Projecting the Role of New York Jets’ Rookies in 2014 (Rounds 1-4)


Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With the New York Jets’ Rookie Mini Camp officially underway, we are finally getting a taste of just how talented- and charismatic- some of the Jets’ rookies are. We have seen several players make impressions on both the coaching staff and the media, but no one has come close to attracting a larger media following than 1st round pick Calvin Pryor and his Richard Sherman-esque attitude.

"With me being a rookie, that doesn’t mean anything… I am who I am. I’m going to trash talk. I’m going to be myself. People who don’t like it are just going to have to get used to it."

Trash talking aside, the Jets still expect a lot of on-field production from Calvin Pryor and all the other Jets’ rookies. Although the potential role of all 12 draft picks differ greatly from each other, they will all have some type of impact for the New York Jets in 2014.

1st Round (18th overall): Calvin Pryor, Safety

Since drafting Calvin Pryor in the first round, Rex Ryan and the Jets have been extremely favorable of the former Louisville safety. Pryor’s intense, hard-hitting style of football is exactly what the Jets need in the secondary, and they expect him to be an immediate impact player for Gang Green.

In 2014, fans can expect Calvin Pryor to replace Antonio Allen and start at free safety. Pryor and Dawn Landry will likely combine to form an exceptional safety duo, with Calvin Pryor possibly leading the charge. Rex Ryan has already hinted that Pryor might call the shots for the secondary as a rookie, and don’t be surprised if it actually does happen.

Calvin Pryor’s incredible pursuit and reactions will make sure he is involved in a majority of plays, which will help improve an already stellar defense and a rather abysmal pass defense. Pryor may also serve as ball hawk over the middle, meeting receivers at the point of the catch and forcing drops and pass breakups.

PROJECTED 2014 STATS: 85 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 9 passes defended. Defensive Rookie of the Year Candidate.

2nd Round (49th overall): Jace Amaro, Tight End  

The Jets’ rookie tight end has also made an impact on the media, stating that he aims to be the next Tony Gonzalez. Although it is way too early and ambitious to compare Amaro to the future Hall of Gamer, we can still expect him to make an impact in 2014.

Jace Amaro will likely be the starter for the Jets come September, as last season Jeff Cumberland fumbled his opportunity to establish himself as a starting-caliber tight end. Amaro should pay dividends for the Jets’ passing attack, as Geno Smith will finally have a productive pass catcher to throw to on offense.

The former Texas Tech stud has proven he can be extremely efficient, racking up 106 receptions last year for 1352 yards and 7 TDs.  Although we should not expect Amaro to be as productive in his first NFL season, success should still be an expectation for the Jets’ rookie.

PROJECTED 2014 STATS: 52 receptions, 645 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns

3rd Round (80th overall): Dexter McDougle, Cornerback

After foregoing Michigan standout Darqueze Dennard in the first round, the Jets still needed a cornerback in the draft. Finally, the Jets settled for Dexter (Dex) McDougle in the third round. Despite missing all but three games this year due to injury, McDougle made a name for himself as one of the best tackling corners in his 4-year career at Maryland despite his 5’10”, 196 pound frame.

The Jets’ rookie cornerback will likely receive a good amount of playing time in 2014, as either a nickelback or dimeback. It is probable that Dee Milliner and recently acquired Dmitri Patterson will be the first two corners on the depth chart, meaning that Dex will compete with Kyle Wilson for the nickel role. However, Rex Ryan loves McDougle’s determination and hard-nosed style of play, so expect him to pass Wilson on the depth chart at some point in the season.

PROJECTED 2014 STATS: 46 tackles, 1 INT, 3 passes defended

4th Round (104th overall): Jalen Saunders, Wide Receiver

The Jets failed to draft a wide receiver until the fourth round, a controversial move seeing as receiver was one of the their biggest team needs. However, with two receivers selected in the fourth round, the Jets may have made up for it. Jalen Saunders was a standout receiver at both Fresno State and Oklahoma, and in 2013 we saw him emerge as a phenomenal punt returned as well.

Saunders will likely be the Jets’ primary punt returner in 2014, as Josh Cribbs will likely not return to the Jets. The Jets’ rookie receiver will also have a chance to make plays in the offense, although his small size and lack of strength will probably limit him to just a slot receiver role. Jalen Saunders will compete with Jeremy Kerley for the slot position, a battle that the rookie will likely lose.

PROJECTED 2014 STATS: 17 receptions, 205 yards, 1 touchdown. 20 punt returns, 270 return yards (13.5 yard average), 1 return touchdown.

4th Round (115th overall): Shaquelle Evans, Wide Receiver

A much different player than fellow Jets’ rookie Jalen Saunders, Shaquelle (Shaq) Evans has proven he can succeed as an outside receiver. Shaq has good hands, good footwork, and above average speed and size, all qualifications needed to succeed as a flanker at the professional level. Shaq proved his ability at UCLA, scoring 9 touchdowns to go along with 709 receiving yards in 2013.

Evans will definitely compete for the #2 wide receiver role, although whether or not he will win the job remains a question. Jets’ rookie Shaquelle Evans will need to compete with incumbent receiver Stephen Hill, who has had his fair share of struggle over the past few years. However, Hill’s blazing speed definitely makes him an enticing player, and Rex Ryan might not be ready to give up on him just yet.

PROJECTED 2014 STATS: 31 receptions, 416 yards, 3 touchdowns.