The New York Jets Draft class this year is the biggest group they’ve brought in since they signed ten picks in 2006. A few of the eight selections this year will be expected to contribute right away, while others will be sitting on the sidelines and used only in certain situations. Whatever their roles this year, these players are expected to be the future of a Jets team that is still looking for its first Super Bowl win since 1969. Here is a rundown of the players they’ve chosen, their expectations, and how they fit in with the team.
Round 1, Pick 16: Quinton Coples. Coples, is a defensive end out of North Carolina and was regarded as one of the top defensive line prospects in the nation coming into his senior season. Coples is the second consecutive defensive lineman drafted by the Jets in the first round, after Muhammad Wilkerson was chosen in 2011. While Coples was highly regarded coming into his senior season, his draft stock took a hit following what many saw as a lackluster senior year. Coples is still considered one of the most physically gifted defensive linemen to come out of this draft, but his motivation was questioned in some circles, drawing comparisons to the Jets top pick in 2008, Vernon Gholston, who was unproductive in three seasons with the team. With the signing of Coples the Jets are expected to play more sets with four down linemen, a bit of a break from the 3-4 sets they had been known for. Coples is expected to at least compete for a starting spot on the line and be an important contributor for the team. If all works o
ut well, he and Wilkerson are expected to be the anchors of the Jets’ defensive line for several years to come.
Round 2, Pick 43: Stephen Hill. Hill is a wide receiver out of Georgia Tech, and while his numbers in college may not have blown away scouts, an impressive showing at the NFL combine drove him up many teams’ draft boards. Hill is a big receiver at 6’4 and his combination of speed and size enticed the Jets to trade up in the second round to choose him. Hill will compete for the number two WR position with a number of other young wide receivers that the Jets have picked up this season. After the Jets decided not to bring back Plaxico Burress, another tall wide receiver who was a starter last season, the team probably sees Hill as having a skill-set that will replicate the red-zone production that Burress had last season. The questions around Hill concern the offense he played in at Georgia Tech, where he was not asked to run sophisticated passing routes. However, with the signing of the quarterback Tim Tebow, Hill could be seen as a player who could work with the option packages they may use with Tebow. Both players have experience in option offenses and Hill was seen as one of the better blocking wide receivers coming out of this draft. While it may take him time to adjust to a standard NFL offense, the Jets see Hill as a potentially explosive wide receiver in the near future.
Round 3, Pick 77: DeMario Davis. This linebacker out of Arkansas State will inject youth into a unit where the Jets sorely needed it. With aging veterans like Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, and Bart Scott, it was thought that the team would choose a linebacker at some point before the third round. However, the team sees Davis as having a skill-set where he could contribute fairly soon. Davis has the speed where he could drop into coverage and guard a tight end as well as coming in to provide a pass rush. If he could do just one of those things, it would be a great help to the Jets. Their division rivals, the New England Patriots, have a pair of tight ends (Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski) who have been known to beat out even the most carefully constructed schemes to guard them. The Jets also have needed help with their pass rush for some time, as linebacker Aaron Maybin led the team with 6 sacks last season despite only playing 220 snaps. The team needed more consistent play from their linebacking corps, and hope to have gotten it in DeMario Davis.
Round 6, Pick 187: Josh Bush. This safety out of Wake Forest was seen as a bit of a surprise choice by the Jets in the sixth round. While it is much tougher to predict picks this close to the end of the draft, many draft pundits saw a few other defensive backs out there at the time as better options than Bush. However, the Jets saw differently and made the 23 year old safety their fourth selection in the draft. Safety was certainly a position of need for the Jets last season as they were hamstrung after Jim Leonhard had his second consecutive season ending injury towards the middle of the season, and Bush will be expected to provide better depth in case the team has more injuries there this season. Bush was not invited to the combine, but did impress by running a 4.4 in the 40 at his pro day, and could be seen as a solid player in coverage. With time, Bush could carve out a place for himself in the Jets’ backfield rotation, making the safety spot a position of strength such as the Jets haven’t had for some time.
Round 6, Pick 202: Terrence Ganaway. Ganaway became the fifth running back the Jets have taken in their past four drafts when he was chosen by the team in the sixth round. The Baylor product played for an impressive offense that featured Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III. 2009 draftee Shonn Greene has been the only player to really establish himself as a consistent contributor at the position, and the depth at the position is seen as an important part of Rex Ryan’s Ground n’ Pound offense. Last year’s running back draftee, Bilal Powell, was particularly disappointing in limited playing time and his spot on the team may be shaky. Ganaway may have been a low pick, but considering the emphasis on run-heavy offense with the hiring of Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano, he may get the chance to have an immediate impact with the team this season. When also taking into account the loss of running back LaDainian Tomlinson, the running back spot for the Jets will be wide open this year.
Round 6, Pick 203: Robert Griffin. With back-to-back picks in the sixth round of the draft, the Jets chose to pick two consecutive Baylor players with the choice of Robert Griffin. The offensive lineman may have been overshadowed by a certain player on the offense with the same name, but he was seen by the Jets as a player who could give some much needed depth for their offensive line. After two years as a starter on the Baylor line and a strong showing during his pro day, Griffin was able to raise his stock and became a third-day draft choice. While it may be difficult for Griffin to get playing time considering the team has entrenched starters at guard, there is always need for depth on the offensive line. Griffin could just look to offensive guard Matt Slauson, a sixth round pick by the Jets in 2009 who worked his way into a starting role with the team as an inspiration for the path his career could take.
Round 7, Pick 242: Antonio Allen. Allen was one of those safeties who many draft pundits would have had the Jets pick over Bush in the sixth round. The strong safety out of South Carolina was considered a steal in the seventh round, as most followers had him coming off the board in the fourth or fifth round. As the second safety chosen by the Jets, he has many of the same expectations as Bush, though he does project a bit differently. Allen played some linebacker at South Carolina and he may be a bit more versatile than Bush. While Bush may be relegated to more of a coverage role, the Jets may hope that Allen could develop into a run-stuffing safety who could be a two-way player. Allen and Bush probably will be judged against each other, but both will have their chances considering their youth compared to other safeties the Jets will have next season.
Round 7, Pick 244: Jordan White. The Jets final selection in the 2012 draft was a wide receiver out of Western Michigan. While White had some eye-popping numbers as a starter in college, knee injuries and playing in the weak Mid-American Conference hurt his draft positioning. White is the fourth receiver the Jets have drafted in the past two years, so he will be facing some competition for a spot on the roster. Another injury he recently suffered in OTA’s will probably not help his chances, but after coming back from two knee injuries in college to put up some huge years, White shouldn’t be counted out. Like the other Jets’ draftees the team saw something in White that they liked better than the other players out there, and the hope is there that he can be a contributor for the Jets someday.
By Eric Gustafsson