New York Jets: NFL Draft 2014

Did Jets drop ball at wide receiver?

May, 12, 2014
May 12
2:00
PM ET
One of the lingering questions involving the New York Jets is whether they adequately addressed their wide-receiver need in the draft.

Amid the endless pre-draft hype, they were linked to big-name prospects such as Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks and Marqise Lee. They went hard after receivers on the third day, selecting three wideouts, but it's never a sure thing when you're relying on middle- and late-round picks. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay agrees, claiming the Jets' draft strategy underscores their belief that Eric Decker -- the No. 2 receiver with the Denver Broncos -- will be their top dog for the foreseeable future.

"Outside of (the three picks), I don’t think they were really able to solve their problem at wide receiver," McShay said Monday on a media conference call. "You have to believe Eric Decker is your No. 1 if you’re going to spend that money" -- meaning the five-year, $36.25 million contract.

Amaro
The Jets drafted Jalen Saunders (fourth round), Shaq Evans (fourth) and Quincy Enunwa (sixth), but their key draft pick is tight end Jace Amaro (second). McShay described Amaro as a "big wide receiver" who needs to make an immediate impact. To me, he's the key to the draft.

"Ultimately, you need Amaro to come in and contribute, and you need more from Stephen Hill and you need Eric Decker to play the way he was paid," McShay said. "Hopefully, between Saunders, Evans and Enunwa, if you hit on one of those guys, you'll fill out the depth a little bit."

McShay believes the Jets got good value with their first two picks, safety Calvin Pryor and Amaro, but he wonders if they reached for need in the third round, taking cornerback Dex McDougle. No matter how team officials try to spin it, this was a "need" draft for the Jets. It's the kind of strategy that results in reaches, which end up being bad picks.

"Could they have gone wide receiver there? Yeah, sure, there were some better players at wide receiver available (in the third round), but they’re still trying to fill in that secondary and get the right guys there," McShay said.

Pryor
McShay offered a few other takeaways on the Jets' draft. He sees Pryor as a great fit in Rex Ryan's defense, but he wonders if he'll have to dial back his aggressive ways to conform to the new safety rules.

"I know some Jets fans were frustrated they went with (him) at 18, but he was just a really good value and he fits what they want," McShay said. "They want a guy who’s going to set a tone physically, who’s tough. He's got enough range to cover the deep third and the deep middle of the field. He’s never going to be a matchup safety, but he can cover in zone, he’s capable of playing in the box and he’s going to fill the alley hard. I mean, he knocked some guys out. He’s probably going to wind up with some fines in the league, and he may have to adjust his mentality a little bit, but he’s a perfect Rex Ryan-type football player."

The criticism of Amaro is he's a below average blocker. Doesn't matter, according to McShay.

"He can block a little bit, but ultimately all they did was draft a big wide receiver they can flex out and put in the slot, even split out wide at times and try to create some mismatches," he said. "I really like that pick for the Jets."

McShay's take on the next three picks:

McDougle: "I like his tape. He has durability issues, but I thought he was one of the under-rated players in this draft. When you studied what he did in 2012 and his first couple of games this season, he’s got a lot of potential. They obviously love drafting defensive backs."

Saunders: "He’s quick. He’s a good slot receiver, he makes plays and he create after the catch."

Evans: "We had him in that fourth/fifth-round range. He doesn’t have explosive burst. He’s not going to stretch the field much vertically, but he has good hands and I thought he had a really good performance at the Senior Bowl. He’s got a chance to stick maybe as the No. 4 or No. 5."
Thoughts and observations on the New York Jets' most prolific draft in 16 years:

1. Cheaper by the dozen: The history books will show that the Jets and San Francisco 49ers tied for the most selections -- 12. In terms of volume, this was the Jets' biggest haul since 1998, when Bill Parcells was running the show and drafted 12 players. They'd better hope this one turns out better than '98, which produced only one quality player -- tackle Jason Fabini.

2. Balanced attack: The Jets selected six players on offense, six on defense. So everybody in the building is happy.

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
AP Photo/Bill Kostroun"I think we have a lot of excellent football players here, and I know our organization's excited about these players," said Rex Ryan about the Jets' draft.
3. Needy Jets: They always talk about taking the proverbial "best player available," but this smacks of a "need" draft. Basically, the Jets devoted half the draft to their two biggest needs, picking three defensive backs (two corners and one safety) and three wide receivers. The last time they took three receivers was 1990, when they drafted Reggie Rembert (traded before the opener), Terance Mathis and Dale Dawkins.

4. Enough speed? The prevailing thought going into the draft was they needed to pick a burner at wide receiver, a home run threat to play opposite Eric Decker. It's still an issue, as they passed on the high-profile prospects. Who are the starting receivers? Decker and ... Jeremy Kerley? He's better in the slot. Stephen Hill? Come on. The Jets are hoping one (or more) of their three receiver picks can develop into that kind of player. Jalen Saunders (fourth round) is small and shifty. Shaq Evans (fourth) had five touchdown catches of 54-plus yards in his career. Quincy Enunwa (sixth) set a Nebraska single-season record with 12 touchdowns, including a 99-yarder in the Gator Bowl. So we'll see.

5. John the deliberate: There were 27 trades during the draft, but the Jets were one of only seven teams that didn't get involved. General manager John Idzik took a passive approach, letting the draft come to him, as they like to say. That's unfortunate, because the Jets -- armed with eight tradable picks at the outset -- wasted an opportunity to jump up and grab players they really liked. You're not going to have 12 rookies on your opening-day roster, so why not use some of the picks to improve your draft position? Instead of attacking, they played a read-and-react style. I wonder if everyone in the draft room was comfortable with that strategy.

6. Mission impossible: We live in a world of instant analysis, so draft experts and folks like me are required to assign grades as soon as the draft is complete. In most cases, it's a pointless exercise. For the record, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. gave the Jets a B, same grade as last year. The Jets received generally favorable reviews from the so-called gurus, yet it's interesting to note that only two picks (Calvin Pryor and Jace Amaro) appeared in the pre-draft top-100 lists of Kiper, Todd McShay, Mike Mayock and Scouts Inc. As a matter of fact, eight of their picks were ranked 200 or lower on the Scouts Inc. list. Hmm.

7. Rex the restrained: Rex Ryan, who famously gloated last season that the 2013 draft was an "A-plus" for the Jets, refrained from making any over-the-top declarations -- well, kind of. "To say it's an A-plus now, I’m not going to do that," he said. "But I think give us the season, let that thing run out, then I’ll be more than happy to. But I wouldn't be surprised if it's an A-plus again because I think we have a lot of excellent football players here, and I know our organization’s excited about these players." Last year's draft produced five starters; that won't happen this year.

8. Coach Mac attack: The happiest guy in the building might have been new special teams coach Thomas McGaughey. Except for quarterback Tajh Boyd, the draft is filled with prime candidates for special teams. That should help improve the overall athleticism on a unit that showed signs of decay last season. The most dynamic addition is Saunders, who scored on two punt returns last season and averaged 15.4 yards.

9. I.K. is OK: I never thought defensive Michael Sam was a serious possibility for the Jets because, at 6-foot-2, 261 pounds, he's not an ideal scheme fit in Ryan's base 3-4. But in the sixth round, the Jets drafted defensive end I.K. Enemkpali, who is 6-1, 261 pounds. Not only is Enemkpali slower than Sam, based on their reported 40-yard dash times, but his level of competition in college doesn't match that of Sam -- Louisiana Tech and Missouri, respectively.

"I don’t know that we’ll get into guys that we would have considered and comparing them against ours," said Idzik, when asked why he took Enemkpali over Sam. "Obviously, we felt very good about I.K. and he has a chance to fit a role here, come in and compete." The Jets did Sam a favor by not picking him. The media attention in New York would've been crazy, a major distraction for him and the team. Sam landed in the ideal place. Kudos to the St. Louis Rams.

10. Character issues: At least three of the 12 picks were arrested in college. Enemkpali was arrested in the spring of 2011, and charged with disturbing the peace and battery of a police officer. He received a school suspension. In March 2012, Amaro was arrested on felony credit card fraud; the charges were eventually dropped. In December 2012, Saunders was arrested for marijuana possession. The charge was dropped when a teammate took responsibility.

11. Two firsts: Enemkpali became the first player from Louisiana Tech drafted by the Jets. Ditto for cornerback Brandon Dixon, from NW Missouri State.

12. Different strokes, different folks: Under Idzik, the Jets have drafted 19 players in two years. His predecessor, Mike Tannenbaum, selected 21 players in his last four drafts.

13. Matty Iced: If I'm Matt Simms, I'm feeling a bit concerned about my job security. Ryan made it quite clear he was the driving force behind the Boyd selection.

14. The Black Holes: I found it interesting the Jets used their first two picks on positions in which they haven't had much drafting success -- safety and tight end. The last drafted tight end to make the Pro Bowl was Mickey Shuler (1978, third round) and the last safety was Erik McMillan (1988, third round).

15. Quote of the draft: From Ryan's post-draft news conference: "Did we get everybody we wanted? As far as you guys know, we did."

W2W4: Offense for Jets on Day 2

May, 9, 2014
May 9
10:10
AM ET
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The fun continues Friday night. A quick look at the New York Jets:

Picks: The Jets have two selections -- second round (49 overall) and third round (80).

Outlook: The second round could be the sweet spot of the draft in terms of the Jets addressing their needs on offense -- wide receiver and tight end. The Scouts, Inc. mock draft projects seven wide receivers and one tight end in the second round. There are some quality receivers on the board, some of whom were thought to be first-round candidates. They haven't ruled out the possibility of taking a quarterback. Things would get interesting if Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois) and/or Derek Carr (Fresno State) happened to fall to 49, but that appears unlikely.

Projected targets: The most intriguing possibility is Jace Amaro (Texas Tech), one of the most prolific pass-catching tight ends in the history of college football. The top receivers are Marqise Lee (USC), Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt), Cody Latimer (Indiana) and Davante Adams (Fresno State). It would be a nice score if Lee, regarded by some draftniks as a first-round possibility for the Jets, fell to them in the second. General manager John Idzik attended Latimer's pro day, which tells you something because Indiana isn't exactly a routine stop on the scouting trail for top executives. A couple of highly regarded pass-rushers remain on the board, namely Kyle Van Noy (BYU) and Demarcus Lawrence (Boise State), one of the few front-seven prospects invited by the Jets for a pre-draft visit.

Trades: The Jets could easily jump up in Round 2 if there's a player they really want. If they package two fourth-round picks (104 and 115), they could get all the way to 34, based on the draft value chart. That's one spot behind the Houston Texans, who own the first pick in the round. The Washington Redskins (34) probably wouldn't trade out, considering they had no first-round pick, but the Jets still have the ammo to make a splash.

W2W4: Moment of truth for Jets

May, 8, 2014
May 8
12:00
PM ET
If the extra two weeks of waiting made you anxious, imagine how the New York Jets feel. They've been waiting 16 months.

John Idzik's rebuilding plan, set in motion when he was hired in January 2013, is built largely around the draft -- this draft. He accumulated four compensatory picks and acquired a future pick from the Darrelle Revis trade, giving him a total of 12 selections -- tied with the St. Louis Rams for the most. Idzik was relatively conservative in free agency, using only about half the salary-cap space -- a tactic that raises the stakes even higher.

The fun starts Thursday night. The Jets own the 18th pick -- for now. What to watch for:

1. Biggest needs: The Jets need a lot of things, but cornerback should at the top of the list. Their pass defense was dreadful, allowing nearly 4,000 yards, and the only thing they did in free agency was replace a descending Antonio Cromartie with an injury-prone journeyman, Dimitri Patterson. Rex Ryan's defense is predicated on cornerback play, and his current secondary will get shredded against a "Missiles of October" schedule -- Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in a 12-day span. Idzik doled out $30 million in guarantees to sign outside free agents, with only $1 million going to the defense. As one longtime personnel executive said, "Feed the defense. The only way the Jets win is if they dominate on defense." Obviously, the other glaring need is wide receiver. If you need an explanation, you must have slept through last season.

2. Moving up: Yes, the Jets are interested in trading up, according to a league source. Presumably, their target is Odell Beckham Jr., a smooth, explosive and versatile wide receiver. If this is the plan, they'd better get ahead of the New York Giants (12), who also covet the former LSU star. Based on the draft value chart, they'd have to surrender a third-round pick and two fourth-rounders to switch places with the Tennessee Titans (11). You'd have to question the wisdom of such a move. It's a deep draft, and they could land a comparable player at 18. The Jets have eight tradable picks (compensatory selections can't be dealt), affording Idzik flexibility if he wants to step out of character and ... you know, be aggressive.

3. Names to watch: Wide receiver Brandin Cooks is a popular mock-draft choice for the Jets. Good prospect, solid character, but some scouts wonder if he can be more than a slot receiver because of his size (a shade under 5-foot-10). Wide receiver Marqise Lee also is in the conversation, but this would require a leap of faith, essentially betting he'd be the 2012 version and not the 2013 Lee. The top corners are Darqueze Dennard and Justin Gilbert, although it's quite possible one or both could be gone. Dennard is the better scheme fit, but Gilbert has more upside because of his elite ball skills.

4. Outsider's view: This is how a rival personnel director sees the Jets' situation at 18: "They have two specific team needs -- wide receiver and cornerback. It's a tough decision, but it would be a more difficult decision if there was no value at those position at that point in the first round. But that won't be the case. There will be value at those spots. I also wouldn't dismiss the tight end (Eric Ebron). They're also living with two safeties (Dawan Landry and Antonio Allen) that are borderline starting caliber, so I wouldn't be surprised if they go Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Calvin Pryor."

5. Perspective, please: As you're watching it unfold, remember this: The Jets aren't a couple of players away, or even one draft away, from being a legitimate championship contender. They finished a soft 8-8, and before you take issue with that description, consider this: They were outscored by 97 points, the largest negative point differential for a .500 or better team since the merger in 1970. This draft is just another step in the process, albeit a big step.

Our mock draft, final version

May, 8, 2014
May 8
9:30
AM ET
Our third and final crack at the first round. To keep things orderly, I didn't include trades:

1. Houston Texans : Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina -- Still think there's a decent chance the Texans trade down and pick a quarterback.

2. St. Louis Rams: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn -- He's their new Orlando Pace.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo -- Defensive-minded Gus Bradley goes with the pass-rusher over Johnny Football and the stud receivers.

4. Cleveland Browns: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M -- Mike Pettine building a monster O-Line with Matthews, Joe Thomas and Alex Mack.

5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson -- A pick right out of the old Al Davis handbook.

6. Atlanta Falcons : Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan -- If they don't trade up for Clowney, they'll pick the nastiest lineman in the draft.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M -- He can learn from Josh McCown for a year before taking over the pirate ship.

8. Minnesota Vikings: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State -- They'll get the quarterback with the next pick.

9. Buffalo Bills: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M -- Doug Marrone wanted Watkins, happily settles for the second-best receiver.

10. Detroit Lions: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina -- New OC Joe Lombardi, formerly of the New Orleans Saints, gets his version of Jimmy Graham.

11. Tennessee Titans: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida -- The Whiz Kids put Jake Locker on the clock.

12. New York Giants: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame -- Tough choice for the Coughlins (they really like LSU WR Odell Beckham, Jr.), but they go offensive line for the second straight year.

13. St. Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama -- The Rams have their version of the Iron Bowl with Clinton-Dix and Robinson.

14. Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt -- Donald is undersized for some 4-3 teams, but not the Bears.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State -- Mike Tomlin needs young blood in his secondary, and he gets the best man-to-man corner.

16. Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA -- Best available pass-rusher for a defense that needs help everywhere.

17. Baltimore Ravens: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama -- GM Ozzie Newsome, in perhaps his final draft, dips into the pool of talent at his alma mater.

18. New York Jets: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU -- Doubt he lasts this long, but I've been on OBJ the entire way, so why change now? I think they'll have to trade up to get him. They could flip with the Titans, giving up a third-round pick and two fourth-rounders. If OBJ is gone, they'd consider Brandin Cooks, Marqise Lee and perhaps secondary help.

19. Miami Dolphins: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia -- The Fish pair Moses with Branden Albert, giving them Wahoo bookends.

20. Arizona Cardinals: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State -- A highly productive linebacker adds more juice to a talented defense.

21. Green Bay Packers: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville -- Their safeties failed to create a single turnover last season.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State -- Cooks gets a chance to prove he's better than DeSean Jackson, as he stated.

23. Kansas City Chiefs: Marqise Lee, WR, USC -- The Chiefs' wide receivers were last in the league in receptions, yards and touchdowns.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech -- This will be their fourth first-round DB since '06, but Fuller is a great value at 24.

25. San Diego Chargers: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State -- Allowed 9.1 yards per pass attempt to wide receivers, highest in the league.

26. Cleveland Browns: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State -- The Brownies get their quarterback. They also could try to pry Kirk Cousins away from the Washington Redskins.

27. New Orleans Saints: Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana -- Drew Brees needs a new toy.

28. Carolina Panthers: Joel Bitonio, G, Nevada -- The Panthers allowed a league-high 60 sacks and Jordan Gross retired.

29. New England Patriots: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU -- Yes, they signed Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, but this is a value pick.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State -- Their wide receivers combined for only eight touchdown catches, tied for second fewest in the league.

31. Denver Broncos: Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA -- Maybe you watched the Super Bowl; they had trouble blocking people.

32. Seattle Seahawks: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama -- Even the defending champs have blemishes; they could use O-line help.
Until they have a legitimate franchise quarterback, the New York Jets will always be subject to draft rumors. Hey, that's life in the big city. They also have a general manager who refuses to rule out any possibilities, fueling speculation.

Garoppolo
Romo
With Geno Smith and Michael Vick on the roster, the Jets don't figure to be looking for a quarterback in the first or second rounds, but the rumblings persist. For instance: They have expressed considerable interest in former Eastern Illinois star Jimmy Garoppolo, whom many project as a second-round pick. Garoppolo said Wednesday that he has met with Jets quarterbacks coach David Lee on three occasions -- the scouting combine, his pro day and a recent visit to the Jets' facility.

Garoppolo, speaking at a pre-draft event in Lower Manhattan, said Lee told him his release reminds of a certain Dallas Cowboys quarterback -- Tony Romo, another Eastern Illinois product whom Lee coached in Dallas. Garoppolo said he enjoyed his meeting time with the Jets.

"I thought the coaches in general were very personable, very blue-collar, getting-down-to-work type of guys," he said. "I like that about them. It fits my personality."

Frankly, I think the Jets are simply performing due diligence with Garoppolo and the other top quarterbacks. It would be an upset if they draft one before the fourth round, although they might have to hit the pause button if Blake Bortles somehow falls to 18. Garoppolo believes their interest is legitimate.

"There's a method to their madness," he said. "They're one of those teams that brought me in for a reason. Whatever the Jets' reason may be ... maybe they're hoping I fall. Hopefully, I don't, but they have a reason for what they did."

Garoppolo's most vivid takeaway from his visit to the Jets' facility is a bit unusual -- the 200-year-old oak tree that stands between two practice fields.

"I know it's kind of a random thought, but I was curious about it," he said. "Coach (Rex) Ryan told me the owner's mother wanted to keep it there."
Despite an obvious tight end need, the New York Jets have expressed little interest in North Carolina's Eric Ebron, the consensus top tight end in the draft. Ebron said Wednesday he hasn't spoken to anyone in the Jets' organization other than linebacker Quinton Coples, a former college teammate.

Could it be a smokescreen? It's possible, but it would be an all-timer.

"As far as I know, they like me," Ebron said at a league-sponsored event in lower Manhattan. "That's every team. Every team likes me as an athlete."

It was previously reported that Ebron visited the Jets, but he was evasive and wouldn't confirm that. Being unnecessarily coy, he said only that he visited "New York" -- as he tweeted a few weeks ago, which fueled the speculation. If it's true that he's only had contact with Coples, it appears that his visit never took place -- unless, of course, Coples is running the draft.

Could it be that he visited the New York Giants? I'm not sure about that, but I can tell you the Giants probably won't take Ebron with the 12th pick. Chances are, he won't make it to the Jets at 18.

One thing about Ebron: He's not lacking for confidence. He's a self-proclaimed Vernon Davis wannabe, believing he can make the same impact as the San Francisco 49ers' star tight end.

"I watch his highlights, I watch his film, I watch everything Vernon Davis does and I mold it into Eric Ebron," he said.

Ebron described himself as a fun-loving person off the field. On the field, "I'm a beast, I'm an animal. It's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."

Jets draft preview: Secondary

May, 7, 2014
May 7
6:00
AM ET
This is the ninth and final installment in a position-by-position analysis of the New York Jets as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Secondary

Current personnel: CB Dee Milliner (signed through 2016), CB Dimitri Patterson (2014), CB Kyle Wilson (2014), S Dawan Landry (2014), S Antonio Allen (2015), CB Darrin Walls (2014), S Jaiquawn Jarrett (2014), CB Ellis Lankster (2014), CB Ras-I Dowling (2015), CB Johnny Patrick (2014), S Josh Bush (2015), S Rontez Miles (2016), CB Nick Taylor (2015), CB Lowell Rose (2016), CB Jeremy Reeves (2016), S Brandon Hardin (2014).

Projected starters: Milliner, Patterson, Landry, Allen.

Newcomers: Patterson (free agent/Miami Dolphins), Patrick (waivers/San Diego Chargers), Reeves (college free agent).

Departures: Antonio Cromartie (cut/Arizona Cardinals), Ed Reed (free agent), Isaiah Trufant (free agent/Cleveland Browns).

Top salary-cap charge: Milliner, $2.88 million.

Scouting report: The secondary needs help. The Jets allowed 15 pass plays of 40-plus yards, the fourth-highest total in the league. They surrendered 3,947 passing yards, the most by the franchise since 1986. A broken-down Reed made three interceptions in seven games -- and that was good enough to tie for the team lead. Need we go on? In free agency, they made only one significant move, essentially replacing Cromartie with Patterson. When healthy, Patterson is a playmaker, especially in the slot, but he hasn't been healthy in recent years. Cromartie played poorly last season, so maybe they figure anything they get out of Patterson is an upgrade. That's a risky way to do business. Rex Ryan needs at least three good corners to play his style of defense, and there are no sure things on the roster. Milliner capped an otherwise bad rookie season with a strong finish, but does that make him a legit No. 1 corner? If Milliner doesn't make a big leap, it's trouble.

Last DB drafted: They picked Milliner, ninth overall, last year.

Potential targets: There's a decent chance they could pick a corner in the first round (18). No fewer than seven corners made pre-draft visits to the Jets' facility, including the top four -- Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State), Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma State), Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech) and Bradley Roby (Ohio State). Dennard is the best scheme fit because he played a lot of man-to-man in college. Gilbert is a freakishly talented athlete with terrific ball skills, but he's not physical -- a younger version of Cromartie. Fuller can play in any scheme. Roby has "boom or bust" written all over him. Dennard, Gilbert and Fuller would be good value at 18. Keith McGill (Utah) is a possibility if they want to wait until the second or third round. Dex Mcdougle (Maryland) is a third-day option. The could use a cover safety, but Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama) won't last until 18. Ryan's defense doesn't value safeties as much as other teams, so it wouldn't be a surprise if they wait until Day 3 to draft one, if then. Dez Southward (Wisconsin) is a late possibility.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): CB -- 10; S -- 7.
Keyshawn JohnsonAP Photo/Wally SantanaKeyshawn Johnson is the last wide receiver drafted by the Jets who reached multiple Pro Bowls.
Many experts are calling this the deepest draft for wide receivers in recent memory. In theory, this should bode well for the receiver-needy New York Jets, who haven't drafted a star pass-catcher since Al Toon (only a slight exaggeration), but there's an alarming trend that could blow up the plan.

The bust rate at receiver is rising.

Because of changes in the college game, where wide-open, up-tempo passing attacks create distorted receiving statistics, it's not easy to pick a winner at wide receiver. What's more, the odds of finding an immediate impact player are remote. Of the last 12 receivers picked in the first round, dating to 2010, only one reached 1,000 yards in his rookie season -- the Cincinnati Bengals' A.J. Green.

Fans starved for offense probably will rejoice if the Jets select Odell Beckham Jr. or Brandin Cooks with the 18th pick, but it's important to keep expectations in the proper perspective. When it comes to receivers, it rarely happens overnight. Sometimes, it doesn't happen at all.

The proliferation in college passing puts the onus on NFL scouting departments to separate the real prospects from the faux prospects. It's a complicated task. Scouts have to weigh myriad factors, including style of offense, level of competition, the proficiency of the quarterback, etc.

Example: USC's Marqise Lee, who won the Biletnikoff Award in 2012 as the nation's top receiver, fell off dramatically last season. But how much of that can be attributed to instability at the quarterback position? He dropped 12 percent of the passes thrown to him, but was he hampered by a knee injury?

It goes both ways. Some teams may look at Cooks, who caught 128 passes for 1,730 yards at Oregon State, and decide he was a product of the system.

"There is no question, it's a different game," said Terry Bradway, the Jets' senior director of college scouting. "But the one thing we've tried to do -- and I think we get a little bit better at it every year -- is evaluate the player and the person. You try to tie them together as best you can, and I think that can give you a pretty good indicator of what kind of success they might have."

A longtime personnel executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he puts an emphasis on toughness and intelligence when evaluating wide receivers.

"Intangibles are important," he said. "You can't be dumb. In college, you can be as dumb as a box of rocks and still be good. In the NFL, if you're not mentally sharp, it slows your progress. I look at toughness, too. I'd never take a receiver unless he has toughness. If you have a Ferrari, you don't want it spending time in the garage."

He mentioned two former Jets, Keyshawn Johnson and Jerricho Cotchery, as examples of what he covets in a receiver. Neither was known for speed coming out of college, but they were smart and fearless, leading to long careers.

Size is important, too. If you look at some of the top young receivers -- Green, Julio Jones, Alshon Jeffery, Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant -- they're all taller than 6-foot-1. Of the top five prospects in this year's draft, only one tops the 6-1 mark -- Texas A&M's Mike Evans.

Nick Caserio, the New England Patriots' director of player personnel, said two aspects of the college game make it harder to evaluate receivers: The up-tempo style and the lack of press coverage. Teams run plays so frequently, he said, that receivers often return to the same spot and run the same play. Defenses stay vanilla with their coverages in an attempt to combat the pace of the offense. Caserio also said a "very small" number of teams use press coverage.

"The majority of the time, the defender is 5, 6, 7 yards off, so [the receiver] has free access into the defense [and] there’s less that he has to deal with at the line of scrimmage," he said. "Now you fast forward [to the NFL]. I would say the majority of the time you’re going to have a defender in your face at the line of scrimmage."

Some of the best receivers in the NFL were lesser-known players coming out of college. Of the top 20 wide receivers last season, based on number of receptions, only seven were first-round picks.

The Jets, of all teams, know how hard it can be to find a quality receiver. In 2012, they were so impressed with Stephen Hill that he received a mid-first-round grade on their draft board, prompting them to trade up in the second round. They figured his impressive size-speed ratio would compensate for his lack of experience in a pro-style offense. They figured wrong. Some in the organization were surprised by his inability to get off the line of scrimmage.

It's not just a Hill thing, it's a Jets thing. They've been trying for decades to find the next great receiver, but their strikeout rate is Dave Kingman-esque. Since Toon in 1985, they've drafted 28 receivers. Do you know how many have reached multiple Pro Bowls?

One.

Keyshawn.

Starting Thursday, the Jets will step into the batter's box again. Maybe, just maybe, they'll finally connect.

Memo to Jets: Beware of the 18th pick

May, 6, 2014
May 6
10:00
AM ET
Warning to New York Jets fans: If you want to avoid a sobering slice of reality before Thursday's draft, click away from this page.

If the Jets stay put in the first round, they won't be picking from a sweet spot in the draft, that's for sure. You might say the 18th pick is a virtual wasteland for star players. According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, only one player over the past 33 drafts has reached multiple Pro Bowls -- Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, the 18th pick in 2010. You have to go all the way back to 1980 to find the next one -- Washington Redskins Hall of Fame wide receiver Art Monk.

That's a pretty large gap, 1980 to 2010. As a matter of fact, only two other players in that span made a single Pro Bowl -- defensive end Will Smith (New Orleans Saints, drafted in 2004) and defensive end Alfred Williams (Cincinnati Bengals, 1991). San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid, drafted last year at No. 18, is credited with a Pro Bowl, but he made it as an alternate, so that doesn't count in our book.

Obviously, the Pro Bowl isn't everything. The Baltimore Ravens drafted quarterback Joe Flacco with the 18th pick in 2008, and he led them to a Super Bowl title. Can't argue with that. There have been other good players at 18, namely cornerback Leon Hall (Bengals, 2007), offensive tackle Jeff Backus (Detroit Lions, 2001) and quarterback Chad Pennington (Jets, 2000). But for the most part, it hasn't been a good spot in the first round.

Bobby Carpenter. Erasmus James. Matt Stinchcomb. Butch Woolfolk. And so on.

Since Monk, only three wide receivers have gone at 18 -- Eddie Kennison (St. Louis Rams, 1996), Mike Sherrard (Dallas Cowboys, 1986) and Willie Gault (Chicago Bears, 1983). The Jets could end up picking a receiver. If they believe in karma, they might want to consider trading out.

Jets draft preview: Linebacker

May, 6, 2014
May 6
6:00
AM ET
This is the eighth installment in a position-by-position analysis of the New York Jets as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Linebacker

Current personnel: David Harris (signed through 2014), Demario Davis (2015), Quinton Coples (2015), Calvin Pace (2015), Antwan Barnes (2015), Nick Bellore (2014), Garrett McIntyre (2014), Jermaine Cunningham (2014), Tim Fugger (2016), Troy Davis (2015).

Projected starters: Harris (MLB), Demario Davis (WLB), Coples (Rush linebacker), Pace (SAM linebacker).

Newcomers: None.

Departures: None.

Top salary-cap charge: Harris, $7.0 million.

Scouting report: There are hidden needs at both inside and outside linebacker. The return of Pace, who signed a two-year, $5 million contract after recording a career-high 10 sacks, is a positive step. But it doesn't change the fact that the Jets are a middle-of-the-road pass-rushing team. They recorded sacks on only 4.6 percent of third-down dropbacks, lowest in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Their conventional rush was underwhelming. In fact, only the Houston Texans (two) intercepted fewer passes than the Jets (six)when using four or fewer pass rushers. They need a big season out of Coples and they need Barnes (ACL surgery) to return to his pre-injury form, which may be asking a bit much. The depth at inside linebacker is sketchy, with no proven players behind Harris and Demario Davis. Harris is heading into a contract year, so they have to prepare for the possibility of losing him next year.

Last LB drafted: Demario Davis was taken in the third round of the 2012 draft. Coples, a first-round pick that year, was originally selected as a lineman.

Potential targets: Look for them to draft at least one inside linebacker; whether they select an outside linebacker will depend on value. The pool of edge rushers isn't deep. There's a considerable dropoff after Khalil Mack (Buffalo), who will be long gone by the 18th pick. Anthony Barr (UCLA) could last, but it would be a surprise if they go in that direction. Barr, with only two years experience on defense, is talented, but raw. One name to watch in Round 2 is Demarcus Lawrence (Boise State), a hybrid player who visited the Jets. At 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, he has the right dimensions to make the conversion to outside linebacker. He recorded 20 sacks over the last two seasons, mostly as a down lineman. Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech) and Kyle Van Noy (Brigham Young) are players of the same ilk. Undersized Kevin Pierre-Louis (Boston College), who also visited, is a late-round possibility. So is tweener Larry Webster (Bloomsburg), the son of former NFL defensive lineman Larry Webster. At 6-5, 252 pounds, he ran a 4.58 40 at the combine. The only defensive lineman with a faster time was Jadeveon Clowney.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): 7.

Should we expect Trader John Idzik?

May, 5, 2014
May 5
6:00
PM ET
To me, one of the fascinating subplots to the draft is general manager John Idzik and how he handles 12 picks. For the history buffs out there, the Jets haven't had a 12-player draft since 1998. Idzik has eight tradeable picks and four compensatory choices, giving him plenty of ammunition to wheel and deal.

Idzik didn't trade up or down last year in his first draft with the New York Jets, but one year isn't a big enough sample size to define a trend or a tendency. Nevertheless, you'd like to see him be aggressive, perhaps coming away with four players instead of three over the first three rounds. Some GMs are brilliant when it comes to this sort of maneuvering; some just sit on their hands and take the top guy on their board.

A lot of fans are wondering if the Jets would make a bold move by jumping into the top 10. The logical follow-up question is, which player would prompt them to make such a move? There are seven elite players in the draft, according to the general consensus -- Jadeveon Clowney, Greg Robinson, Khalil Mack, Sammy Watkins, Jake Matthews, Mike Evans and Taylor Lewan. The most appealing players to the Jets are Clowney, Mack, Watkins and Evans, but there's a good chance they will be gone in the first eight or nine picks.

For argument's sake, let's say Evans dropped to the Buffalo Bills at nine. What would it cost to trade up? According to the draft value chart, the Jets would have to trade their first-round pick (18), their second-rounder (49) and a fifth rounder (154). That's a fairly steep price, but not outrageous. Nevertheless, I'd be surprised if Idzik pulled the trigger because he knows he can get a good player with the 49th pick. He's hoping to use this draft to restock his depth, which had eroded over the years.

One team that bears watching is the Pittsburgh Steelers at 15. Their primary needs are similar to those of the Jets -- cornerback and wide receiver -- so it's possible Idzik could try to leap-frog the Steelers to make sure he gets the one he wants. To swap with the Chicago Bears at 14, the Jets would have to give up their first-round pick and their third-rounder (80), according to the value chart. That's something I could see them doing to take wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. or one of the top corners, Darqueze Dennard or Justin Gilbert. From what I'm hearing, though, Beckham may not even make it to the Steelers.

What about trading for a veteran player? Two players who might be available are Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne and Oakland Raiders wide receiver Denarius Moore. If the Raiders get Watkins with the fifth pick, it wouldn't be a surprise if they try to deal Moore, who is heading into a contract year. The Jets' receivers coach, Sanjay Lal, coached Moore as a rookie. Claiborne, the sixth overall pick in 2012, is the Cowboys' No. 3 corner and a bad scheme fit in their zone defense. The only problem is, Dallas would take a huge cap hit by dealing him and may decide to hold on to him for another year.

Jets draft preview: Defensive line

May, 5, 2014
May 5
6:00
AM ET
This is the seventh installment in a position-by-position analysis of the New York Jets as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Defensive line

Current personnel: Muhammad Wilkerson (signed through 2015), Sheldon Richardson (2016), Damon Harrison (2014), Kenrick Ellis (2014), Leger Douzable (2014), Tevita Finau (2016), T.J. Barnes (2016).

Projected starters: Wilkerson, Richardson, Harrison.

Newcomers: None.

Departures: None.

Top salary-cap charge: Richardson, $2.3 million.

Scouting report: The gang is together again, which is a good thing. No doubt, the defensive line is the strength of the team, which is what happens when you pick a first-round lineman in each of the last three drafts -- Wilkerson, Quinton Coples (now a linebacker) and Richardson. This group has a chance to be special for many years, as long as injuries, money and ego don't get in the way. It's already a top run-stopping line, as the Jets allowed a league-best 3.35 yards per attempt. Because it's a base 3-4, the Jets don't rely on the linemen to spearhead the pass rush, but there's still room for improvement, especially from Richardson (3.5 sacks), who has the skill set and tenacity to be a double-digit sacker. Wilkerson's production faded toward the end of the season, probably because he was gassed. He played 94 percent of the defensive snaps (988 of 1,048). The coaches must do a better job of rotating and using the depth.

Last DL drafted: Richardson was chosen 13th overall last season, with a pick acquired in the Darrelle Revis trade.

Potential targets: Rex Ryan joked that he and John Idzik will get run out of town if they pick another defensive lineman in the first round. Rest assured, that won't happen, but they could be looking that way late in the draft. Backups Ellis and Douzable will be unrestricted free agents, Harrison a restricted free agent, meaning long-term depth is an issue. They haven't brought any big-name linemen into town for visits, which is telling. They have expressed interest in undersized defensive end Michael Sam (Missouri), who projects as an outside linebacker or situational pass-rusher in the Jets' scheme. Sam, who could be the first openly gay player on an NFL team, will be a huge story wherever he lands -- especially in New York. A late-round possibility is Beau Allen (Wisconsin), in whom the Jets have showed interest.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): 2.
Four more days until the New York Jets are on the clock ...

1. The target list: It's impossible to predict the Jets' pick at No. 18 because so many things could happen in front of them, but I'm going to narrow the options and rank them based on interviews with scouts and talent evaluators. This is my ranking based on what I think the Jets should do, weighing their needs and the best players likely to be available:

a. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: Coach Rex Ryan needs a man-to-man corner, and he's the best in the draft.

b. Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech: A football player. Not the flashiest, but he can play Ryan's scheme.

c. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: Picture a young Antonio Cromartie -- tremendous talent, but he's a finesse player.

d. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU: A fast, all-around receiver with return ability. Strong character.

e. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State: Speed is the offseason theme on offense, and Cooks is a blur.

f. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: Has a high ceiling, but he doesn't block and there are questions about his attitude.

g. Marqise Lee, WR, USC: Coming off a mediocre year and lacks that extra gear.

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesDespite a shaky rookie year, the Jets have been quick to praise QB Geno Smith this offseason.
2. Double talk: The Jets are engaging in a ridiculous game of semantics with regard to the quarterback position. They refuse to say Geno Smith is the starter, but they talk about him as if he's the starter. They say Michael Vick is here to "push" Smith, adding they don't want to do anything to impede his progress. Sure sounds like a starter to me, except they're afraid to use the "S" word because it's not allowed in Idzik World. Ironically, the only person who uses it is Vick, who reiterated Saturday in an interview with NJ.com what he said on the day he signed in March: Smith is the starter. This may sound like a small thing, but it sends a mixed message, blurring the lines in a quarterback competition (are we allowed to call it that?) that could turn into a controversy.

3. Ulterior motives: The Jets have hosted at least three quarterbacks on pre-draft visits -- Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Savage and Logan Thomas -- fueling speculation they could be in the market. Yes, they could be, but there's another reason for the interest: Gathering information for future use. Like every team, the Jets keep a dossier on each prospect. Some day, they may have to face Garappolo in a game, at which time they can refer to their notes on him. The New England Patriots are known for this practice.

"All those reports and the work that's done going into the draft, we look at that as the start of his library, and you will definitely tap into that as he progresses through his pro career," GM John Idzik said.

4. The Dirty Dozen: If the Jets wind up picking 12 players, it'll be their largest draft class since 1998 -- another 12-pick year. Quantity doesn't always ensure quality, as that '98 draft proved. Only one of the 12 players ended up starting in the NFL -- OT Jason Fabini (fourth round). The Jets were hurt by not having a first-round pick (sent to the Patriots as part of the Bill Parcells compensation package), but it still ranks as one of the worst drafts in team history. And there were a lot of smart people in the draft room -- Parcells, personnel director Dick Haley and three future GMs, Mike Tannenbaum, Scott Pioli and Trent Baalke. Like people always say, the draft is a crapshoot. The Jets still reached the AFC Championship Game, in large part, because they assembled one of the best free-agent classes in history -- Curtis Martin, Vinny Testaverde, Kevin Mawae and Bryan Cox.

5. Gang of New Yorkers: New York isn't known as a football hotbed, but there are four intriguing defensive-line prospects from the area. The top guy is Staten Island's Dominique Easley (Florida), a first-round talent coming off his second ACL surgery. He held a late pro day and impressed scouts to the point where he could sneak into the second or third round. Other locals are Flushing's Jay Bromley (Syracuse), the Bronx's Caraun Reid (Princeton) and Nyack's Terrence Fede (Marist).

6. The truth hurts: Former Jets great Joe Klecko was on the money with his assessment of OLB Quinton Coples, whom he said "looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane." Coples has tested the patience of the coaches from the day he arrived, giving inconsistent effort. The talent is obvious, which explains the frustration level in the organization. He finished last season on an upswing (3.5 sacks in the last five games), so maybe he turned a corner. As for Klecko's comments about Muhammad Wilkerson, suggesting he doesn't give maximum effort on every play, I haven't heard anyone around the team question his motor.

7. Goodson soap opera: Coming off an ACL injury, and facing charges for gun possession, Mike Goodson's future with the team is murky. Remember, he still faces the possibility of another suspension; this time it would be for violating the league's personal-conduct policy. Idzik said they've approached this offseason with the idea that Goodson will be on the team. "We assume that Mike is a Jet," Idzik said. "We've always made that assumption." He has another court date, May 19. If they draft a running back, it could be curtains for Goodson.

8. Scouting shake-up: Last year's draft was widely considered a success, yet some of the unsung people who contributed -- a handful of area scouts -- were replaced. This will be Idzik's first draft with his scouting staff in place. For the record, the new scouts: Chris Prescott (Virginia to Louisiana), David Hinson (Midwest), Dave Boller (West) and Rick Courtright (national combine scout). Former player Aaron Glenn, who worked in pro personnel in 2012, became an area scout for the first time, working Texas to North Dakota.

9. Numbers game: Vick should be changing his number again in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

10. Richard the Reclusive: The last time an Alabama quarterback was drafted in the first round was ... you have to go back, back, back to Richard Todd in 1976 -- sixth overall by the Jets. The 38-year drought is "kind of sad," according to Todd, who is hoping AJ McCarron will end the slump (he won't). Todd doesn't do many interviews, so it was interesting to read his comments last week on his initial experience with the Jets.

"I was kind of thrown to the wolves when I was drafted," Todd told Alabama.com. "I thought I'd back up Joe (Namath) for two or three years and it took about two or three games, and I was kind of thrown into it. We threw the ball about six times a game my senior year (in the wishbone), so it was totally different.''

Two words, Richard: A.J. Duhe.

Twitter mailbag: Rex's draft power

May, 3, 2014
May 3
12:00
PM ET
Our last Twitter mailbag before the draft. Here we go.

.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider