New York Jets Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
May 22, 2013

Solid Starter

Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama – Round 1
It isn’t fair to expect Milliner to be the next Darrelle Revis even though Milliner was definitely the best cornerback prospect in the 2013 draft class. From a salary cap perspective and rebuilding the Jets’ roster, Milliner made a lot of sense. His contract will total around four years and $13 million. That is less than one season of what Revis costs in his long-term contract that pays him $16 million annually. New York has saved a lot of money while picking up an intriguing talent at cornerback in Milliner.

Milliner (6-0, 201) was phenomenal for Alabama in 2012. Interestingly, for all the accolades that the Crimson Tide’s defense received last year, it struggled to rush the passer. Adrian Hubbard led the team with seven sacks followed by linebacker C.J. Mosley with four sacks, who typically dropped in coverage. Milliner was left on an island in man coverage throughout the season and held up extremely well. He’s at his best playing press man, and those kind of cornerbacks with his speed and athletic ability are tough to find.

While Milliner wasn’t asked to backpedal and play a lot of off-man coverage, he has the athletic ability to learn that in the NFL. Milliner should form a nice cornerback trio with Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson immediately. Milliner may become one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL in the longer term; akin to Revis or Richard Sherman. However, Milliner should turn into at least a solid starter.

Most Likely To Bust

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia – Round 2
Quarterback is the riskiest position to draft early and Smith carries some serious bust potential. A lot of quarterback-needy teams passed on him, and he fell out of the first round for a reason. There are flaws with Smith as a prospect on the field and a lot of criticism about him off the field. He has a good arm and skill set, but he can be streaky as a passer. There are definitely ways Smith can improve.

Unfortunately for him, Smith could be thrust onto the field before he is ready due to New York’s lack of talent at the quarterback position. Mark Sanchez has been awful the past two seasons and he may not even make the team in training camp. Even if Smith has some struggles in the preseason, he could beat out Sanchez for the starting spot.

Rookie quarterbacks often struggle in the NFL and the Jets’ coaching staff is on the hot seat. If Smith is forced to play and is unable to win, a new regime could be brought into New York as soon as next offseason. That would could lead to a new quarterback and Smith being a backup quarterback like Jimmy Clausen is the Panthers, a former second-round pick who was benched by a new staff. Smith doesn’t have much margin for error given the situation the Jets are in.

Potential Boom Pick

Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri – Round 1
This pick was a bit of a surprise, especially with Sharrif Floyd and Star Lotulelei available, but it made complete sense. The Jets have a hybrid defense that features a lot of 3-4 and 4-3 looks. Richardson is a great fit to play end in a 3-4 or three-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3. He has the flexibility to cause havoc in the variety of things likes to do.

Richardson is extremely disruptive at the point of attack. He is an excellent interior pass-rusher but also records sacks coming from defensive end. He is very fast off the snap and has great hands to shed blocks. Richardson is a good run-defender as well as a pass-rusher. He could cause a lot of chaos at the line of scrimmage and help improve the Jets’ sack total quickly.

Another thing I love about the selection of Richardson is how his motor could impact the defense. He goes all out on every play. I remember from 2012 seeing him get in on tackles on wide receivers about 20 yards past the line of scrimmage. Richardson gives relentless effort and never quits on plays. I think that will be infectious and have a positive influence on teammate Quinton Coples. The Jets 2012 first-rounder has received criticism for an inconsistent motor. Richardson’s style of play could cause Coples to improve his effort so he doesn’t get embarrassed in the film room.

I could see Richardson being the Jets’ best defensive lineman over Coples and Muhammed Wilkerson in the long term. That trio could be an elite group, and I think Richardson will make the other two even better. He could easily become a boom pick for New York.

Future Depth Player

Brian Winters, G, Kent State – Round 3
The Jets have been disappointed with Vladimir Ducasse. They needed to get another guard to potentially become a long-term starter. New York signed veteran Willie Colon in the offseason, but he is only a temporary solution.

Winters is a gritty blocker who played tackle in college. He doesn’t have the quickness or length for tackle in the NFL, but he looks like a nice fit at guard. Winters has the bulk to move defenders in the ground game, but he will have to overcome a big jump in competition. If Winters is unable to win a starting spot, he should be solid depth for the Jets behind Colon.

Walt’s 2013 NFL Draft Grades:

2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

9. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama: C+ Grade
The Jets essentially traded Darrelle Revis for Dee Milliner. I just don’t get why they’d deal Revis to just take another cornerback when they have two corners on the roster (Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson) who proved themselves to be capable starters after Revis went down. Milliner had just six interceptions in his college career. He also was never asked to backpedal. Alabama cornerbacks have a history of busting in the NFL, so the Jets better hope that Milliner doesn’t continue that tradition.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

13. Sheldon Richardson, DE/DT, Missouri: B Grade
Wow, Sheldon Richardson before Sharrif Floyd and Star Lotulelei? Many will bash this selection, I’m sure, but I don’t mind it. Sheldon Richardson is the top interior pass-rusher who fits the 4-3 and 3-4 – which is key for New York because Rex Ryan loves to use both looks. I’m not sure why Richardson wasn’t considered a higher-rated prospect. The Jets had to bolster their pass-rush, and they did just that with Richardson.

39. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: A Grade
This is the last place I’d want to go if I were Geno Smith because the Jets have absolutely nothing to work with on offense. But I imagine after waiting all Thursday evening, he’s just relieved to be drafted by someone. This is a great pick for New York though because Smith was considered an option for the No. 1 overall pick when he was winning games. The Jets needed a quarterback, and Smith was the top signal-caller in this entire draft class. It’s going to be fun watching Smith duel E.J. Manuel twice per year. I’m sure Smith will be extra motivated for that.

72. Brian Winters, G, Kent State: B Grade
The Jets signed Willie Colon this offseason, but they needed another guard to compete with Vladimir Ducasse. This is the right range for Brian Winters, so this is a pretty solid pick.

141. Oday Aboushi, G/OT, Virginia: B Grade
Still no skill-position players, but upgrading the offensive line isn’t a bad move. Oday Aboushi played tackle in college, but he may have to move to guard in the NFL because of his short arms. Having said that, it’s a good idea to find protection for Geno Smith.

178. William Campbell, DT, Michigan: C+ Grade
I mocked William Campbell to the Jets in the seventh round at one point, so this pick makes sense to me. He’s another interior lineman, but he’s much different than Sheldon Richardson.

215. Tommy Bohanon, FB, Wake Forest: B Grade
A fullback in the seventh round? Why not? The Jets needed one. Logical pick.

2013 NFL Draft Team Grade: B . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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