By Ryan Alfieri, Editor
While we will have to wait until time reveals exactly how successful a draft is, it is hard to argue with the Jets’ strategy and execution based on the results of the 2013 NFL draft for the Jets.
The Jets appeared to ignore glaring needs and take the best player that would help them in the immediate and long term. They may not have filed many needs, but they walked away with quality players taken at reasonable positions in the draft, which is all you can ask for at this point of the process.
Let’s break down the good and bad of the Jets’ draft results.
However, neither player was available with Mingo and Austin taken at 6 and 8 (respectively), but the Jets did not give in to temptation and held their position without giving up valuable picks. Instead, they got two defensive studs in Dee Milliner and Sheldon Richardson, the top cornerback and interior pass-rusher in this class.
Milliner will be pegged as a direct replacement to Darrelle Revis, but his physicality and size allows him to be a bit more versatile covering tight ends – which was something Revis never did.
Meanwhile, Richardson fills the need for an athletic, explosive pass-rusher – he just does not play the ideal position of outside linebacker. Rex Ryan has a tremendous track record developing defensive lineman (he was the d-line coach of the 2000 Ravens), and he should get the most out of Richardson.
Stealing a Franchise Quarterback
After nabbing two quality defenders in the first round, the Jets were able to get the top quarterback in the draft, Geno Smith, in the second round – again, without trading up. Idzik actually considered Geno at 13, but he elected to take the superior player in Richardson, and it payed dividends.
By taking Smith in the second round, it makes it much easier for the Jets to move on from the WVU star in case he does not pan-out. For now, he gives the Jets’ offense new direction and something to build the future around. The key now is for the Jets to develop him properly, which is certainly not what they did with Sanchez.
Build the Trenches
Outside of a trade for Chris Ivory, the Jets spent the remainder of their draft on players on blockers – which was hardly a mistake. John Idzik wants to build an environment of intense competition, and what better way to set the tone than bring in a bunch of “fatties” to battle for jobs in training camp?
Third-round selection Brian Winters will be a virtual lock to make the team, but he plays with a mean streak and will help set the tone for a rebuilding interior offensive line. Winters was a former wrestler who once finished a match after popping out his collarbone.
The Jets then brought in two huge bodies in Oday Aboushi and William Campbell to add some upside to the mix. Fullback Tony Bohanon will compete with Lex Hilliard for the starting fullback job.
Missing Out in the Top 10
As previously stated, the top 8 picks could not have unfolded much worse for the Jets. All of the potential pass-rushers, including Dion Jordan, Ziggy Ansah and Barkevious Mingo were off the board by pick 6. Worst of all, explosive offensive weapon Tavon Austin was stolen one pick early by the Rams in an aggressive trade-up.
Plus, cornerbacks are historically slow-starters in the NFL – even Revis was torched by Randy Moss in his debut. The fact that Alabama’s cornerbacks are not taught to backpedal may stunt Milliner’s development (see Dre Kirkpatrick’s rookie season).
The Jets ended up with good prospects nonetheless, but they had hopes of walking away with more explosive weapons that would have more directly attacked needs.
All three lineman were taken at appropriate spots in the draft, but all three players will be making a switch to a new position. Brian Winters and Oday Aboushi were left tackles in college, while William Campbell was a defensive tackle.
The good news is that there are plenty of examples of successful transitions to guard from both positions. The Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens won a title thanks to terrific play by their offensive line, in which both of their guards were college tackles. Longtime Pro Bowl guard for the Jets, Brandon Moore, went undrafted as a defensive tackle before making the switch to guard.
Still, taking so many players as a projection does carry some risk – as we saw with Vladimir Ducasse’s lack of development.
Too Many Lineman?
While it makes sense for the Jets to use some draft resources to attack the guard position, as they were slated to start the oft-injured Willie Colon and bust Vladimir Ducasse otherwise.
However, with a roster littered with needs and such a deep draft to fill them, perhaps the Jets used one too many picks on the position. For example, players like Baccari Rambo and Tony Jefferson were available very late in the draft that would have attacked their hole at safety.
What this does show is that John Idzik is going to take the best players available and work from there, which is the silver lining in not being able to fill more needs through the draft.
Ultimately, the Jets should be genuinely content with how the draft turned out for them, especially considering how the board played out and what their needs were. They found value at every position and even found a potential franchise quarterback at a relatively low price tag.
Of course, if none of these players are any good, it won’t matter where they were drafted—but for now, it is hard to knock what the Jets did in last week’s draft in terms of both value an upside for the players they drafted.