The late rounds of this weekend's NFL Draft are where the Jets can potentially add some depth to the roster. They own 12 picks this year, nine of which come in the draft's final four rounds.
While expecting a starter to emerge from these nine picks is perhaps too ambitious for even the most optimistic of Jets followers, they can add important pieces to the bottom of their roster. And even the rush for undrafted rookie free agents can be crucial. Look no further than the signing of Damon Harrison three years ago.
Earlier in the draft, Metro New York had the Jets taking cornerback Darqueze Dennard, wide receiver Jordan Matthews and tight end C.J. Fiederowicz.
In the later rounds, Metro projects the Jets taking five defensive players with their final nine picks in the draft (assuming that they hold onto all the picks, which is unlikely).
Round 4 (No. 104): Dri Archer, WR — Watching Archer player, you might as well just label him as an "athlete." He is explosive and while not durable, would add game-changing speed to the wide receiver corps. He'd also be a potential home run hitter as a returner.
Round 4 (No. 115): Vinnie Sunsieri, S – Head coach Rex Ryan loves smart safeties and Sunsieri can be a player in the mold of Jim Leonhard or Eric Smith. He is good against the run and handles his assignments well. He is coming off a serious knee injury but has tremendous value here.
Round 4 (No. 137): Phillip Gaines, CB — With good size (a shade over 6-foot) and long arms, Gaines could be a really solid pick in the middle rounds for a Jets team needing depth at cornerback. While Gaines isn't a very physical cornerback and not solid enough to play in man coverage, his overall speed and athleticism could be a nice add to the team. The Jets visited with him at the Senior Bowl and have interest in the player.
Round 5 (No. 154): Max Bullough, LB — The Michigan State linebacker is thick and strong and could be a really nice addition at inside linebacker. Not a great athlete, he is a smart and savvy football player. He could be a nice player to bring in and develop for a greater role down the road. He won't "wow" with speed but is smart positionally.
Round 6 (No. 195): Zach Fulton, G — A player to develop, Fulton would essentially redshirt at least his rookie year to be developed down the road. He is not a nasty, big ugly type, but more of a big athlete at this point than a football player. The Jets showed a willingness last year to keep and develop offensive lineman on the roster and not play them. The same idea goes into play here.
Round 6 (No. 209): Prince Shembo, LB — Another player the Jets took a look at in the East-West Shrine Bowl, Shembo is a bit of an undersized defensive end and perhaps a bit shorter than ideal to play as that outside rusher in the 3-4. Still, he has a nice pedigree and history of production at Notre Dame.
Round 6 (No. 210): Josh Mauro, DE — He has the requisite size to play in the 3-4 and good solid technique. He's not a great athlete, but can be productive at this level.
Round 6 (No. 213): Kevin Pamphile, T — Like Fulton, Pamphile has room to grow. Playing at Purdue hurt his visibility, but the potential is there especially if he can add onto his frame. He has fluid movement and while technique needs some work for the next level, he can develop into an NFL starter in a couple seasons.
Round 7 (No. 233): Jeff Matthews, QB — The Jets have shown interest in the Cornell quarterback and while he might be a reach here, he might not be available when the Jets call to sign him as an undrafted rookie free agent. He would instantly come in and compete with No. 3 quarterback Matt Simms for a spot on the roster.
Undrafted rookie free agents
»Marist defensive end Terrence Fede is raw but has tremendous hips and good speed coming off the edge. He would need to bulk up but could be a practice squad candidate who could pay dividends down the road.
»With only Jeff Cumberland as a proven tight end on the roster, Boston College's Mike Naples could add good depth and can contribute on special teams as well. He is a proven pass receiving option as well.
»With depth concerns at safety, Eric Pinkins of San Diego State is a special athlete with good size and a good 40-yard dash time as well. He would need to develop and isn't a great football player yet, but his athleticism is hard to ignore.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.