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The Numbers Game Behind the Jets’ Draft

Posted May 1, 2014

The Idea This Year: Find a Dozen Players to ‘Come In, Compete at a High Level’

Ever wonder just how much goes into an NFL team preparing for a draft? Jets senior director of college scouting Terry Bradway did his best to quantify it during this afternoon’s news conference, and the numbers are staggering.

Our player personnel staff attended 115 pro days in March and April after attending 120 college games from August through January. The past year yielded 575 visits to 263 schools where a whopping 1,372 players received writeups off of more than 3,500 evaluations.

“If you were on a roster at a school, you were probably getting written up,” Bradway said.

And if you were toward the top of that crop, you were probably the subject of one of our 635 player interviews.

After sifting through all the prospects at each position, “We probably have more players on our board than we’ve had in a few years,” Bradway said, “and with 12 picks, I think that’s going to be pretty good.”

The Jets could be looking to take both a wide receiver and a cornerback before the end of day two of the draft since a pair of four-year Jets veterans, Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie, were released in March, but there was no indication of any such plan.

“I would say overall I like the depth at that position as well as others,” Bradway said of the cornerbacks. A few minutes later, he added in regard to the wide receivers, “I think with 12 picks we’re going to have some good options throughout.”

In fact, general manager John Idzik won’t even promise that we’ll be selecting a wideout in any of the seven rounds.

“I wouldn’t say it’s safe to say anything at this point,” Idzik said.“We’re going to take the draft one pick at a time and add the best players.”

Not exactly the most revealing answers, but that was the plan last season as well, and that’s what led to the selection of Sheldon Richardson with our second pick in Round 1. Defensive line was not perceived to be a position of need and as such it was initially not the most popular pick from those outside the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center walls.

One season and one Defensive Rookie of the Year award later, however, even the toughest critics would have to admit it was a successful selection.

Still, “No one’s ever going to be 100 percent in this business,” director of college scouting Jeff Bauer said. “We’ve all made mistakes and aim to get better and better but there’s not a perfect formula. It’s tough. Sometimes you go, ‘Why did this guy not make it?’ and you have no idea.”

Of course, that inevitable mystery won’t hold the scouts back from continuing to evaluate seemingly everyone essentially around the clock.

Now, that clock is ticking down faster than ever as the 2014 NFL Draft is just over one week away. There are and always will be thousands of variables that go into whether a player that we select turns into the next big thing or not, but as is the case every season, all the Jets can do is prepare.

“Would we like rookies to come in and have an immediate impact? Well, of course we would,” Idzik said, “but we also have a pretty good roster that they’re competing against, too. I think we want those high-level picks, mid-round picks, low-round picks, CFAs [college free agents], we’ve tagged them for a reason, we feel like they’re a fit here and that they’re going to come in and compete at a high level.”

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