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In our second mock draft of the season, the landscape looked a bit different. This time around, three QBs went in the top 10. Three offensive tackles were off the board in the top 15 picks and a fourth, Notre Dame's Zach Martin, will likely move inside to guard in the NFL. There were also two linebackers, two safeties and two wide receivers taken before the Jets pick at 18, which left a list of very good players for the Green & White to choose from.
The result was positive for the Jets in our opinion as they acquired the top man-cover corner in the draft, a highly productive receiver with size, a physical pass-catching TE who can stretch the seam, and an aggressive pass rusher off the edge, all in the first four rounds.
Here is our Jets-only mock draft. We'll give you the three players in the first three rounds today and the nine players in Rounds 4-7 on Friday.
Round 1 (18th overall) — Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State (5'11", 199)
A lot of fans want to see a receiver in this spot, and Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks and Marqise Lee were all sitting there on the board for us. But with the QBs and OTs pushing the WRs down in this scenario, and given the depth of talent at receiver, we knew there would be good players available in the next three rounds, and once Eric Ebron (to the Giants at 12) came off the board, TE was no longer a first-round option for us.
The truth is, if Dennard falls this far on May 8, the Jets have no choice but to snatch him up. Though Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert was the first corner off the board (to Tennessee at 11) and shows more flash and athleticism, Dennard, the top player left on our board, is hands down the best cover corner in the draft and the last piece of the puzzle that Rex Ryan needs to run his defense.
Dennard is not Darrelle Revis, and at 4.51 the big knock on him is his lack of straight-line speed. But he is a physical defender who is smart, uses the sideline well, and has excellent ball skills (7 INTs, 24 PDs the past two seasons).
There also haven't been a lot of peaks and valleys with this kid. He's a consistent, competitive player who will grind all game long and is a starter from day one. Rex will also love him in run support. In our opinion, this is a big win for the Jets.
Round 2 (49) — Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State (6'3", 220)**
It's no secret that the Jets need offensive weapons. Rookie WRs often struggle with the transition to the NFL, but Robinson is a pro-ready receiver who is quietly rising up draft boards. As we expected, there were several strong players to choose from, including LSU's Jarvis Landry, Fresno State's Davante Adams, Donte Moncrief of Ole Miss and Clemson's Martavis Bryant. All bring positive traits to the table.
Robinson brings more. First, he has the size, leaping ability (39" vertical) and catch radius to be an immediate red zone threat. He also uses his size to separate at the LOS and is a physical runner after the catch who won't shy away from contact.
Second, he has experience playing in a pro-style system under Bill O'Brien at Penn State. Though he still needs route-running and technique work like any rookie, he understands some of the concepts, which should help his transition.
Finally, Robinson has been unbelievably productive (174 catches, 2,450 yards, 17 TDs the past two seasons). Even better news: Scouts believe he still has room to grow physically and improve his game.
Round 3 (80) — Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame (6'7", 270)
As we worked through our mock, we were surprised Niklas was still here. He's created some buzz with his measurables, and we've seen him listed as a second-rounder in several mocks.
Though many discussions about the position for the Jets have centered around "move" TEs like Eric Ebron, the TE in Marty Mornhinweg's offense must be a run blocker as well, and in evaluating Niklas, that's the first thing that jumps out. He is an imposing, physical player who embraces contact and seems to relish putting defenders on their backs — he actually played OLB as a freshman for the Irish.
As a receiver, he played behind Tyler Eifert for two years, and last year he had just 32 catches, but he averaged 15.5 yards per catch. He may be the most complete two-way TE in this draft, and as a result he could come off the board earlier than this. If so, we still see Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz as a good fit here.