Rounding Up Jets First Round Draft Predictions

With the 2015 NFL Draft now just days away, the season of mock drafts and predictions will soon be over. It’s a bittersweet feeling, as reading a new mock draft always incites some excitement in NFL fans. Still, we’ve known the draft order for non-playoff teams since early January, and it may be time for the draft talk season to come to an end. In the final days leading up to the draft, what are experts and sites saying the Jets should do with the sixth overall pick?

Mel Kiper/Todd McShay Combined Mock Draft

ESPN’s brightest draft gurus recently put their heads together for a combined mock draft experience. Alternating selections, Kiper was tasked with making the Jets first-round selection, going with Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff. Kiper justifies the selection by saying:

Arguably the best player available,. He can help my running game immediately, which makes my offense (and the passing game) more efficient. I looked at wide receiver here, but Scherff makes us better right now, and this roster is closer to really good than many realize.

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

While the fan base may be clamoring for a sexier pick like Marcus Mariota or Amari Cooper, Scherff may be a solid pick at number six. Bolstering the offensive line could mask some problems the Jets have a running back and quarterback. Whether it’s Geno Smith or Ryan Fitzpatrick, what quarterback wouldn’t want more protection in the pocket? And the trio of Chris Ivory, Stevan Ridley and Bilal Powell would definitely appreciate the extra size and talent on the offensive line.

Most mock drafts have Scherff projected as a top-ten pick, and he should definitely be available for the Jets with the sixth pick. It may even be possible for the Jets to move back a few picks and still grab Scherff to improve their offensive efficiency.

Brad Baldinger of NFL.com

Published on April 24, Baldinger’s mock draft is particularly interesting as it has the Jets passing on Mariota and Cooper, who both fall out of the top ten in this mock. With a potentially franchise-changing signal-caller on the board, Baldinger instead has the Jets opting for another game-changer, Georgia running back Todd Gurley. Baldinger notes:

Gurley is the most talented player in the draft and has been medically cleared. That makes it easier for them to pass on Marcus Mariota. He’s a great fit and fills a need.

Getty Images
Getty Images

If 100% healthy, Gurley could be a complete game-changer for the Jets. As solid as Ivory is as an overall player, he’s not going to turn heads as an every-down running back. Gurley has the physical and mental ability to transform the Jets running game, and in turn, offense as a whole.

Gurley has been medically cleared, this has been proven. He will be ready to go in training camp and for the regular season-opener. The question that remains is what impact, if any, his ACL surgery will have on his production as a player. Even with injuries healing, some players never return to their pre-surgery form.

But Gurley has been taking steps to show he can contribute in the NFL, and initially projected as a mid-first round pick, Gurley’s stock has risen tremendously in the weeks leading up to the draft.

Charles Davis and Bucky Brooks of NFL.com

Ideally, the Jets need an offensive producer to improve on their 4-12 record and compete for a playoff spot in the AFC next year. But in reality, the top of the draft is loaded with defensive prospects, leading many to mock defensive studs to the Jets with the sixth overall pick. Among the most talked about prospects is Missouri defensive end/outside linebacker (a hybrid often referred to as an “edge” player) Shane Ray.

Wade Payne/AP Photo
Wade Payne/AP Photo

One of the most common Jets draft predictions, Ray would present himself as a defensive weapon for the Jets. His ability to get to the quarterback from the defensive line or linebacker position is valuable, and he would be yet another toy for defensive-minded coach Todd Bowles to employ.

Davis says:

Measurables put him behind other top-rated OLBs, but his knack for getting to the QB and being disruptive has the Jets turning his name in on draft night.

and Brooks adds:

Todd Bowles’ defensive background could prompt the Jets to fall in love with one of the top pass rushers in the draft.

Adding Ray to an already scary defense could be an interesting proposition for the Jets. Among these expert picks, selecting Ray may add the least wins next year, but could be one of the best long-term selections for New York moving forward. Ray has the tools and talent to evolve into a premier defensive player in the NFL, and also offers less risk than some other potential picks.

Walterfootball.com

One of the most detailed, updated draft websites out there, walterfootball.com offers great predictions and often delivers, connecting on four of the first six draft picks last year. In the latest updated mock draft, the site mocks a pick that’s sure to be popular with Jets fans everywhere: Alabama wideout Amari Cooper.

This pick may surprise some, as the Jets brought in Brandon Marshall this offseason to go along with Eric Decker in the receiving corps. However, there are two things to consider: First, Amari Cooper is arguably the best player available, so New York will at least consider him. Second, Brandon Marshall will be owed more than $16 million over the final two years of his contract after the 2015 campaign. He’ll be 32 next offseason, and he showed signs of slowing down this past year. Meanwhile, Decker is not a No. 1 target. Amari Cooper certainly projects to be one.

Again, the Jets would be making a wise pick here not to dethrone the New England Patriots next year, but to build a better team moving forward.

 Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press
Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

This season, the trio of Cooper, Brandon Marshall, and Eric Decker will certainly be exciting and may yield some big results some games. But with Smith and/or Fitzpatrick at the helm, the receiving corps may have a ceiling preventing the trio from realizing their full potential.

But fast forward a few years, and Cooper could be one of the league’s top receivers, alongside the likes of the recently drafted Sammy Watkins and fellow New York star Odell Beckham Jr. Cooper could be a part of the next generation of great receivers.

And although Cooper would exponentially improve the Jets future, he would immediately make the team better too, providing a solid offensive option and spreading out defensive attention between him, Marshall, and Decker. Having offensive options will make it much easier for whoever is throwing the ball in New York.

Daniel Jeremiah and Lance Zierlein of NFL.com

Again, two NFL.com writers come to a consensus on the Jets drafting a defensive talent in the first round, as Jeremiah and Zierlein agree the Jets should spend the sixth overall pick on Kentucky outside linebacker Bud Dupree. While Dupree’s name may have not come up much as a top ten draft pick, he’s still an option. Jeremiah states:

Way too high for my tastes, but Dupree has the athletic traits that make sense in Todd Bowles’ defense, and he has better size than Vic Beasley.

And Zierlein chimes in:

Dupree is very raw, but he has double-digit sack potential.

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Dupree would be a risky pick at number six, with a high ceiling but certainly some question marks. If Jeremiah even says the selection is “way too high” for his tastes, why wouldn’t the Jets pick a better prospect, such as Vic Beasley, Shane Ray, or Brandon Scherff, all available at the time in his mock draft,

And if Dupree is “very raw” as Zierlein adds, Cooper, Scherff and Ray are all picked almost immediately after the Jets selection in his mock draft, and all are much more polished players.

Dupree wouldn’t be a bad selection, but there are bigger needs and more talent to be found in an early first-round projection.

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