1. Calvin Pryor III, S Louisville
2. Jace Amaro, TE Texas Tech
3. Dexter McDougle, CB Maryland
4. Jalen Saunders, WR Oklahoma
4. Shaq Evans, WR UCLA
4. Dakota Dozier, OL Furman
5. Jeremiah George, ILB Iowa State
6. Brandon Dixon, Northwest Missouri State
6. Quincy Enunwa, WR Nebraska
6. IK Enemkpali, DE Louisiana Tech
6. Tajh Boyd, QB Clemson
7. Trevor Reilly, OLB Utah
The New York Jets came into the 2014 NFL Draft with a clear set of needs to address, largely on offense. They do what they have been doing for the past few years with Rex Ryan as head coach and avoided the main issue with some premium picks. The difference this year is the Jets were loaded with supplemental draft picks and used many of those to attack the offense. The Jets cannot seem to help themselves when it comes to using prime picks on defenders, but in the end, the offensive players they picked look more promising than the defensive ones.
I did not like their first pick when they selected Calvin Pryor. And even if people despise my analysis on him, commentators on ESPN gave fans every reason to be concerned. Across their panel, everyone kept saying things like he is not good in man coverage or he is inconsistent in coverage before throwing in “he will bend your facemask”.
Pryor is incredibly athletic, will attack the line of scrimmage when he reads run and when he has the opportunity, he will lay the wood on opposing ball carriers. The problem is his angles are problematic, he does struggle in coverage and he will go for the big hit even when he should not, whiffing too much and giving up big plays. For the NFL in the late 80’s and early 90’s, that is a great recipe for a strong safety. The problem is it is becoming harder and harder for safeties that are not extremely effective in coverage to make a meaningful impact and Pryor will have to improve a substantial amount in those areas.
So even if the Jets were going to go with defense, they took a safety that plays like linebacker, for both good and bad. And while Rex Ryan has earned some benefit of the doubt, he does have Kyle Wilson that has been a bust and Quinton Coples, which is teetering that way. Even if they were not going to give Geno Smith another weapon with that pick, a lineman would have been smart choice to keep improving the protection and running game. If Pryor struggles, fans are going to second guess choosing Pryor over Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix for years.
As much as I did not like the Pryor pick, I love the Jace Amaro pick just as much. The Jets give Geno a target that can make plays in the middle of the field or on the outside and open up opportunities for receivers on the outside. He has to prove he can block consistently, but he is a good receiving threat in space that can snatch the ball out of the air and get yards after the catch. Amaro has to eliminate the fumbles, but he should be able to contribute immediately and is a good complement across from Jeff Cumberland.
On talent, Dexter McDougle makes sense in round three. He has great physical tools and has shown he can make plays on the football and is not afraid to get involved as a run defender. The issue for McDougle is he missed a large amount of his final season at Maryland with a significant shoulder injury. If he can recover fully and stay healthy, he could be a nice addition as he can help in the slot or on the outside, but the risk may not have been worth the reward quite that high.
The pair of receivers that the Jets took in round 4 should both be able to play right now. Jalen Saunders is tiny and there is a sense of whenever the opponents finally catch him, he is going to get killed, but he does a great job of eluding the opponents’ biggest hits. Saunders’ quickness is also proved be a terror for Alabama and Ha’Sean Clinton-Dixin their bowl game. He is also pound for pound the best blocker in college football as well and should be able to play in the slot immediately.
I like the pick of Shaq Evans from UCLA even better and to me, he is a player that could prove to be a steal. Evans is a terrific route runner with good size and strength and really looked like a professional receiver in Westwood. His statistics look average because he just did not get a ton of balls thrown his way despite being open, but he was a terrific performer at the Reese’s Senior Bowl and could be a receiver that makes one of the quickest transitions to the NFL. There is nothing Evans cannot do. Along with Amaro and Saunders, all three of these guys have the polish and ability to contribute and help the Jets right now. Evans might be the most complete of the group as well to contribute for a long career.
Dakota Dozier could be a good guard pick up and is finally some help for the offensive line. The former Furman Paladin has experience at both guard and tackle, but looks more suited to play inside at the next level. He is not terribly polished at this point, but he can hold up in pass protection and generates a good amount of push in the running game.
Quincy Enunwa is a project, but a logical choice in round 6. He has a long ways to go as a receiver, but he should have the opportunity to develop. And given the direction they are going at the quarterback position, adding Tajh Boyd to Geno Smith and Michael Vick was a great use of a sixth round pick. All three are athletic, mobile passers that can play in the offense without altering the playbook, but win in different ways, giving the offense an altered look when each is in the game.
The other pick from the Jets I really liked was their last one. Trevor Reilly was dinged a little bit because of his age, already 25, but he should be able to help the Jets early. Reilly is not the most physical player in the world, but he is long and athletic. He can rush the passer off the edge, but he is also effective in coverage. Reilly looks like a basketball player, gliding around the field, getting into his drops, sliding and breaking on the football. It would not be a surprise if he ends up finding his way on the field as a rookie and becomes a pain in obvious passing situations for opponents.
Overall, the Jets had a typical Jets draft. A team desperate for offense used early picks on defense again, but because of the large number of compensatory picks they were given, the team was able to make the offensive picks count. The Jets could have done more to help Geno Smith and the offense, but the first three picks could end up being able to help them as rookies despite their draft slots and the fact they are not household names. There are some significant questions with the defensive players they added and I am interested to see how Ryan utilizes Pryor against Tom Brady and Ryan Tannehill twice per year. Overall, I feel much better about the offensive selections than I do the defensive ones and at this point, the Jets look to have taken a risky approach in trying to strengthen that side of the ball.