New York Jets: Reviewing the 2013 NFL Draft Class
The 2013 NFL Draft class is a mixed bag for the New York Jets, so we review the crop of players after four seasons.
John Idzik’s is not a face that New York Jets want brought before their eyes again. Idzik was remembered more for his ability to manage money than his ability to evaluate talent during his tenure as the Jets general manager. Eric Decker was acquired during his time, but much of his work in New York was questioned, to say the least.
When banners fly over practice requesting that the general manager be fired, the temperature of the fan base is obvious. Ownership eventually turned on the proverbial air conditioning and appeased the fans, as we know. Idzik is no more and the Jets have moved on.
Despite that, we are going to take a look back at some of Idzik’s work. They say that four years is a fair amount of time to review a draft class. With that in mind, the group of players selected in the 2017 NFL Draft have now finished their first contracts and have had adequate time to become acclimated to life in the NFL. Whether they did or not, well, that remains to be seen.
So, while the Jets prepare for the 2017 NFL Draft, we go back and take a look at the 2013 draft. How did it really go? Let’s begin the trip back.
Round 1 (Pick 9): Dee Milliner, CB
New York began their draft with the ninth overall pick. Idzik believed he was drafting the next Darrelle Revis. With six interceptions and 40 passes defended while at Alabama, Milliner certainly had solid numbers to his credit. He had a torn labrum that ended up needing surgery, so he wasn’t able to participate in the bench press at the NFL Combine. He did miss a game in college due to a hip flexor, but the young man did play in 38 games in college.
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At the NFL Combine, he showed great speed, running the 40-yard dash at 4.37 seconds. Despite his shoulder surgery, he was ready to play when training camps came along. After arriving in New York, it did not go well. He showed glimpses at the end of the 2013 season when Ed Reed had been signed, but it never sustained. He was benched three separate times during his rookie year.
In 2014, he sustained an ACL injury in week six that cost him the balance of the season. He returned in 2015, but never found his way on the field for Todd Bowles before an injury found him on injured reserve again. He was out until November and he was unable to earn the favor of his head coach. Milliner was released in September 2016. For a player that didn’t even finish out his rookie contract, the grade is clear.
Round 1 (Pick 13): Sheldon Richardson, DE
The Jets hadn’t chosen an offensive player in the first round since 2009 (Mark Sanchez). That trend continued with the 13th overall pick. New York has been on a search over many years for the dominant edge pass rusher. Sheldon Richardson was a highly-touted player coming out of Missouri, but he was listed as a defensive tackle. So, with players like Jarvis Jones on the board, many were surprised when Richardson was the pick.
Richardson came on the scene and was an immediate starter. In his rookie year, he posted 77 tackles and 3.5 sacks. His second year was when he broke out, however. He earned a Pro Bowl berth while posting 68 tackles and a career-high eight sacks. He was active for 11 games in 2015, which we will discuss further in a minute, posting five sacks and 35 tackles. Last season he fell back to the pack, as did most of the Jets, as he only managed only 1.5 sacks and 62 tackles.
So, overall he has been great, so does he get top marks? Not so fast. Richardson has not been the best behaved off of the field. He already has a drug suspension to his credit, costing him four games in 2015. There was the arrest in Missouri that involved speeding and running from the police with a gun in the car. This past year, we had the incident with “Snapchat.” Now we have the public spat between him and Brandon Marshall.
It turns out that Sheldon Richardson’s attitude may have taken himself off of the team. He has been great on the field, but the grade has to come down.
Round 2: Geno Smith, QB
Here is a face that evokes strong emotions from Jets fans, and not many of them are positive. The Jets had just finished going 6-10 in 2012 with the failed experiment of Tim Tebow working with Mark Sanchez. Tebow wasn’t a serious competitor for Sanchez’s job, and the tandem playing during the same game was doomed to fail from the start. Tebow was gone and in came John Idzik looking for Plan B—or a new Plan A.
So what did he do? Draft a quarterback in the second round of his first draft with the team. Everyone, including the Jets brass, believed that Mark Sanchez had become too comfortable, so in came Smith to give him a push. After an injury in the third preseason game, Smith was thrust into the starting position as a rookie.
It started out promising. Smith led the Jets to a win in the waning seconds of his first start in 2012. He was near perfect four weeks later in prime time against the Atlanta Falcons. The trouble was that the flashes were just that, flashes. He could never shake the problem of turning the football over. Even when he posted a perfect passer rating at the end of the 2014 season, it never became a sign of things to come. His understanding of defenses just never got better.
Even with that, he was the starter going into the 2015 season. Then, we had the infamous punch. The punch over $600 that was thrown by I.K. Enemkpali showed everyone that not only there was a problem on the field, Geno Smith didn’t get the idea off the field either. He lost his teammates, he lost any remaining faith the team had in him, and it is nearly a guarantee that he will be gone prior to the 2017 season.
Round 3: Brian Winters, OL
Anyone who watched Rex Ryan’s teams for more than five minutes know his M.O. His teams lived and died by the “Ground and Pound” philosophy. No matter who the offensive coordinator was, this team was built to run the football and let the pass play off of the ground game. What do teams that want to run the football need? Offensive linemen. The offensive line makes the offense go regardless, but when running the football, depth on the offensive line is more than essential.
With that in mind, the Jets selected Brian Winters in the third round. He began his career next to D’Brickashaw Ferguson at left guard. He started 12 games as a rookie and the results were up and down. He was moved in and out of the lineup at times, but for the most part, they kept the faith in him. He started six games in 2014 before a torn ACL ended his season early.
In 2015, Todd Bowles took over the team and moved Winters to right guard. That was a better fit, and Winters worked his way into the starting lineup. He started 10 games in 2015 and became the full-time starter in 2016. Winters started 13 games and was ranked 31st at the position by Pro Football Focus. That is not a grade that sets the world on fire, but it was good enough to earn a contract extension. Winters has already been re-signed this offseason to a four-year, $29 million contract (per Spotrac). Winters hasn’t been great, but he is getting better.
Round 5: Oday Aboushi, OT
The Jets were without a pick in the fourth round, having been traded to the New Orleans Saints in return for Chris Ivory. In keeping with the run mentality of head coach Rex Ryan, Idzik went back to the offensive line with the selection of Oday Aboushi. Aboushi was a left tackle in college for a good portion of his career, but Mike Mayock believed he would only be a right tackle in the pros, making it an uphill battle. If you aren’t a left tackle in the pros, either you start at right tackle or you aren’t dressed, typically.
As Mayock predicted, Aboushi was inactive for all of the 2013 season. In 2014, Aboushi did crack the starting lineup, starting 10 games next to D’Brickashaw Ferguson at left guard. His first start came on Thursday Night Football against the rival New England Patriots. He went on to be the starter for the remainder of the 2014 season.
However, 2015 rolled around and the new regime was not so enamored with the ability of Aboushi. He was released by the Jets in September of that year. Granted, he did catch on with the Houston Texans and has started 8 of 11 games for the AFC South team in the Lone Star State. But, the grade goes strictly for his time in New York.
Note: The Jets’ sixth-round pick, William Campbell, never played a down in New York. Thus, he gets a succinct F.
Round 7: Tommy Bohanon, FB
Any Jets fan knows the affinity that Rex Ryan had for the traditional fullback. Remember Hard Knocks? Rex Ryan couldn’t stop raving about his handpicked fullback at the time, John “The Terminator” Conner. In a run-first philosophy, Ryan had his heart set on having that traditional lead blocker to plow open the lanes for his running backs. With that in mind, the Jets used their seventh round pick on Tommy Bohanon out of Wake Forest.
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In 2013, he did do a decent amount of work in the offense in addition to blocking. That year, he carried the ball 17 times for 62 yards, and added 11 receptions for 69 yards. He helped Chris Ivory to a career-high at the time of 833 rushing yards. To his credit, he gave the Jets a great deal of value from the seventh round. In 2014, he suffered a broken collar-bone that ended his season after appearing in only four games.
In 2015, Bohanon returned for all 16 games. He wasn’t a major part of the offense, running the ball only two times and recording four receptions. But he must get credit for his work as a blocker. He was once again the lead blocker for Chris Ivory, who posted over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. Bohanon deserves some credit for that. He was released as part of final cuts in 2016, but his time in New York wasn’t all bad.
As much as we all enjoy grading and second-guessing general managers, they are in an unenviable position. The NFL draft is a crapshoot. All of the study, the film, the workouts, and the interviews are helpful. These are tools that can help gain insight into ability and character. But the fact is that these guys really don’t know. The best players in college sometimes turn into the worst NFL players and vice versa. We expect these men to get this right every time and we get on their case when they get it wrong.
But that’s not going to stop us from giving out a grade here.
This was not a great group of players. Sheldon Richardson is abundantly talented, but he is a minority in the group. Dee Milliner was a complete bust, and the problem is that there were signs. He was well-known to be coming in with injury concerns. Geno Smith did bring concerns about how ready he really was. Many of the choices out of this group were middle of the road players, and one never even played a down in the green and white.
There is enough to bring the grade up from an F, but not by much.