Diamond Artest, 4yo daughter of Ron Artest, has been diagnosed with cancer of the only kidney that she was born with. I'm sure that all our thoughts and prayers are with her.
Young quarterbacks tend to develop in dramatic sweeps where they may inspire or frustrate and it's rarely a smooth road. It's wise not to get too high or too low on them based on any play or game.
Quarterbacks have tangible and intangible sets of traits, some that can be improved and some that can't. In 1990 I watched Lawrence Taylor lead a ferocious Giants pass rush against a young Troy Aikman who repeatedly stood his ground, delivered passes and took savage hits. Aikman performance made me believe that the Cowboys had found their leader who had displayed the three ‘C's, Courage, Confidence and Consistency.
Kellen Clemens has, at times, shown courage and confidence but not consistency before the Jets win over Miami this past week. If the Dolphins game is an indication of what Clemens can deliver then the Jets may have found their man. Of course I understand that it was the Fish and that they threw in the towel as the Jets pulled ahead but I was impressed that Clemens shook off Mike Lehan's 43-yard TD return of his fumble that had given Miami a 13-10 lead and led his team with confidence and consistency for the remainder of the game.
Clemens seemed to see the field better and he threw the ball with more authority. He was decisive and when he missed (other than Porter's pick) he wasn't throwing up the ball for grabs. It was Clemens best game to date. Cleveland isn't an elite defense but they can score and put a team on the defensive quickly and they present different challenges for Clemens than the weak Dolphins did.
I anticipate the Jets playing well against the Browns but they're too thin at WR, limiting their firepower and against Cleveland that's not a position that you want to be in.
Cleveland 34 - Jets 23
Jets Mock Draft
How do you fix the mess that is currently playing as the NY Jets? Well, you start with the draft. I make many assumptions in creating this mock draft and I presume that the Jets can and will trade Chad Pennington for a 2nd round pick. Chad is a better option for many teams than they have currently and certainly would be a quality reserve.
At this writing the Jets look like they will have the 3rd pick in the upcoming draft and that could mean RB Darren McFadden or a stud lineman like OT Jake Long or DE Chris Long. Any one of these 3 would be a great addition to a team that is a player or two from contending but the Jets simply have too many holes and only Chris Long addresses an immediate need. Therefore I am, because it's MY mock draft, going to trade my first round pick (#3 - I assume) for the 20th and 25th pick in the first round and Chad Pennington for the 18th pick in the second round.
My rationale is simple. Trading down would allow the Jets to sign more draft picks (spread around the money) and they have too many needs to plug one hole at a time year over year. Several good prospects, some of whom might be very good are a better solution than drafting Darren McFadden onto a team that can't open holes for him. I believe the Jets have all their picks (assuming that the Sean Ryan and Brooks Bollinger deals yield about the same pick). I tried to select players a little higher than pundits are projecting them and I assume that the juniors I select will be available. Oh, if only the real world worked like this!
Round 1 - 20th pick: QUENTIN GROVES - DE/LB, Auburn
Round 1 - 25th pick: MALCOLM KELLY - WR, Oklahoma
Round 2 - 3rd pick: TOMMY BLAKE -DE, TCU
Round 2 - 18th pick: DRE MOORE - DT, Maryland
Round 3 - 2nd pick: CHAD HENNE - QB, Michigan
Round 4 - 3rd pick: OWEN SCHMITT - FB, West Virginia
Round 5 - 3rd pick: TONY HILLS - OT, Texas
Round 6 - 3rd pick: MARCUS MONK - WR, Arkansas
Round 7 - 3rd pick: BARRY RICHARDSON - OT, Clemson
The Jets specifically need Malcolm Kelly and Owen Schmitt and I would do what I had to do to insure that I got these two players. Quentin Groves would be great physical addition but he might be gone, especially if I had to take Kelly with the 20th pick.
The Jets simply can't afford NOT to take Owen Schmitt who should be a starter for them in training camp. Big and quick, a capable runner and (now) a solid blocker, Schmitt is a continuously hard worker who can improve the Jets running game immediately and any production running or receiving is better than what they have now. It's rare to have the potential to upgrade a starting position so well in the 4th round.
The Jets are seriously under-sized and under-manned at WR. This weakness is being exposed with injuries to Coles and Cotchery (out). Justin McCareins is dismal (not withstanding his 51-yd catch against the Dolophins), Brad Smith can't run routes nor catch well enough and Wallace Wright is far too green.
Without targets, Kellen Clemens won't lead the Jets anywhere. Malcolm Kelly is a big, rangy, fluid athlete who has size and hands if not elite speed but he fits the Jets system perfectly and should offer immediate depth and size. By mid-season I expect that the Jets will be able to run effective 3 receiver sets again and Kelly should be a starter by his second year.
Marcus Monk will slip in the draft because of his reduced numbers in 2007 (injury) but he has shown ability in the past despite playing for run oriented Arkansas. He's huge (6'-6", 220-lbs) and I would expect him to fill out at @230-lbs in the NFL and add dimension to the Jets passing game as a hybrid WR/H-back giving them some interesting match-ups against smaller DBs.
Quentin Groves is a superior athlete with excellent speed but he's small for a DE. Then again, so was Charles Haley. Groves projects as a pass rush specialist until his game expands. On a team with a tame pass rush he could help sooner than later.
Tommy Blake played closer to 270-lbs this year and should add depth and speed at DE. Combined with Groves they should upgrade the Jet pass rush and be more dynamic.
Dre Moore helps inside and has shown that he can pressure the pocket and I expect that he will push DeWayne Robertson and give the Jets more opportunity to use 4-3 schemes when needed. At the very least he will be another wide body and the Jets can use help there too.
I used Chad Henne who should be available early in the 3rd round, because his stock has fallen this year but any one of several interesting QB prospects may still be on the board for the Jets with the 64th pick. The bottom line for the Jets is to get a back-up QB who might develop over time. Trading Chad Pennington takes pressure off of Clemens and the Jets should be able to get some value for him especially after a season when many teams proved very thin at QB.
Tony Hills was injured again this year else I feel that he would have been a higher pick. He has good size and skills and while his health issues are a concern he offers excellent value if available at this point in the draft to add depth and push for playing time.
Barry Richardson is huge (6'-7" 340-lbs) and an All-ACC multi-year starter at OT but I don't see him having the feet to be an OT in the NFL. He's hard working and a good drive blocker so I project him at G.
My mock draft would give the Jets an immediate starter at FB, immediate depth (consider who they have now) and size at WR, a young back-up QB and some bodies for the offensive line. On defense they would have several talented (hopefully) linemen to upgrade their pass rush and to push under performing veterans.
The emergence of rookie ILB Davis Harris should take some pressure off of Jonathan Vilma next year and if Quentin Groves takes to OLB in a 3-4 the Jets LB corps might be dramatically improved. Darrelle Revis and the secondary will seem a lot better if they have some consistency from the pass rush.
The Jets will still need some good players to be a threat in the playoffs but I believe that drafting an impact WR, Owen Schmitt (because they effectively have no FB) and some athletic defensive players will have a cascading effect to help other units. If Kellen Clemens is the Jets QB of the future is yet to be determined but we might never know that if he lacks too much quality to show his ability.