John Idzik has an interesting draft ahead of him. Credit: Getty Images
The Jets don't have many holes to fill in the 2014 draft, despite the popular narrative it is crucial for their immediate success.
Following a solid, if relatively low-key offseason, the Jets do have some needs in the secondary and could add a wide receiver early in the draft. But trading up in the first round to get a big name or make a splash isn’t part of that plan.
The Jets have 12 selections — the most of any team in the draft — so they can certainly add pieces and perhaps take a gamble or two late in the draft. Antonio Allen, a seventh-round pick in 2012, is an example of someone stepped into a starting role this year and performed well. Allen was considered a work in progress by most teams, but former general manager Mike Tannenbaum saw starting potential.
The Jets do have plenty of wiggle room to move up in the draft.
“[We are open to] moving up in the draft, although it won’t be for a premium pick, like a top-5 pick,” a team source said. “But if there is a playmaker available and if we can move up [in] that first round to get someone on our draft board that might not be at No. 18, we will do that. But it won’t be a significant jump.”
“We'll go in open minded. The nice thing about having 12 picks is it does give you flexibility and maneuverability within the draft,” general manager John Idzik said in his pre-draft press conference last week. “So if you have fewer picks, I guess you're less apt to do that. But I think it's all dependent. ... We group our players. In a given round, if you have a group of players that you think are fairly equitable that you like, and you feel like you may be able to trade down and still get somebody within that group, you may do it. On the flip side, if there's only one or two players at that stage in the draft that you really covet, and he may not get to your pick, you may entertain trading up.
Breaking down the draft ...
Round 1 (No. 18)
Outlook: Most fans want a wide receiver here, with LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. or Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks popular picks. But there is great depth at wide receiver in this draft. After Clemson’s Sammy Watkins, likely a top-10 pick, the wideouts are largely interchangeable.
The drop off between Watkins and the rest of the wide receivers is steep, but that doesn't mean there isn't talent here. While a first-round pick for a wide receiver will elevate the offense, they might be able to get better bang for the buck later in this draft. They also can help the defensive side in the first round with a premium player and still get a good addition for the offense in the second and third round.
Going defense with the first-round pick for a fifth straight year isn't exciting but from a team-building perspective it is the right move.
Jeremy Kerley, a fifth-round pick in 2011, led the Jets in receiving last year. First-round receivers aren’t always a lock, and many times it is the quarterback who makes the receiver, not the other way around.
Darqueze Dennard is the top cornerback in the 2014 NFL Draft. Credit: Getty Images
Who the Jets will pick: CB Darqueze Dennard Who the Jets should pick: CB Darqueze Dennard
Dennard was a standout for Michigan State and a consensus All-American who shut down his side of the field with a good break on the ball and even better instincts. He is not the fastest corner in the draft and certainly not the strongest, but he does have great hips and good technique. While a lot of mock drafts have Eric Ebron going here, the North Carolina tight end is a limited blocker with a history of drops.
Round 2 (No. 49)
There is quality here in the draft for the Jets to go wide receiver or tight end. In this case, a young wide receiver to bring alongside Eric Decker and Kerley would be an important building block. They have to go with a proven wide receiver, not a project. While Cody Latimer jumps out physically and has good speed, he may not be the refined product the Jets need or want right now (Stephen Hill, we’re looking at you).
Latimer, though he has a great upside, is a bit of a gamble.
A tight end in the third round could be good value and also fill a need, with Jeff Cumberland the only proven tight end currently on the roster.
Jordan Matthews is a big, physical wide receiver who could be helpful to Geno Smith. Credit: Getty Images
Who the Jets will pick: WR Martavis Bryant Who the Jets should pick: WR Jordan Matthews
While Bryant is someone head coach Rex Ryan knows well (Ryan’s son is a walk-on at Clemson), he isn’t as good as Matthews. Vanderbilt's Matthews possesses good size (6-foot-3), which can be a selling point as Geno Smith showed some lousy accuracy in his rookie season. While he struggles with separation and doesn’t have high-end speed, his size makes him a more solid pick than Bryant. Matthews would be a good, solid addition to the team and could potentially make the aforementioned Hill expandable.
Round 3 (Pick No. 80)
C.J. Fiedorowicz was a monster at Iowa — combining both blocking and pass-catching abilities. Credit: Getty Images
Who the Jets will pick: TE C.J. Fiedorowicz Who the Jets should pick: TE C.J. Fiedorowicz
Fiedorowicz was good at everything at Iowa. He can block, catch and flex out wide. He is not a burner, but he can catch the ball and will be difficult to bring down. While fans will dream of match-up problems Eric Ebron, the draft’s top tight end, could potentially create, Fiederowicz will be solid in the run game and a threat on passing downs. He won’t dazzle, but his height, frame and big hands make him a no-brainer here.