Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comLast weekend, the Jets drafted six players on offense and six on defense. Will they all make the team? What might their role for the Jets be in 2014? What about in future years? Here’s our thoughts on the Jets 2014 class on defense.
Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville, 5-11, 207 (1st Round No. 18 overall)
His 2014 Role: Pryor will step in as an immediate starter and will likely be the signal caller for the secondary to boot. Through the draft process, Pryor was cast as an “in the box” safety, but he is athletic enough to step in as the Jets best coverage safety … something they badly needed in 2013 as they broke training camp. The intimidating presence and athleticism in coverage will only help the Jets wherever they deploy Pryor. Expect Pryor to see significant time as the team’s one-high safety setting traps for unwary offenses … if Dee Milliner can continue his improvement.
… And Beyond: We fully expect Calvin Pryor to be a part of this defense for a long time. The next unit that will need a major overhaul over the next two or three years will be the linebacking corps, but adding a player like Pryor now will help smooth the transition in the back seven of this defense.
Dexter McDougle, CB, Maryland, 5-10, 195 (3rd Round No. 80 overall)
His 2014 Role: With a secondary loaded with depth, it is hard to say what will be required of McDougle in his first year on defense. Rex Ryan loves physical corners who play tough press coverage at the line of scrimmage. McDougle is known as one of the draft class’s best tackling corners so seeing him play a nickel or dime role is a real possibility. The problem with that is between Dmitri Patterson, Kyle Wilson, Darrin Walls, Ellis Lankster there’s a lot of other players for McDougle to jump past on the depth chart.
… And Beyond: While McDougle was considered a reach in the third round by many draft analysts, there’s a reason that the team rushed to get him. With that in mind, the Jets were considering their long-term options with Kyle Wilson’s contract expiring at the end of this season. Wilson turned into a solid slot player in 2013 and the Jets have to be eyeing McDougle as a big contributor on their 2015 roster.
Jeremiah George, ILB, Iowa St, 5-11, 234 (5th Round No. 154)
His 2014 Role: George is currently suited for a special-teams role. While the inside linebacker role is changing, his size might limit the amount of time he could see with the defense.
… And Beyond: George has the skills and is set up well to become a special teams ace for this team for years to come. The Jets have needed more talent on their special teams unit and George should be able to provide that to the Jets.
Brandon Dixon, CB, Northwest Missouri St, 5-11, 203 (6th Round No. 195 overall)
His 2014 Role: Expect Dixon to see a very limited amount of time on the field since the Jets have so much competition at corner Dixon might be a practice squad candidate if the Jets feel like they won’t have a place on the active roster for him. Dixon has the potential to be a solid press coverage cornerback if given time and the right coaching.
… And Beyond: The Jets can never have enough press cornerbacks for Rex Ryan. Dixon is big and athletic and whose size, length and physicality will give the Jets another chance at a developmental press corner. While he might see limited use early on in his career the Jets will get the chance to determine if he can be coached up.
IK Enemkpali, DE, Louisiana Tech, 6-1, 261 (6th Round No. 210 overall)
His 2014 Role: If Enemkpali makes the active roster in 2014 it will likely be as a special teamer due to his explosive tackling and the right mindset. While Enemkpali has the power and size, he needs to become more fluid in his hip movement when asked to drop in coverage. Jermaine Cunningham is taking nickel package reps, so if IK is looking to see work he’ll have to work past Barnes (injured) and Cunningham.
… And Beyond: Calvin Pace can’t play forever and there’s potential for Enemkpali to become a 3-4 outside linebacker if given time with the team. Enemkpali is a leverage and power rusher who could play the 3-4 outside linebacker role but who need time and coaching to develop.
Trevor Reilly, OLB, Utah, 6-5, 245, (7th Round No. 233 overall)
His 2014 Role: The Jets are always in need of more hybrid defenders. Trevor Reilly has impressive agility and balance for a player of his size and he plays fast due to good instincts. It is likely that Reilly was available as late as he was due to his age. Reilly performed a Mormon mission between high school and college and that extended his eligibility. If Reilly is able to carve out a role in 2014, it will be as a situational pass-rusher or in replacement of Calvin Pace should Pace be unable to play. Just like IK, Reilly will still have Jermaine Cunningham and potentially Barnes with which to contend.
… And Beyond: Between the receivers, cornerbacks and DE/OLBs the Jets hedged their bets by drafting a number of players at the same position. Reilly looks like a promising player, but he might have a shorter career. Even so, Reilly seems primed to take over Calvin Pace’s role as the team’s edge-setter and run stuffer down the road.