Well, at least temporarily.
The New York Jets took a step in the right direction on April 28th. General manager Mike Maccagnan seemingly took advantage of this year’s NFL Draft with hopes to right the ship from the many issues that plagued the team a season ago. They brought in talent. They infused youth. They satisfied needs. While this was step one in a long and tedious rebuild process, make no mistake: the Jets are a better team today than they were one week ago.
There was plenty of speculation regarding what the Jets would do with the sixth overall pick in the draft. Questions arose about the possibility of New York trading down to accumulate multiple picks or an impact player. Instead, the Jets made the correct decision and stayed in the sixth slot. By doing so, they satisfied a need with an extreme talent.
This was an important day for the Jets – specifically – Maccagnan and Todd Bowles. With the current state of the Jets in disarray, there is a legitimate possibility any and every player taken will get the opportunity to showcase himself during the regular season. This is a rebuild. It is time to embrace the youth movement.
By now – you should know the Jets drafted LSU Safety Jamal Adams with the sixth overall pick. They did not take a quarterback too soon and they did not draft a player with an injury-riddled college career. By doing so, they deserve an A. Instead, they went with a platform I fully support – “take the best player available while satisfying a need.” It is almost as if the front office followed my advice.
Adams – quite simply – was a beast in college. At LSU, the defensive back was a first-team All-American as a junior in 2016. He is a versatile safety. While he can set the tone with a big hit if you cross his path, he will also not be afraid to speak his mind in the locker room and command it like the leader he was groomed to be. The Jets needed that.
Personally, I love this pick. He was the best player available at the time of the team’s selection and they filled a need in their depleted secondary. The Jets got the best of both worlds by selecting Adams; for that this pick deserves an A.
The remainder of the draft was interesting for the Jets. With their second round pick, Maccagnan selected another safety, Marcus Maye, from Florida. NFL.com says Maye has the “instincts of a free safety and physicality of a box player. He has the instincts and speed to operate effectively both single-high and two-deep looks.” I don’t mind this selection because Maye has talent – however – with running back Dalvin Cook still on the board – at the time – as well as cornerback Sidney Jones and tight end Gerald Everett, I did not truly understand the reasoning behind it. Matt Forte is not getting any younger. Cook would have fit perfectly with Bilal Powell in the backfield. Because of that, this selection gets a B-minus.
What does this mean for Calvin Pryor and Marcus Gilchrist? Well, I hope you still have the tag on your Calvin Pryor jersey.
In the third and fourth round, the Jets followed a similar strategy they used in the first two frames – draft a player with the same role. Instead of another safety, the Jets receiving core got deeper with their selections of Alabama product ArDarius Stewart and Cal receiver Chad Hansen. Both Stewart and Hansen will provide solid depth behind Eric Decker, Quincy Enunwa and Robbie Anderson. Stewart is a tough target to cover because he plays larger than his 5-11, 204 lb frame indicates. Hansen can stretch the field like he did at Cal to the tune of 1,249 yards and 11 touchdowns.
But did the Jets need to draft two wide outs with consecutive picks? No, they didn’t have to. B for Stewart; B-minus/C-plus for Hansen.
The Jets had two fifth round selections. With them, they attempted to satisfy a glaring need at tight end with Clemson product Jordan Leggett and outside linebacker from West Georgia Dylan Donahue. There is no question the Jets and new offensive coordinator John Morton will look to try to incorporate a tight end in the offensive scheme this season – whether with Austin Seferian-Jenkins or Leggett. The issue with this pick – in my opinion – is Leggert’s motor and blocking ability. His size is fine. The Jets passed on Jake Butt when they traded down; he was the better option despite him recovering from a knee injury.
Donahue is a tad undersized but can be a strong catalyst on an awful special teams unit that could not get out of its own way last season. He can move fairly well and can push Lorenzo Mauldin out of a spot if he performs in training camp and preseason. Maybe this will light a spark under Mauldin who severely underperformed in 2016. Then again, who didn’t?
The Leggett pick gets a B/B-minus because I was high on Butt. The Jets arguably reached for Donahue so they hope this pick pays off; for that, I’ll give this a C.
To close things up, the Jets followed my second piece of advice – draft some depth. You can never have enough depth because injuries happen. In the sixth round – with three picks – Maccagnan took running back Elijah McGuire from Louisiana-Lafayette and cornerbacks Jeremy Clark from Michigan and Derrick Jones from Ole Miss.
Look for McGuire in training camp and the preseason, as he may be the darkhorse to take over Jalin Marshall’s kick returning duties. In the sixth round, the Jets could not go wrong by drafting a speedy running back like McGuire. This pick gets a B.
Clark – if healthy – can be an asset in Bowles’ defense. I love his size: listed at 6-3, 220 lbs. I love this pick, even though he is coming off an ACL tear and won’t be cleared until July. If he’s healthy, the talent should show. Risky but may be worth it, B.
The Jets elected to draft the same position for two consecutive picks. That was bold. Again, you can never have enough depth on your team with. Why not go for Jones? I like the idea of depth and Jones is another tall cornerback, B-minus.
Overall, the Jets had a good few days in Philadelphia. I’ll give them a B. With that said, management has given the fanbase a reason to be optimistic for the future. Jets fans, I understand you’re upset the quarterback situation was not addressed. But, take consolation in the fact the Jets did not reach for any signal caller. Next year’s draft class is deeper in that category.
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