First Round Options Part 2: Who to Take?
Yesterday we took a look at approximating how the first 15 picks of this year’s draft will play out and how those first 15 picks will affect the top of the Jets draft board. With 15 teams picking before the Jets, naturally there will be that many top prospects to come off the board. Fortunately for the Jets most of those players do not play positions that fill an immediate need leaving them with a few options to choose from off the top of their wish list.
Everyone knows the Jets needs, in order, OLB, FS, RT, WR, RB (there’s more minor ones of course). You could easily make an argument for placing right tackle higher, I wouldn’t argue with you, but apparently the Jets front office and coaching staff feel differently. Rex Ryan and company still feel Wayne Hunter and Vlad Ducasse will be much improved this year under Tony Sparano’s watch. After the season, reports came out that the playbook was too thick and complex for many of the young lineman, which would make sense considering how many times teams got two and three guys by them untouched, and it simply overwhelmed and confused them.
The team also feels like Ducasse has been overwhelmed by all the different things he has been asked to do. They drafted Ducasse to be a right tackle, but they have constantly moved him around resulting in an overload of information and because of this he could never get comfortable. All of this combined with the lack of sure fire right tackle options available around pick 16 are why I think the Jets are serious with what they have been saying about not drafting offensive-line early. It could be a smokescreen, but I think they really do believe in Hunter and Ducasse. For this year at least.
While I wouldn’t be completely stunned to see the Jets take an offensive-lineman at 16 if their favorite pass-rushers, safety and receiver had already been drafted, we won’t be discussing any other offensive lineman for the first round and we won’t be talking about it much for rounds two and three either. So that leaves us with, OLB, FS, WR, RB, but unless somehow Trent Richardson magically falls to 16 (not happening) there is no other back to even consider taking at 16. So we can remove running backs from the round one options and we are left with three positions, OLB, FS, WR.
I’ve heard people argue that the Jets shouldn’t go with a receiver at 16 because they have too many holes on defense. While I concede the fact that many perceive the Jets to be one or two elite players away from having a seriously dominate offense, I must have missed the part about the offense not needing help. Again I concede the offensive problems start with the offensive line, but Sanchez needs a reliable talented target if he’s going to succeed. If one was to argue the Jets shouldn’t go with a receiver in round one because this class is so deep at receiver, that’s an argument I can get on board with.
Now having said that, if the Jets favorite safety and two OLBs are already gone by 16 and Michael Floyd is still available, I don’t see how they pass him up. This year’s receiving class is considered great for it’s depth, Floyd, Justin Blackmon and Kendall Wright aren’t the elite talents like A.J. Green, Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald, but Floyd is the exact type of receiver Sanchez and this offense need.
At 6′3″ and 224 pounds Floyd is the type of big bodied receiving threat who can beat defenders with every route in the route tree. He lacks top-end speed, but he plays fast and strong. He uses his body extremely well and is excellent at going up and snatching the ball at the point of attack. He has excellent, strong hands and routinely makes tough catches in tight spaces. In his time at Notre Dame he had to deal with a rotation of mediocre quarterbacks, but he still flashed his game-breaking ability more often than not. He’s also a really good downhill blocker and we know how Rex Ryan loves his blocking receivers. The one knock on Floyd is there’s some issues with character concerns, stemming from DUI/alcohol related offenses. However there is something to be said for the fact that after his latest arrest he decided to return for his senior year and came back in better shape and stayed out of trouble (Here’s a scouting report on Floyd from www.nationalfootballpost.com).
It’s a shame that after I said all those nice things about Floyd and how he’d fit with the Jets that I’m now about to say the last paragraph will likely be all for naught. In yesterday’s article I bolded all the names of players I felt confident would be gone by 16 and Floyd’s name was definitely in bold. If Blackmon somehow slipped to 16, the Jets would have to consider, but I don’t think he’s a perfect fit like Floyd would be.
Next on our list is the free safety position and while there is only a strong safety option available in round one, Mark Barron (6′2″ 218) could be immediately inserted into the Jets lineup as the free safety and the defense would be much improved for it. Barron played in and excelled as part of Nick Saban’s elite NFL style defense and is the only safety in this class that could definitely start at free safety for the Jets from day one.
Barron is definitely better suited as a strong safety, but with a lack of elite safeties not only in the draft but in the league, if the Jets want to get their starting free safety in the draft they might have to take Barron even though it would be a reach. If they don’t reach for him, someone else will. Barron’s name was not bolded in part one, as I think the Cowboys (maybe the Eagles) are the only team above the Jets seriously considering him and they could go OL, CB or DE/OLB and pass on Barron.
Now is the time I know all you Jets fans have been waiting for, the pass-rushers. We here at Jetsinsider.com know what you want. The first round will see multiple pass rushing DE/OLBs get picked, Quentin Coples, Ingram, Upshaw, Nick Perry and Whitney Mercilus could all be first round picks. The Jets however, have their eyes set on Ingram and Upshaw and that makes sense as they are the two best fits. Reports are surfacing that the Jets interest in Upshaw may have been a smokescreen, maybe to hide that they like Ingram or would even prefer Barron over Upshaw, but I have a hard time believing Rex doesn’t like what Upshaw could do as a part of this defense.
Upshaw (6′2″ 265) was a constantly disruptive force as a 3-4 OLB in a SEC National Champion defense. He doesn’t have top speed or do any one thing exceptionally, but he does everything well and uses his power and instincts to make plays. Upshaw shouldn’t be labeled as a pass-rusher, but as an excellent OLB that can rush the pass and he’d have an easier time doing that surrounded by Jet teammates. He’s a three-down backer that’s great in the run game and can apply pressure on the quarterback and he will more than likely be available at 16. If Ingram is gone, Upshaw would make a hell of a consolation prize (scouting report on Upshaw).
Now that I’ve done enough eluding to the fact that Rex Ryan loves Ingram and is hoping with all his might, for good reason, that they can draft him, it’s time to discuss this further. At 6′2″ 276, Ingram and has the type of speed, power, versatility and motor that could prove devastating for opposing offenses, especially as a part of the Jets defense. He is an explosive pass rusher and can effectively chase down running backs, he can be lined up all over the field and attack from any area and beat lineman with in various ways. The one area of concern with him is his short arms (just 30 1/2″), but with his speed, motor and tenacity if he is surrounded by other talent like the Jets have that will hardly be a problem.
In part one I noted the players who I felt extremely confident would be gone by 16, Luck, RGIII, Kalil, Claiborne, Richardson, Blackmon, Reiff, Floyd, Kirkpatrick/Gilmore, Kuechly, two DTs (Fletcher/Cox/Poe) or one DT and Coples and possibly another OL or even two (DeCastro, Martin or Glenn). I realize there’s a good chance Ingram could be gone as well, but I left him out of that list because I’m not sure who takes him. Most of the top 15 teams don’t play a 3-4 defense and while there is some debate if Ingram could play in a 4-3 I don’t think any of those teams would take him that high. If Miami decides to go defense they could take him, but I think they go with Tannehill, Blackmon or Floyd. After that it’s the Jaguars, Cowboys and Seahawks as the only real threats to select Ingram and they all have other needs and ideas how to attack those needs, I don’t think Ingram is any of those teams target of choice (again I could be wrong, this is just the feeling I get from everything I’m seeing/hearing).
Rumors are circulating that Rex Ryan wants Ingram so much that he’s thinking of trading up for him. I’m not sure they’d have to as I don’t think it’s a pipe dream that he falls to 16, not saying it’s a lock he will fall either. Of course staying at 16 and waiting for him also gives someone else the ability to trade up and take him, so if Rex really wants Ingram he might be forced to trade up to assure himself of getting the dynamic defensive weapon this defense needs.
The Jets could always trade down and pick up extra draft picks if they don’t like their options at 16. Trade down and grab and Andre Branch, Vinny Curry, Ronnell Lewis or Bruce Irvin in rounds two-three and still add a receiver, safety or running back in those middle rounds. Or they could wait to see what falls to them at 16 and select best player available or trade up to ensure they get Ingram.
Would a trade up be worth it? Well obviously that depends on how much they give up and how good Ingram ends up being, but immediate speculative answer? Yes, I think it’d be well worth it. The Jets have many needs, but what they need most is a game-changer and I can already hear Ingram saying, in rapper Redman’s voice, “I’ll bee dat.”
Sound off Jets fans. What do you think they should do? Did I miss anything? Let us know.