We can all agree that John Idzik was a much better accountant than an actual GM. The one thing he excelled at was clearing up a massive amount of cap space, which allowed Mike Maccagnan to fill several holes on the roster in 2015 through free agency. Idzik also arguably had a decent first round haul in his two years at the helm. Despite taking the injury prone Dee Milliner, who was seen by most as the top CB in the draft, Calvin Pryor and Sheldon Richardson have turned into difference makers on the team at their respective positions.
It goes without saying that the NFL Draft is very much a crapshoot and it is also hard to predict what will happen when the clock begins to tick, despite what the gurus and experts foresee. That said, I would like to take a look at three possible players with a first round grade that might still be available when the Jets pick 20th. For the sake of trying to fill holes on the roster, I will concentrate on areas of need as we have no idea who the best players available will be when they choose.
Leonard Floyd (Georgia)- The Jets lack of a pure pass rusher stems back to the days of John Abraham, who was traded to the Falcons in 2006 for the pick that was used to select Nick Mangold. This year’s draft has a wealth of options that could fit that role on the Jets. One intriguing choice would be Georgia’s Leonard Floyd, who played in the Bulldogs’ 3-4 scheme during his three solid seasons at the collegiate level. At 6’4 230 pounds, Floyd could benefit from bulking up a bit in the offseason, but he has certainly shown that he has the tools, racking up 17 sacks, 26 tackles for loss and 182 total tackles with Georgia. He could use some work on his block shedding abilities, but his speed, long strides, non-stop motor and sheer athleticism should allow him to be a phenomenal pass rusher in the NFL for years to come.
Derrick Henry (Alabama)- Unless the Jets can find a way to bring back Ivory and/or Powell, they will be left with a huge hole at the position considering that the current depth chart contains Zac Stacy and Dominique Williams. With Ezekiel Elliott likely to be chosen before the Jets pick, Derrick Henry of Alabama could be the way to go. Although there is much debate as to how the big man will adjust to the speed at the NFL level, there is no denying that the 6’2 242-pound monster is a wrecking ball that could fill the role of Chris Ivory in the offensive attack. Henry, who has improved as a blocker and receiver, also set a new SEC record with 2,219 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns during his junior year in 2015. A true steamroller who runs through defenders and is tough to bring down once he gets going, he also has the footwork, vision and patience as well as a deceptive burst to break long runs from time to time.
Taylor Decker (Ohio State)- It does not come as a secret that the Jets could use an upgrade at the RT spot, with the underachieving, highly inconsistent and overpaid Breno Giacomini currently filling that role. One name that comes to mind in finding his replacement is Ohio State’s Taylor Decker. A better run blocker than pass protector, Decker ended his college career with 42 consecutive starts, displaying the versatility to start on both sides of the line. He is an incredibly physical blocker who plays with the fierceness required of a RT in the NFL. A team captain in 2015, Decker was named as the Big Ten offensive lineman of the year. He needs to improve on his footwork, pad level and hand placement, but he is a willing student who possesses the tools to succeed.
Anybody who follows the NFL closely knows that solid contributors can be found throughout the draft, and sometimes even after, but the first round is usually the place where you find the most pro-ready prospects with elite talent. You also have to make a higher initial investment in those picks, so it is crucial for the future of a team that you strike gold with those selections. Maccagnan did a great job with his first opportunity, by going with the best player available strategy and taking Leonard Williams of USC. Now it is time to see what he can do in 2016.