Thursday, May 8, 2014

Grading the Jets Draft: Calvin Pryor, 18th Overall

Photo credit: AP Images
When Michigan State corner Darqueze Dennard was not taken before the Jets' pick at 18, he was the player I wanted. Cornerback is one of the Jets' top two needs, along with wide receiver. With Odell Beckham Jr. off the board, Oregon State's Brandin Cooks was the top-rated receiver on the board.

While I stated at the end of my earlier mock that I preferred the direction mocks were taking with a receiver in the first round, that was assuming two things. One, that Dennard was off the board. Two, that the Jets were taking a wide receiver. With the Jets going with a safety instead, arguably their third-biggest need when compared with the tight end position, that changes my thoughts.

I am a big fan of Calvin Pryor as a player, as I got the chance to see him play multiple times this season as part of my AAC evaluation for Optimum Scouting. In fact, I recently wrote his scouting report for the Optimum Scouting Draft Guide (cheap plug). An excerpt below:

"A hard hitter who plays a physical brand of football, Pryor combines those skills with the tackling ability necessary to make an immediate impact against the run in the NFL. He needs to clean up the angles he takes to the ball as he's sometimes too focused on coming upfield quickly and making a big hit rather than breaking down and reading the ballcarrier. When he does break down, Pryor can explode into a runner's thighs and stop him dead in his tracks. When he misses with his pursuit angles, he misses inside-out which allows too many runners to get around him to the boundary. If he cleans up his pursuit in the NFL, he has all the talent necessary to be a star. Pryor would be an ideal fit for Cover 1 teams as he is extremely effective in the box and shows the requisite range to makes plays to the sideline in the passing game. He has excellent hands for a safety and shows great coordination and balance along the sideline to create turnovers in any area of the field...Pryor also bites on play-action passes and allows receivers to get behind him when playing in the box. Despite his deficiences, Pryor is one of the most talented safeties in this year's draft and should come off the board anywhere from the middle of the first round into the early second round."

So yes, I do like Pryor as a player. Very much. He's a Rex Ryan type of player and John Idzik is a fan as well, saying, "He fits us, he fits our profile. He's a physical player on the field, he has range, he makes plays. Creates turnovers. Plays like a Jet."

I can't give the pick an A because the Jets had bigger needs elsewhere and the opportunity to take two players I liked. But with the depth of this year's wide receiver class and multiple third-round cornerbacks available that fit Ryan's scheme, New York can fill those holes on Day 2. If Pryor was truly the top player on the board as they said, it's difficult to blame the Jets here. Athleticism at the safety position has been lacking on this team in the past few seasons, and Pryor immediately becomes their best safety and at least their second best defensive back.

Grade: B (Like) - B+ for the player, B- for the value/need

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