It’s nice to go 8-8 when the world expected you to go 3-13. There is a less desirable effect, though – dropping down in the draft order.
After winning a few December games and losing a few unlucky strength-of-schedule tiebreakers, the New York Jets have the 18th pick in next month’s NFL Draft. While this year’s draft class is talented and the Jets should have no problem finding a great player at no. 18, I think the handful of this year’s best prospects will be gone by then. That group includes Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack and the top three quarterbacks, but more apropos of the Jets needs, Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans and Eric Ebron.
I’ve been endorsing Ebron, the star North Carolina tight end, as the best option for the Jets’ first-rounder, but there’s no guarantee he’ll fall to no. 18. There has been talk that Buffalo, at no. 9, and the Giants, at no. 12, have interest, or should have interest, considering their situations at that position.
How about the wide receivers? Sure, there are potentially nine first-round selections in this year’s class, but it’s even top-heavier than that. Watkins, Evans and Marqise Lee are considered the elite three, and the Jets may not have any of them available at no. 18.
Another idea gaining traction lately is drafting a cornerback in the first round. I type that with a cautious swallow. Though nobody thinks newly-signed Dimitri Patterson is the long-term replacement for Antonio Cromartie, I personally do not want the Jets to draft a corner in the first round for the second year in a row and the third time in five years. But the best two cornerbacks in the class – Darqueze Dennard and Justin Gilbert – will likely be snapped up before the Jets are on the clock. If the front office is in love with one or both of them, they would have to trade up.
Let’s not pretend that the Jets wouldn’t be able to pull it off. There are always teams willing to drop down a few spots in the first round and collect later picks, and the Jets have that trade bait. They are tied with San Francisco for the most picks in this draft with 12, four of which (a fourth-rounder and three six-rounders) are of the untradeable compensation-pick variety. Meanwhile, they have two other fourth-rounders, their own and Tampa Bay’s. New York is well-armed to make some sort of move, should a team call asking to trade down.
And that is the proverbial thing. This is all hypothetical – in reality, I don’t see general manager John Idzik actively looking to trade up in the first round. It’s not his style to be flashy. But helping the team win is his style, and a trade up in the first round could do exactly that.
Next week, we’ll continue to focus on the draft by looking at some ideal selections for the Jets in each round.
News and Notes: The NFL preseason schedule was announced Wednesday. The Jets will host the Colts for their first exhibition game on the weekend of August 7-11, followed by a game against the Bengals in Cincinnati sometime between August 14 and 18. Then, the opponents we already knew would come up: The Jets are this year’s home team in their annual MetLife Bowl tilt with the Giants (August 21-25), and then they take a trip to Philadelphia to play Michael Vick’s old team (and Mark Sanchez’s new team), the Eagles. This is the only game with a date set in stone: Thursday, August 28.
~The Jets also re-signed linebacker Garrett McIntyre Wednesday. In 42 games with the Jets, mostly as a reserve, McIntyre has made 5.5 sacks, 72 tackles and two forced fumbles.