The New York Jets must make smart selections in the 2017 NFL Draft. Here are three sleepers they should consider in the late rounds.
The anticipation is growing for the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia. We are a little over two weeks away now and the New York Jets will have many important decisions to make as they reshape their roster. After an abysmal 2016 season, they are armed with the No. 6 overall pick, which will be helpful.
With that being said, the Jets need more than just one elite prospect. They need to draft well in Rounds 1-7 if they want to get back to competing for playoff spots and appearing in AFC Championship Games.
The draft is all about value, getting the best possible value with each and every pick. Gang Green has a plethora of needs up and down their roster so every selection is vitally important. Rebuilding is not easy especially in New York. But the Jets are taking the right approach by retooling their squad through the draft process. In the long-term it’s the smart way to go.
Let’s take a look at three late-round (Rounds 5-7) sleeper prospects that the Jets should consider selecting if they are available in Day 3 of the draft. These are players that can add quality depth to their roster. As presently constituted, those picks are as follows: fifth round (150th overall); sixth round (191st overall) and seventh round (224th overall).
Sep 3, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators offensive lineman David Sharpe (78) and Massachusetts Minutemen defensive lineman Sha-Ki Holines (95) battle at the line of scrimmage during the second half of a football game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The Gators won 24-7. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
The days when the Jets used to have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL—led by D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold and Alan Faneca—are long gone now. Sad, but true. As New York continues to rebuild its offensive line, adding a player of Sharpe’s ability would be a very wise move.
The Jacksonville, FL native started 26 of 27 games for the Gators and is known as a better run blocker than pass blocker. His massive frame alone is a plus and he performed well against some of the best competition in the country in the SEC.
There are areas where Sharpe needs improvement though. He is known for being stiff at times while lacking flexibility to gain the proper leverage on his blocks. His footwork could use some improvement as well.
He has a great body frame and size for a tackle, and that will likely entice coaches and scouts. While he improved his game in 2016, he could probably use another season to refine his game and play up to his potential. On film you see glimpses of big-time play but you also see below-average tackle play and struggles to move in space at times. He is susceptible to giving up the edge on a speed rush as well as losing balance in run blocks. These inconsistencies in his performance make him purely a potential and upside prospect.
So Sharpe is not an All-American tackle. If he was, he would not be projected to be drafted in the fifth round. There are warts in his game. However, considering his massive size and potential for growth, the Jets could do a lot worse than taking a flyer on the former Florida Gator lineman.
Mar 4, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Florida International tight end Jonnu Smith goes through workout drills during the 2017 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Smith could be worth the gamble in the later rounds of the draft. He was a first-team All-Conference USA last year with 42 catches for 506 yards and four touchdowns for the Panthers. His best campaign came as a sophomore in 2014 when he led all tight ends nationally with 61 receptions for 710 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Jets need a dynamic player at tight end and Smith could fit the mold. He is known for having a strong burst off the line of scrimmage with the speed to get past linebackers after the catch. Smith can turn a short pass play into a long-gainer with his yards after catch ability.
On the flip side, Smith has 10 dropped passes in his last two seasons so he needs to improve that aspect of his game immediately. His route running could use some improving as well. At this point of the draft, it is safe to say that Smith is something of a project, but a project with strong upside.
Smith is being compared to Delanie Walker of the Tennessee Titans, as his NFL.com Draft Profile gave this summary on the former FIU standout:
Athletic tight end with four years of pass-catching production and experience as an in-line blocker. Smith is electric after the catch and has the speed to attack all three levels of the field, but his inconsistent hands could hold him back. Smith’s lack of size will likely push him into a “move tight end” role, but he’s a more effective blocker in the zone game than many who have been asked to do it on the pro level.
The Jets need to seriously consider selecting Smith if he is available on Day 3.
Sep 10, 2016; Fort Worth, TX, USA; TCU Horned Frogs defensive end Josh Carraway (94) sacks Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback Austin Allen (8) during the first quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets have not had a truly superior pass rusher since former All-Pro John Abraham played his last game with New York in 2005. Carraway is not expected to be in that class, but he would provide excellent value if available in the final two rounds.
The Flower Mound, TX native has some definite flaws, but one thing he does well is rush the quarterback. Carraway led the Horned Frogs with eight sacks and added 11 tackles for loss last season. He was named to the first-team All-Big 12 squad for the second year in a row. Carraway recorded 19 sacks during his career at TCU and has the flexibility to play defensive end or outside linebacker.
Carraway is known for being an excellent athlete with an outstanding burst when getting to the quarterback. He needs to get tougher and improve his tackling, but he enjoyed a fine NFL Combine last month, finishing in the top 15 among defensive linemen in the broad jump (120 inches) and 40-yard dash (4.74 seconds).
No, he’s not the toughest guy out there, but neither was Bruce Irvin when he came out. Do you remember that? I’m not saying he’s Irvin, but those players with pass-rush traits usually go higher than you expect them to. Coaches get paid to improve the technique. You can’t coach his speed.