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Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Crystal ball: Projecting roles for rookies

By Rich Cimini

Let's take a look at the New York Jets' draft class through the prism of projected roles for 2014. I see only two significant contributors at the outset, but that number likely will grow as the season progresses. You will see many of the draft picks involved in special teams. A closer look:

Calvin Pryor, safety, first round: He should be a Day 1 starter. If not, something is wrong. The roster is filled with strong safeties, so it'll be up to Rex Ryan to mix and match. Right now, the best tandem is Pryor and Dawan Landry, with Antonio Allen playing in certain sub packages.

Jace Amaro, tight end, second round: He doesn't block well enough to be an every-down player, but he should be on the field for about 50 percent of the snaps. If he can make a relatively seamless transition to a pro-style offense, Amaro could be the tight end in the three-receiver/one-tight end personnel package on passing downs in addition to joining Jeff Cumberland in two-tight end sets.

Dex McDougle, cornerback, third round: If his surgically repaired shoulder is OK, McDougle has a chance to work his way up the depth chart. Other than Dee Milliner, no one is entrenched at any of the cornerback spots. He should be the No. 4 corner at the very least. If he's good enough to start, it can allow Dimitri Patterson to play the slot, which wouldn't bode well for Kyle Wilson.

Jalen Saunders, wide receiver, fourth round: Jeremy Kerley is the slot receiver, so Saunders' best chance to make an immediate contribution will come as a punt returner. In terms of the pecking order at receiver, he's probably looking at the No. 4 or No. 5 spot.

Shaq Evans, wide receiver, fourth round: The situation at receiver is similar to that of cornerback. Except for Kerley and Eric Decker, the depth chart is fluid. Realistically, the best-case scenario for Evans is No. 5 receiver. He'd increase his value if he starts returning kickoffs.

Dakota Dozier, guard, fourth round: He has upside, but there are two factors working against him -- he comes from a small school (Furman) and he's learning a new position (guard). There will be a learning curve. Don't be surprised if he ends up with the Idzik Red-Shirts -- i.e. the bottom-of-the-roster players who remain inactive every week.

Jeremiah George, linebacker, fifth round: He probably will back up at the 'Mike' and 'Will' linebacker spots, joining Nick Bellore as the top reserves. Obviously, George will get a chance to be a significant contributor on special teams.

Brandon Dixon, cornerback, sixth round: This is a huge leap for Dixon, who played at NW Missouri State. He's a raw, developmental prospect who could join the Red-Shirts or perhaps the practice squad.

Quincy Enunwa, wide receiver, sixth round: See Evans.

IK Enemkpali, outside linebacker, sixth round: He played defensive end at Louisiana Tech, but the Jets are listing him as a linebacker. If that's where he plays, it'll be a major transition. Hello, practice squad.

Tajh Boyd, quarterback, sixth round: He will battle Matt Simms for the No. 3 job. Boyd has some intriguing traits, but he has to learn a pro-style offense and clean up some mechanical flaws.

Trevor Reilly, outside linebacker, seventh round: The Jets have four veterans ahead of him, so it'll be tough to make the team. There's always room at the Inn for a pass-rusher and a big-time special-teams player, so he'll have to excel in those areas.