NFL Combine Provides New York Jets New Targets for 2014 NFL Draft
New York Jets: NFL Combine Provides New Targets for 2014 NFL Draft
For a franchise that has been known for repeatedly missing in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets have to turn their fortunes around just to stay in the chase for second place in the AFC East. The Jets, coming off what I think is a miracle 8-8 season with limited offensive production and a quarterback controversy that has yet to be settled, have the No. 18 pick in the first round of this year's draft and have plenty of major needs to address.
From busts like Jonny Lam Jones and Vernon Gholston to misses like Ken O'Brien and Kyle Brady, the Jets have repeatedly failed to capitalize on players who could help turn around the misfortunes of a franchise that has gone almost 50 years without reaching a Super Bowl after their Super Bowl III win.
New York's biggest concern is, without a shadow of a doubt, their offensive weapons. Rookie QB Geno Smith had no chance to succeed last year as his group of receivers was the worst in football. Another area of concern for the Jets is replenishing their secondary.
Offensively, the Jets have plenty of questions surrounding their entire offense. With only Santonio Holmes as a viable option at receiver (and even he isn't good at this stage in his career) and draft bust Stephen Hill on the outside, the Jets won't be making any postseason runs anytime soon with this corps. Finally, the secondary, while stacked with big-name players, didn't play well last year. Rookie Dee Milliner struggled all season, Antonio Cromartie wasn't his true self without Darrelle Revis and Ed Reed's signing at the mid-season point last year did nothing to help the Jets.
The rest of the defense was great last year as the Jets' front-seven was one of the best in football. With players like Sheldon Richardson, Quentin Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson, this unit, while young, is extremely talented and will be crucial pieces for the Jets in the coming years. In free agency, the Jets will have to decide on whether to keep players like Willie Colon, Jeff Cumberland and Calvin Pace to name a few.
The Jets have plenty of work to do this offseason, including addressing who their franchise QB will be. In order to get any closer to the New England Patriots in the AFC East, here are five players who performed well at the recent NFL Scouting Combine and should be on New York's radar.
5. Crockett Gilmore, Colorado State
The Jeff Cumberland-Kellen Winslow pairing did not work last year as Cumberland was a non-factor and Winslow was suspended for violating the drug policy. The Jets need a jolt at this position, and the player who can do it is Colorado State's Crockett Gilmore. Gilmore had a great Senior Bowl performance and an even better Combine showing. He had a decent 4.89 40-yard dash with great vertical and broad jumps with 33 and a half and 120-inches, respectively. This tight end can not only catch the ball effectively, but he's also a nasty blocker who gets at it in the running game.
4. Brock Vereen, Minnesota
Both secondary positions need upgrades, but the safety position is the most crucial. The safety calls out the defensive coverages and makes sure everyone lines up correctly, and a perfect candidate to step in with the Jets is Minnesota's Brock Vereen. Vereen had an excellent Combine, starting with a 4.47 in the 40. Vereen also had an impressive 25 reps on the bench press and a good vertical jump at 34 inches. With Reed likely gone and their only proven safety on the roster being Antonio Allen, the Jets should definitely consider this former Golden Gopher.
3. Pierre Desir, Lindenwood
The back four really hurt the Jets last year. Not only did the safeties have pedestrian years, but the corners did not play as well this year without Revis on board. In order to remedy this position, the Jets should target Lindenwood's Pierre Desir. Desir flashed at the Senior Bowl and has only gotten better since. Desir had a great Combine with a 4.59 time in the 40, but since he's a big-press corner, this does not hurt him too much. In the vertical Desir jumped 35 inches, and in the broad jump the corner had a 133-inch showing. With the league going towards taller corners, the Jets need to keep Desir on their radars.
2. Brandon Coleman, Rutgers
As mentioned earlier, the receiving corps of the Jets is one of the worst I've seen in quite some time. With zero impact playmakers, it is no wonder that Smith had no success last year. Now is the time for the Jets to address their poor receiving group with Rutgers' Brandon Coleman. Coleman dropped off the radar last year due to poor quarterback play around him, but he is an explosive player who can make big catches in big moments. Coleman's Combine included a 4.56 time in the 40, an impressive 21 reps on the bench and a 32.5-inch vertical, making the Jets take notice of this intriguing prospect.
1. Tyler Gaffney, Stanford
If the Jets want to keep to their ground-and-pound strategy that they have been known for under coach Rex Ryan, the team can always look for more running backs as the position takes its toll on players. With a prospect like Stanford's Tyler Gaffney, the former Cardinal has experience handling the rock in a power-running game. Gaffney had a good Combine starting with a 4.49 time in the 40. Gaffney also had great times in the 3-cone drill and the 60-yard shuttle. Gaffney won't have the breakaway speed to go 80 on every play, but his previous experience in a similar offense with the Cardinal would be perfect for the Jets.