The 2013 season may be over for the New York Jets, but there is reason to be optimistic. With a young roster and the return of Rex Ryan for 2014, it looks like the Jets are posed for a playoff push next season. This year was a crucial year for the New York Jets to develop the young talent from the 2013 NFL Draft. After sixteen games we have seen what these players can do and what they maybe capable of in the future. For this list, we will focus on both production, and potential when evaluating the Jets rookie class. First up we have….
- Dee Milliner: B –
Well someone had some big shoes to fill. After the Jets traded cornerback Darrelle Revis before the draft, they selected the best cornerback prospect in the draft, Alabama’s Dee Milliner to replace him. Of course asking a rookie to fill the shoes of the best cover corner in the NFL is putting too much pressure on a young player. After an offseason surgery and missing most of the preseason, it was apparent that Milliner was struggling from missing those important workouts. Despite three benchings this season, over the past month Milliner has looked like a first round corner and finished the season being named the AFC Defensive player of the week in week 17. Some Jets fans maybe wondering why this grade is so high? The reason is because Milliner finished the season strong and is beginning to look like a very good corner. With a full offseason now to learn the defense, 2014 could be the year the Milliner turns into a great NFL corner. Despite the shaky season Milliner still finished with 45 tackles, 3 picks, and 17 passes defended. While he may not have been the impact player the Jets were looking for this year, he still has the upside to be a great corner in this league.
- Sheldon Richardson: A+
And with the 13th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft the New York Jets select Sheldon Richardson! Like most Jets fans my reaction to this pick was huh? Why are we taking another defensive lineman? Who is this guy? Really this is what we got for Revis? My how a season can change a perspective. Sheldon Richardson looks like a steal from the Revis trade as he helped to make the Jets defensive line one of the most ferocious lines in football. In his rookie season only J.J. Watt was a better defensive end when it came to stopping the run for a defensive end. Richardson dominated with 77 tackles (15.5 for a loss), 3.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. Not to mention he became the first defensive player since William “The Refrigerator” Perry to score two touchdowns as a defensive player playing on offense. From run stuffer, to new goal line weapon, Richardson had an incredible 2013. If he can continue to work on his pass rushing and improve that aspect of his game, he could become one of the best defensive ends in football before we know it.
- Geno Smith: B
It was a roller coaster of a season for Geno Smith there were up and downs, but in the end Geno has shown flashes that he can be the franchise quarterback. Despite throwing for 3,046 yards and throwing 12 touchdowns, Smith also has the lowest quarterback rating in the league and 21 interceptions. Despite these lackluster passing stats, Geno also used his legs to rack up 366 rushing yards and 6 rushing touchdowns. The reason he gets a B instead of a C is because of two reasons. First he has shown great poise and a strong-arm he will hopefully learn to control. Second, and most importantly is that he was an 8-8 quarterback with arguably the worst offensive personnel in the NFL. With a horrible receiving core, at best average running backs, and no tight end for a security blanket, it’s a miracle in itself that Geno had this team even competing for a playoff spot. If the Jets can give him some weapons in 2014, we may see Geno take the next step in his development and become a great quarterback. Not to bad considering the Jets stole him in the second round.
- Brian winters D+
Here is where it starts to go down hill for the Jets. In the third round the Jets selected Brian Winters. While the guard did have some flashes, he mostly struggled. With inconsistent run blocking and struggles in pass protection, instead of being the answer at guard, Winters has only raised more questions. While he still is young and could develop into a solid starting guard this grade goes beyond Winters. I would have given him a C grade, but with the players the Jets passed on, only make this pick look worse. The Jets passed on a receiver I was praying for them to draft, Keenan Allen. He became one of the best rookie receivers along with Terrance Williams, who was also available along with tight end Jordan Reed. With the lack of weapons on the Jets offensive, one of these players could have helped Geno Smith develop quicker. The Jets would have been better of with a playmaker rather than Winters inconsistent guard play.
- Oday Aboushi D
Aboushi didn’t do too much in 2013. He was basically on the practice squad the entire year. While he may eventually develop into a starting tackle or guard for the Jets, it looks like he will be no more than a backup for Gang Green. While he could be a versatile backup for the Jets, it may take time for him to become a future starter. Overall not a terrible pick, but a pick that was used for just improving the team’s depth and a possible offensive line project. With no NFL starters around this pick, it doesn’t look like the Jets missed out on too much here. If D’Brickashaw Ferguson continues to regress, maybe Aboushi could be his replacement one day. It’s along shot, but stranger things have happened
- William Campbell: F
I still don’t get this pick. Three offensive linemen in a row? You don’t think you could spread the wealth to other parts of your team? While I do think Campbell could be a solid backup in the NFL, he is a huge work in progress. I’m never a big fan of switching positions in the NFL. Tight end to a receiver or a defensive end to stand up linebacker, sure. Defensive tackle to offensive guard, bad idea. While Campbell has impressed more than Aboushi, the Jets could have used this pick from some much-needed depth in their lineup.
- Tommy Bohanon: A –
Talk about finding value late in the draft. Bohanon has been the Jets starting fullback since week one. He’s an A minus because he was unpolished as a run blocker, but continued to develop as the season progressed. He can run the ball well between the tackles in start yardage situations and displayed great hands out of the backfield. While his blocking needs works, the Jets may utilize him more in the playbook next year by throwing him the ball more and allowing him to get more carries in short yardage situations.
- Overall: B –
- While Richardson is a star, Milliner and Smith will have to continue their strong late season campaigns and show improvement in 2014. The good news is they both have tremendous upside and now experience from 2013. The middle rounds were a mess with three offensive linemen who instead of answers to a struggling offensive line have only created more questions. The Jets also passed on playmaking offensive weapons that could have helped Geno Smith’s development. Their final pick, Bohanon, was a steal considering the found a versatile starting fullback in the seventh round. While the draft could have been better, the Jets found talented players and could have done much worse. Hopefully the Jets can continue to build a playoff caliber team in the upcoming NFL Draft. Do you agree? What grades would you give the Jets? Comment below.