By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer
As camp winds down and preseason draws closer the Jets look to make the final roster decisions that will shape the 2013 campaign. Some of the players most anxious to find out their roles are the rookies. Some will take the opportunity and run with it. Others will, for a variety of reasons, disappoint. Here is a look at what to expect from the 2013 New York Jets draft class.
Dee Milliner CB Alabama
Let me be clear. Milliner is a tremendous corner back prospect and has a bright NFL future. The main reason I chose him as a potential disappointment is injury concerns. I think Milliner’s combination of size, physicality and speed are more than enough to produce in the NFL as a rookie. Then again, he is a top ten pick. ESPN New York ran a story on July 29 with the caption below the title that read: “Dee Milliner, plagued by injury, must play like a top-10 pick for John Idzik’s sake“.
That pretty much summed up my thoughts on the situation as far as this year is concerned. After shoulder surgery in March that caused him to miss almost all of camp thus far, the injury question remains valid. In the long term, however, I like Milliner’s potential as a quality NFL starter.
Zach Rogers WR Tennessee
We all fear the possibility that week one rolls around and Stephen Hill is flanked at receiver by Jeremy Kerley. No disrespect to them (I’m actually a whole lot higher on Hill’s ability than most) but that might be one of the worst receiving duos in recent memory. Unfortunately that looks like the case with Santonio Holmes expected to miss at least a portion of next season with injury. That leaves the cupboard pretty bare. Especially when you throw in the fact that Clyde Gates might be number three on the depth chart. Recently the Jets did bring back Braylon Edwards but that move is more of a last ditch effort than anything.
In my book, he isn’t much of an upgrade over Kerley or Hill, if at all. As crazy as it sounds I actually like the chances of the group of undrafted free agents to make an impact on Sundays. Ryan Spodola of Lehigh won’t wow anyone with freakish talent but he is a good route runner with solid hands at 6’3. Unfortunately for him Stephen Hill and Braylon Edwards fill much the same role with their respective large frames. Virginia Tech’s Marcus Davis is another big target at 6’4 and based on raw athletic talent alone might be one of the better athletes of the group. That brings me to Zach Rogers.
The other, other receiver at Tennessee is the least intimidating of the bunch. At a very light 6’0 175 he may have some trouble taking the NFL sized beating he is in for. That being said he seemed to handle the SEC just fine with 32 grabs for 491 yards (15.1 average) and 7 TD. He is actually very well equipped to handle the duties of a slot receiver as he possesses soft hands, technical route running and 4.49 (Pro Day) speed.
Long Term Value:
Geno Smith QB West Virginia
This one was a bit of a toss up. Sheldon Richardson has the talent to make a huge difference as a pass rusher and Milliner could very well be a Pro Bowl corner for many years to come. However, as we know its all about the quarterback in today’s NFL. After the initial visceral reaction of hearing Geno’s name called by the Jets has subsided I think most fans have come to the realization that the pick might turn out to be a steal. Is he inconsistent? No doubt, but even though he really tailed off last year, he did have a dynamite first half to his senior season that had almost everyone penciling him into the #1 overall slot.
That talent never left and even if much of that meteoric rise was due to several external factors (weak defenses, gimmicky offense, talented supporting cast) he still threw a breath-taking deep ball and utilized his mobility to make plays outside the pocket. Smith finds himself in a situation very conducive to a rookie quarterback. He has the competition to push him and the incumbent veteran who, even if he beats out Smith early, is already considered a lame duck with virtually no fan or even front office support.