The 2012 NFL Draft is in the books with each of the 32 NFL teams selecting the players that they believe will help them this upcoming season. Now that the draft is over, analysts across the country are rating each team’s picks during draft weekend. A large contingent of these analysts are not impressed with the draft choices that the New York Jets made, stating that they should have addressed other areas of need to help improve their team. Gang Green’s first pick saw a pass-rusher fly off the board at No. 16 as the Jets took North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples. However, the Jets most pressing need is on the offensive side of the ball. The offensive line did not do a good job of keeping Mark Sanchez upright last year, allowing 40 sacks, slightly more than the NFL average. As the Jets aim to bounce back from a disappointing season, it behooved them to use their first-round pick to bolster the line and protect their quarterback.
Shoulda Woulda Coulda: OG David DeCastro, Stanford
The Inside Scoop: Coming out of Stanford, DeCastro spent all of last year protecting the young arm of No. 1 pick Andrew Luck. The young guard was slated to go as a top 15 pick in many mock drafts and was never expected to fall into the late 1st round. DeCastro played three years at Stanford and was selected to First-team All Pac-12 in both 2010 and 2011. Furthermore, he was voted as a unanimous All-American at the guard position. The former Stanford Cardinal demonstrated a great work ethic and his penchant for perfection would make any coach or player love to have him on their team.
The Fit: DeCastro would be counted on to protect Mark Sanchez the same way he was able to protect Andrew Luck. As a pass blocker, he almost never surrendered a sack at the collegiate level. The young offensive guard is capable of blocking defenders with one hand and using the other to help his offensive tackle handle a pass-rusher. DeCastro has great awareness and his quick thinking and footwork allows him to slide and protect his quarterback from blitzes. DeCastro is more of a pass protector than a run blocker but he still plays to the whistle and never gives up on the play.
The Decision: One reason that the Jets chose Coples over DeCastro could be to address the needs of the team in regards to its AFC East competition. The Jets primary challengers for divisional crown have been the New England Patriots for the past decade. In Super Bowl XLVI, the New York Giants proved that the formula to beat Tom Brady was to utilize a consistent pass-rush to disrupt his timing with receivers and flush him out of the pocket. Coples is a great pass rusher who could fulfill this role for the Jets. For a lineman his size, he is supremely athletic. Most NFL pundits consider him a better athlete than any of the Jets current defensive lineman. New York’s 2011 first-round pick Muhammad Wilkerson enjoyed a solid rookie campaign with 49 tackles. Perhaps by adding a versatile defensive lineman the Jets will be able to dial up the pressure against upper echelon quarterbacks in the NFL.