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NY Jets Draft Review


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New York Jets Instant Draft Review

In the aftermath of any draft, there are disclaimers. It takes at least 3 years to properly evaluate a draft class. Instant grades are worthless. So what? So let’s dance!

Thursday: Re-opening the New York Sack Exchange

Round 1: DE Quinton Coples, North Carolina

The Jets have been blitzing less since Rex Ryan took over. They were the third most blitzing team in 2009 but the twelfth most blitzing team in 2011. The league is spreading out more than ever and the Jets response is toward exotic coverage in lieu of blitzing. They need to get more simple pressure, guys beating their blocks, in the style of Shaun Ellis at Foxboro in the 2010 playoffs. That was a good night for the Jets defense.

As the first round unfolded Thursday night, no pass rushers were taken in the first 14 picks of the draft. This was good news for the Jets. Seattle Seahawks’ shocking pick of West Virginia pass rusher Bruce Irvin at 15 was a gift to the Jets board. Despite rumors to the contrary it’s hard to believe the Jets would have taken Irvin at 16. Irvin is actually a gifted edge rusher with an Aaron Maybin-like first step, but was recently arrested for destruction of property and was more commonly seen as a second round (or later) prospect. Thanks, Pete Carroll.

In the press conference, the Jets decision makers say they stuck to their board when they took Quinton Coples. This sounds truthful. Coples was evaluated as a top 10 pick for several seasons. Over the last 15 years first round UNC defensive ends is a nice list: Robert Quinn, Julius Peppers, Ebenezer Ekuban, and Greg Ellis.

But Coples is his own man and evaluations are best made in person. The Jets brain trust saw this player dominate in Mobile, Alabama practices, and the list of recent pass rushers who have done this is also encouraging. Quinton Coples beat the other teams’ linemen like a drum, all week. More recently, Rex Ryan ran drills with Coples at his pro day, and the Jets had Coples visit for a recent private workout.

With Coples and a half dozen other pass rush possibilities presented, the Jets had a tough choice. The Jets stuck to their board, went with the most rare athlete and the player with most career sacks..

The obvious difference between Coples and the others is that Coples is a natural fit as a hand in the dirt 5-tech on first and second down. The others are conversion projects and avoiding that risky conversion is the lesson learned from the Vernon Gholston pick. The Jets picked a DE and will play him at DE. Recently, the Jets have lost their taste for first round conversion projects, and frankly, it’s not the right place to pick a player and ask him to play another position.

Along with Mo Wilkinson, Sione Pouha, that’s a nasty front 3 starting unit. Dare we say Super Unit? With Mike Devito, Kenrick Ellis, Marcus Dixon and Rapoti Pitoitua, it’s possibly the best 3-4 defensive line in football. On third down, Coples can slide to DT, where he made 1st team all-ACC as a junior. There is a lot to like about his game and how he can be used in the Jets’ defense.

We should take time to discuss another player the Jets could have picked, Melvin Ingram out of South Carolina. The crowd was baying for this player, a conversion DE to OLB, widely considered to be “a safe pick.” As mentioned, Rex and company saw this player live on the same field as Coples at the Senior Bowl. By every measure, Coples was a better prospect. He’s bigger, faster (over 10 yards), taller, longer arms, more career sacks etc. During that week, there was nothing wrong with Coples’ motor, it was running redline all week. But Melvin Ingram somehow is safer or better? He’s more consistent perhaps, but not a more talented player. And as a DE to OLB conversion, there also would be risk. Personally, I don’t see how Melvin Ingram would grade out better than Quinton Coples. And the Jets clearly agreed, as illustrated by their actual pick.

Coples certainly isn’t perfect, with motor and technique concerns. He can play high and some say he mailed it in as a senior. But perfect players don’t drop to 16.

Keep in mind that unlike the Gholston pick, Coples isn’t getting $30 million and basically set up for life. The new rookie wage scale means Coples is going to have to work for the big time money. Last year’s 16 pick Ryan Kerrigan received roughly $8.5 million over 4 years.

If you ask me, the real problems with Coples are high expectations. With his natural skills, scouts expect him to have 40 career sacks and be a top 3 draft pick. And it’s true he could have had a stronger motor and more production.

But he wouldn’t have fallen to 16 if that were the case. Where the Jets picked, they got value like he was on super sale. Considering the price paid, his upside, and what he’s expected to do in the Jets defense, it’s tough to find fault with the logic used to select Quinton Coples.

Friday: The Need For Speed

Round 2: WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech

Round 3: OLB Demario Davis, Arkansas State

As a smiling Stephen Hill stepped out on to the Radio City stage, pumping his arms and leading a J-E-T-S chant for the crowd, the good feelings flowed, all around Jets land. Here was a player that was extroverted, excited and ready to go. Football is entertainment and Hill started his career by entertaining Jets fans. Contrast this with the Giants wide out pick of Rueben Randle, a few minutes later. Given a chance to rouse the crowd, Randle seemed laid-back at best, confused at worst.

Before we get into the details of this player, his strengths and weaknesses on the field, trading up for Stephen Hill in the mid-second round was an outstanding value pick. Many analysts had Hill as a first round value, and to get this player in the mid second was a coup. It’s almost like getting another first round pick. Contrast this pick with the Patriots’ second round selection of a corner not ranked in most sources’ top 200 players. Whether the pick works out or not, the value of the Stephen Hill pick was excellent. From any perspective, it was among the most astute picks of the round.

As with all prospects there are pros and cons to Hill’s profile. The good news is 6’4” and 4.3 second 40-yard dash. To have both of those attributes, above average height and world class speed, is truly rare. Most tall receivers are slow and most fast receivers are short. There’s probably a physics reason behind that but either way, Hill’s skills put him in the class of Randy Moss or Andre Johnson. And that’s not exaggerating. He really is that rare of an athlete and he looks that fast on film. Other positions, the 40 yard dash doesn’t mean much, but wide receivers really do have to run that distance, routinely. Like Coples, Hill comes from a program with a strong recent history at that position, including Demaryius thomas and Calvin Johnson. Hill is a willing run blocker, and excels at catching the jump ball. In other words he replaces Plexico Burress’ role in the red zone. But he provides a deep threat that Plexico never did (more like 2010 Braylon Edwards).

The bad news about this player is he didn’t have elite receiving numbers in Georgia Tech’s triple option offense (a relic from the 1950’s). Hill can get into a habit of body catching and he has a ton to learn about the route tree. He declared early (but it’s questionable whether staying an extra year would have advanced his knowledge). These shortcomings make him a bit of a project in the near term and probably pushed him out of the first round.

But overall, this pick helps the Jets offense. Hill can present a deep threat, right away. Whether he actually delivers on that threat or not, Hill has the speed to take any play to the house. As fans remember, too many times in 2011, the offense became predictable and defenses did not respect any possible deep threat. The league will regard Hill as a real threat, and defenses can’t sit on short routes and load up against the run, with Hill possibly zooming up the field. Having Stephen Hill on the roster, just on paper, makes new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano’s job easier. Hill is a player for which defenses have to account.

Demario Davis was a late arrival to Senior Bowl practices. But when Davis got his chance, he made the most of it. In front of Rex and company, Davis showed the quickness to avoid blockers and the speed to get to the edge. He made a ton of hits in practice, and looked like he was having fun doing it. In drills, Davis was one of the few linebackers able to stick with tight ends and running backs in coverage. His speed was evident to all onlookers.

On film, Davis showed acumen for inside blitzes and special teams prowess. At the combine, Davis put up blazing times in the agility tests as well as recording a 38 inch vertical leap (which is excellent for any position). In short, Davis is an explosive, agile tacking machine.

This year, Davis will likely play special teams and rotate in as a nickel (coverage) linebacker. But in the near future, he’s a real candidate to replace Bart Scott. He’s not a guy who will jump on grenades (as Bart Scott describes his own playing style of blowing up 300 pound guards) but Davis is more elusive and can be productive if the line keeps the blockers away. Again this pick avoided the conversion risk, the Jets took a linebacker and will play him at linebacker.

In general, this was another case where the Jets got faster through the draft. Rumor had the coaching staff asking many players to show up to camp 5 or 10 pounds lighter than years prior. And with the first three picks of the 2012 draft, the Jets got faster. Improving team speed was a need and the Jets satisfied that need early.

Saturday: Early Undrafted Free Agency

Round 6: FS Josh Bush, Wake Forest

Round 6: RB Terrence Ganaway, Baylor

Round 6: OG Robert T. Griffin, Baylor

Round 7: SS Antonio Allen, South Carolina

Round 7: WR Jordan White, Western Michigan

Several years ago, former Texans GM Charlie Casserly broke down the rounds of the draft, assigning percentages to the possibility of getting a starter quality player out of each round. First round was about a 75% chance of success, depending on position. As each round arrives, the chance of success goes down, until the end of the draft, where both round 6 and round 7 were assigned a 9% chance of success.

Casserly link: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/10159081

Clearly this is just one man’s opinion (a man who drafted Mario Williams) but I bring up this article to head off any extreme hopes fans might have about the Saturday picks. These players certainly introduce competition at several positions of need, but the history isn’t kind to players selected at this point in the draft. If the Jets get depth and special teams contributions from these players, that’s a positive outcome. Statistically, most (or all) of these picks will end up being worthless. I know that sounds harsh but it has to be noted. At this point in the draft, it’s almost an extension of undrafted free agency.

Safeties Josh Bush and Antonio Allen were linked to the Jets at several points in the draft process. Bush is the headier prospect, with possible projection at either free or strong. Allen did not impress in workouts but both players are known as sure tacklers. A few years ago the Jets picked Kerry Rhodes and Andre Maddox, one player was good and the other was worthless. This is a common outcome when a team doubles up at the same position in the draft. That being said the safety cupboard is rather bare and both players can make the team if they play special teams. Beyond that, we need to see them in preseason before we make any assessments as to their potential as starters. As Casserly’s numbers imply, it is unlikely that either player replaces Eric Smith (the Jets’ leading tackler) in the near term.

Running back Terrence Ganaway was an interesting pick. Running backs do come from all over the draft (or undrafted) to find success. Ganaway is a large back and could be seen as a possible Greene replacement or even a fullback conversion project (he’s that big). He has decent hands for a running back and has a nose for the end zone. His speed and explosion are both average however, and he’s a tough player to predict at this stage of the offseason. Ganaway probably has the widest range of outcomes. Maybe he’s the lead back in a ground and pound attack or maybe he’s cut before week 1. Time will tell.

Jordan White was a record breaking wide out at Western Michigan (same school as Greg Jennings) and really was a fan favorite last fall. He is known for his sure hands and crisp routes. Injuries hampered his draft stock, but if he can overcome the medical issues, White could be a slot receiver in the mold of Jordan Shipley. The medical aspect of the draft is the part that is least transparent to analysts, so he’s a real wild card in that respect. Check back in preseason.

Finally Robert T. Griffin is a possible practice squad candidate. He has the size and foot speed for the league, but currently lacks functional strength for the position. That’s putting it nicely, to be more frank, he was in sloppy shape and needs to become a professional. Griffin is not a player that will unseat Wayne Hunter in 2012. But he could factor into the Jets future at that position, as well as either guard spot.


The Jets used 8 picks over 2 days and that’s an obvious increase from previous drafts. They addressed team speed and several critical needs. Importantly, the Jets never reached or overpaid the marketplace value of these players.

I have been speaking about experts in the general sense but to make it personal, let’s look at my evaluations this spring. I am a big fan of accountability in the draft analysis game. In my final mock, I had Coples going 12 to Seattle, Hill going 22 to the Browns and Davis as a late third round pick (97 on my top 100). People say Davis was a fifth round reach, that’s not how I had it graded.

Eyewitness wise, I thought Coples was elite in Mobile and no way he’d be there at 16. I thought Davis was strictly a 4-3 player but he measured taller than expected and certainly has exciting athletic upside. I was not impressed by Ganaway or Allen at the Senior Bowl and considered their performances to be below average.

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The more I watch Coples with my green glasses on the more I see a star. I think they got a good one.

and i dont get why we got a grade of C on our draft,Coples was the best DE in the draft a top 10 on every mock draft we get him at 16 great value and Hill a 1st round WR we get him in the 2nd and thats a so so pick our 3rd well maybe a bit of a reach at 16 on the 3rd but a good player.Every other pic had a higer grade except the guard.Cant win can we
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and i dont get why we got a grade of C on our draft,Coples was the best DE in the draft a top 10 on every mock draft we get him at 16 great value and Hill a 1st round WR we get him in the 2nd and thats a so so pick our 3rd well maybe a bit of a reach at 16 on the 3rd but a good player.Every other pic had a higer grade except the guard.Cant win can we

People love to hate the Jets, especially the media. If the Pats took Coples at 16 it would've been a genius move and a great value.

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People love to hate the Jets, especially the media. If the Pats took Coples at 16 it would've been a genius move and a great value.

i know we get hill ith the 10 pick in the 2nd round and thats no great , all i heard before the draft was that this kid has it all and we get no props for a very good pick
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i know we get hill ith the 10 pick in the 2nd round and thats no great , all i heard before the draft was that this kid has it all and we get no props for a very good pick

Before the draft I didnt dream of the Jets getting both Coples and Hill just based off the fact that Coples wouldn't slip past the Seahawks and Stephen Hill was going to be a late first round guy. Both of them fell and they were both great values at where we took and both filled an area of need. But all the media sees is the bad in those picks while they praise BB for taking a guy from Syracuse who really didnt put up much numbers at all.

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