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The New York Jets and Value Town

The New York Jets are drafting a real team pretty closely to how I draft a fantasy team. I love it. To be clear, I’m not sure how far their value oriented moves are going to get them , but at a minimum they’ve protected their downside while trying to upgrade their passing offense.

The Quarterback

Last year the Jets began their march to Value Town by selecting Geno Smith in the 2nd round. I liked that move because you don’t usually get a crack at a QB in the 2nd round when that QB is also an accomplished college player, and regarded as a top QB in his class. Maybe Geno will be a bust, but at least the Jets didn’t have to pay Gabbert/Ponder/Locker/Sanchez/Leinart prices to acquire him. Geno’s resume coming out was easily better than all but Leinart in that group.

Also, because the Jets got him in the 2nd round, he’ll have a low salary for his entire rookie contract as well. Eli Manning is the only QB in the league that had a worse INT rate than Geno last year. Eli makes more than 10X Geno’s salary. If you’re going to have an INT-machine at QB, you might as well keep your costs low. For what it’s worth, Carson Palmer makes about 6X Geno’s salary.

The Free Agent Receiver

Then the Jets made a smart move in free agency this spring by signing Eric Decker for a very reasonable amount of money. He’s probably not a true WR1, but he can definitely help an offense and the Jets didn’t have to pay Mike Wallace/Greg Jennings/Dwayne Bowe money to sign him.

Both the Geno pick and the Decker signing show that the Jets are very aware that it’s possible to limit your total downside by not overspending up front.

The Draft Picks

Then the Jets made four picks this weekend that signal a further commitment to their value strategy. They picked four pieces for their receiving offense that have an average weight of 217 pounds, and yet they didn’t have to spend anything greater than the 49th overall pick for these pieces.

Here’s a table that shows the physical measurables of the Jets receiving draft picks, along with the pick used to acquire them.

Draft Pick Name Pos Hght Wght Arms Hands 40 yd Bnch Vert Broad
49 Jace Amaro TE 6′ 5″ 265 34″ 9″ 4.74 28 33″ 118″
104 Jalen Saunders WR 5′ 9″ 165 30″ 8⅞” 4.44 34″ 122″
115 Shaq Evans WR 6′ 1″ 213 32″ 9⅜” 4.51 13 34½” 122″
209 Quincy Enunwa WR 6′ 2″ 225 32⅝” 9½” 4.45 19

I like the mix of size and speed that both Shaq Evans and Quincy Enunwa have. Remember that Jon Moore called Enunwa the ultimate lottery ticket.

Then here’s a heatmap which shows how the new Jets do on the Market Share measures (I’ve added in Bruce Ellington so that we’re not just comparing the Jets versus each other).

download (51)

All of Amaro, Evans and Enunwa have the potential to help the Jets put points on the board.

Player Career Red Zone TD Rate
Amaro 0.32
Enunwa 0.48
Evans 0.21

Enunwa and Amaro demonstrated their red zone abilities in college by posting very good TD rates in that part of the field. Evans’ potential is more just.. well, potential. He’s big enough, and he may or may not be a good red zone receiver.

If you add that potential to Geno’s ability to score using his legs – 6 rushing TDs last year even while the experts claimed that wasn’t his game – and Eric Decker’s red zone efficiency, you can see that the Jets really might have helped their football team in the past few months.

The addition of Amaro could be really good considering that Geno averaged 10 Adjusted Yards per Attempt last year while throwing to TE Jeff Cumberland, and 9.2 AYA when throwing to Kellen Winslow. I kind of like Cumberland, so I wouldn’t mind if he stuck around. But the introduction of Amaro to the offense could mean that they’ll be focused on throwing to the more scoring efficient position of TE.

Of the Jets’ picks, none are real blue chip players. But there’s a good amount of potential there. Both Evans and Enunwa are big bodied players that probably need polish. Saunders could conceivably be used to stretch a defense, although he’s not blazing fast for his size.

But the reason I really like what the Jets have done is because they have a QB 1 that might be borderline. Maybe Geno could get better, or maybe he just sucks. But the Jets are working on getting him some help. Decker and Amaro are probably the players with the best chance of working out. Then the Jets can just hope that out of the rest of their picks they get 1 good player out of the bunch. That really is the bar to get over. And I think based on what we know about player size, there is a decent chance that the Jets have found an exploitable issue here. They can at least try to get Geno help now and then if he doesn’t pan out, they won’t have to wonder whether it’s Geno or his weapons that are the problem. The next QB they bring in will hopefully have something to work with.

I could foresee an objection that would be roughly: the Rams did the exact same thing with Sam Bradford and that didn’t go anywhere. Except that the Rams’ moves to improve their passing offense probably were making a dent. Before Bradford’s injury he was having his best season as a pro. The 6.83 AYA, that Bradford had when his 2013 season ended, is better than Andrew Luck has registered in his two seasons as a pro (I realize Bradford is older, but my point is that improving his weapons actually did help). Just swapping out Danny Amendola for pretty much anyone is going to improve a QB’s AYA.

Oh yeah, and there’s actually something I haven’t even mentioned yet. Stephen Hill. There’s about a 95% chance that Hill is horrible. But it’s also true that the Jets haven’t been using him consistent with his skill set. He can’t catch the ball in traffic because he can’t catch with his hands. He has to body catch everything. But the Jets upgraded receiving options (primarily Decker and Amaro) do make it more possible for the Jets to just use Hill as a clear out WR. His long legs allow him to consume yards at a ridiculous rate, so he can still get deep on defenses. Also, catching deep balls will make his inability to hands catch less important. Just ask Mike Wallace. Like I said, there’s a 95% chance that Hill sucks… but what this article presupposes is, maybe he doesn’t?

I just gave up a 4th round rookie pick to acquire Geno because I like his mix of ability to make plays with his legs and his upgraded weapons. He might be out of football in 12 months, but he might also be an Andy Dalton level starter too. In any case, I really like what the Jets have done to upgrade their offense without breaking the bank.

  1. or QBs, considering that Mike Vick and Tajh Boyd will also be on the team to start the 2014 offseason  (back)

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