New York Jets Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State – Round 2
The Jets needed to get some receiver help this offseason, and they did it by trading for Brandon Marshall and using a second-round pick to select Smith. New York has Eric Decker returning, and this trio could be a very effective group in 2015 if the Jets’ quarterbacks are able to get them the ball. In the long term, it is easy to see Smith moving into the starting lineup for New York.

At Ohio State, Smith (6-0, 196) was a home-run hitter as he totaled 12 touchdowns with 886 yards on only 32 receptions in 2014. Smith has deep speed and is tremendous at tracking the ball to make catches downfield. If he didn’t play in a running offense, Smith probably would have produced more as sources with other teams said that he is a good route-runner, and the Buckeyes didn’t use him to the utmost of his potential.

Smith should see a lot of single-coverage as a rookie with teams focused on Marshall and Decker. Coming out of the slot, Smith could be a big-play weapon in Chan Gailey’s offense. Marshall is aging, while Decker has a massive contract. It wouldn’t be surprising if New York moves on from one of those two in the not-too-distant future because Smith has emerged as a good starter.

Most Likely To Bust

Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor – Round 4
There was mistaken hype of Petty going in the top 50 and some suggesting that he could go late in the first round. NFL teams didn’t think that highly about Petty, and the media was far off base with Petty. The Jets took him in the fourth round, but if you ask many other teams, they would say that was a huge reach.

Sources with multiple NFL teams said that they had Petty graded as a late-round pick. Two teams said they had a seventh-round grades on Petty, and other teams had him graded as an undrafted free agent. Some teams had Petty graded earlier, but from speaking with sources from a variety of teams, the majority saw him as a late third-day developmental prospect. Many acknowledged that Oregon’s Marcus Mariota was a developmental project coming from a college system rather than an NFL pro-style system, but sources said that Petty was much further behind Mariota in terms of calling plays in the huddle and knowing how to execute a pro offense. Petty is going to need a lot more work and development.

Aside from the mental transition, Petty needs to become a more accurate passer. There were some gimme throws that he missed in 2014, and he left some points on the field. Petty isn’t a bad fit for Chan Gailey’s offense, but there is a lot for Petty to improve upon before he’ll be ready to compete in the NFL. I think of the Jets’ first four selections, Petty is the most likely to be a bust.

Potential Boom Pick

Leonard Williams, DE, USC – Round 1
Many didn’t think that Williams would get out of the top five, and some media analysts anointed Williams as the best player in the 2015 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-5, 300-pounder is fast and strong at the point of attack. He has a lot of upside with his best football ahead of him. With New York, Williams could be in store for a quick breakout in the NFL.

Williams could give the Jets a lethal foursome on their defensive line with Sheldon Richardson, Muhammed Wilkerson and Quinton Coples. Williams also offers protection if Wilkerson isn’t signed to a long-term contract. Because of the established talent on the Jets’ defensive line, Williams should see plenty of single-blocks as teams will send double-teams at Richardson or Wilkerson. Depending on how Williams is utilized with those teammates, New York could be the perfect landing spot for him.

For the most part, Williams will be rushing against right tackles or guards in passing situations, and that is a real mismatch. He is too quick for those linemen and has the strength to fight off blocks. Williams didn’t produce huge sack totals in college, but he has the potential to increase his production in New York. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if Williams is a boom pick for the Jets.

Future Depth Player

Jarvis Harrison, G, Texas A&M – Round 5
Harrison had the talent to be selected on the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft, but he fell to the fifth round. There were some off-the-field concerns with Harrison, and he had some injuries in college, but the 6-foot-4, 330-pounder has surprising quickness and athleticism for a big, thick blocker. Harrison will be competing for a backup role and should factor into the long-term plans as a replacement at right guard for veteran Willie Colon (32). Even if Harrison doesn’t win a starting job soon, he has the talent to be a good backup.

Walt’s 2015 NFL Draft Grades:

6. Leonard Williams, DE/DT, USC: A- Grade
Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson… and Leonard Williams!? Crazy. I can’t blame the Jets for this, and I don’t think it’s a bad pick. On the contrary, I like it a lot. The Jets are taking the best player available, so there isn’t much to complain about. Besides, there have been rumors floating around regarding New York trading Wilkerson. That may not happen now, but the Jets could deal him down the road. If they do, they won’t have to worry about addressing a need on the defensive line. In the meantime, Williams can provide solid depth up front.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

37. Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State: B+ Grade
I had the wrong receiver going to the Jets, but I thought they’d address the position. They added Brandon Marshall this offseason to complement Eric Decker, but the aging former Bear will probably be on the team for just one year. The Jets wanted to find a receiver for the future for whomever they plan on playing at quarterback, and the speedy Smith should serve as a strong option.

82. Lorenzo Mauldin, DE/OLB, Louisville: B Grade
This pick definitely makes sense. The Jets had to find an edge rusher – they were projected to take one at No. 6 overall before Leonard Williams dropped to them – and Lorenzo Mauldin fits the range as a third-round prospect. This is a solid choice.

103. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor: C Grade
I’m not going to bash the Jets too much for trying to find a franchise quarterback at some point, but Bryce Petty isn’t an NFL starting talent. Teams we spoke to were shocked that Petty was getting late first-round buzz; one franchise told us that they didn’t even view him as draftable. Petty could develop into a backup, but that’s about it.

152. Jarvis Harrison, G, Texas A&M: B Grade
Jarvis Harrison is a very athletic lineman. Unfortunately, he’s not a good football player. It’s going to take a ton of time for him to develop, so perhaps the Jets can stash him and get him ready to play by 2017. He makes sense in the middle of the fifth round because of his upside, so it’s a solid choice.

223. Deon Simon, NT, Northwestern State: B Grade
This pick makes sense, as Deon Simon was a seventh-round prospect coming into the draft. If he makes the roster, he’ll provide some depth behind Snacks Harrison.

2015 NFL Draft Team Grade: B- . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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