The New York Jets drafting ideology has drastically changed since Rex Ryan arrived in 2009. In the beginning, little was thought of the accumulation of picks and instead they focused on adding a few key impact rookies who could make a difference right away.
Only problem was they totally whiffed on the few picks they had. Perfect examples were the ’09 and ’10 classes, which combined for seven total draft picks and only one is still on the team (but arguably shouldn’t be). The results of such short-sighted drafting are a depleted roster with minimal depth and questions still surrounding who the starting QB will be.
Now the strategy has reversed, as evidenced by the recent 12-man class the Jets brought in, and there’s a far greater chance a few of these rookies will make an impact on the field this fall.
Obviously first round safety Calvin Pryor (Louisville) is going to be expected to make his presence felt right out of the gate. Not only is he filling a big need at SS, but he was considered by many (though not myself) as the best safety in the ’14 draft class. I don’t doubt the physical impact Pryor will make on the field this fall, though I think he’ll struggle mightily in coverage. He reminds me of a smaller LaRon Landry: strong against the run and chomping at the bit for the highlight decapitation hit against a receiver going across the middle, but a liability in defending the pass, of which this league is now fueled by. Regardless, he’ll make some headlines this fall, though it could be more for what he said instead of what he did.
Second rounder Jace Amaro (TE, Texas Tech) should make a huge impact this fall. He’s not worth a toot blocking in-line, but he’s an impressive playmaker as a receiver, which is why he should pair so nicely with Jeff Cumberland (strong blocker though limited upside as receiver). He’ll be counted on to provide a safety valve for whomever is starting under center, especially underneath and down the seams.
Dakota Dozier (G, Furman) could be in a tight competition with Brian Winters for one of the starting guard spots. He’s exactly what Ryan wants in his interior linemen: tough, nasty, strong and blessed with a yeoman’s work ethic. Depth inside is scary thin so even if he doesn’t win the job outright I expect him to be a swing guard providing backup to the interior.
I also expect a few of the later round guys to provide depth and numbers for special teams while developing. Jeremiah George (LB, Iowa State), Jalen Saunders (WR, Oklahoma) and Brandon Dixon (CB, NW Missouri State) are all guys who have good upside but need time to adjust, and could be special teams demons in the meantime.
This class was a big step in the right direction for the Jets. No successful team in the NFL relies on just a few draft picks each year to fill holes, it’s just not realistic in the salary capped world of the modern game. This class may not have any future Hall of Famers, but it’ll go a long way in replenishing a lot of solid depth that has escaped this team over the past few years and put them in a much better position to annually compete for the AFC East.