New York Jets Most Under and Overrated Offseason Additions
Now in the eye of the proverbial NFL storm, rosters are all but set to enter the rigors of training camp next month, allowing us to look back and see how the New York Jets fared over the last few months of roster moves.
Every coach and executive loves every trade, draft pick and free-agent signing they made in the middle of the summer, but in reality, many of these moves will come back to haunt their teams. On the other hand, every year there are under-the-radar acquisitions that turn out to be huge difference-makers.
Here are the most under and overrated moves from the Jets' 2014 offseason.
Underrated: Ras-I Dowling
Playing in just nine games since being draft in 2011, most of the NFL seems to have moved on from former second-round pick Ras-I Dowling.
Frustrated with his inability to stay healthy, the New England Patriots moved on from Dowling last year. Since being picked up by the Jets, Dowling has finally found a place of stable health and is showing off the talent that made him such a high draft pick.
Dowling has a long way to go before it can be confirmed that his injury issues are a thing of the past, but so far so good for Dowling's stint with the Jets. The timing of his emergence is particularly convenient for the Jets, who need plenty of help at the cornerback position.
If he can stay healthy, Dowling could essentially give the Jets an extra draft pick as an untapped talent with loads of potential. If not, the Jets can move on from him as easily as they acquired him—making Dowling one of the most underrated acquisitions of the offseason.
Overrated: Calvin Pryor
Most first-round picks enter the NFL being somewhat overrated by default, but the Jets' top pick, safety Calvin Pryor, needs to make vast improvements to his game to live up to some of the lofty comparisons made about him.
Perhaps in part due to his distinctive hairstyle, Pryor is drawing comparisons to the formerly great Bob Sanders, sans the injury history.
Pryor is certainly comparable to Sanders as a hitter, but his coverage skills are not up to par with the caliber of player Sanders would represent. Used almost as much as a linebacker, as he was a safety as Louisville, Pryor struggles with more coverage than most would assume, particularly man-to-man coverage.
Pryor is viewed as a rangy, big hitter who will be the ball hawk the Jets have not had since Kerry Rhodes, but he is more of a young, more physical long-term replacement for veteran safety Dawan Landry.
Pryor will likely spend the bulk of his time playing in the box to support the run, putting a cap on his overall effectiveness in year one.
Underrated: Dexter McDougle
While the Jets may have reached a bit in the first round, they made up for it with their selection of Maryland cornerback Dexter McDougle in the third round.
McDougle had to wait until the third round to come off the board, but he has been the Jets' most impressive rookie by a long shot so far. Injuries kept him sidelined for most of his senior season, but he has found his stride with a fresh slate of health in spring practices with the Jets.
Rex says some guys who have been impressive to him: Dawan Landry, Dexter McDougle, Oday Aboushi. #Jets— Dennis Waszak Jr. (@DWAZ73) June 19, 2014
Like Dowling, McDougle's rapid, unexpected emergence comes at a perfect time for a Jets team in need of as much help as they can get at the cornerback position. Not only are the Jets trying to replace Antonio Cromartie, but second-year pro Dee Milliner is also off to a slow start in his development, nursing a hamstring injury.
It still appears to be a long shot that McDougle finds a way into the starting lineup for opening day, but the Jets can at least take solace in knowing that they do have some young talent waiting in the wings if they need to tap into their depth at any point this season.
Overrated: Dimitri Patterson
The Jets can tout free-agent acquisition Dimitri Patterson as their solution to the No. 2 cornerback spot all they want, but there is a reason why he was so readily available late in the free-agency period for the Jets to sign.
When he has been available, Patterson has shown to be an effective man-to-man cornerback, but there are two red flags that make him an awkward fit with the Jets.
First, he has a nasty injury history that has plagued his career. He has not played a full season since 2010. Since then, he has made 29 appearances in four years, including just eight games in two seasons for the Miami Dolphins.
Secondly, Patterson is a natural fit as a nickel cornerback; with the Jets, Patterson will be forced to play on the opposite side opposite Dee Milliner. Even as a seasoned veteran, there will be a bit of an adjustment for Patterson to adapt to playing with a sideline.
If he can stay healthy, Patterson at least gives the Jets some veteran insurance opposite a very young player in Milliner, who is entering just his second season—but the Jets are kidding themselves if they believe that adding Patterson to their starting lineup gives them a top-quality pair of starting cornerbacks to work with this season.
Underrated: Jacoby Ford
This year's crop of free-agent wide receivers was rather thin, but the Jets may have found a gem in the bargain bin in speedster Jacoby Ford.
The former Oakland Raider has flashed a lot of ability making bit-time explosive plays both in the receiving and the return game—two areas where the Jets have been anything but explosive in recent years.
Ford has struggled to stay healthy in the NFL, having missed 10 games in the past two seasons. However, he is not far removed from his outstanding combine performance in which he clocked in at a blistering 4.28 seconds.
In both the return game and as a receiver, Ford brings a dimension the Jets are lacking more than anything else: speed.
Ford figures to be a much bigger factor as a returner than a receiver, but he can be used in a lot of different ways to help generate big plays. The fact that he was brought in at a bargain rate only makes this an even more underrated signing by general manager John Idzik.
Overrated: Chris Johnson
There is no doubt that Chris Johnson still has some gas in the tank that gives the Jets an upgrade at the running back position. However, the Jets crowded backfield will put a much lower ceiling on Johnson's production in 2014 than most would realize.
The best runner in the league after first contact last year, Chris Ivory is going to pick up right where he left off as the Jets' top back on first and second down. This leaves third-down duties for Johnson, but the Jets will still incorporate the well-rounded Bilal Powell into the mix somehow.
Johnson will get his chances, but there are only so many snaps to go around. Even the Jets themselves have admitted that they plan on using Johnson in specific doses, particularly because of the wear and tear that is already on him.
Jets will be "strategic" in how they use Chris Johnson, because of "miles on him," says RB coach Anthony Lynn: http://t.co/G1JeYX2q1l— Darryl Slater (@DarrylSlater) June 25, 2014
Johnson can still be an effective player if used correctly, but those with expectations of him returning to anything close to his 2009 form need to come back to earth.
Underrated: Breno Giacomini
Poor offensive tackle play is one of the quickest ways to send an offense back into the dark ages—just ask Rex Ryan about his experience with Wayne Hunter back in 2011.
After allowing up-and-coming right tackle Austin Howard to hit the open market this offseason, the Jets were dangerously close to having a huge question mark at right tackle. For a brief moment, the only "answer" the Jets had at the position was second-round player Oday Aboushi, who recently made a telling position change to guard (h/t Darryl Slater of The Star Ledger).
With Willie Colon recovering from knee surgery, Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson now in their 30s and Brian Winters coming off a shaky rookie season at guard, the Jets had enough question marks along their offensive line before Howard even left.
While he was not able to lock up Howard with a long-term deal, Idzik rectified the situation by moving swiftly to acquire former Seattle Seahawk Breno Giacomini.
Giacomini may be a year older (28) than Howard, but he is at least Howard's equal in terms of production. In fact, he was ranked six spots higher than Howard in Pro Football Focus' 2013 ratings (subscription required), 41 to Howard's 47.
The addition of Giacomini won't show up on the stat sheet this year, but bringing him in may have saved the Jets' offensive line from being a huge liability next season.