2014 Draft Depth: Where could the Jets draft a edge rusher?


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Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

A few weeks ago we were asked where the depth of the 2014 NFL Draft class aligns with the Jets needs.  Our intent was to write a two-part article.  The first would address the generalizations learned from a survey of the depth of the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft class, while the second took a more practical player-level approach.  The more we wrote, the more we realized this was going to turn into a series.

Since we’ve already surveyed the depth of this draft,  it’s time to talk about the talent that’s contained in this class.  Read yesterday’s article on cornerbacks here.  Next up? Edge setters and edge rushers.

DEFENSIVE END / OUTSIDE LINEBACKER

Bassett’s Baseless Projection: One pick used before the end of the sixth round.  Expected special teams and backup work in 2014.

Three Names of Note: Jeremiah Attaochu (6’3″ 253 lbs, Georgia Tech), Adrian Hubbard (6’6″ 257 lbs, Alabama), Michael Sam (6’2″ 261 lbs Missouri)

Analysis:  In the last five years, during the lead up to the NFL Draft, experts love linking Rex Ryan to some of the top pass-rushing linebackers.  Having coached in Baltimore in the halcyon days of Terrell Suggs and Adalius Thomas it is understandable.  But year after year, Rex has never required the team to draft a pure outside linebacker – in any round since Vernon Gholston was taken before Rex Ryan even arrived back in 2008.   An argument can be made that Quinton Coples can fill the role, but so far he’s best served with his hand in the dirt.  Calvin Pace’s continued presence this year only underscores the point.  Ryan and his GMs have been happy to bring Calvin Pace back year after year to set the edge and stuff the run and provide upside to the pass rush when the play allows.  If you don’t understand the unheralded importance of Calvin Pace, read this.

With Wilkerson, Coples, Richardson and Harrison in place up front, the Jets don’t need a top talent on the outside to make this defense work.  They don’t need a linebacker who can drop in coverage, sack the passer set the edge and stuff the run.  The need someone who can maybe do two and half of those things.  Last year Calvin Pace racked up 10 sacks for the first time in his career, largely because of him getting more opportunity to rush the quarterback due to the injury to Antwan Barnes and thanks to the double teams his defensive linemen faced.  With 12 draft picks, there’s no better year to use a middle to late round pick on a player whom the Jets might be able to groom for a season or two to eventually take over Calvin Pace’s important role as the strong side (SAM) linebacker.  The player need be willing to get dirty, not always seek out the glory stats of sacks, tackles for loss or even tackles.  But what the edge-setter does is crucial to allowing a player like David Harris a clean (and likely almost certain) shot at the ballcarrier.  It is Pace’s job to set the edge by overpowering a blocking tight ends or linemen to effectively wall off the running back from bouncing the play outside, and redirecting the play back inside to the reading linebacker for a clean tackle.

Name Dropping: While names like Anthony Barr, Khalil Mack and Jadaveon Clowney dominate the headlines, it is the players later on that might provide the perfect complement for what the Jets need on defense.  While we’re sure the Jets would be happy to find a ready-made starter for the 2014 season to take over Calvin Pace’s role without skipping a beat, the likelihood of that is very low.  So considering that, look for the Jets to get serious about players between the fourth and sixth rounds where the Jets could find a diamond in the rough that will pair with their existing front seven.  Should the Jets go after a Day Two prospect, it might mean that Calvin Pace’s future is more clouded than we originally thought.

On the earlier side, Jeremiah Attaochu (projected 2nd or third round) has the long arms and range to make plays all over the field.  He’s quick off the snap and has showed improvement in the last few years at holding his assignments against the run.  While Attaochu might yet be a little impatient, he’s getting better as a edge-setter and run stopper.  Will Clarke (3rd round) has shown some promise as both a pass rusher and run-stuffer during his time at West Virginia.  While he might never be a top pass rusher, he’s demonstrated strong anchoring skills to lock out blockers.

Adrian Hubbard (4th round) played at Alabama and is a jack of all trades.  He has demonstrated good ability in tackling the ball carrier, dropping into coverage and in getting around the edge in pass situations.  That said, he might be untested in doing the dirty work that a player like Pace does.  Stanford’s Josh Mauro (4th round) might be limited athletically but will hustle and has the grit along with quickness to to set the edge with long arms.

Michael Sam (5th – 6th round) has been a big storyline this offseason, but regardless could be a good fit for the Jets.  Jets DL Sheldon Richardson has voiced his support of Sam and having played together at Mizzou knows how fierce a competitor Sam is.  Sam has been knocked for his speed and his lack of ability to drop into coverage, but coverage is an overrated trait from outside linebackers in the Rex Ryan scheme.  Sam might not be an edge setter for the Jets but his speed could allow him to be a perfect situational rusher.  Sam could be a nice value pick late in the draft where the Jets have a handful of fifth and sixth rounders.

Later down, look for the Jets to take a flier on a player like Devon Kennard or Tyler Starr (both 5th – 6th rounders)

Be sure to add your thoughts about the depth of the edge rusher position in the comments!




83 comments
blackwood1
blackwood1

Do blogs make extra money by pretending that Sam is an NFL caliber player? Anyway I would like to see the magic Rex could work with a hybrid talent like Telvin Smith. Should be around late 3rd or 4th round.

dobermite
dobermite

I like DeMarcus Lawrence in the second, Jackson Jeffcoat or Kareem Martin in the third. 

Joseph Mogilner
Joseph Mogilner

The 3rd or 4th rounder can develop under Pace' tutelage

buckets
buckets

Nowhere.  It's not a need at all.

lagoo
lagoo

1st bradley roby

2nd jace amaro

3rd donte moncrief

4th Jackson jeffcoat

4th kenny ladler

4th billy turner ot

5th andre Williams

rrjm
rrjm

Jets "very intrigued" by Kelvin Benjamin. I personally think he could be a beast for the Jets. Similar build to Alshon Jeffrey. I'd be interested in trading back a bit in the first round and grabbing Benjamin. I also wouldn't mind trading up a bit to get Mike Evans. 

Vinny Cammarato
Vinny Cammarato

Bottom line, I know the NFL today loves rotation, but you want your best players on the field at crucial times. For the Jets thats WIlk, Harrison, Richardson and Coples. Unless your sending 5 ( with our secondary?) there really is no room at the in. Plus we get Barnes back. Paces job is set the edge first, defend the run  an dmaybe rush once in while. With needs at WR, TE, CB , S G and maybe even MLB forget it

a57se
a57se

You fail to mention so many quality guys who could set the edge and provide something in the pass rush.......Marcus Smith, Demarcus Lawrence, Jackson Jeffcoat, Morgan Breslin, Trevor Reilly, Trent Murphy, Larry webster, Jordan Tripp and Ronald Powell just to name a few.


bob
bob

Pittsburgh Steelers have there eye on Telvin Smith thinking he'll be there in the 3rd round Fl. State  Small but Quick. A throw back type of line backer. This I do know Pittsburgh very good at drafting linebackers. Just saying.

jdb4
jdb4

I think Tyler Starr would be the wisest move.  Lot's of potential, an amazing 3 cone drill, shows good speed-to-power, ability to drop in space but needs good coaching and an NFL weight room.


Definitely an heir to Calvin Pace

juunit
juunit

Granderson throws like a girl.

ukjetsfan
ukjetsfan

Derrell Johnson could be a name to look for late on too. I quite like Trent Murphy, the DE from Stanford, if he's there in the 3rd as a tweener that could potentially play the mixed role that Pace plays

Marvel
Marvel

kid from Texas or kid from Louisville in the 3rd...

Pat d
Pat d

buckets

You are kidding right. The Jets have needed a pass rushing OLB forever. Why continue just making due.

juunit
juunit

@rrjm  

IMO, people overstate his "bad" hands. He's often just thrown jump balls, so the level of difficulty is a lot higher than guys with "good" hands have to make. I mean, TO and Randy Moss dropped a few too many every year. They were still pretty good. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@Vinny Cammarato  It'll be the same as last year.  The top pass rush unit was Barnes-Richardon-Wilkerson-Coples.


Maybe Barnes needs a backup who is a more dynamic rusher than Pace.

a57se
a57se

@Vinny Cammarato  

the Jets routinely pull Harrison on passing downs as that is not his forte.

Hazard2012
Hazard2012

@bob  


I've also seen where some thin Telvin Smith might be better suited to SS in the NFL.  6'3", 218, fast, solid hitter, good in coverage, very fluid and a team leader.   

Hazard2012
Hazard2012

@jdb4  


Don't think Starr's in same category as Van Noy, Bradford, or Attaochu, let alone Barr, etc. IMO.  Later round option if these guys are gone, but with a much more limited ceiling.      

twin
twin

What's his measurements?

a57se
a57se

@juunit  

Strikes out like a blind Buddha......

Brendan
Brendan

@juunit  Last night he threw a ball like he was spiking a football. Right into the ground and then it rolled for like 150 feet. Yayyyyy. 

twin
twin

Saw that... Same ol' mets

a57se
a57se

@Marvel  

Jeffcoat and Marcus Smith.

I like both.

Don't leave out Lawrence....

Brendan
Brendan

@Pat d  To be fair, that's probably Coples now. 


I wouldn't be against taking Pace's eventual replacement, though. 

buckets
buckets

@Pat d  Are you serious?  Ryan's defense doesn't rely on one at all.

Pat d
Pat d

My thought exactly. How about

1-Lee

2-Roby

Hazard2012
Hazard2012

@Brendan @lagoo  


Dennard & Gilbert, I can understand.  Maybe even Fuller...though I'm not as sold on him as some...but those are the only CB's worth a first rounder.   

Pat d
Pat d

Benjamin may be good WR but he is not NFL ready. At 18 they Jets need to get an impact now player. There will be plenty there.

If it is WR, hopefully the Jets can get one of the top 3 WRs.

Watkins, Evans, Lee

Hazard2012
Hazard2012

@Bent @Vinny Cammarato  


Do we really know Barnes is 100% coming off the injury?  Is Pace likely to get 10 sacks again this year?     Now seems the ideal time to go get their eventual replacement...I think Attaochu fits best, but several other options also work.   Limited action this year while he learns, slowly work him into the mix as season unfolds, then look for them back him up in the final years of their deals. 


I'd like like to see this front line unleashing absolute havoc with a pair of stud edge rushers sandwiching the Sons in the middle!      

juunit
juunit

@Brendan @juunit 

I'm just thrilled he's the guy Alderson decided to give a big contract to. Strikeouts and lollipops. The Grandyman ladies and gentlemen. 

Pat d
Pat d

Probably Coples, I agree. But to say Rex doesn't need an pass rushing OLB is folly.

Brendan
Brendan

@buckets They're not dependent on that spot generating consistent pressure as long as the other pieces are in place (which they are), but obviously they'd take a plus pass rusher in that role if they can get one. 

buckets
buckets

@Brendan
That's completely fine, but Pace's replacement is most certainly not an edge rusher...obviously you know this.

Pat d
Pat d

Like I said why just keep making due

lagoo
lagoo

Idzik master plan get the kraken next year

Brendan
Brendan

@Hanknaples  Hank, where is a DT going to play on this team? Is he going to back up Richardson, Wilkerson or be the 3rd NT? 

lagoo
lagoo

I wouldn't be mad if we got kony ealy he might be a beast

Brendan
Brendan

@bklyndude  He's turning into Vlad Guerrero, who used to hit balls off the dirt in front of home plate and go yard. 

bklyndude
bklyndude

@juunit @Brendan

That must mean David Wright's numbers should be exponentially weighted higher. 

Can you imagine what his numbers would be if he had anybody that could hit in the lineup with him.  Every pitcher gives him jacksh*t to hit.

twin
twin

Grander son 2 doubles today....