Don't you love this time of year? In 19 days, the New York Jets will be on the clock with the sixth pick in the draft. Our question this week focuses on what would be a controversial pick.
@RichCimini: First, let me start with this. A couple of weeks ago, I threw cold water on Mel Kiper's 3.0 mock draft, the one in which he has the Jets picking Howard. I called it a "luxury pick," saying the Jets have too many other needs to consider a tight end with the sixth pick. Since then, I've talked to more scouts about Howard, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. They believe he's a special talent and worthy of a pick in the top 10. I still say the Jets have more pressing needs than tight end, but I could build a case on why he'd be a solid value.
1. Howard can block, meaning he could play every down. He wouldn't be a situational tight end like Jace Amaro, the former second-round bust who was afraid to get his uniform dirty. Come to think of it, he wasn't good at catching either.
2. Unlike his predecessor, offensive coordinator John Morton will utilize the tight end in the passing game. If Morton employs a West Coast offense, as expected, he'll need a pass-catching tight end who can work the middle of the field and be a Cover 2 beater by threatening the deep seams. The current depth chart is bleak.
3. Not only does Howard have a high ceiling, but he has a high floor, according to scouts. That means he's a safe pick. Medically, he's clean, which is more than can be said for cornerback Marshon Lattimore, safety Malik Hooker and linebacker Reuben Foster, each of whom has an injury concern. In fact, Hooker and Foster are recovering from offseason surgeries.
The last time a tight end went as high as sixth was 2006, when the San Francisco 49ers chose Vernon Davis at No. 6. It doesn't happen often, but as one scout told me, "Howard is the first legitimate tight-end prospect we've seen in two or three years."
Howard wouldn't be my first choice at No. 6, but let's be honest: The Jets need playmakers everywhere. This rebuilding project won't be an overnight process, and they need to accumulate as many good players as possible. And, yes, a quality tight end could be a big help to a young quarterback.
The Jets would get some backlash for picking a tight end, but ask yourself this question: If you believe the kid has a chance to become the next Gronk, would it matter where you pick him?