When the draft is still months away it can be fun to drift away into Wonderland and imagine Trent Richardson slipping to the Jets, but with just over two weeks until the draft it’s time to wake up to reality. It’s time to make peace with the fact that Richardson will not be slipping to the Jets and start focusing your attention on what players could actually be available at 16 and narrowing down the top targets of choice.

The speculating and mock drafts have come at a furious pass since last season ended, but this is the time when things start to take shape and you can get a pretty good feel for how many of these early picks will turn out. So before we start assessing the Jets options, let’s take a look at how the first 15 picks might turn out (to the best of my abilities, by no means am I claiming to be using any of my psychic powers here), which players will definitely be gone by 16 and which Jets targets are most likely to still be on board (Bold names are players I think it’s safe to assume will not be available at 16).

Mike Tannenbaum has undoubtedly been hard at work evaluating draft prospects deciding who to select. Knowing he's done his homework, he realizes some names he likes won't slip to him but others surely will. (Jetsinsider.com Photo)

You don’t need psychic powers to tell you the first two picks of the draft. The Colts will take the highest rated prospect since John Elway, Andrew Luck, no matter what Jim Irsay tweets, and since the Redskins already made their power move by trading up to the number two spot we know they will take Robert Griffin III. There have been rumors the Vikings might be looking to move down (and no, these rumors are separate from the bogus reports involving Sanchez), but teams always say that, it’s not as easy as it sounds. When the time comes it’d be surprising if Matt Kalil wasn’t the Vikings choice with the number three pick.

Now here’s where things start to get interesting, because the Browns could go a few different directions. Many people seem to think they want Tannehill, but even knowing the Dolphins might take him eighth he would be a considerable reach as the fourth pick. If the Browns don’t take Tannehill they will happily take either Morris Claiborne, Trent Richardson or Justin Blackmon.

But exactly who they select doesn’t matter for our purposes, as all three players will be drafted before the Jets pick and there’s a great chance Tannehill will as well. If the Browns take Richardson, the Bucs will take Claiborne and if the Browns take Claiborne or Blackmon, the Bucs will knock Roger Goodell over on their way to hand him the card with Richardson’s name on it. Former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano loves to run the rock and who better to do that than Richardson? As for the Rams picking sixth you get the sense Blackmon will ultimately be their guy unless the Browns take him, in which case they’d probably be good with settling for Claiborne or Richardson if he someone slipped to them.

The Jaguars pick seventh and that’s where any bit of certain completely flies out of the window. With so many needs, a new coach and a new GM it’s next to impossible to predict which way they are leaning, They could certainly use some o-line help and go with Riley Reiff, they could go receiver and take Michael Floyd. Considering the new coach was an offensive coordinator you might think they’d go offense, but it doesn’t always work that way and they could decide to go the defensive route and draft a CB like Dre Kirkpatrick or Stephon Gilmore. Or they could look for the disruptive pass rusher we know the Jets want and take Quentin Coples or snatch Melvin Ingram away from Rex Ryan’s dreams. Who knows which one they’ll decide on, but Rex is hoping for anyone not named Ingram.

After the Jaguars things get much messier, do the Dolphins take Tannehill? Would they draft Floyd and snag him before the Bills? Again exactly what happens doesn’t matter much, after the Jaguars there are only three other teams picking before the Jets that are likely to snag one of the defensive players off the top of the Jets board.

The Chiefs could find it too hard to pass on someone like Ingram, however it seems more likely they go offensive line, middle linebacker Luke Kuechly or they could look for a corner to replace Brandon Carr. Which leaves us with the Seahawks and Cowboys, with Cowboys posing the biggest threat since they could go OLB or safety with Mark Barron. The Seahawks could go with Kuechly, a DT or an Ingram/Upshaw but they also are reportedly high on Whitney Mercilus. Of course it’s possible the Dolphins could go defense or the Panthers, Cardinals or Eagles surprise me, but that’s not the feeling I get right now.

So in no specific order I think it plays out something like this, 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). Worst case scenario for the Jets, 12 of the first 15 picks will come from that list with only Floyd and possibly Ingram (I didn’t bold Ingram’s name simply because of confusion around the Jaguars, but if I could bold it at 90 percent I would) being removed from the Jets top targets. Best case all 15 picks come from that list and none of them are named Ingram (note I didn’t even list Tannehill here, I’d guess he goes top 15, but don’t think he should and not 100 percent sure he will).

The way things look now bodes well for the Jets chances to get one of their preferred players. Who are those players you ask? Ingram, Upshaw, Barron and Floyd. Rex Ryan desperately wants to find a playmaking OLB and we know the Jets still need safety help, but if Ingram, Upshaw and Barron are gone and Floyd is still available (unlikely) they could go the best player available route and snag Floyd who would immediately improve their offense and get their pass rusher in rounds two and/or three.

For a longer look at the specifics of the Jets options and who would be the best fit at the 16th pick check back tomorrow for part two.
 
 
 

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