New York Jets: Complete 2014 NFL Draft Wrap-Up and Analysis
Surprisingly enough, the Jets used all 12 of their picks, electing to let the draft come to them rather than make moves up the board. On paper, the Jets addressed all of their needs—but it remains to be seen whether or not these players will play up to their potential and stick around in the NFL.
Here is a complete wrap-up of the Jets' 2014 draft class.
Round 1, Pick No. 18: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Round 2, Pick No. 49: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Round 3, Pick No. 80: Dexter McDougle, CB, Maryland
Round 4, Pick No. 104: Jalen Saunders, WR, Oklahoma
Round 4, Pick No. 115: Shaquelle Evans, WR, UCLA
Round 4, Pick No. 137: Dakota Dozier, OT, Furman
Round 5, Pick No. 154: Jeremiah George, ILB, Iowa State
Round 6, Pick No. 195: Brandon Dixon, CB, Missouri State
Round 6, Pick No. 209: Quincy Enunwa, WR, Nebraska
Round 6, Pick No. 210: Ik Enemkpali, DE, Louisiana Tech
Round 6, Pick No. 213: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Round 7, Pick No. 233: Trevor Reilly, OLB, Utah
The most surprising aspect of the Jets' draft is that they actually used all 12 picks, not making a single trade up or down the board.
Their actions on Thursday night were the most head-scratching, as they went against all conventional wisdom and drafted a position that was not a cornerback or a receiver. Safety Calvin Pryor is certainly an upgrade over what they have at the position, but safety was hardly a pressing need headed into this draft.
With the exception of the selection of Pryor in the first round, Idzik attacked all the team's biggest needs in succession, nabbing a tight end, a cornerback and two receivers immediately after "splurging" on a big-time safety prospect.
Idzik's patience in the second round paid off big time, as he was able to land tight end Jace Amaro. Amaro can easily be argued as a first-round tight end prospect who immediately transforms the Jets' tight end position from a being weakness into a strength. Adding McDougle in the third round gives their secondary an injection of speed and added depth in the slot.
The Jets certainly welcome talent like Jalen Saunders on their team, but it will be a challenge to get him on the field with Jeremy Kerley handling the slot duties. At 5'9", Saunders is not going to survive on the outside in the NFL.
Idzik did follow up with a bigger possession receiver in Evans, balancing out the overall size the Jets drafted to the position.
Many of the Jets' later picks were small-school prospects with high upside. Players such as Dakota Dozier of Furman and Missouri State's Brandon Dixon need a lot of technical work, but they have athletic traits that are hard to find this deep in the draft. When selecting late in the draft, it makes more sense to try to hit a home run with a project player than find a marginal special teams player with limited upside.
One commonality found in all of these prospects is that they are all high-character, high-effort, physical players. Idzik clearly had a small draft board, uninterested in bringing underachievers into his building. Many of these players are team captains, including Pryor, George and Enunwa.
Best Pick: Jace Amaro
After using his top pick on a defensive prospect, Idzik had no room for error entering the second round—he had to find help at the offensive skill positions at all costs.
Idzik may have failed in his attempts to trade up for USC receiver Marqise Lee (via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com), but his patience paid off when Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro was still on the board at pick No. 49.
Amaro is not the most well-rounded tight end prospect with his limited experience as an inline blocker, but he makes up for it with his ability as a receiver. A prototypical "Joker" tight end, Amaro can be used all over the formation as a matchup nightmare for linebackers and safeties alike because of his movement ability and size.
Prior to this pick, the Jets had arguably the worst tight end situation in the league with Jeff Cumberland as the lone player with a respectable amount of starting experience. With this selection, the Jets' tight end situation is transformed from a weakness to a potential strength of the offense.
This pick gave the Jets a talented player with great value at a need position. What else could you ask for?
Worst Pick: Calvin Pryor
The Jets did not make any major blunders or outrageous selections, but the use of their first-round pick was the most suspect decision-making of the draft, especially when considering the stakes.
There is no doubt that Pryor upgrades the Jets' safety position, but the Jets could have went in a plethora of other directions to attack bigger need areas of the team with a better prospect. In selecting Pryor, the Jets passed on receivers Brandin Cooks and Lee as well as cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard and Jason Verrett.
Meanwhile, while the combination of Antonio Allen and Dawan Landry is not overly impressive, both players were more than capable of getting the Jets through the 2014 season. The cornerback, receiver and tight end positions were much bigger needs that needed to be addressed in the first round.
In the eyes of many, Pryor was not even the best safety in this class. If the Jets were intent on upgrading their safeties, they would have been better off going with Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
It is not the selection of Pryor himself that will hurt the Jets in the long run—it is the opportunity cost of passing up on better options that will cause the Jets to look back on this pick with some regret.
Undrafted Free Agents
Kerry Hyder Jr., DT, Texas Tech
A two-gapping specialist who is terrific with his hands, Kerry Hyder will have a tough time getting a spot on the roster with Damon Harrison and Kenrick Ellis in front of him.
Tevon Conrad, OT, Saginaw Valley State
With a big frame to work with, Conrad has some physical tools to be successful in the NFL. However, a suspension for what appeared to be a hazing incident gone wrong raise some red flags about his character.
Nick Dimarco, LB, William Penn
A bit undersized at 240 pounds, Dimarco will have to put on some weight to be considered anything more than a core special teams player.
Steele Divitto, LB, Boston College
Having dealt with being the unenviable replacement to Mark Herzlich, Devitto is a native New Jersey product out of powerhouse high school Don Bosco Prep, who will compete with Dimarco and fifth-round pick Jeremiah George for special teams duties.
Terrence Miller, WR, Arizona
A big receiver with some ability as a red-zone target, Miller needs to clean up his incredibly unreliable hands in order to get a true shot in the NFL.
Anthony Grady, DL, Missouri State
At 271 pounds, Grady will have to either lose some weight to play outside linebacker or put on some mass to find a role on defense. Either way, like all undrafted free agents, special teams will by Grady's ticket to a roster spot.
Jermaine Jones, WR, St. Augustine
Despite coming from a small program at St. Augustine, Jermaine Jones has some potential with his combination of size (6'2") and speed (4.40 40-yard dash). However, the sheer volume of competition he will face at the bottom of the Jets' training-camp roster gives him tough odds to be anything more than a practice-squad candidate.
Michael Palardy, K, Tennessee
After signing an extension this offseason, Nick Folk will be the Jets kicker in 2014—Palardy will be nothing more than a camp body. For Palardy, this is an opportunity for him to get his name in NFL circles to latch on to a more open competition.
Chad Young, FB, SDSU
Young will directly compete with Tommy Bohanon for the starting fullback job. With experience as a runner, receiver and a blocker, Young is as versatile as Bohanon but boasts more raw strength—he put up 34 reps at the combine. This will be an interesting battle in training camp to watch.
Brent Qvale OT Nebraska
Qvale was a backup for most of his career at Nebraska, but he held his own at left tackle for five games in 2013 when filling in for injured season. With a huge frame (6'7, 315 lbs), the best is yet to come for Qvale, who looks like he will be a better guard than tackle at the next level with his build.
DeMario Bennett, WR, Coastal Carolina
A transfer from South Carolina, Bennett had a strong senior season in which he caught 13 touchdowns. He does not have any overly impressive traits, which will make it difficult for him to stand out in a crowded receiver competition.
What's Next for the New York Jets?
Because of the sheer volume of this draft, the players the Jets selected over the weekend will be the foundation of the type of team John Idzik wants to construct in New York. This may have been Idzik's second draft in his position as general manager, but this is the first draft where he has worked with his own handpicked scouts and personnel men.
The age of rebuilding is coming to a close. The time is now to develop the talent on the roster and compete for championships. However, there are still a few loose ends the Jets need to take care of before they kick off the 2014 season.
The Quarterback Situation
Now, all eyes will turn back to the Jets' quarterback depth chart, where Geno Smith and Michael Vick will compete for the starting job. However, according Vick, the battle is all but over before it began:
QB competition? What QB competition? Michael Vick says Geno Smith is the Jets' starter: http://t.co/WbVgXYpPVC— dom cosentino (@domcosentino) May 3, 2014
The comments are puzzling to say the least. Either Vick is simply towing the company line, creating some type of bulletin-board material for himself, or he really does have no interest in being a full-time starter again. We will see how the two quarterbacks interact in camp to get a better idea of how the dynamic will work during the season, but these comments are a bit startling to say the least.
There will also be a battle for the third quarterback job between Matt Simms and sixth-round pick Tajh Boyd. Simms had a strong preseason last year, but Ryan is a known fan of Boyd, who was a college teammate with his son Seth at Clemson.
The Wide Receiver Dogfight
After using three draft picks on wide receivers (plus one undrafted free agent) in addition to the free-agent additions of Eric Decker and Jacoby Ford, the battle at the bottom of the receiver depth chart for a spot on the team will be downright vicious.
These four rookies will battle Stephen Hill, Clyde Gates and David Nelson for roster spots. Hill may have been a second-round pick, but a new regime that had no business in drafting him will have no qualms about cutting the 23-year-old.
There is a chance that the Jets will keep an extra receiver or two on the roster this year because of their numbers, but tough decisions will have to be made regardless.
The Jets did add a first-round safety(Pryor) and a third-round cornerback (McDougle), but they still do not have a surefire, shutdown cornerback opposite Dee Milliner to run the style of defense Rex Ryan prefers.
Veteran Dimitri Patterson is assumed to be the starter, but he is better-suited for the slot position and has had a nasty rash of injuries. McDougle has potential, but his skill set may make him a better fit for the slot as well.
While a trade for a player such as Johnathan Joseph is not entirely out of the question, there is still a lot of uneasiness surrounding this position no matter what the Jets may say publicly.