A survivor of the mean streets of Mahopac, N.Y., as well as a graduate of the College of Saint Rose, guest writer Anthony Eleftherion breaks down the Jets using their first-round pick on a Louisville safety named Calvin Pryor. You can follow Anthony on Twitter here …
With the 18th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select….
Calvin Pryor (5’11, 207), safety, University of Louisville.
It looks like things have not changed over there at One Jets Drive, and that is probably for the best, for now. With Buffalo sacrificing its 2015 first round pick to move up to take Sammy Watkins at fourth overall, John Idzik and the Jets were in desperate need of a defensive specimen. When you couple that with Jets’ upcoming schedule, which boasts of likes of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, Peyton Manning and his receiving corps, and Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson (Megatron), and now, Eric Ebron, the need becomes even more glaring.
While some fans might have been clamoring for the Jets to draft Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard (I was one of them), or even Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks, Jets loyalists should realize that the team has a host of serviceable cornerbacks, and they can easily draft Eric Decker’s complimentary receiver in later rounds (i.e. Marqise Lee or Allen Robinson). Yes, Idzik refused to acquiesce to the oversized demands of many free agent safeties and cornerbacks, and, yes, none of the Jets receivers or cornerbacks resemble what experts deem “Number 1” caliber players at their respective positions, but what the Jets gained in Pryor is more than what they would have gained had they drafted Dennard or Cooks.
Throughout Rex Ryan’s tenure with the Jets, they have sorely lacked a long-term option at the safety position. LaRon Landry was a nice addition, but he was merely a one-year stopgap, who the Jets never intended to sign to a long-term deal. Ed Reed did his best impersonation of the safety position this past year, to no avail, and Antonio Allen and Dawan Landry were serviceable, albeit not spectacular, in their safety roles last season. However, there is no telling what the play of Allen and Landry will resemble next season, and the jury is still out on whether Reed will embrace a much-needed retirement.
Thus, the Pryor pick makes a ton of sense for the Jets both now and in the future. Pryor provides the Jets with the type of safety play they have lacked since drafting another Louisville alum, Kerry Rhodes. While Pryor boasts swagger comparable to that of Rhodes, he does so without the much maligned diva personality that Ryan and other coaches associated with the latter throughout his career. On the field, scouts may have knocked Pryor for his limited range in coverage, but some Twitter general managers believe the negative press is much ado about nothing. From what I have read and seen, Pryor will be the type of wrecking ball (no Miley Cyrus pun intended) safety for the Jets, who can not only step up in the box and make plays close to the line of scrimmage, but who can also make strike fear in the strongest receivers and tight ends on opposing teams. Think about that combination for a second, and tell me Rex isn’t over there salivating and dialing up coverage schemes and safety blitzes for next season already.
Much will be made about the Jets approach to this draft and some will speculate that Idzik fell asleep at the controls as the team’s draft time slipped down under a minute, thereby allowing Rex to commandeer the helm and make the pick. We’ll never know what happened behind closed doors at One Jets Drive on this fateful day, but people will speculate for years to come.
All kidding aside, the fact is the Jets have many holes to fill across the roster. Had Odell Beckham, Jr. (LSU, Wide Receiver) or Ebron (North Carolina, Tight End) been there for Idzik and the Jets at pick 18, I might be writing this piece about a North Carolina tight end or a Louisiana State wide receiver. Though, as fate has it, Beckham, Jr. was off the board early to the Jets’ crosstown rivals, the New York Giants (pick 12), and Ebron, according to my Michigan roommate, “was picked by the wrong goddamn team [Detroit Lions, pick 10].”
There will be plenty of time to evaluate the Pryor pick over the coming months, and for those yelling roughshod at their television sets, relax, the Jets still have two more days and six more rounds to address their woeful offense.