Thursday, May 28, 2015

Grading the New York Jets' Defense

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The Jets have been a defensive-minded team for years now, and nothing looks to be any different in 2015. While the offense is improved and received passing grades after some good moves during the offseason and in the draft, there are still question marks everywhere except receiver and tight end.

Defensively, however, the Jets have only a couple of positions that could be weaknesses, let alone entire position groups. After stacking New York up against its division foes on the offensive of the ball, it’s time to take a look how they rank in the AFC East on defense.

Defensive Line

Despite fielding one of the league’s most feared defensive lines, the Jets added to a strength in this year’s draft, selecting Leonard Williams No. 6 overall. The USC product, billed as the draft’s top prospect by many well-respected scouts and agencies, may not even start on New York’s three-man line. That says it all.

Read the rest at Pro Football Spot

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Grading the Draft: AFC South

For the second straight season, the AFC South held two of the draft’s top three picks. The Jaguars picked third in both years, and that’s where much of the intrigue with this year’s draft began after the top-rated quarterbacks went with the first two picks. Chris Tripodi breaks down the division’s draft hauls.

Houston Texans

Just a season after drafting first overall, Houston found itself in the middle of the first round despite getting nothing from 2014 top pick Jadeveon Clowney. The Texans again bolstered their defense, drafting Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson with the 16th pick. Johnathan Joseph is set to be a free agent next season, and Johnson is capable of playing the slot as a rookie then taking over on the outside in 2016 if Joseph isn’t retained. A physical player despite his thin build, Johnson shows excellent instincts in coverage and is capable in both man and zone. He must add strength and improve his tackling but if he does, Johnson can be a plus starter.

Read the rest at Draft Insider

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Grading the New York Jets' offense: Post-draft update

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Between April’s NFL Draft and the punishments levied on the Patriots thanks to Deflategate, the AFC East is becoming a more competitive division. While that doesn’t mean New England won’t come out on top for the seventh straight season, it means there may be more competition on the way there.

The Jets had one of the better drafts in the league under first-year general manager Mike Maccagnan, adding multiple pieces on the offensive side of the ball that have a chance to become impact players down the line. Let’s take a look at what has changed since the initial version of these grades were handed out in March.


Not much is different in the Jets’ quarterback room as far as the 2015 season is concerned, but trading up to draft Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty in the fourth round will have significant long-term ramifications in New York. The March grades alluded to the Jets potentially using a high-draft pick to add a quarterback, and while that opportunity was ultimately not presented to Maccagnan, the team did add a player with starting potential down the line.

Read the rest at Pro Football Spot

Grading the Draft: NFC East

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Despite not replacing DeMarco Murray in a deep running back class, the Dallas Cowboys had one of the best draft hauls in the league thanks to the UDFA signing of projected first-rounder La’El Collins. The Giants, Redskins and Eagles also did well for themselves. Chris Tripodi has our NFC East draft grades.

Dallas Cowboys

In need of depth in the secondary, the Cowboys drafted cornerback Byron Jones with 27th overall pick. A freak athlete who blew up the combine, Jones has good size (6-0, 199) and ball skills and understands the game. He’s an immediate upgrade over 2012 first-round bust Morris Claiborne behind Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick. With pick No. 60, Dallas stopped the fall of Nebraska’s Randy Gregory towards the end of the second round. His failed marijuana test at the combine hurt his stock significantly, along with teams’ concerns over his mental capacity as well as other issues we’ve alluded to which have not hit the mainstream press. On the field, Gregory is a great athlete that plays with good leverage and uses his hands well. If the Cowboys can develop him and keep him on the right path, he has Pro Bowl potential.

Read the rest at Draft Insider

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Devin Smith needs time to develop into a complete receiver

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With the 37th pick in this year’s NFL Draft, the New York Jets infused some much-needed speed into their offense by drafting Ohio State wide receiver Devin Smith. Smith ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at 6-0, 196 pounds during the NFL combine, and will bring impressive play-making skills to a Jets offense that was lacking a deep threat to complement top-notch possession receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.

Many questioned the diversity of Smith’s route tree after a senior season that saw him catch just 33 passes, although he turned those opportunities into 931 yards and 12 touchdowns. One thing is obvious when watching Smith, and it’s that he can make an immediate impact at the NFL level as a field stretcher.

Read the rest at Pro Football Spot

Grading the Draft: AFC East

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The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins did their best to close the gap between them and the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, while the Buffalo Bills’ lack of a first-round pick cost them on draft day. Chris Tripodi has our AFC East draft grades. 

Buffalo Bills

Without a first-round pick after trading it to move up from No. 9 to No. 4 for Sammy Watkins last season, the Bills took Ronald Darby with their 50th overall pick. Darby’s 4.38 40-yard dash opened eyes at the NFL combine, but he lacks top size (5-11, 193) and great instincts at the corner position. He just turned 21 and will have time to develop under Rex Ryan (who did not do a good job developing young defensive backs at the New York Jets), but this was an underwhelming start to the Bills’ draft.

Read the rest at Draft Insider

Remade Pineda emerging as Yankees’ ace

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From (5/6/15)

When Michael Pineda burst onto the scene as a 22-year-old rookie with the Seattle Mariners in 2011, he did it on the strength of a fastball that touched 99 mph at times. Throwing his heater 58 percent of the time, Pineda was an up-and-coming power pitcher with ace potential. The Mariners, in search of a big-time bat, shipped him to the Yankees with Jose Campos in exchange for Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi the following January.

What followed was two years of pain for both Pineda and the Yankees. The fire-balling right-hander didn’t throw a pitch in 2012 after being shut down in April with right shoulder tendinitis, which eventually turned into an anterior labral tear and required season-ending surgery. Complications from the procedure kept Pineda off the mound in 2013 as well, and while many around the Yankees suspected the Mariners knew their young stud was damaged goods, further news on that front never came to light.

Pineda finally made it back to the rubber in 2014, kicking off the season with three consecutive starts allowing one run or fewer. After a pine tar incident against the Red Sox got him ejected and suspended for 10 games, Pineda didn’t throw another live pitch until August after hurting his back during a simulated game. He picked up where he left off upon his return, allowing two runs or fewer in eight of his final nine starts.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Meet the unheralded members of the Yankees’ bullpen

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By now, every Yankees fan knows the names Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. Betances flourished in a set-up role last season in front of David Robertson, and was expected to close this year until his spring struggles led manager Joe Girardi to go with Miller instead. Miller has been spectacular with a 23:6 K:BB ratio and 10 saves in 13 1/3 innings. Neither Betances nor Miller has allowed an earned run in 28 combined innings.

Those two have played a huge part in a bullpen that ranks third in MLB with a 1.68 ERA while throwing the third-most innings in baseball. The Yankees have been able to shorten games in an attempt to cover up for a shaky starting rotation, and it’s not thanks to just Betances and Miller. The rest of the Yankees bullpen has proven solid as well, and it's time they get some credit as well.

David Carpenter, RHP; Justin Wilson, LHP

Carpenter and Wilson tend to handle the seventh inning for the Yankees, mostly depending on whether left-handed hitters or right-handers are due up. Wilson has proven to be more of the specialist, as he averages slightly less than two outs per appearance (13 appearances, 8 1/3 innings), while Carpenter is more often used for an inning at a time (10 appearances, 9 2/3 innings). Both have allowed just three earned runs through the first month.

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Grading the New York Jets' 2015 draft class

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For the first time in what seems like – and likely is – a very long time, the Jets exited draft weekend feeling good about what they did over the three-day span. Whether it was stopping the perceived slides of talented players or filling holes on both sides of the ball with guys who fit their needs and represented value, general manager Mike Maccagnan and his staff showed a shrewd understanding of how the draft process works.

The Jets entered the draft with six picks, one in each of the first four rounds and two in the seventh. They ended up making six picks, although only half of them were in the slots they had before Thursday’s first round thanks to two separate trades. How did Maccagnan perform in his draft debut?

Round 1, Pick 6: Leonard Williams, DL, USC

Widely projected as a top-five pick that wouldn’t fall past the Redskins, Williams became available to the Jets when Washington selected Iowa lineman Brandon Scherff. Many expected New York to take either West Virginia receiver Kevin White or a pass rusher like Clemson’s Vic Beasley, who came off the board at No. 7 and No. 8, respectively, but Williams was a great choice for the Jets.

Read the rest at Pro Football Spot

Friday, May 1, 2015

New York Jets’ Day 2 Wish List

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The Jets hit one out of the park Thursday night when Leonard Williams fell into their laps at No. 6 overall. As long as the team doesn’t trade Muhammad Wilkerson, which would be a tough pill for fans to swallow, the Jets will dominate in the trenches with Williams, Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, as well as Damon Harrison.

While many are wondering how three similar linemen fit together in the same 3-4 front, they shouldn’t be. Todd Bowles will use multiple fronts to get his best players on the field the most, so expect the Jets to run more four-man fronts with either the aging Calvin Pace or the underwhelming Quinton Coples taking more breathers on early downs than last season. Bringing them back in rush situations to replace Harrison would be ideal usage.

Moving onto Friday’s Day 2, there are multiple players available that would fill needs for the Jets and provide appropriate value. New York still has a need for playmakers on offense, whether it’s a space back who can provide a complement to Chris Ivory and Stevan Ridley or a speedy wide receiver who can stretch the field. Fortifying the interior offensive line should be in consideration, as well as a pass rusher.

Read the rest at Pro Football Spot