In the last two years I have had some fun with Excel pivot tables to create graphical representations of the draft class. I used the same method as last year to display how the 2016 NFL Draft projects. To come up with the list, I used the CBS Sports top 1000 prospect list and filtered it down to just the top players who would account for the first seven rounds. Then I added another 44 for priority free agents. This gives a look at how many players at a given position might be drafted in any given round.
First off, let me be clear that no draft board is set up this way. But since we have no way to know how the Jets are setting up their board, all we can do is try to take some of the guesswork out of how it might look.
This year, the Jets have the "fortune" of drafting late in each of the rounds that they currently hold draft picks. It is common sense, but this means that New York could be looking at the scraps from their round or any sliders from previous rounds for a positional perspective.
Here are the results with a color coded "heat map" to demonstrate higher/lower frequencies of players in a given round. After the jump I've added some conclusions and how it pertains to the New York Jets come April 28-30 based on their current slotted picks.
The NFL Draft world is losing its mind -- And Jets fans are reaping the benefits!!! Thanks to a wealth of defensive line talent, two quarterbacks (maybe three when Paxton Lynch goes in the top 20) will go right at the top who had borderline first round grades just a few months ago. That recipe makes for a delicious stew of players who might tumble to the Jets at the 20th pick. Maybe … just maybe … the Jets won't actually draft another defensive lineman with a first round draft pick? The Jets then might be able to easily zag in the first round while the rest of the world zigs? It also might press players down into the teens that the Jets covet yet they might more easily be able to trade up to get.
Chasing the Tackle -- Looking at the offensive lineman positions, if we assume that Laremy Tunsil, Ronnie Stanley and Jack Conklin are all gone before the Jets pick, you can see they would be getting the last of the tackles with a first round grade in Taylor Decker. If Decker is still on the board when the Jets pick they are going to have to consider whether scraping the barrel on first round tackles outweighs getting a better talent at another spot. As always, it comes back to how the Jets have set up their board. If the Jets want to address the spot in the second round, Germain Ifedi and Le'Raven Clark could be options. I like Joe Dahl in the third round and then Joe Haeg and Joe Thuney as third or even potential fourth rounders with decent upside.
Hard to ignore receiver -- I wish the Jets would have been more involved in the wide receiver class of 2014 since it has proven to be so damn talented, but that's water under the bridge now. If Mike Maccagnan goes strictly by how his board sets up, how other teams draft and a longer and lower talent tier at receiver this all might push the Jets into drafting a receiver in the first three rounds.
The Jets' receivers are set at the first three spots, but Brandon Marshall looks likely to finish his career with the Jets in a few years time, Eric Decker is talented but best as a strong second or "1B" and Devin Smith has yet to stay on the field long enough to prove his worth. Depending on the Jets' board, Laquan Treadwell, Josh Doctson and Corey Coleman could all be staring the Jets in the face with the 20th pick. The second and fourth rounds seem more fungible for the Jets but should Leonte Carroo or Pharoh Cooper be on the board during the Jets' third round selection it would be hard to ignore the value they could bring long term.
Patience for pursuit - 14 players are designated as either defensive ends or outside linebackers in the first two rounds, according to CBS. If I was the Jets, unless someone like Leonard Floyd fell into my lap at the 20th pick, I would be patient and see who slips into the second round. Could Bronson Kafusi make it to their pick? Would Su'a Cravens be a good fit? Could the Jets hold off on pulling the trigger until the third round, even if it involves trading up, to grab Kyler Fackrell?
Skinny on the interior - Thanks to the scheme change in the college system, this is yet again a tough class to find interior linebacker help. The best shot to not chase talent looks to be in the fourth round. The Jets have enough stopgap options with the return of Erin Henderson and Jamari Lattimore as a developmental player, but if the team wants to find a player who can soak up snaps this year on the interior, the fourth round might be the best place to not miss out on value elsewhere in other rounds.
Running back value on days two and three - With Matt Forte, Bilal Powell and Khiry Robinson in place, the Jets have a formidable group of running backs to shoulder the load this year. But there are some compelling players who might be available in the middle of the draft that could still bring value to this team if given the chance. Alex Collins or CJ Prosise could be options in the third round. There's also Jonathan Williams, Jordan Howard or even specialists like Daniel Lasco or Tyler Ervin who could be value plays in the fourth and maybe even fifth rounds.
Just round the corner - Since the Jets have Darrelle Revis, Buster Skrine, Marcus Williams and Dee Milliner (not so much), they don't have a burning need at the cornerback position. But this is a tremendously deep class of athletic and playmaking cornerbacks. I think the Jets would be wise to take one of the later-round guys they can groom into a contributor given time and coaching.
So who are some players who might fit the bill for the Jets? Notre Dame's Keivarae Russell is a player I have my eye on. The Jets might not want to invest early in him, but Virginia Tech's Kendall Fuller has the pedigree and might wind up being the best of the Fuller family. Rashard Robinson has some concerns off the field but could be a talented player with some player development support as a fourth rounder.
Maybe the Jets are interested in a safety/corner hybrid like Jalen Mills, and Sean Davis would also be an interesting option who could play from a variety of sets for Todd Bowles defense.