As someone who's covered the draft for almost three decades I've enjoyed the on again, off again, on again love affair the media has with quarterback Marcus Mariota. Just three weeks ago beat writers for the New York Jets claimed the franchise had no interest in Mariota and now they've listed the team as one of the many, considering trading up to acquire the Heisman Trophy winner.
Fact is, the scouts have always considered Mariota as one of the top three prospects in this years draft and justifiably so. Presently he grades as the top quarterback on my board. There's never been the slightest chance he would fall to the sixth pick of round one but I do think if the right package is offered the Jets could move up and grab the future star.
I also find it hard to believe the claim by many that the Jets are in desperate need of a pass rusher. Yes a pass rushing linebacker would be a nice addition but the moment the Jets added Darrell Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine to the secondary their pass rush improved immeasurably (lest we forget the term coverage sack).
So where does that leave us in round one?
For my money if its not a trade up for Marcus Mariota and Alabama receiver Amari Cooper is not staring them in the face in the sixth spot its got to be offensive lineman Brandon Scherff of Iowa.
Face it, as maligned as quarterback Geno Smith was last year the inconsistent play of the offensive line added to his woes. The team has issues at both guard spots and left tackle D'brickashaw Ferguson has been terribly inconsistent.
The beauty of selecting Scherff is the Jets are getting the top offensive lineman in the draft and one of the events better players as well as a blocker who can fill any of the aforementioned problem spots on the offensive line.
Why hasn't Scherff caught fire in the media?
Dependable, workhorse blockers do not make great stories or grab the headlines as do mouthy pass rushers, flamboyant defenders or immature quarterbacks. They just go on to have long, productive careers playing football on Sunday.
Speed at the receiver position is a must and the Jets should be able to plunk either Nelson Agholor of USC or Philip Dorsett of Miami from round two. Since the combine the Jets have shown a lot of interest in Dorsett, who strikes fear into opponents with his ability to stretch the field.
The second frame is also the place the team could find their pass rushing linebacker. The two names I keep hearing are Benardrick McKinneyof Mississippi State and Nate Orchard from Utah.
McKinney is listed as a middle linebacker on many boards but I view him as a lethal threat at outside linebacker in a 3-4. Try and dig up film from his red-shirt freshman season when McKinney lined up at outside linebacker and produced what was arguably his best season on the college field. He was dominant and a force that could not be stopped.
Orchard was a consistent pass rusher out of a three point stance the three years he started for Utah and projects to outside linebacker. While I am concerned about Orchard's ability to drop into space (he struggled in that capacity during the Senior Bowl practices) I love his pass rush skills and more than anything else, he's a quality person determined to succeed.
If they've not addressed the need for speed at the receiver position Tyler Lockett of Kansas State should be a consideration in round three. He's the receiver version of Darren Sproles; a skill player with a slight build but home run hitting speed as well as the ability to alter games returning kicks and punts.
I'd love the Jets to roll the dice on OL Ali Marpet, the local product and division III star from Hobart, if he's available in the third frame. Marpet, who played high school football at Hastings-on-Hudson in Westchester County, was dominant at several positions during the Senor Bowl then followed it up with an equally impressive combine. He fills a need at either guard spot, can be groomed as a future center and also line up at right tackle in a pinch.
Not since the days of Leon Washington have the Jets had a running back who creates yardage and is dangerous in open space. Never mind a real weapon catching the ball out of the backfield. If, and its a big if, Duke Johnson from Miami of Florida is available when the team picks in round three its a no brainer in my mind as he brings many of the features the team has missed since Washington's departure.
Nose tackle David Parry of Stanford, pass rusher Xavier Dickson from Alabama or tight end Jesse James from Penn State are all fourth round prospects who could contribute as rookies for the Jets.
Overall, as usual, it should be interesting and dramatic for Gang Green.