Corey Griffin, TheJetsBlog.comPerception rules all in the NFL draft. Who drops, who rises, who reached and who “won” are all a matter of who’s asking and likely answering the question.
The story of the Jets’ first round isn’t about what they accomplished – drafting Calvin Pryor and finally addressing safety with a high-end prospect for the first time in, well, ever. It’s about what they didn’t do.
John Idzik didn’t draft a wide receiver, tight end, or running back – even though only one tight end went in the first round and no one took a running back. The Jets didn’t surround Geno Smith with weapons to help him develop because apparently Eric Decker and Chris Johnson aren’t on the roster for the next three days. The Jets didn’t draft offense in the first round for the fifth straight year, forgetting the fact that this is only John Idzik’s second draft in New York. And let’s ignore the fact that four of those five picks are should-be Pro Bowler Mo Wilkerson, defensive rookie of the year Sheldon Richardson, athlete/freak/breakout waiting to happen Quinton Coples and Dee Milliner, who was the top-rated corner in last year’s draft and a guy the media said the Jets simply had to have after trading away Darrelle Revis.
We could talk about how the Jets should’ve traded up for an impact offensive player, like the Bills did with Sammy Watkins. But Buffalo only moved from No. 9 to No. 4 and had to give up a 2015 first-rounder. How much would it have taken for the Jets to convince the Browns or another top-seven team to jump all the way back to 18?
(Also, an aside, yeah the Bills have done a great job surrounding EJ Manuel with skill players the last couple years, but shouldn’t we talk about how bad Manuel was last year despite having CJ Spiller, Fred Jackson, Stevie Johnson and rookies Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin? Or, you know, the fact that they lost their best defensive player –a Pro Bowl safety nonetheless – and their defensive coordinator in the offseason? Sorry, forgot context doesn’t matter during the NFL draft.)
The Jets could’ve made a more reasoned deal to move up for Eric Ebron or Odell Beckham Jr., likely having to sacrifice a third-round pick in the process. But then again, this is a painfully-shallow team with not a lot of young, controllable, talented depth throughout the roster – a roster that was so bad it was ranked No. 26 of 32 by Rotoworld’s Evan Silva before the draft. Wouldn’t that type of team be better off staying at 18 and building out their roster with multiple mid-round choices?
No, the Jets didn’t address the offense at 18, but it’s worth noting that wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Kelvin Benjamin were the only skill position players to go in the next 14 picks. I liked Cooks, a 5-foot-9 dynamo who can create serious problems with the ball in his hands. Benjamin, not so much. But if you mention the Jets “ignoring” wide receiver because they didn’t take the only first-round wideouts they could’ve actually drafted, you’re probably ignoring that the position is two to three rounds deep this year. Is there that much of a difference between Cooks, Benjamin and the whole host of talented players available in Friday’s second round?
Maybe it’s the player. Maybe the Jets should’ve drafted safety HaHa Clinton-Dix, who certainly had the better hype and came from the bigger program and landed in Green Bay, or Jimmie Ward, who fell to the 49ers at No. 30. Maybe they’ll be better players than Pryror, but I’ll put my faith in Rex Ryan when it comes to evaluating defensive prospects. Call me crazy.
The Jets could’ve taken Darqueze Dennard before the Bengals “stole” him at No. 24, but that would’ve been two cornerbacks in back-to-back years – all while separating themselves from Revis and a wounded Antontio Cromartie. Last I checked, teams play 11 aside and secondaries need more than two cornerbacks to match wits with modern NFL offenses.
No, the Jets didn’t draft a wide receiver at No. 18 overall. But they did make their team better and addressed a position of need while still keeping their “ammo” stocked to move up in the second and/or third round for a receiver or tight end or cornerback, all of which have more than enough intriguing prospects still available.
NFL rosters aren’t built in a single round of the draft or a single week of free agency. But I guess you just didn’t think about that.