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New York Jets Mock Draft 2.0: Post Combine Edition

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New York Jets Mock Draft 2.0: Post Combine Edition

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The NFL Scouting Combine is something that draws far more attention than it should, but it is still a useful evaluation tool. The tests at the combine give teams a look at the overall athleticism of prospects, and the interview process (which is actually the most important part of the combine) gives teams a chance to see what these players are made of mentally and in terms of character.

The New York Jets went into the combine with a strong focus on wide receivers and tight ends, while keeping a close eye on the defensive backs as well. The Jets saw a lot of solid performances, and as the draft process continues to advance we are starting to see draft boards take a more defined shape.

Only one player remains from my initial Jets seven round mock a month ago, but the positions that the Jets should target haven’t changed. They must strengthen their receiving corps and their secondary, as those two weak points plagued the Jets all season. Remember, free agency and pro days are still to come, and both will have a big impact on what team needs are and where players are valued.

There is still plenty of debate over prospects’ values, but I tried to ensure every pick is in the general range of where they’re currently being projected. These picks also represent a pecking order of the Jets’ needs, and they are lucky to have needs at receiver and cornerback in two of the deepest drafts for those positions in recent memory. Plenty will change before May, but right now this is a draft scenario I believe the Jets would be very happy with.

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1st Round, No. 18 Overall: WR Marqise Lee, USC

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While the Jets are certain to make some free agent moves at wide receiver, I still expect them to target one in the first round. I had Mike Evans in this spot previously, but I now believe he will be gone by No. 18. That should not worry the Jets at all, as Marqise Lee is an excellent prospect and a very worthwhile first round pick.

Lee’s 40 time was a disappointment, but that could work in the Jets’ favor. The tape on Lee shows an exceptionally polished receiver with elite hands and explosive quickness. He would be an absolutely perfect fit in the Jets’ system, and he is the most pro ready of any receiver in this draft. Lee’s presence would go a long way towards to Geno Smith’s development.

Eric Ebron and Jordan Matthews are the other two names that you should remember for this spot, as the Jets are very high on each. However, I think Lee is the best case scenario. Also, if the Jets make several big moves at receiver and tight end in free agency, they could target a cornerback here.

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2nd Round, No. 50 Overall: TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington

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This is another pick where I chose a different player at the same position. I previously had Jace Amaro, who now looks like a first round pick, but Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a very good consolation prize and an immediate upgrade at tight end. Seferian-Jenkins had solid production in college, with 146 career receptions for 1,840 yards and 21 TDs at Washington.

Seferian-Jenkins wasn’t able to work out at the combine due to a foot injury, but he is very big at 6’6”, 266 lbs, and he appears to have good speed on film. Seferian-Jenkins has excellent hands, and he will immediately be a red zone threat at the next level, something the Jets lacked this season. There are a few questions about his effort, but physically he is the total package and would be a huge upgrade at tight end.

If the Jets take Ebron in the first, expect them to target a receiver here, possibly Davante Adams. Troy Niklas is a tight end alternative, while safety Jimmie Ward makes sense as well. Cornerback remains a possibility, and the Jets could talk themselves into a pass rusher here as well.

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3rd Round, No. 71 Overall (From TB): CB Keith McGill, Utah

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With the need to upgrade the passing game so pressing, I see the Jets waiting until the third round to pick a corner. They have two third rounders, and Utah’s Keith McGill would be a very good fit with the first of them. McGill has great size at 6’3”, 211 lbs, and he posted a solid 4.51 40 at the combine.

McGill spent some time at safety at Utah before converting to corner, and he also dealt with some injury issues, both of which are partially to blame for low interception totals in college. However, McGill has exceptional size and athleticism and natural ball skills, and he is a very good fit for the Jets’ press man scheme. McGill is a bit of a project, but it could pay off in a big way in a year or two.

I also considered the very similar Stanley Jean-Baptiste with this pick, as well as Victor Hampton at corner. If the Jets don’t have a tight end by this point then C.J. Fiedorowicz could be a fit, and this is also where the Jets should start looking closely at pass rushers and safeties.

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3rd Round, No. 82 Overall: FS Terrence Brooks, Florida State

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Terrence Brooks is the lone holdover from my initial mock, though I moved him up to the third round after having him in the fourth the first time around. Brooks helped his stock with a very strong combine, ranking among the safety leaders in nearly every drill, including the fastest 40.

Brooks brings the range to cover centerfield that the Jets’ noticeably lacked last season, though he needs some work on his hands. Brooks is also a willing tackler, but one who needs better technique. That is a fixable problem, and in a thin draft for true free safeties, he would be a very good fit.

If the Jets land, say, Jairus Byrd in free agency, then obviously they won’t be targeting a safety in the draft. Until that happens, however, consider free safety a key need. As far as alternatives go, any of the players mentioned in the previous slide make sense, as this choice is only 10 picks later.

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4th Round, No. 114 Overall: OLB Trent Murphy, Stanford

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Trent Murphy is an interesting prospect. He was extremely productive in college with 32.5 career sacks at Stanford, and he brings the type of size Rex Ryan loves from his outside linebackers at 6’5”, 250 lbs. However, Murphy struggled at the Senior Bowl while playing out of position and was not overly impressive at the combine.

This is where teams can’t ignore four years of tape in favor of postseason workouts. Murphy is not an elite athlete, but he played a huge role for one of the best defensive teams in the country, and the Pac-12 is arguably the second best level of competition in college. Murphy will need a little time to develop, but he could prove to be a steal in the fourth round.

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5th Round, No. 146 Overall: RB De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon

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I had the Jets taking Dri Archer with this pick previously, but his 4.26 40 made sure everyone took notice and could raise his value a little too much. Still the Jets have a need for a third down back and return man, and De’Anthony Thomas fits the bill. Thomas was absurdly productive in college, gaining 1,890 yards and scoring 26 TDs on just 243 carries. It was the same story in the passing game, where he used his 113 receptions to rack up 1,296 yards and 15 touchdowns.

His 4.5 40 was a stunner, as he plays much faster on tape and has a track background. I’ve seen Thomas valued everywhere from the second to the seventh round, but it seems a consensus is settling down around the 4th-6th range. He would be good value in the 5th, and his explosive tape is far more valuable than one slow 40.

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6th Round, No. 178 Overall: WR Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma

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Jalen Saunders is a pure slot receiver, and he could be a very nice fit for the Jets. He had 203 career receptions for 3,085 yard and 26 TDs in a college career that began at Fresno State and ended at Oklahoma. Saunders is a very good route runner with excellent hands and quickness, and he also brings punt returning skills.

Saunders is small, measuring just 5’9” and 165 lbs, but he has the speed and quickness to make up for it, including a 4.44 40. Saunders would give the Jets another weapon out of the slot, where Jeremy Kerley was by far Smith’s favorite target this season. The Jets need to add playmakers, and Saunders could prove to be a nice addition late in the draft.

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7th Round, No. 210 Overall: DT Jay Bromley, Syracuse

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As with my previous mock, I would like to see the Jets add some defensive line depth late. They only carried five linemen this season, and adding Jay Bromley to the mix could be a good move. Bromley recorded 14 sacks at Syracuse, including 10 as a senior.

Bromley checks in at 6’3”, 306 lbs, and he has the ability to provide depth at either defensive line position in the Jets’ 3-4 scheme or play as a pass rush specialist in their nickel package. He was average at the combine, but this is a seventh round pick we’re talking about. The draft is a crapshoot this late, but Bromley has the talent to provide some solid depth.

Greg Sulik is a New York Jets writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GregSulik or add him to your network on Google