Ah, the spring is here, my friends.
The sun is shining! The birds are chirping! The bells of Mr. Softee echo throughout the neighborhood!
In the Bronx and in Flushing, the crack of the bats are heard and the cheers of the fans blare as they carve their sound waves through the stadiums.
But most important of all, the NFL draft is almost upon us.
And even more important, the New York Jets have a pristine pick.
The sixth overall pick.
Ripe for the picking. (GET IT?!)
After a dismal 4-12 season, the Jets have started over. And they’ve started over big. I mean, really big. With an actual talent evaluator at the helm in Mike “The Mad Genius” Maccagnan, a man who is not a numbers cruncher. Not an over-glorified accountant. A true-blue football man. With an enormous amount of cap space (I guess we could really thank John Idzik for that.
But that’s all we’re thanking him for.
Oh, and Sheldon Richardson, but that’s where I draw the line.
Maccagnan turned back the clock with the signing of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, bringing in an extremely talented, head case wide receiver (Sorry, Brandon Marshall, but you crazy), some offensive line help, among a glut of many other low-key signings.
But alas, there are always holes to fill. Luckily for us Jets fans, they won’t be wasted. We actually have someone who knows more than a thing or two about talent. And we have to start somewhere, so why not start with the first round of this month’s NFL Draft?
Here are my top five options for the Jets this coming NFL draft (in the land of fake pizza).
1. Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida
What you have to love most about Fowler is that he isn’t Quinton Coples. While he’s not as big or strong as Coples, he’s faster, more versatile, and probably a much better fit to be a stand-up edge rusher. Coples has mainly been out of position with the Jets when they’ve forced him up, as he’s much better suited to be an interior-ish rusher. Fowler is what Jets fans wanted Coples to be. He’s the speed the Jets need to get to the quarterback. Wilkerson and Richardson certainly have the skills to get there as we’ve seen, but with Fowler’s amazing burst, and hopefully quick development, the Jets pass-rush would be other-worldly.
2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
C’mon, was this a surprise to you? Even though Jameis Winston projects higher on most people’s boards, I question his decision-making both on and off the field. On the field, Mariota played in a safe, quarterback friendly system, and with the benefits of his speed, made a majority of his throws look easy. “He’s just a system QB,” they say. That’s where they’re wrong. If you really look at some of his tape, some of the throws he makes are outstanding. His quick release and mobility gives him so much room, and his decision making is head and shoulders above Winston’s, though of course Mariota still needs to learn. In the end, Mariota is an obvious top option as franchise quarterback for the Jets.
3. Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
Let’s be honest with ourselves, Jets fans. D’Brickashaw Ferguson isn’t what he was. He’s what I would consider a 6’6″ 310 pound human turnstile. He just wasn’t good. He’s expensive, and he’s getting older. Yes, it didn’t help he had 2 of the worst interior linemen in the league with Brian Winters and Oday Aboushi next to him, but he himself just looked bad. Why not freshen up the line with a potential monster of a tackle with Peat? He’s shown that he’s capable to be a blockade in the passing game, and he’s shown flashes of being just as good, if not better, when paving the way for running backs. Even if the Jets want to keep D’brickashaw for the duration of his useful career, Breno Giacomini doesn’t have blackmail on our current general managr, so we could easily slide Peat to the right side. Either way, Peat will make New York better when protecting whoever our quarterback is, and that’s a number one need on any team.
4. Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan St.
I know, I know. “We just signed Revis, Cromartie, and Buster Skrine! And we have Dee Milliner coming back!” Yeah, but even though Revis showed he was still one of the best corners in the league, Cromartie didn’t. Cromartie had an average year. The year before that, he had a terrible year (“He was hurt!” But he still stunk!). Buster Skrine is going to be in the slot, where he as a 5’9″ corner belongs. And who knows if Dee Milliner will get hurt ordering take-out on the phone during this offseason. Even though it’s not really heard of in this day and age, and usually corners are thrown into the fire right off the bat, a year or two behind basically a sure-fire Hall of Famer and an ex-menacing ballhawk would give this kid an amazing chance to succeed once given the opportunity. It’d be using the Giants drafting philosophy of drafting one of the best players available.
5. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida St.
I really wanted to go with either Beasley or Scherff as a guard here, but the truth is Geno Smith isn’t the truth. He’s shown flashes of potential, but it’s seeming more and more likely he just has a good ending to his seasons so the Jets forget the beginnings of them. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a smart man, and sometimes a smart quarterback, but he still makes a lot of mistakes. Jameis Winston makes A LOT of mistakes. A majority of his interceptions this year were completely his fault. He has good size, a good arm, and good experience not only directly under center, but in the shotgun, too. I can’t stress enough how bad his decision making is, though. His character is a huge question, and putting him in New York might either straighten him out (just like JR Smith! Right?!), or make him crumble like a cookie (like Jason Bay). He’s a project, but he could pan out to be the best quarterback the Jets have ever had.
Good luck, Jets.
We Jets fans need it.
And, hey, Mr. Maccagnan, You better not screw this up.