Although the New York Jets 8-8 season last year wasn’t a decrepit display of athleticism, it was marred by an inconsistent offense that couldn’t produce when it mattered the most. While the Jets still have Geno Smith and acquired Michael Vick from Philadelphia in free agency, neither of these finicky passers can be relied upon to reinvigorate the Jets.
However, the Jets were fortunate enough to find a passing gem in the sixth round of the NFL draft when they selected Clemson Quarterback Tajh Boyd.
Despite his short stature, Boyd utilized his mobility and respectable arm strength to become a supremely successful passer in college by the end of his senior year (completed 68.5% of his passes for 34 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions). Although Boyd needs to work on his mechanics and confidence under pressure before he can be a proficient passer, he has the athletic skill set and work ethic to make a name for himself in the NFL.
As Boyd transitions from the NCAA to the NFL, he’ll have to make the most of his dual threat passing and rushing capabilities if he hopes to keep the stout defenses of the NFL on their heels. During his junior and senior seasons at Clemson, Boyd threw 70 touchdowns and averaged 9.2 yards per pass while running for 20 touchdowns and 914 yards simultaneously.
Although it would be unfair to expect Boyd to be this prolific right out of the gate, his capabilities as a passer and as an elusive runner give him an advantage over the other one dimensional passers that were selected in the draft.
On top of that, Boyd is a quarterback that can be molded and shaped to fit the offensive schemes of the team he is playing for. It may take some time, but Boyd’s dedication and perseverance will allow him to evolve into a quarterback that is worthy to start for the Jets.
However, no matter how versatile a prospective quarterback may be, he can’t expect to succeed without a reliable receiving corps. With their second pick, the Jets selected the offensively gifted tight end Jace Amaro from Texas Tech.
Although Amaro may not be the best blocker, he is exceptional at creating separation from defenders and is most productive when he plays from the slot. Amaro is also one of the rare tight ends that can be a threat down the seam, which forces opposing defenses to respect Amaro’s capabilities as both a vertical and horizontal pass catcher.
If Tajh Boyd gets the starting job, it’s hard fathom the rookie passer having a more effective security blanket who can consistently catch intermediate passes when Boyd his feeling the heat from a tenacious pass rush.
Even though Amaro is more than capable of playing in the slot, the Jets wanted a petit yet swift slot receiver who could both catch the ball and garner yards after the catch.
A pint-sized receiver from Oklahoma, Jalen Saunders is an ideal slot receiver who runs smooth and succinct routes against man coverage and can find the soft spots in zone coverage. Although he may never be a vertical threat like Amaro, his sheer quickness and on the field instincts will be an invaluable component of the Jets offense that want’s to be known for more than just their oppressive defense.
Given all of the talent the Jets were able to acquire throughout the entirety of the draft, it would seem that Boyd has all the pieces around him to be successful. However, Boyd still has to work vigorously between now and the start of the regular season if hopes to compete valiantly for the starting job.
In all likelihood, Boyd will most likely have to beat out Michael Vick if he hopes to have a shot at starting from day one. While Vick may be a more prolific runner than Boyd, Boyd is a better passer and has room to develop unlike Michael Vick who is steadily declining in terms of his athletic endurance.
When all is said and done, Tajh Boyd has the talent and surrounding components to be an effective starter assuming he can work out the kinks before the start of the season rolls around. While the odds are against Boyd being the starter initially, watching his team from sideline for a while might do the rookie passer some good in terms of understanding the differences between college and pro football.
If Boyd can be patient and dedicated to becoming a fine tuned passer, he could be one of the surprise success stories to come out of the NFL draft since Tom Brady.