By Harrison Peltz
These past two weeks have signified the most exciting, progressive offseason in New York Jet history. Within just a few weeks of appointment, Mike McCagnan has managed to transform the New York Jets from a 4-12 laughing stock to a legitimate playoff contender. He performed a potential coup in bringing in Brandon Marshall — one of the most explosive wideouts in the game — for virtually nothing. He’s orchestrated a legitimate competition at quarterback by trading for Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has the game managing tools to be a solid signal-caller for Gang Green, and at the least put Geno Smith out of his misery. McCagnan added depth on both sides of the ball, bolstering both the offensive and defensive lines with the additions of young fatties like James Carpenter. And lastly, but certainly not leastly, he brought back the best home-grown defender the Jets organization has had the pleasure of nurturing, a guy who deserves every last penny of that sexy seventy-million-dollar contract. That’s right, folks. Revis is home.
Let’s not forget that McCagnan also signed Revis’ ballhawking partner-in-crime Antonio Cromartie, along with Buster Skrine — a young slot corner whose arrival is refreshing for two reasons: firstly, the Jets have a nice slot corner, and secondly we’ll never have to see Kyle Wilson try to play football ever again. Thank god.
The same secondary that consisted of Marcus Williams, Kyle Wilson, Darrin Walls, Dawan Landry, and Jaiquawn Jarrett (arguably the worst secondary in the league) is now stacked with young and experienced talent. Moral of the offseason: McCagnan is lethal.
And, dare I jinx it, this remarkable offseason could get even better. Jets fans have seemingly forgotten that the Jets still have a full draft awaiting them. This draft is no slouch either: the talent pool is thick, and the Jets have the sixth overall pick. Speculation has been distributed and every syllable of McCagnan’s recent press conferences have been picked apart and analyzed, but the fact of the matter is there’s no way of telling what and where and how the Jets will handle their sixth overall pick. This just may shake up the entire first round like no other pick. The amount of options at this spot, at thin positions in this class, will stir the pot. If the Jets go Mariota, QB hungry teams now either have to wait till rounds 2 or 3 or next year. This makes the pick very trade-able, but no one knows how the Jets feel about that. No one knows how the Jets will spend this pick. But hey, it’s a nice March day and I’m feelin’ frisky. Let’s take a stab at it.
Current Ballers: Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine, Dee Milliner, Dexter McDougle, Marcus Gilchrist, Calvin Pryor, and Jaiquawn Jarrett.
Had this article been written two weeks ago, this portion of the piece would be a helluva lot longer. While there is a bevy of talent in the secondary department of this year’s draft class, and I mean sixth pick overall talent, there is no good reason to take a corner or safety given the current talent on the Jets roster in that area. Revis, Cromartie, Skrine, Gilchrist, and Pryor (I still believe) will likely sport the Green and White for at least the next half decade, and first round picks should not be spent to add depth at back-up positions. Names like Collins (S-Alabama), Waynes (CB-Michigan St.), and Peters (CB-Washington), are intriguing, but I think Revis and Cro pretty much have the whole coverage thing they do down pat.
Current Mobsters: Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, Daryl Richardson, John Conner.
Again, the talent is seductive. There are at least half a dozen running-backs in this class I could see go for a thousand this upcoming season. Being a Badgers fan myself, I am sure of the fact that Melvin Gordon (RB-Wisconsin) will be an absolute stud at the next level (1100 yards, 8 TDs if he’s a starter this year, hold me to that). I also think the great first-round-running-back-famine-of-2012-2014 will come to an end. Not by the Jets though. I think the Jets definitely should invest in a speedy, pass-catching back in a later round, but not in the first one.
Current Thieves: Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison, Leger Douzable, Kevin Vickerson.
lol. The Jets must focus on ensuring that the dominance they have up front is maintained. There a few nice space-eaters in the draft, namely Danny Shelton (DT-Washington) and Malcolm Brown (DT-Texas), but Damon, Sheldon, and Mo have a nice thing going.
*”Damon, Sheldon, and Mo have a nice thing going.”- I’ll explain. The editors told me to stop exaggerating so much in my writing. Damon, Sheldon, and Mo are the swaggiest cash-baller-swerve-divas in the game right now.
Current Fatties: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, James Carpenter, Nick Mangold, Willie Colon, Breno Giacomini, Oday Aboushi, Brian Winters, Dalton Freeman, Ben Ijalana, Dakota Dozier.
Don’t sleep on an offensive lineman at number six. The name that attracts the most attention is Brandon Scherff (OT-Iowa), a massive pass-blocker whose production and athletic talent speak for themselves. Out of a solid offensive linemen class, Scherff is obviously the cream of the crop; he’s regarded as the most reliable fatty of them all. The issue with Scherff is his position: the Jets have mediocre tackles, but horrendous guards. Scherff is a tackle. Their poor guard play has brought the play of the entire pass offense down, so if the Jets are looking to draft an offensive linemen, they’d probably look to take a guard that could provide insurance for Willie Colon or Oday Aboushi (assuming James Carpenter starts on the other side). Ideally, the Jets would not like to take Scherff out of his comfort zone. While he can be converted, the growing process may be painful, as Jets fans saw all season with Calvin Pryor. It might be worth it to take a risk, but then again, the Jets have to be sure they don’t whiff on another first round-pick, as the fans seem about one more Vernon Gholston away from straight up quitting. In summary, don’t expect the Jets to take Scherff at six, but don’t count it out either.
Current Snaggers: Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley, Chris Owosu, Jace Amaro, Jeff Cumberland, Zach Sudfeld.
Personally, I don’t think there’s a whole lot of a need. However, the talent is hard to ignore. Amari Cooper (WR-Alabama) and Kevin White (WR-West Virginia), are very easily the draft’s best pass catchers and are already drawing comparisons to T.Y. Hilton and Julio Jones, respectively. Don’t get me wrong, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker make up a fantastic duo. With an NFL quarterback, they could very well combine for two thousand yards and 15 TDs. Nevertheless, the goal of the draft is to take the best available player. Amari Cooper will likely be gone by six as both the Jags and Raiders, who pick before the Jets, have shown immense interest in his talents. Kevin White will almost certainly be available when the Jets are on the clock. Should the Jets take a chance on the physical specimen? I’m not against it.
Current Mavens: David Harris, Demario Davis, Calvin Pace, Quinton Coples, Jason Babin, Antwan Barnes, Trevor Reilly, Nick Bellore.
To me, this is the direction the Jets will take. Out of all the positional groups, this one seems to stand out in terms of both top talent and depth. Vic Beasley (OLB-Clemson), Dante Fowler Jr. (OLB-Florida), and Shane Ray (OLB-Missouri) all exhibited their keen ability to get to the quarterback throughout the duration of the collegiate season and further proved their dominance with impressive combine numbers. Their mixtapes are absolutely vicious. Their swagger is undeniable. The need for the Jets is there; Calvin Pace won’t live forever and Quinton Coples is just not the player we hoped he’d be. The Jets pass rush was solid last year, but that was partially due to Rex’s blitz-happy scheme. It was not the outside linebackers who were creating the pressure, but actually the base linemen along with delay pressure from the safeties. Bowles runs a system that relies on pressure coming from the outside, and guys like Beasley, Fowler Jr., and Ray can deliver it with ease. Any of these guys make perfect sense to me.
Current Chuckas: Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Simms.
I know you want to hear the Jets take Jameis (QB-Florida St.) or Mariota (QB-Oregon). I know you never want to have to scream “Geno, what the heck was that?” ever again. But let’s be real here, Jameis is going first overall (may that be to the Bucs or whoever trades with them), and Mariota is simply unproven. His potential is through the roof. He’s smart and has Russell Wilson-like mobility and arm strength. He stands tall in the pocket and really hasn’t made many mistakes in his collegiate tenure. Yet, the question marks are too alarming. Like the fact that he’s never been asked to drop back and make a read in his life, or the fact that nearly every route he throws is a planned, timing route. If you watch his tape, you’ll notice that almost every receiver he throws to is wide freaking open. I’m not going to call Mariota a mere system-quarterback just yet, but I may very well be saying it a few weeks into the season. Mariota may be the same playmaker he was at Oregon, or he could be a Geno. The chances are unclear and the Jet fanbase cannot tolerate another Geno. I don’t think the Jets will take Mariota, nor do I think they should.
Dante Fowler Jr.
His freakish athleticism is noticeable even on QB kneels. His combine stats are way better than what most NFL teams expected, given his large size and strength. He’s been bringing quarterbacks down at the Gator Dome for years now, and, if drafted to Gang Green, he’ll continue that trend at Metlife for years to come.