By Craig Carroll
With a whopping 12 draft picks, including six in the first four rounds, the New York Jets must find talented players to fill a number of key holes on the roster. How good or bad general manager John Idzik and head coach Rex Ryan fair in this draft will most likely be the determining factor between building a playoff team or a team that is left out of the postseason once again. Below we look at what the Jets should and possibly will do in this important NFL draft, which begins May 8.
Round 1, Pick No. 18 Overall
Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Just a few weeks ago, Dennard would have been a shoe-in to fall to the Jets here at 18, but in recent weeks he's been flying up draft boards, and rightfully so. He won the Jim Thorpe award as the nation's top defensive back. He was a lock-down corner on the nation's best defense at Michigan State and would be an instant starter in the league. For the Jets, he would start alongside last year's No. 1 draft pick Dee Milliner. But will the Jets get the opportunity to draft him at 18? In 2007, the Jets traded up 11 spots in the first round of the draft, sending their first, second and fifth round choices to the Carolina Panthers for their first and sixth round picks so they could jump the Pittsburgh Steelers and take a player by the name of Darrelle Revis. This year, I would make the case the Jets should do it again for Dennard. With the Steelers (yes, again) sitting at No. 15, a likely landing spot for Dennard, the Jets could pull off another trade to move up and grab a shutdown corner, this time trading with the Chicago Bears. The Jets could swap first round draft picks with Chicago, along with New York sending one of their fourth-round picks and a sixth round pick to move up four spots to No. 14. Doing so would almost guarantee the Jets would secure themselves the top cornerback in the draft. Idzik needs to make it happen and bring #NOFLYZONE to the Big Apple.
Round 2, Pick No. 49 Overall
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Jenkins is a freak of an athlete and doesn't lack confidence, as he compared himself to both Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski, two of the best tight ends in football right now. Jenkins is a big, physical tight end and at 6-foot-6 and 262 pounds, he would wreak havoc on opposing defenses, especially in the red zone.
Round 3, Pick No. 80 Overall
Demarcus Lawrence, DE/OLB, Boise State
The Jets need more athleticism and need to generate more pressure from the outside. Lawrence can provide just that as he amassed 20 sacks the last two seasons in college. Lawrence is a highly athletic and explosive player who appears to play with a chip on his shoulder. The Jets need to find a successor to Calvin Pace, who is at the tail end of his career even though he produced a career high 10 sacks last season.
Round 4, Pick No. 104 Overall
Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
Richardson would be the vertical threat the Jets are lacking right now. He's very talented, but has to gain weight and get stronger if he wants to really make a big impact in the league.
Round 4, Pick No. 115 Overall
Dri Archer, RB/WR, Kent State
Besides perhaps Johnny Football, Archer is the most dynamic player in this draft. Archer ran a 4.16 40-yard dash, tying Calvin Johnson as the fastest to ever run at the Combine. He could take on a role ala Darren Sproles and provide the Jetswith a home run threat anytime he touches the ball. Archer would instantly contribute as a returner on special teams as well.
Round 4, Pick No. 137 Overall
Andrew Jackson, ILB, Western Kentucky
Jackson is an attacking, stout and strong linebacker who can provide instant depth and should eventually become the replacement for David Harris. Jackson has some character issues, but if he can grow up and mature he could be a great addition to the team.
Round 5, Pick No. 154 Overall
Isaiah Lewis, SS, Michigan State
When drafting in the later rounds, you look for players that are coachable, have a high motor and can play special teams. Lewis has all those traits. He was the leader of the talented Spartans secondary. He'll need to prove himself as a special teamer to make the team, but if the Jets can pair him with Dennard (who is our first round draft pick) then Lewis might just overachieve and play his way into the starting 11 sooner rather than later in his career.
Round 6, Pick No. 195 Overall
Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh
Street has good size, at 6-foot-3, but will need to fill out his frame more if he wants to compete for a spot on the team. He's a good character guy, as shown by being a captain with the Panthers. He's the type of player you root for to make it.
Round 6, Pick No. 209 Overall
Michael Schofield, OT, Michigan
Schofield is a still developing project who has the tools to one day become a starter in this league. He must continue to show improvement or he will be cut loose, however.
Round 6, Pick No. 210 Overall
Anthony Steen, OG, Alabama
Steen is a tough, hard working, scrappy guard who could provide depth.
Round 6, Pick No. 213 Overall
Jimmie Ward, FS, Northern Illinois
In his three years as a starter, Ward totaled 300 tackles and 11 interceptions. He's a high motor player who flies around the field making plays. He also is an excellent special teams player and even set a school record for blocking three punts in one season.
Round 7, Pick No. 233 Overall
David Fales, QB, San Jose State
Fales will compete with Matt Simms for the third-string quarterback job. Fales could win that job simply because Simms just isn't very good.