Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be profiling some key performers heading into the season. We kick off this series with a look at cornerback Dee Milliner.

Milliner struggled throughout most of his rookie season, but the light bulb seemed to go on for him in December as he won the AFC Defensive Rookie of the Month award, intercepting three passes and helping the Jets win three out of their last four games. Heading into the 2014 season, the Jets will be relying on Milliner to continue to step up, especially after having released Antonio Cromartie.

Ever since the Jets drafted Milliner with the 9th pick in last year’s draft, comparisons to departing all-pro Darrelle Revis have been inevitable. While my sense is that these should be regarded with scepticism, their most useful function is to highlight differences between the two. Rather than a device to facilitate an accurate projection of how Milliner’s career will play out (which would be impossible) any such comparison should be seen as an indicator of where Milliner stands in terms of his learning curve with reference to where Revis was at the same point in his career. This allows us to evaluate Milliner against the benchmark of an elite cornerback and look at where in particular he still has to develop.

With all that in mind, I’ve been watching detailed footage from Milliner’s rookie season last year and Revis’ rookie season back in 2007. A comprehensive look into what this could tell us about where Milliner stands heading into his second season follows after the jump.

Introduction

Depending on your perspective, it’s not difficult to look back on Revis’ 2007 and portray it in such a way so as to suit any narrative. That’s whether you base your assessment on a seven-year old recollection of events, a look into the numbers or an assessment of the footage. In each case, it’s an inexact science. Here we’ll consider all three, with a main focus on potential for misinterpretations.

Perception of Revis’ rookie year

When people look back to Revis’ rookie year, they can highlight the fact that he started 16 games and was never benched. He also showed progress throughout the season, intercepting three passes in the last nine games after recording no picks in his first seven games.

There was a marked contrast between Revis and another cornerback who was a high draft pick two years before, Justin Miller. Miller looked embarrassingly out of his depth as a rookie, registering just two passes defensed despite starting eight games. This definitely helped fuel the perception that Revis was developing well. Revis looked smooth and under control from the start and, although he did have some negative plays against elite receivers, he held his own.

On the other hand, the Jets went 4-12 with Revis starting every game and their pass defense had issues all year. They ended up giving up 7.2 yards per pass play, 8th highest in the NFL or – if you prefer – the 18th ranked pass defense in the league per Football Outsiders.)

We obviously need to delve a little deeper to accurately contrast this to Milliner’s rookie year, but you can see how there’s enough ambiguity to play both the “Revis settled in right away as a rookie” and “Revis had his own struggles as a rookie” card.

Perception of Milliner’s rookie year

Milliner’s rookie year is a lot fresher in the memory. Initial struggles led to a couple of benchings with the year culminating in a late-season surge to end 2013 on a positive note. His offseason was impacted by injuries and the fact they didn’t manage to get his contract done before camp opened, which conspired to slow down his progress.

Milliner was beaten for several big plays including a handful of touchdowns as he was routinely letting his man get behind him during the first three months of the season. Perhaps even more disconcerting was the fact that he wasn’t making any plays on the ball. As it happens, the only pass defensed he had in the entire first half of the season actually should have been a forced fumble, although the replay booth in New England felt otherwise.

Milliner gradually started to break on the ball better over the next few games, but still continued to give up big plays. However, over the last month he settled down and really started to make plays on a regular basis, despite some tough matchups – notably Josh Gordon and Mike Wallace.

Are we overreacting to how bad he was at the start of the year though? Or how good he was at the end of the year? Or both?

The numbers

The next section compares the coverage numbers for each of them from their first season. Naturally there are weaknesses in a pure numerical comparison, but we’ll address those in the next section. In their rawest form, the numbers do make for an interesting and revealing comparison, especially if you divide them up between the first 12 games and the last four.

Through 12 games:

Revis - 49-70-638 yards (3TD, 2INT)

Milliner - 34-65-578 yards (6TD, 0INT)

Surprisingly, as badly as we recall Milliner’s performance over those first 12 games, his numbers are actually better than Revis in terms of completion percentage and yards per attempt. However, you can immediately see that Milliner gave up twice as many touchdowns and didn’t intercept any passes and that was the major difference between the two.

It is surprising to note that Revis gave up more yards and catches, although there are plenty of reasons behind this, which we’ll get to in the next few sections.

What about the last four games, though? How strongly did Milliner finish and how did Revis’ final month compare?

Last four games:

Revis - 9-24-109 (1TD, 1INT)

Milliner - 19-38-192 (1TD, 3INT)

This time, Revis actually has more impressive numbers than Milliner in terms of yardage surrendered and completion percentage. That translated to 27.3 yards per game – the kind of numbers you’d associate with the veteran Revis. Milliner cashed in with a few interceptions and only gave up one score but did give up more plays than Revis did in that final month. However, a 50% completion percentage and 5.1 yards per attempt are still pretty impressive.

Again, there are reasons behind why Revis gave up fewer yards over that period, but even so the numbers would suggest that each of them finished the year on an upwards curve.

Where the numbers lie

The trouble with just looking at coverage numbers is that they don’t take into account where a player gets beaten or otherwise makes a mistake but the play is still unsuccessful (due, for example, to a bad throw or a drop by the receiver). In fact, the defensive player effectively gets credit despite making a bad play. Similarly, if the defensive player has blanket coverage but the receiver makes an amazing catch, that counts the same as if the defender was badly beaten.

This is why sites like PFF suggest that you should pay attention to their grades, because they would give a player who gets beaten a negative grade even if the play was unsuccessful and a player would get a worse negative grade on a play where they were badly beaten than on a play with the same result where the defender did a good job but the pass was still completed.

Sure enough, PFF’s grades do align more closely to our original perspective than the final numbers. Revis was grading out negatively but his late surge pushed him into positive numbers. Milliner still ended up with a negative grade even in spite of his late surge, underlining the fact that he didn’t perform as well as Revis in the first three months of his career.

As we look at the final numbers, we can see that – other than the fact he gave up three more touchdowns – Milliner’s numbers compare favourably with Revis’ numbers. He even bests him in terms of yards per attempt (just) and completion

percentage (pretty comfortably).

Revis - 58-94-747 yards (4TD, 3INT)

Milliner - 53-103-770 yards (7TD, 3INT)

However, as noted, these numbers don’t account for near misses by the offense and Milliner did benefit from such near misses. In this recent profile on PFF, there’s a couple of examples. All told, Milliner was the beneficiary of seven drops which would have increased his completion percentage allowed from just over 50% to just under 60% (and obviously increased his numbers for yardage and touchdowns conceded).

That doesn’t mean Revis didn’t also benefit from being fortunate on a few plays where he got beaten, but the grades seem to reflect the fact that this was not as often.

Even the grades can be misleading at times. For example, even if a cornerback blankets his man with perfect coverage all day and doesn’t give up a catch, he could still theoretically end up with a negative grade because of mistakes he made as a tackler. Furthermore, if these mistakes happened on pass plays (for example if he came off his man to make a tackle in the flat, but missed that tackle) then this would go down as a negative play in the coverage category. So, the coverage grade won’t always just reflect how well a player covered his man. One such example involving Milliner was the long DeAngelo Williams touchdown where he failed to get off a block downfield and let Williams past him down the sideline.

In terms of missed tackles, it’s interesting to note that Revis had six, but none in the second half of the season. Milliner’s nine were spread more evenly over the course of the year.

Two other factors at play were the fact that Milliner missed three games, was benched in two others and operated as a nickel corner in one. This means he only played approximately 70% of the amount of snaps that Revis did in his rookie year. While that doesn’t affect the numbers for completion percentage or yards per target, it’s worth emphasising that Milliner likely would have given up much more yardage had he played the same amount of time as Revis. He did get targeted more than Revis though and again, there are reasons for this that we will get into.

The reality of Revis rookie year

The best way to analyse how well Revis played as a rookie is to go back and watch the footage from 2007, so I’ve been doing that since the end of the season. I’ll focus here on how well he played, but we’ll go into his role and situation further down.

Over the first four games, Revis was picked on a lot. He gave up a total of 21 catches, including eight for over 100 yards in week four against the Bills. To put that into perspective, he gave up 22 catches all season in 2010. He was also giving up a completion percentage of 75%, among the worst in the league at that time. Most of the damage was done on quick slants and plays where Revis was too far off and the receiver stopped his route and looked back for the ball. Obviously Revis was keeping things in front of him well to avoid any big plays (none of the 21 completions went for a touchdown), but this allowed the offense to take what he gave them and rack up yardage on him.

Over the next four games, he gave up fewer catches (15) but did have his first three penalties of the season. In week eight, I was fortunate enough to be in the house as Revis made his first career interception. However, he was also the victim of a freak play that led to him giving up an 85-yard touchdown to Lee Evans. You should be able to see this from the clip here but Revis had another interception in his hands, only for Abram Elam to collide with him and knock him off the ball, allowing Evans to spin away with the ball and go the distance. I had a perfect view of this play which unfolded right in front of me. The Jets lost 13-3.

Over the next four games, Revis did get beaten for two scores, but had two good games where he didn’t allow much damage. The Thanksgiving Day game against the Cowboys, while it ended in a humiliating 34-3 loss, was a watershed game for Revis as he matched up with Terrell Owens for much of the day and held his own for the most part. However, Owens got the last laugh, reaching over him for a 22-yard touchdown catch at the pylon. He had four catches for 52 yards on Revis in that game (6-65 overall). Still, that was somewhat reminiscent of the Jets throwing Milliner in at the deep end towards the end of 2013. In the 12th game, Revis intercepted his second pass of the year on a tipped ball.

The week 13 clash against Cleveland was one of the most interesting games all season. Braylon Edwards had three big catches on Revis, two of which you can see on this video at 1:52 and 3:08. As you can see, he gave up a 45 yard catch on a long bomb and a short touchdown. In each case, Revis was in a good position, but the much bigger receiver was able to make the catch over him, much like with the Owens touchdown a couple of weeks prior. Clearly the ability to shadow a much bigger and physical receiver was one limitation in his game at that stage of his career. The third catch he gave up was even more surprising than the other two as Edwards ran an out pattern and Revis never got his head turned around in time. It’s still quite jarring to see any deficiency in technique from Revis. Despite these three plays, Revis was impressive the rest of the way, with one perfectly timed pass breakup.

Worth noting is the fact that the long pass in this game and the freak collision with Abram Elam were the only plays of over 30 yards that Revis gave up all season. As noted, he had more of a tendency to keep things in front of him. Of course, this may have been for strategic reasons with Eric Mangini's penchant for bend-but-not-break.

The next game was the game in New England where the Jets were 35-point underdogs against the undefeated Patriots. Revis almost pitched a shutout, although it’s worth noting that he wasn’t covering Randy Moss, who caught five passes for 79 yards, very often. He did get penalized once – his sixth and final penalty of the season – but made up for that with his third interception.

Against the Titans in week 16, Revis gave up one first down catch but also had another nice pass breakup. The final game saw him give up three first down catches on seven targets (although one was incorrectly spotted short of the marker). Dwayne Bowe entered the game needing just 18 yards to get to 1,000 on the season, but was held to just 13 yards. However, Revis was mostly on Jeff Owens. A couple of times, Owens got away from Revis coming back to the ball but Revis got lucky with an inaccurate throw, but again he had kept things in front of him well.

As noted, Revis wasn’t benched. However, the situation was slightly different to that of the 2013 Jets. First of all, the 2007 Jets fell out of contention pretty quickly, whereas the 2013 Jets were still in mathematical contention right up to the penultimate week of the season, so the 2007 Jets had nothing to lose by leaving Revis in the lineup in the second half of the season. However, if Revis was going to be benched at any point it most probably would have been in that first month while they were still in contention.

Another factor was that the 2013 Jets had other options on the bench that they could rely on to do just as well as Milliner, if not better, in the short term (Darrin Walls, Kyle Wilson and Ellis Lankster). On the 2007 team, the other options were Hank Poteat, David Barrett and Drew Coleman and it would be difficult to rely on one of those guys outperforming Revis, let alone two. This also may have factored into Revis not being targeted as regularly as Milliner was. With plenty of exploitable matchups all over the defense, teams didn’t have to go after the rookie to attack the 2007 Jets. The 2013 Jets had fewer weaknesses defensively and therefore Milliner was targeted more regularly all season.

You could also say that Revis was at a disadvantage in comparison to Milliner because of the Jets’ porous pass rush back then. The 2007 Jets only had nine sacks in the first nine games and, although that picked up over the second half of the season, part of that was a by-product of teams knowing they had time to sit in the pocket and let routes develop.

The reality of Milliner’s rookie year

Milliner was first benched in the week two game, after which he was used as the nickel cornerback (playing on the outside) in the third game of the year. He then missed three games (including the week four blowout against the Titans where Darrin Walls struggled in his place) with a hamstring injury, making his return to the starting lineup for the week seven win over the Patriots. He was benched again the following week against the Bengals.

One thing worth re-emphasizing is the fact that Milliner didn’t have a single penalty called on him. The fact he managed to get away with some physical coverage is encouraging but this also has a lot to do with the fact he was playing off his man quite a lot.

As noted, Milliner was targeted more, even when he was playing well. In the Browns game in week 16, he was targeted 18 times, giving up 10 catches for over 100 yards, but at a respectable 6.3 yards per target. He followed that up by holding Mike Wallace to four catches for 29 yards on 10 targets.

The biggest improvement he made was his ability to read, react and jump on a route. While this translated to his first three interceptions – all in the last two games – it had an even more noticeable effect on his passes defensed as I pointed out after the final game:

At the midseason point, Dee Milliner had ONE pass defensed. He ended up the season with 20, which puts him in the top 10 for NFL cornerbacks and 12th overall. His 19 in the second half of the year must have led the league. Alterraun Verner, who led the NFL with 28, had just 12 in the second half of the season.

Underscoring a major difference in not only how they performed but how they played, Milliner actually gave up six plays of thirty yards or more – three times as many as Revis did in his rookie year. However, further emphasizing the growth he made at the end of the season is the fact that all six of these came in the first 11 games and none in the last five.

Differences in role

So we’ve evaluated and added context to the numbers and how they performed. However, there’s still some important differences between their respective roles during their rookie season that need to be discussed.

In Mangini’s defense (or maybe it should be attributed to defensive coordinator Bob Sutton), the Jets played a lot of cover two. Despite the fact that both Abram Elam and Eric Smith have reputations as in-the-box safeties, that was their role as they effectively split time as Kerry Rhodes’ counterpart. That meant Revis nearly always had coverage support.

In terms of the Rex Ryan Jets, you can’t really generalize because they mix up their coverages so much from game to game and even series to series. However, while they usually line up with both safeties deep, they have a tendency to leave one corner with no support. This is certainly something they do more often than the 2007 Jets and it’s designed to create one-on-one matchups for their linemen (by enabling a safety to pick someone up underneath, freeing up a linebacker to blitz and occupy a would-be double-team blocker). This didn’t affect Milliner much early in the season, because it was usually Cromartie that was employed in this manner. However, Milliner did find himself in that position at times down the stretch.

Once Ed Reed signed, comments were made that the Jets were playing more cover two, but that didn’t necessarily seem to be the case, as Reed was often single-high. However, as I noted down the stretch, the addition of Reed had a massive positive effect on Milliner:

Milliner just looks like a completely different player than he did earlier in the season. He appears so much more confident, his technique is light years ahead of where it was in September and he’s jumping routes and showing good ball skills. A massive part of that is that Reed has been giving him safety support and I would imagine has been working closely with him so that they both know their responsibilities. Virtually every time Milliner made a play on Sunday, Reed was not far behind – ready to clean up if Milliner made a mistake or potentially intercept a pass that was overthrown or tipped into the air.

Sure enough, the fact that Milliner absorbed a lot from working with Reed has been discussed in recent weeks. In those last two games, it’s telling the three biggest plays Milliner gave up were all plays where he wasn’t supported by Reed. One 21-yarder against Miami came with Reed in the box. Against the Browns, Josh Gordon had two 24-yarders – one with Reed out of the game (Landry shifted the coverage away from Milliner before the snap on this play) and the other with Reed on the opposite side and Josh Bush supporting Milliner. Eliminating those plays, he gave up just 25 yards on three catches to Gordon on 11 other targets.

So, should we be concerned that Milliner might regress without Reed? I don’t know if there’s still a chance that Reed could return but I hope the Jets are considering it. At the same time, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that they drafted a player in the first round who seems to have excellent range and coverage abilities.

Another key difference was who they were covering. As noted, Revis drew the assignment on Terrell Owens, but a lot of the time he specifically wasn’t matched up with the other team’s top target. I do wonder, however, if that had more to do with the limitations of David Barrett rather than Revis' own strengths. Barrett always seemed to do well against bigger receivers, but would struggle with smaller, shiftier guys. That would explain why Revis might not match up with a Randy Moss or Dwayne Bowe in those two late season games. Still, had Revis stepped up and taken the number one receiver more often, it likely would have had an adverse effect on his numbers. Occasionally they would just get their cornerbacks to stick to a side.

Leaving his cornerback on either side is something Rex Ryan doesn’t do very often. However, they did do it in week 17. But wait…isn’t that the game where Milliner was matched up against Mike Wallace? Yes, it was…but Miami is one of the rare teams that actually lets their receivers stick to a side. Wallace played 869 of 964 snaps wide right in 2013, so leaving Milliner on the left was a deliberate ploy to match him up with Wallace. Even more interesting is that during their previous meeting, Milliner played on the right, so he was deliberately kept away from the Wallace matchup. Furthermore, on one of the rare occasions when they ended up matched up on one another in that earlier game, Wallace beat him for a 28-yard touchdown. The fact that he shut Wallace down four weeks later is a further indication of his growth.

The only other game where Milliner stuck to one side was the game in week three where he only played on the sub-package.

Revis development in year two and beyond

So, how did Revis develop over the next few years? While we can’t guarantee that Milliner’s development will follow the same path and on the same timescale, it at least sets a benchmark for him to shoot for.

In 2008, Revis was targeted slightly less and saw incremental improvements in his completion percentage, yards per attempt and quarterback rating when targeted. Again he was a beneficiary of other weaknesses on the defense, because there was no need to target him when it was so easy to move the chains by picking apart the soft underbelly of the Jets. With Abram Elam’s regression, an injury-plagued David Harris bulking up to 260 and the likes of Eric Barton and David Bowens one year older, young and inexperienced quarterbacks like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Shaun Hill and Matt Cassel were able to rack up huge yardage by attacking the intermediate zones and exploiting mismatches.

2009 saw the arrival of Rex Ryan and Revis making the leap to elite status in his third NFL season. Revis only saw a slight reduction in the number of catches and yards he gave up (from 49-510 to 48-502) but the amazing part was that he was targeted 43 more times! That came about because Rex Ryan baited teams into throwing Revis’ way by rolling coverage away from him and sending overload blitzes from the other side on passing downs.

By 2010, teams had learned their lesson and basically stopped targeting him anywhere near as often, although he still kept up his incredible low numbers for percentages and yards per attempt.

The steeper learning curve for a Saban-coached corner

One aspect that has seen lots of play since Revis was drafted was the fact that Alabama cornerbacks always take some time to adjust to the NFL because Saban teaches a slightly different technique. You can read more on that here.

In terms of recent cornerbacks coached by Saban, the best examples are two other top-20 picks – Kareem Jackson (2010) and Dre Kirkpatrick (2012). Kirkpatrick barely got on the field as a rookie before settling into a backup role last year. The Bengals will be hoping he can make the step-up to being a starter in 2014. Jackson really struggled as a rookie, but settled down towards the end of his first season. He was average in season two, but had a good 2012. There are signs therefore that Alabama corners will be well-prepared and continue to improve once they make that adjustment to the NFL-style.

For a bit of an insight into that from the PFF feature linked to above, check out this GIF – one of those plays where Milliner is beaten and gets bailed out that I mentioned earlier.

As you can see, Milliner displays less than ideal technique at the line. However, it’s not all bad. He recovers well and does a good job of locating the ball – something that was apparent throughout his collegiate game-tape. However, he allows the receiver to outmuscle him with a crafty push-off to create some separation without drawing a flag. Again, this is an area where Milliner should hopefully develop naturally now that he’s in a full-time NFL weights program but it will also help him to not be operating from a position of weakness due to having been beaten at the line.

Conclusion

At this stage I have to reiterate while this is a comprehensive comparison of the rookie seasons from Revis and Milliner, there are no guarantees that Milliner will follow the same path. Jets fans will be hoping that Milliner continues to make strides, but the improvement made by Revis between 2007 and 2009 was virtually unprecedented. The good news is that if Milliner is never as good as Revis, that doesn’t mean he’s failed. He could still be a great player in his own right.

In Milliner’s rookie season, we eventually saw a tantalizing glimpse of his capabilities and potential. At times, maybe our expectations for him were too high because we’ve become accustomed to the high level of play we saw from Revis. However, it was also apparent that Revis wasn’t the finished article when he arrived and suffered a few growing pains in his first year too. This hopefully confirms that Milliner’s struggles were not a sign he would never become a good player, especially in light of the fact he came from a Nick Saban school. The strong finish to the season gives further comfort.

At one point over the last year, I speculated whether the Jets wanted Milliner to be their Revis. That didn’t mean I was suggesting they were relying on him to become a talismanic all-pro leader, I hastened to add, just that they might be planning for Milliner to eventually take over Revis’ role in terms of being the guy who tracks the number one receiver and operates without safety support. Maybe it’s not completely out of the question that he could strive to become the former rather than the latter, but surely it would be too much to hope for if we’re expecting the team to develop another once-in-a-generation level talent.

Or would it…?

I wasn’t just watching Revis as I reviewed those games from 2007. They’ll also feed into more articles from this series. We’ll be looking at Quinton Coples from a different perspective next.

Tags: bentdouble, BGA, Bent Double

 (Kevin Jairaj)
(Kevin Jairaj)

Broadway Joe loves Broadway Baker. Or at least that's what could be Baker Mayfield's nickname if the Jets were to select him with their No. 3 overall pick. 

Hall of Famer and former Jets QB Joe Namath loves what he has seen from Mayfield over the years of watching him play. He recently watched the Georgia-Oklahoma College Football Playoff matchup at the Rose Bowl on New Year's Eve, and after his daughter asked if he had seen anything like the back-and-forth bout, he responded saying he wouldn't want to be going up against Mayfield...


Everything you need to know about the Jets and No. 3 >> Read more

Vacc's Mini Mock Draft has Jets tabbing Mayfield >> Read more

Read More

 (Dennis Wierzbicki)
(Dennis Wierzbicki)

The Jets have not stopped looking for help on their defensive line as they hosted numerous free-agent linemen on Monday. 

Former Bears DT Lamarr Houston and former Patriots DT Chris Jones were among those looking to impress the Jets. Houston split time with the Bears and Texans last season, totaling five sacks over 10 games. A former second-round pick by the Raiders back in 2010, Houston is entering his ninth season in the NFL this year. 

Jones played for the division-rival Patriots in 2013 and 2014, where he finished with nine sacks and 79 tackles over 28 career games. He most recently played for the 49ers in 2016, where he had 17 tackles over six games. He did not play for an NFL squad in 2017. 

Read More

New York Jets defensive end Leonard Williams on the sidelines during the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets defensive end Leonard Williams on the sidelines during the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets have officially picked up DL Leonard Williams' fifth-year option, keeping Williams with the team through 2019 at least. 

Williams, 23, the sixth overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, will make $14.2 million in 2019, assuming he's considered a defensive end. If they try to say he's a defensive tackle, the contract will be $11.4 million, according to SNY's Ralph Vacchiano. The contract becomes fully guaranteed next March.

"It's definitely time to step up and take it to the next level," Williams said last week via Vacchiano. "That comes with a lot. It's just not my play on the field. It comes with my leadership, how I approach work, how much time I'm putting in outside of the mandatory hours into my craft, into my game."

Tags: Leonard Williams
Read More

Who will the Jets select #3? 00:05:13
SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano and SNY NFL Draft Expert Rich Cirminiello discuss who the Jets will select third overall in the NFL Draft.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

In less than a week, Jets GM Mike Maccagnan will make the most important draft pick of his tenure with the team, the one that surely will define his legacy.

No pressure, right?

Tags: Eli Manning, Josh McCown, Ralph Vacchiano
Read More

Tulane Green Wave cornerback Parry Nickerson returns his interception against the Connecticut Huskies in the second quarter at Rentschler Field. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)
Tulane Green Wave cornerback Parry Nickerson returns his interception against the Connecticut Huskies in the second quarter at Rentschler Field. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

Over the last few weeks, we looked at some of the players who have been invited to attend an official pre-draft visit with the Jets. With the visits ending earlier this week, let's take a final look at a selection of the players New York brought in.

Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane

Nickerson is a four-year starter who was a constant standout on the Tulane defense. During his career, he recorded 16 interceptions, broke up another 31 passes and scored two defensive touchdowns. He turned heads at the scouting combine when he ran a 4.32 40-yard dash.

Read More

Jonas Schwartz and Willie Colon are ready to open their present that is the #3 pick in the NFL Draft. The guys discuss the possibility of the Jets trading up, yet again, and the crazy idea of selecting a non-QB (can someone say Bradley Chubb) with the 3rd overall selection. Plus, former NFL QB Dan Orlovsky calls in to give his insight into the top four quarterbacks.

Click below to listen

Read More

 (Tim Fuller)
(Tim Fuller)

The Jets will open the 2018 season in Detroit against the Lions on Monday night football, and finish things in Week 17 on the road against the Patriots.

Their entire 2018 schedule has been confirmed by SNY's Ralph Vacchiano, and is below...

Read More

Jan 1, 2018; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes against the Georgia Bulldogs in the first quarter in the 2018 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Kirby Lee)
Jan 1, 2018; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes against the Georgia Bulldogs in the first quarter in the 2018 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Kirby Lee)

Former QB Dan Orlovsky thinks the Jets are targeting Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield with the No. 3 pick in the Draft, and one of the reasons is very specific.

Orlovsky, who played under Kyle Shanahan, noted that Jets OC Jeremy Bates is from the Mike Shanahan coaching tree. And that one of the traits Shanahan loved about John Elway is that he would screw his back foot into the ground when he threw -- adding that Bates loves that trait in quarterbacks as well. 

"There's one guy in the Draft who has that trait," Orlovsky said earlier this week on SNY's Jet Stream podcast. "And it's Baker Mayfield. He does the same thing when he throws. And I just think that those coaches fall in love with traits of guys that remind them of players that they had success with in the past. I think that they're looking at Baker Mayfield and going 'that's our guy.'"

Read More

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay LaPrete/AP)
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay LaPrete/AP)

Projecting trades in a Mock Draft is a futile effort. There are too many variables and rumors. It's mostly speculation. And really, it's just an exercise in fantasy football.

But … well, who doesn't love fantasy football?

Read More

Oct 14, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold. (Kirby Lee)
Oct 14, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold. (Kirby Lee)

In his latest mock draft, Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer has the Jets taking Sam Darnold as their quarterback of the future at No. 3. 

Many experts believe Darnold could be the first overall pick by the Browns, and if he doesn't land with Cleveland, then the Giants would scoop him up at No. 2. However, with Josh Allen as Breer's No. 1 pick and the Giants electing to go with Saquon Barkley over a quarterback, Darnold drops in the Jets' lap. 

So, there is no need for the Jets to choose between Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield...

Read More

Mangold's Hall of Fame chances 00:04:59
Dan Graca and Jon Hein debate over Nick Mangold's chances at making the Hall of Fame and the Devils' chances at beating the Lightning.

After a year out of football, No. 74 is officially hanging up the cleats. 

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: On the lists of favorite players and all-time greats, you'll rarely find a center. They're buried in the trenches, often noticed only when a bad snap happens or a defensive tackle breaks through.

The same was probably true for Nick Mangold during his 11 NFL seasons - rarely noticed from the outside and incredibly underappreciated game to game. Yet somehow he still emerged from his long career as a fan favorite. And he definitely emerged as one of the Jets' all-time greats.

Tags: Nick Mangold
Read More

New York Jets defensive end Leonard Williams gestures while jogging on the field prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. (Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets defensive end Leonard Williams gestures while jogging on the field prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. (Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Jets GM Mike Maccagnan made it clear he had no worries about the state of the Jets' defensive line heading into the offseason. Sure, they've lost a lot of talent in recent years, trading Sheldon Richardson, cutting Muhammad Wilkerson and not re-signing Damon Harrison.

But they still have Leonard Williams, the sixth pick of the 2015 draft, and despite a down season last year, the Jets have huge expectations for him.

Tags: Damon Harrison, Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Steve McLendon, Ralph Vacchiano
Read More

Los Angeles Chargers kicker Nick Rose attempts a field goal during an NFL game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)
Los Angeles Chargers kicker Nick Rose attempts a field goal during an NFL game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets were awarded kicker Nick Rose on Monday after the Los Angeles Chargers placed him on waivers, the team announced.

Rose made 11 of 14 field goals in 10 games with the Chargers and Washington Redskins last season and converted on 23 of 26 extra points. He went 1-for-3 as a member of the Chargers in Weeks 16 and 17, and 10-for-11 in eight games with Washington. His longest make last year was 55 yards.

Read More

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Brian Winters remembers everything about the moment his 2017 season went off the rails. He remembers the time, the place, the play, and without question, the pain.

"It was second quarter in Oakland (in Week 2) with five minutes to go before half when we were driving in to the north end zone. I still remember it like it was yesterday," said the 26-year-old guard. "It was an outside zone play and (running back) Bilal (Powell) was trying to stretch it outside of me, so I went to continue to push my guy through. And as soon as I pushed through I felt like a pop."

Tags: Brian Winters, Wesley Johnson, Ralph Vacchiano
Read More

Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Jeff Badet catches a touchdown pass against Texas Longhorns defensive back Kris Boyd in the second quarter at the Cotton Bowl. (Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports)
Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Jeff Badet catches a touchdown pass against Texas Longhorns defensive back Kris Boyd in the second quarter at the Cotton Bowl. (Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

Last week, we looked at some of the players who have been invited to attend an official pre-draft visit with the Jets. More names have leaked out over the past seven days, so let's break down some of the more interesting ones in detail.

Jeff Badet, WR, Oklahoma

Badet spent most of his collegiate career at Kentucky, but saw some high profile action last year after transferring to Oklahoma. He wasn't invited to the scouting combine, but if he had been, his pro day numbers for the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and broad jump would all have ranked first or second at the receiver position.

Read More

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay LaPrete/AP)
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay LaPrete/AP)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: It's not quite crunch time yet, but there are less than three weeks until the start of the first round of the NFL draft, which means draft boards are in their final stages all around the league. It also means that the truth about which players are being targeted by which teams is starting to leak out -- albeit slowly.

Still, there are a lot of variables, especially in the first two picks. But at the moment there aren't many changes to my latest Mini-Mock Draft. The Browns are still taking a quarterback at 1. The Jets are still definitely taking one at 3. And I still think the Giants will take one -- assuming the right one is available -- at 2.

Here's a full look at my new Top 10, with some updated inside information...

Read More

 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Former Jets QB Mark Sanchez has been suspended four games after violating the performance-enhancing drug policy, the league announced Friday. 

Sanchez, who last played for the Jets in 2013, was the Bear's third-string quarterback last season. He claimed that "unknowing supplement contamination" was the reason for his drug test to turn up positive. 

The 31-year-old took to Instagram to explain the whole story...

Read More

 (Kamil Krzaczynski)
(Kamil Krzaczynski)

The Jets have already begun condensing their roster for next season as the team announced several cuts on Friday. 

Among them was former Bears RB Jeremy Langford, who signed a reserve/future contract with the Jets worth $630,000 this offseason. The 26-year-old spent time jumping through practice squads last season, and though he was promoted to the Ravens' 53-man roster, an injury pushed him to the IR the same week he joined the team. 

Langford was released following his IR placement, and the former fourth-round pick wouldn't see time for the rest of the season.

Read More

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) greets Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) during warmups before a game at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) greets Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) during warmups before a game at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner)

WR Dez Bryant was released by the Cowboys on Friday afternoon, with Bryant reportedly hinting afterwards that he might be staying in the NFC East.

Bryant, 29, had a down year in 2017, with 69 receptions for 838 yards and six touchdowns in 16 games.

"I let a lot of things get in the way that bother me mentally," Bryant said late last season. "I feel like, if anything, I need to deal with in the offseason - is that. Like I said, there's only certain things I can control."

Read More

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay LaPrete/AP)
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay LaPrete/AP)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets are taking a quarterback with the third overall pick in the draft. They know it. Everyone knows it. And they know everyone knows it. "I mean, you'd have to be out of your mind to think otherwise," was how one team official said it. The only lingering question is: Which one?

The Jets have had or will have had private meetings and workouts with all of the top four, and GM Mike Maccagnan has made the rounds at their Pro Days. When they traded up to No. 3 they were convinced that they'd be happy with choosing from whichever two (or three) fell to them. And obviously at least two of the Big Four -- USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and Wyoming's Josh Allen -- will still be there...

Read More

Jonas Schwartz and Willie Colon take their deepest dive yet into the NFL Draft. They discuss the latest with the four quarterbacks, as well as look back at Willie's draft process with the Steelers in 2006. Later, Brian Costello of the New York Post joins the show to give his take on the draft and the possibility of Mike Maccagnan signing defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins.

Click below to listen

Read More

New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown (15) gestures after thrown a touchdown pass to wide receiver Robby Anderson, not pictured, during the second half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)
New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown (15) gestures after thrown a touchdown pass to wide receiver Robby Anderson, not pictured, during the second half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)

The Jets' preseason schedule has been officially released for the 2018 season. 

The Falcons will be Gang Green's first opponent of the new year on their home turf. Then, they will hit the road to face the Redskins on Aug. 16 at 8 p.m.

The annual Snoopy Bowl at MetLife Stadium between the Jets and Giants will be the Week 3 matchup, with the Jets getting home field advantage.

Read More

Top QB prospect Josh Rosen 00:01:13
Former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is expected to be taken as one of the top QB's in the 2018 NFL Draft.

In his latest mock draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper sees the Jets grabbing UCLA QB Josh Rosen with their third overall pick -- as SNY's Ralph Vacchiano projects in his Mini Mock Draft 3.0. 

The Jets clearly traded up to the No. 3 slot to take one of the highly touted quarterbacks. With Wyoming's Josh Allen and USC's Sam Darnold going to the Browns and Giants respectively, Rosen appears the best option for the Jets in Kiper's mind. 

CLICK BELOW TO READ KIPER'S ANALYSIS

Read More

Oct 22, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets tight end Eric Tomlinson (83) hurdles Miami Dolphins strong safety Nate Allen (29) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Oct 22, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets tight end Eric Tomlinson (83) hurdles Miami Dolphins strong safety Nate Allen (29) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

Having opted to let Austin Seferain-Jenkins leave in free agency, the Jets are relying on a group of young tight ends to replace his production, recently adding two more options to the mix.

It's possible the Jets could look to add to the group via the draft but, for now, let's consider what each of the tight ends currently on the roster brings to the table, and consider how they might be used in 2018...

Read More

Top QB prospect Josh Rosen 00:01:13
Former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is expected to be taken as one of the top QB's in the 2018 NFL Draft.

With the NFL Draft a little over two weeks away, the Jets continue to get their last live look at the top prospects they could select with their third overall pick. 

After Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield wraps up his private workout with the Jets Tuesday, UCLA QB Josh Rosen will visit the team, per SNY's Ralph Vacchiano.

After Rosen's visit, USC QB Sam Darnold is expected to be next on the list at some point later this week. Wyoming QB Josh Allen is also expected to visit at a later date.

Read More

 (Aaron Doster)
(Aaron Doster)

The Jets continue to bolster their defense with another addition at the second tier in vetearn LB Kevin Minter, the team announced Monday. 

Minter most recently played for the Bengals in 2017, where he tallied 32 tackles in nine games. 

He was a second round draft pick by the Cardinals back in 2013, and he would spend four seasons in Arizona before heading to Cincinnati. He totaled 175 tackles, five sacks, one forced fumble, and six passes defended over 61 games (37 starts). 

Read More

Dec 1, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson (12) runs after the catch in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Rempel)
Dec 1, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson (12) runs after the catch in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Rempel)

The Jets continue to stack their wide receiving corps for next season as former Vikings WR Charles Johnson signed a deal with the team on Monday. 

Johnson, who was waived by the Panthers in July 2017, sat out all last season due to surgery on his right knee. He played for the Vikings from 2014-16, where he totaled 60 receptions for 834 yards and two touchdowns over 39 games. 

The Grand Valley State product was a Packers' seventh-rounder back in 2013, and after joinging the team's practice squad following camp that year, the Brown picked him up to join their 53-man squad. He dressed but never saw action with the Browns. 

Read More

The Jets' free agency strategy 00:12:52
The Jets Nation panel analyzes the Jets' recent free-agent additions, including former Vikings franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Here is the most up-to-date information on whom the Jets have added and lost during free agency, including contract details and salary cap information. Be sure to bookmark this page and check back for frequent updates.

JETS SALARY CAP SPACE

Read More

Dec 27, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes running back Akrum Wadley (25) rushes against Boston College Eagles defensive tackle Noa Merritt (94) during the second half of the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Dec 27, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes running back Akrum Wadley (25) rushes against Boston College Eagles defensive tackle Noa Merritt (94) during the second half of the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

While the Jets are reportedly hosting Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen for official Draft visits this week, we've also been keeping an eye on who else is reportedly scheduled to attend. Last year, both Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye took official visits before being selected with the Jets' top two picks.

Aside from the quarterbacks, most of this year's names that have leaked so far would be players the Jets might be hoping will drop to day three of the draft or maybe even be available as a priority free agent if they go undrafted. Let's look at some of the more interesting prospects...

Read More

Jan 1, 2018; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes against the Georgia Bulldogs in the first quarter in the 2018 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Kirby Lee)
Jan 1, 2018; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes against the Georgia Bulldogs in the first quarter in the 2018 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Kirby Lee)

With the NFL Draft just 17 days away, Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield is scheduled to meet with the Jets in Florham Park on Monday and Tuesday, according to multiple reports.

The Jets have already met with Mayfield on multiple occasons -- including at the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine -- and the team held a private workout with him. 

The 22-year-old Mayfield, who is expected to be selected early in the first round, threw 119 touchdowns in three seasons with Oklahoma and capped it off by throwing 43 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2017 when he started a career-high 14 games...

Read More