Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Devin Smith's early struggles are no reason to worry

Photo credit: buckeyextra.dispatch.com
Most Jets fans and draft analysts alike were high on New York’s second-round selection of Devin Smith with the 37th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. A field-stretching speedster with the ability to win in the vertical game, the former Ohio State standout was a solid value pick who would fill a role nobody else on the Jets’ roster could.

While Smith has the ability to provide an immediate boost to the Jets' offense as a deep threat, the Jets want him to learn how to be a complete receiver as well. That’s something Smith wasn’t asked to do at Ohio State and, not surprisingly, he has struggled to learn multiple receiver positions early on. Wide receivers coach Karl Dorrell said the following about Smith:

"Devin struggled with [learning other receiving spots]. He came in thinking, 'OK, I'm coming in from a great program, they're going to put me in one spot and play.' Well, you're wrong. You're going to play more than one spot, and you're going to do that on the practice field."
Dorrell also complimented Smith’s skill set and acknowledged that learning how to play multiple spots when you’ve spent your entire college career playing just one is a difficult task for anybody, let alone a player who missed their three-day June minicamp awaiting the birth of his daughter. And while the rookie receiver has a lot to learn, this shouldn’t be a shock based on his college film, which I broke down in depth after the draft.

Read the rest at Pro Football Spot

Monday, June 22, 2015

With Ridley likely hitting PUP, Jets should unleash Ivory

Photo credit: NFL.com
Despite a perceived need for a space back with the ability to catch passes and create big plays, the Jets elected to sign former Patriots running back Stevan Ridley to a one-year, $1.25 million contract this offseason. Ridley’s career numbers, including a 1,263-yard season in 2012, make the contract look like a steal, but the Jets got a discount thanks to the 26-year-old tearing his ACL last October.

While Ridley participated in May OTAs, non-contact practices aren’t a great measure of an injured runner’s health. Ridley himself said last weekend that he was unsure of his status for training camp, and reports came out a week later that it was reasonable for the runner to start the season on the PUP list, which would keep him sidelined for the first six games.

Luckily for the Jets, they didn’t sign Ridley to rely on him as a key part of their offense, especially not early in the season. Chris Ivory remains one of the most underrated running backs in the league, but a big reason for that is his own injury-prone nature. Despite that reputation, which was well-earned after playing just 12 games in his final two years with the Saints, Ivory has played in 31 of a possible 32 games since joining the Jets before the 2013 season.

Read the rest at Pro Football Spot

GEICO Week in New York: June 22-28

Alex Rodriguez started the week sitting on 2,995 career hits. He ended it with 3,003. In between, the 39-year-old designated hitter became the third player to enter the 3,000-hit club with a home run, joining Wade Boggs and Derek Jeter with an opposite-field blast off Justin Verlander in the first inning of Friday's series opener with the Tigers. Both Boggs and Jeter accomplished the feat in Yankees uniforms, and Rodriguez joined them as the only Yankees to reach the 3,000-hit plateau.

The inevitable milestone was controversial for Rodriguez, who was suspended for the entire 2014 season for using performance-enhancing drugs. The Yankees, who have openly balked at paying the bonuses in A-Rod's contract attached to his climb up the career home run list, publicized and celebrated Rodriguez's 3000th hit. Despite everything the Yankees and Rodriguez went through last season, the slugger has been invaluable to the team's success this season, as he leads the club in batting average (.282) and on-base percentage (.384), ranks second in home runs (14) and third in RBIs (43). No matter your feelings on A-Rod, his importance to the Yankees 38-31 record is indisputable.

Read the rest at SNY.tv

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New York Jets could be saving money on Wilkerson to pay Richardson

Muhammad Wilkerson’s contract situation is by far the biggest news surrounding the Jets as minicamp ends. For all of Geno Smith’s inconsistencies, Willie Colon’s commentary and Antonio Cromartie’s Twitter wars, those storyline's pale in comparison to Wilkerson.

New York’s All-Pro defensive end is entering the final year of his contract and despite Mike Maccagnan calling an extension a “priority” for the Jets, the team’s actions paint a different picture. With Sheldon Richardson’s contract due up after the 2017 season, assuming the Jets exercise his fifth-year option, are the Jets realizing they can’t pay both?

The Jets have just over $5 million in salary cap space available this season, according to Spotrac. Next season, that number jumps to around $18 million and balloons to $42 million in 2017. While some of that extra money must be used to fill out the roster, the Jets could be in a much better financial situation to dole out big money to a star defensive end next season or the year after instead of this year.

Wilkerson currently counts for about $7 million against this season’s cap and if he truly wants “Suh money” like the outspoken Richardson said last week, that number would rise about $10 million if the extension included the 2015 season. Since the Jets can’t afford that, any extension would have to kick in starting next year, when the team has $18 million to play with.

Read the rest at Pro Football Spot

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

New York Jets Fantasy Projections: Tight Ends

Photo credit: fantasy.usatoday.com
Teams with shaky passing games generally don’t get much production from their tight ends. Whether it’s quarterback play holding back offensive statistics as a whole or iffy offensive play keeping tight ends in to block more often, it’s hard to get high-level tight end production from a below-average offense. Unfortunately for the Jets, that’s what they’ve been the past few seasons. It hasn’t always been that way, though.

Over the last three years, no Jets tight end has ranked in the top 25 for fantasy scoring at the position - Jeff Cumberland came the closest, ranking 26th in 2013. Before that, however, the Jets got four seasons of top-20 production from 2008 first-round pick Dustin Keller, who even cracked the top 10 in 2010 and 2011 with ninth-places finishes each year. On top of being a talented player with the ability to stretch the seam, Keller was Mark Sanchez’s safety valve, and most Jets fans remember how often Sanchez utilized him in that manner.

Read the rest at Pro Football Spot

Friday, June 5, 2015

Grading the Draft: NFC South

For the first time since each conference went to four separate divisions, the NFC South was won by the same team in consecutive seasons. The Panthers may not have cracked .500 to accomplish the feat, but did pick up a playoff victory before losing to the eventual NFC champion Seahawks. Also for the second straight year, both the Buccaneers and Falcons landed top-eight picks as both teams look to climb back to the top of the division.

Atlanta Falcons

With the eighth overall selection, the Falcons upgraded a pass rush in desperate need of speed off the edge by drafting Clemson’s Vic Beasley. Beasley’s speed, explosiveness and agility are off the charts and he registered 25 sacks in his final two seasons with the Tigers. Beasley should make an immediate impact rushing off the edge in Atlanta, but his lack of bulk and shoddy run defense will have to be covered up by his teammates.

Read the rest at Draft Insider

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

New York Jets Positional Roster Review: Cornerbacks

Photo credit: nypost.com
New general manager Mike Maccagnan’s offseason spending spree was heavily focused on upgrading a position that was arguably the worst in football last season: Cornerback. Maccagnan did just that, investing over $127 million in three players who should anchor the Jets’ secondary for the next several seasons.

Welcome Back - Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie

Almost two years after former general manager John Idzik traded Revis to Tampa Bay for a first-round pick, Maccagnan brought the All-Pro cornerback back home to the team that drafted him, signing Revis for five years and $70 million after he won a Super Bowl with the Patriots. Maccagnan reunited Revis with his old partner in crime as well, signing Cromartie for four years, $32 million.

Read the rest at Pro Football Spot