What does the 2014 NFL Draft positional depth means for the Jets?

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

A few weeks ago, on one of the Spreecasts that Corey and I did due to the craziness at SNY around Mets spring training, a listener/commenter asked me where the sweet spots are at any position in the 2014 NFL Draft.  It was a great question.  While I had a sense about the answers, I unfortunately didn’t have any real evidence.  But I loved the idea as a post and have been thinking about it for weeks now.  

It has taken me time to tinker, research and display the information I came up with, but we think you will like the results.  Be sure to add your thoughts in the comments.

The Process:  After a lot of noodling, I thought one of the quickest ways to shortcut the process would be to hijack someone else’s deep research on the 2014 NFL Draft. I love CBS Sports top 1000 prospect list and use it all the time, so I took the their prospect rankings as a starting point.  I then made sure that each ranking corresponded to the correct round’s total draft picks while taking into account the news about compensatory picks.  After, I did some pivot table magic (sorting and cross-tabulation) to come up with how many players at a given position project to be drafted in any given round.  For example, want to know how many offensive tackles project to be taken in the second round?  Just look at the table below.

Here are the results with a color coded “heat map” to demonstrate where there are higher/lower frequencies of players in a given round.  After the jump are some of my general conclusions and how it might pertain to the Jets on May 8-10.

2014-draft-depth

 

Need Supply — The best teams try not to draft for need, but ignoring need is dangerous as well.  For example the Jets need a second starting wide receiver and Rex Ryan, Marty Mornhinweg, John Idzik and Terry Bradway have shown a pattern of attending the Pro Days of likely receivers drafted before the third round.  In no particular order, the Jets have needs at the following positions: CB, DE/OLB, FS, OT, RB, TE, WR.  If you start weighting where the need is based on filling out their 2014 roster, I’d place Rounds 1-3 emphasis on WR, TE, FS and CB.  I’d place Rounds 3-5 emphasis on DE/OLB, OT and RB.  That seems to match the Jets needs as they head into the draft season very well.

Just Round the Corner – A lot of hue and cry went up about the Jets letting Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (after Vontae Davis, after Alterraun Verner, after Darrelle Revis, etc.) slip through their fingers.  I was among the inconsolable at the time, but just look at the table above!!!  Only WR rivals the number of corners projecting to be drafted.  Even when you add together all offensive linemen likely to be drafted together does it barely surpass (five starting OL spots compared to two CB on an NFL roster) … that should be an indication of just how strong the draft is at corner.  At the end of the fourth round, 20/33 cornerbacks project to be drafted.  For the Jets, while drafting a first round talent like Darqueze Dennard would be a slick addition, the Jets have five six draft picks before the end of the fourth round, where the class is at its absolute deepest.  The Jets could draft a system corner with some of the traits they are looking for before the end of the fourth round whom they could groom into a larger role in time.  The Seahawks have done well  in drafting deep at cornerback … can the Jets demonstrate an ability to find corner talent that projects well for them?  It might be the most economical investment of resources and yield the greatest long-term gain and pairing for Dee Milliner.

Address the Outside, Episode VI – It never fails that every year since Rex Ryan came to New York that he is widely expected to have his team draft an outside linebacker in the first round to boost his external pass rush.  Since then, Ryan has been happy to bring Calvin Pace back year after year to set the edge, stuff the run while using situational players to rush the passer.  Ryan would rather place an emphasis on cornerbacks and defensive linemen for his system due to the abundance of the spread formation in the NFL, where non-coverage linebackers consistently feel the squeeze.  With the Sons of Anarchy in place, I think the Jets can get away with a later round player to groom as an eventual replacement to Calvin Pace’s role while injecting some youth into the situational pass rush until such a time.

Stone Free – There’s not a lot of talented free safeties in this year’s draft class and the Jets prospects of drafting a coverage safety seems a hit or miss proposition.  If the stars align, they might draft a safety, but due to the overall lack of talent at the spot don’t expect the Jets to reach for a player either.  That doesn’t seem to be John Idzik’s way.  If they do draft such a player?  It would most likely come in the first or fourth rounds.

Receiver rich — One of the big talking points of this draft over the last few months is how deeply talented the receiver position is.  Looking at the data this way shows just how deep the class in fact is.  There haven’t been six WRs drafted in the first round since 2009, but beyond just the first round look at how consistently high the frequency of receivers stays compared to other positions throughout the draft.  The Jets could feasibly find a starter through the draft’s first three rounds easily and then even pick up some more later as special teamers or project players thanks to this year’s glut of 102 underclassmen who declared for the draft.

Deep in the Backfield — From what we hear, the Jets are intently looking to upgrade their running back position this offseason.  The Jets haven’t placed high emphasis on the position via free agency.  Idzik and the Jets were curious, but seem to be letting MJD find another team.  Their hesitance to sign MJD to $3 million per year is understandable; running back has become one of the most disposable positions in the last ten years.  Between Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell neither are playmaking threats via the pass, and so the Jets are intently looking for a player who can come in on third down in the model of Gio Bernard was with the Bengals in 2013.  To justify gameday activation, we expect the Jets would want that player to have value as a returner too.  This draft has plenty of talent between the second and fifth rounds and so the Jets don’t need to rush to find their man.

In the second part of this study, we’ll take all this and apply it to specific players.  Add your thoughts in the comments!




145 comments

@Bent


Is there an update to this chart? It would be great to look at before the draft!

Thanks for all of your time and hard work over the past few months! Happy draft day!

jetsfan14
jetsfan14

The question is: CB first round or WR first round? Given the depth of both groups, it almost doesn't seem to matter. I think they will go WR then CB, but wouldn't be shocked if the order was reversed.

Pat d
Pat d

WR and CB are by far the deepest positions in this draft. Just what the doctor ordered.

marcus81
marcus81

Jets should still get best receiver with their 1st pick in spite of all the good receivers in this years draft, maybe use3  picks overall for receivers

Stanley Bostitch
Stanley Bostitch

I'd be up for some DJax. We could then draft one or a couple of mid-round WR's, and go OLB or CB (or whomever BPA is) at 18 (though I'm growing fond of Denard). Really opens things up for us. And a two-yr commitment fits right in line with what Idzik is building here.

nyj_scott
nyj_scott

Bassett uses pivottables... Fancy!

jaym
jaym

Statement from Jackson regarding his release, per Shefter

“First I would like to thank the Eagles organization, the Eagles fans and the city of Philadelphia for my time in Philly. I would also like to thank coach Andy Reed for bringing me in. Secondly, I would like to address the misleading and unfounded reports that my release has anything to do with any affiliation that has been speculated surrounding the company I keep off of the field. I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang. I am not a gang member and to speculate and assume that I am involved in such activity off the field is reckless and irresponsible. I work very hard on and off the field and I am a good person with good values. I am proud of the accomplishments that I have made both on and off the field. I have worked tirelessly to give back to my community and have a positive impact on those in need. It is unfortunate that I now have to defend myself and my intentions. These reports are irresponsible and just not true . I look forward to working hard for my new team. God Bless.”

SackDance99
SackDance99

I think people are forgetting that Marty M. worked with Jackson for his first 5 years in the NFL.  Maybe Marty M. had a better rapport with him than Chip Kelly did and maybe DJax gave Marty M. more deference and a better effort.  He's obviously an off-field risk, but while Marty was his OC, Jackson was one of the NFL's best WRs.  I'm all for bringing in a guy who would be the best deep threat to hit the Jets since Wesley Walker retired.

jetsons
jetsons

What type of contract would be reasonable to offer DJax?  


I'm thinking if we offer him 4 years, $40mil, with 15 guaranteed, and all of the guaranteed money in the first two years, that's reasonable


nesboogie
nesboogie

DeSean Jackson’s also done a lot of anti-bullying work w/ kids at schools. Went to hear him at Oakland’s McClymonds High. Strong message.

Tequila Joe
Tequila Joe

D-Jax is a headache waiting to happen. We need a #1 guy but character should play a big role, especially with a young QB. The only way I'd be okay with this is if he signed a 1 year deal.

jdb4
jdb4

Wow, didn't think the D-Jax release was going to happen

MarshRandy
MarshRandy

He's not Aaron Hernandez. First things first they didn't wanna pay him $12 mil

Kyle Suta
Kyle Suta

The Jets are not getting aaron hernandez part 2. If idzik makes this move its all woody. How can any die hard jet fan want this guy? So what he wasnt had legal trouble yet? Hes a thug with a bad atitude amd work eithic. Go sign with the raiders and give me obj or cooks!

Marvel
Marvel

Signing D-jax literally brings every prospect into play at 18...even long snapper!!

jetsons
jetsons

I think teams are going to offer Jackson 1 year deals...the team that is willing to give him a long term deal with guaranteed money in the 2nd/3rd years of the deal will eventually get him.  Hope the Jets take a chance on him, but wouldn't guarantee him big money into 2nd/3rd years of the deal...may be a similar situation to the DRC deal where we offer a 1 year deal at market value



Marvel
Marvel

FUXX WHY HE WAS CUT


GET EM!!


rstysanchz
rstysanchz

at this point just keep desean out of n.e. buff or mia 

Marvel
Marvel

Idzik plays chess lol... probably offered a 8th for D-jax.... lmaooo

joblowme99
joblowme99

Who gives a damn about gangs. One step closer to a functional offense is worth the cost.

Brad Jerris
Brad Jerris

the Gang connections is very serious stuff after what Hernadez did with the Patriots. He missed meetings a bunch of times too. Do we really want that with a young team that the Jets are trying to build? Santonio Holmes had his issues, but none of them were ever comparable to being affiliated with gangs that are linked to homicides.

xplr
xplr

good article, thanks!

jdb4
jdb4

...Preparing for the Jets fans implosion if Idzik doesn't spend top dollar to sign him

__fense
__fense

@MarshRandy  I would think that the first thing would be the fact that he didn't kill multiple people like Hernandez.

__fense
__fense

@Marvel  YOU TAKE THAT BACK! We already have the best LS in the game!

a57se
a57se

@Marvel  

What happened to being patient and building through the Draft?

a57se
a57se

@Brad Jerris  

The same people who were killing Richie Incognito for being a jerk (Rightfully so) are 100% 'boned' at the idea of bringing this knucklehead on board.....how's that for irony!

Tequila Joe
Tequila Joe

@Brendan @nesboogie  Nobody is questioning his game. He's a great player. I think that's pretty positive and nobody is denying that...

__fense
__fense

@jdb4  Also Jets fans implosion if Idzik does sign him without spending top dollar.

__fense
__fense

@a57se @Marvel  He was cut, so it won't cost us any draft picks to get him anymore.

Marvel
Marvel

@a57se @Marvel 

How does this prevent that?


actually helps...


More picks for other areas..



Brad Jerris
Brad Jerris

@a57se @Brad Jerris 

Us fans can be very ironic and irrational. I was all about getting Jackson, til i found out that he was connected to gangs. Cooks or Beckham would provide a similar skill set to Jackson for a fraction of the price with no known headaches or trouble.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se Yes. He's very good. I like very good football players. 

__fense
__fense

@jaygo @__fense @MarshRandy  We knew that they were planning on releasing him outright for like a month now, and that Idzik was the only guy who could reasonably trade for him because of the cap. If the Eagles know something, it would have already broken.


Brendan
Brendan

@a57se You find it odd that I want a 27 year old WR in his prime who had an All-Pro level season last year? That's confusing to you? 


Rex has a history of dealing with guys with character issues, that wouldn't scare me off. 


I tell people who come here after every single signing to call out Idzik an idiot/lazy/worthless/whatever to be patient. THIS IS WHY. Because if the Jets threw a deal at James Jones, they're probably not really invested in D-Jax. You stay patient for players to be cut. This isn't even the first such player and it will be far from the last. 


I guess we'll just sweep your ridiculous over-exaggeration under the rug. 

__fense
__fense

@a57se @Brendan  Him having those issues will make him cheap, so we can get a guy who would have led most teams in receiving (including us) without sacrificing building through the draft. The excitement isn't at the thought of giving him a huge deal with a ton of guaranteed money.

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @a57se 

I find it odd that you are 'boned' about a guy who the Eagles are releasing because of character issues that include gang affiliations  yet have spent the past three weeks telling everyone to be patient and that we were building through the draft. now you want to spend money on a guy who was enough trouble that despite leading his team in receiving, has been cut for his issues.


Brendan
Brendan

@a57se No I didn't. You brought up Aaron Hernandez, which insinuates he's a murderer. 



Either that, or you just made a terrible, exaggerated comparison because you simply don't like the guy. 

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se I saw a Tweet that he was cut and I saw another tweet about Philly worrying about his gang connections. Where does it say he's killed someone? 

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se Oh, DeSean Jackson killed someone? Is that why he's being released?