineman on the right side this offseason, creating a need to replenish the depth chart at guard and tackle. Johnson doesn’t project as a starting-caliber tackle in his rookie season, but he boasts significant room for steady improvement. At 6’5’’ and 285 pounds, Johnson needs to add some mass in order to anchor the right side of the line. If current starter Howard walks in free agency, that would leave 2013 draft pick Oday Aboushi as the top man on the depth chart at right tackle.
Round 6, No. 189: Josh Huff, WR, Oregon
The Jets need to actively add as much playmaking talent as possible this offseason. Huff is a versatile playmaker that presents value in special formations on offense, like the Wildcat, and as a kick returner on special teams. He’d be a solid late round draft choice for the Jets.
Round 7, No. 226: Ryan Groy, OG, Wisconsin
The Jets will need to add another guard if Idzik and Co. opt not to bring back veteran RG Willie Colon, who suffered a torn biceps in the season finale. Colon became a vocal leader in the locker room and started all 16 games for the first time since 2009. Groy is a big-bodied interior lineman with serious upside. At 6’5’’ and 317 pounds, he has the size needed to effectively man his position at the next level.