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2018 NFL Draft

New York Jets 2018 Draft Report Card

The New York Jets have a franchise QB. For the second time in three years, the Jets had a USC product that many regarded as the top overall prospect in the draft fall into their lap. After months of rumors and speculations that all but guaranteed the Browns selecting Sam Darnold with the 1st overall pick, they had a change of heart and took Baker Mayfield. So, somehow, despite exceeding expectations last season in the tankathon to the point that they had to trade up in the draft, the New York Jets got the guy they had their eyes on for well over a year.

Round 1, Pick 3: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Sammy Sweetarm. The Samchise. Hey Darnold. Whatever you want to call him, the Jets got their guy. We might not know for 10 years which QB from this crop is ‘the best,’ but many people around the league think that Sam Darnold at the very least has the highest floor. He doesn’t have the biggest arm (Josh Allen), the highest IQ (Josh Rosen), he’s not the fastest (Lamar Jackson), he’s not the outspoken locker room leader (Baker Mayfield), but he’s a winner. He went 20-4 as a starter in his career at USC, and possesses a bit of every aforementioned QBs’ skillsets.

Of course, there are question marks with Darnold. He turned the ball over too much in college. He threw 21 INTs over two years, but his bigger problem was ball security both rushing and in the pocket. He coughed up 9 NINE! fumbles last season. He’s going to have to learn how to know when to go down and to roll out with two hands on the ball, as the competition and ball skills of defenders in the NFL only get better.

Darnold is a tremendous passer inside the numbers and hash, but another concern is whether or not he can make the big time throws outside the numbers and stretch the field. He has above average arm strength, but there are also concerns with his elongated throwing motion, which is problematic for quick routes all over the field. A skilled DB can identify when Darnold is in his throwing motion and that extra fraction of a second that Darnold takes while throwing could be the difference between a first down and six points to the defense. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic; I absolutely love this pick. He’ll be working with Jets OC Jeremy Bates, and he’ll be under Josh McCown’s wing, who is highly regarded as one of the best QB mentors in the NFL. McCown and Darnold are similar in that despite neither having exceptional speed, they both can put their head down and get the tough yards. Both QBs rushed for 5 TDs last season while only recording around 100 yards. Sam Darnold can ball, now it’s up to the Jets to surround him with talent that can both protect him and help him out on the field.

Also, two recent highly touted QBs that entered the league with concerns about their turnovers are Matt Ryan and Deshaun Watson. Decent company.

Also, Sam Darnold is EIGHTEEN years younger than Josh McCown.

NFL Comparison – Ben Roethlisberger/Jameis Winston/Carson Palmer

P.S. Good genes.

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Round 3, Pick 8: Nathan Shepherd, DT, Fort Hays State

This was a surprising pick, but in hindsight, I guess it wasn’t too surprising. With the ‘Sons of Anarchy’ (Wilkerson, Richardson, Harrison) breaking up, the Jets needed a new wave of defensive linemen to rebuild their team mold from the late 2000s/early 2010s. With Mo Wilkerson gone and Sheldon Richardson traded, Leonard Williams was getting double teamed regularly and was absent from many box scores. Steve McClendon was a good find to clog up the A gaps, but he is 32 years old. Shepherd is a feel-good story out of Canada where he had to leave college in order to work several jobs to pay for school. Once he earned enough money, he continued to work late night shifts on top of practicing, working out, and studying. He’s a perfect fit in a locker room that is actively trying to weed out problematic players in efforts to build a more professional atmosphere.

However, as you can see, Shepherd went to Fort Hays State, an unknown D-II school in the middle of Kansas. He is 24 years old, so he was quite literally a man amongst boys. The tape shows that:

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There were a LOT of good players still on the board at the time of this pick, so the Jets must really like this guy. It’s entirely possible that the Jets did indeed find a diamond in the rough and think that the jump from D-II to the NFL won’t be too much for Nathan Shepherd. At the very least, Shepherd is a big strong DT that is the heir apparent to Steve McClendon, which in turn will free up Leonard Williams more. The NFL is a copycat league, and the Eagles just won a Super Bowl by rotating eight quality defensive linemen. Perhaps the Jets are following suit.

NFL Comparison – Akiem Hicks

Round 4, Pick 7: Chris Herndon, TE, Miami

After the Jets signed a couple TEs in free agency, I thought that they’d address other concerns during the draft. However, they drafted Chris Herndon IV out of the U to start Day 3. Herndon can pass and block, but is coming off of MCL surgery. Herndon is very similar to Quincy Enunwa, and will probably be utilized as an H back in the slot instead of as a traditional TE with a hand on the ground. He moves effortlessly and is dangerous after the catch.

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Also, his new QB loves to throw the ball inside the numbers. Rookie QBs in general like to throw to their TEs as a safety valve. Herndon was the best TE in college inside the numbers last year:

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The Jets will need Tight End production this year as much as ever, and Chris Herndon will have ample opportunities to make plays for years to come.

NFL Comparison – Quincy Enunwa/Ricky Seals-Jones

Round 6, Pick 5: Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane

Desperate for depth at corner, the Jets took Parry Nickerson, AKA the fastest guy at the combine. He ran a 4.32 and his speed translates to the game. Despite being a little undersized, Nickerson led all returning CBs in lowest passer rating when targeted last year. As a potential Buster Skrine replacement, that is huge.

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Here’s that game speed I was talking about:

NFL Comparison – Jalen Myrick

Round 6, Pick 6: Folorunso Fatukasi, DT, UConn

The Jets took another 6’4″ 315 DT early in the 6th. They’re building defensive line depth and they got a strong one here in Foley Fatukasi. He racked up 13 sacks in his last three years at UConn and was a highly respected leader in the locker room. He is a great guy to bring in to compete for Kony Ealy’s old job immediately. He has some kinks to work out, but then again he is a 6th round pick. The Jets got a great value here.

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NFL Comparison – Caleb Brantley

Round 6, Pick 30: Trenton Cannon, RB, Virginia State

Can you say, shot out of a cannon?

The Jets’ second D-II player from this draft is Trenton Cannon, and his last name describes his playing style. He’s undersized but he packs a punch, as you can see with his Leonidas-style drop kick TD. He can be a 3rd down back in the NFL one day, but he’ll probably be used most returning kicks right off the bat. He returned three kicks for TDs in his career at Virginia State, and as long as he can physically catch a kicked ball, Cannon is a step above what the Jets had a KR/PR last season.

NFL Comparison – Non-Primetime Game Darren Sproles

 

There you have it. Your six new, New York Jets. They have their Quarterback. They have a TE whose game compliments their new QB. They added two big bodies to their defensive line. They drafted the fastest corner and the quickest RB to add depth at two positions that desperately needed some fresh legs.

The Jets didn’t draft any offensive linemen or edge rushers which was a surprise. Both positions were top heavy in this class, so maybe their eyes are dead set on next year’s class, which is highlighted by Nick Bosa.

No matter how good Nathan, Chris, Parry, Foley, and Trenton do in their respective careers, this draft class will be solely graded off of how Sam Darnold performs. He was the top prospect on many people’s boards who fell directly into the Jets’ lap. This is an exciting time for the Jets, as they added the guy they wanted for over a year, even after their unpredictably competitive 5 win 2017 season. They’re rapidly moving in the right direction, and the 2020s should be a hell of a good time. I’m giving the Jets a B+.

 

And now we wait.

New York Jets 2018 NFL Draft Preview: The Competitive Rebuild

Come Thursday night, the New York Jets will have a new franchise QB. I’m one thousand percent positive. If I’m wrong, I’ll print out this article and post a video of me eating it. Whoever they take with the 3rd overall pick, he will be the first QB that the Jets have taken in the 1st round of the draft since Mark Sanchez in 2009. Lets pray that things turn out better this time around.

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After a strong offseason that started with the signing of the highly sought-after CB Trumaine Johnson, the Jets continued to address depth issues and holes throughout their roster. They signed 4 LBs, most notably Avery Williamson. All 4 LBs are 27 or younger. They signed two Centers, both of whom are 27 years old (they can both play Guard as well). They signed two TEs, aged 22 and 26. They signed RBs Isaiah Crowell and Thomas Rawls, aged 25 and 24. Teddy Bridgewater (25) was brought in on a team-friendly deal as well. For those of you counting at home, thats 11 players, all under 30 years of age, in positions that the Jets were in desperate need of depth for years. The Jets were plagued by expensive contracts of veteran players and after a two-year roster purge and a couple retirements, the Jets suddenly found themselves with an abundance of cap space. They attacked the free agency market and while they did miss out on Kirk Cousins (which may turn out to be a blessing in disguise), they solidified their foundation and addressed the back end of their roster.

Who am I to predict who the Jets draft this week? Well I accurately predicted the Jets selecting Jamal Adams and identified Jordan Leggett as a good mid round TE in my write-up last year – https://thedailydart.com/2017/04/25/forgetting-brandon-marshall-a-new-era-in-jets-football-begins-thursday/. I also suggested that they end their PR/KR woes by drafting now-Cowboys Ryan Switzer, but alas, nobody listened.

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As for the Draft. The Jets traded up from the 6th overall pick to the 3rd with the Indianapolis Colts. They gave up this year’s 37th and 49th picks, as well as their 2nd round pick in 2019’s draft as well. It seems like a steep price to pay for just three spots in the draft, but if they draft the QB of their future, it’ll all be worth it. At #6, the Jets were in a position that could allow another QB-needy team such as the Bills, Cardinals, or even the Patriots to jump ahead of them. The Browns, Broncos, Giants, and obviously the Colts all were open to trade discussions, so the Jets had to make sure that they put themselves in the best position possible to land their guy.

Some people consider this year’s QB class a three-man race, others consider it a four. USC’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield headline this class, and they all could quite possibly be the first four players taken off the board. Josh Allen is considered to be the dark horse out of the four, as his on-field production isn’t up to par with the other three but his physical intangibles are everything that a team looks for in their QB. He has the size and arm strength that has some front offices salivating, but his accuracy in college is a huge red flag. He played in the Mountain West Conference, where he didn’t exactly dominate, and whenever Wyoming played against a Power 5 conference team, his performances were troubling:

The Jets have already fallen for the ‘prototypical QB build who maybe was in the wrong system in college’ with Christian Hackenberg. I am PRAYING that the Jets won’t be fooled again. In a perfect world, the Cleveland Browns draft him #1 overall so that the Jets will be in a position to choose from at least two of the three other remaining top QBs.

Here’s how I rank the top QBs in this draft class and which current/recent NFL QB they remind me of:

Give me any of the top 3 guys and I’m a happy man. All three QBs have strong upsides and I think that they will all be at least long-term starters in the NFL. They all have their pros and cons, but at the end of the day I’d be more than pleased to have any of them wearing green this year.

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On The Clock:

After trading away their two 2nd round picks to the Colts, the Jets have six picks in this year’s draft.

Round 1, Pick 3 (3)

Round 3, Pick 8 (72)

Round 4, Pick 7 (107)

Round 5, Pick 20 (157)

Round 6, Pick 5 (179)

Round 7, Pick 17 (235)

With 69 (nice) picks between their first and second picks, they’re going to need to rely on their scouts to find some mid-round talent. They haven’t been great in finding talent in the mid to late rounds this decade, with Bilal Powell and Quincy Enunwa being the only real notable selections. Assuming that they’re going to draft their next QB, I wouldn’t be surprised if two of their picks are on large and athletic offensive linemen. Not the sexy picks, but the ones that will protect their new and most important asset.

First Round Options:

Assuming that the Jets are out on Josh Allen (PLEASE), they will have the opportunity to select Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, or Baker Mayfield. Even if the Browns and Giants take a QB each, the Jets will be able to draft the 3rd as a very good consolation prize. Darnold has been tied to the Browns the most, and Rosen has been tied to the Giants the most, so it is very likely that Baker Mayfield will be sitting there when the Jets are on the clock. The Giants are also rumored to be interested in RB Saquon Barkley and are even interested in trading down.

The Browns are going to pick Sam Darnold. I hope for their own sanity that they don’t fall for the Josh Allen trap. I think

With the 3rd Pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the New York Jets Select…..

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Baker Mayfield will definitely be on the board at #3 if the Giants stay at #2. The Dolphins and Bills both have expressed interest in Mayfield, but they’d have to work out a trade with the Giants to do so. Mayfield has his strengths and weaknesses, but his on-field production and leadership at Oklahoma is second to none. He’s cocky, talks a little too much, and had a public intoxication arrest in college a couple of summers ago. He’s drawn comparisons to Johnny Manziel, but both Manziel and Mayfield have distanced themselves from that comparison, with both parties saying that Mayfield is in a much better place mentally than Manziel ever was. Mayfield is slightly undersized, but I think that is an outdated way to grade QBs. Drew Brees and Russell Wilson have done a great job of changing the narrative of ‘short’ QBs busting in the NFL.

Mayfield was very successful in college and is 7th all-time in NCAA passing yards. He’s a Heisman winner and proved last year that he doesn’t need a Biletnikoff Award winner at WR (Dede Westbrook) to be a stud.

Does success in college guarantee success at the next level? Absolutely not. Look at Manziel, Tim Tebow, Vince Young, Reggie Bush, etc etc. But the Jets selecting Baker Mayfield would show that they’re going after it. They have an underrated roster and have been on the cusp of a deep playoff run more often than not these past few years. They haven’t had a legitimate franchise QB since Mark Sanchez (if you count that) and Baker Mayfield offers tremendously higher upside.

Position Needs:

QB: The Jets have 4 QBs on their roster with a 5th on the way. I doubt that Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg will be on the roster come Week 1. Josh McCown proved to be at least an average QB last season and has a good track record of mentoring younger QBs. He can be very valuable to both Teddy Bridgewater and whichever rookie QB the Jets select. If Bridgewater bounces back, then the Jets will suddenly have some quality depth at the most important position in all of sports. Ask last year’s Super Bowl champions about QB depth.

RB: By signing Isaiah Crowell and Thomas Rawls, I think the Jets took themselves out of the running for taking a RB in this year’s draft. They drafted Elijah McGuire in the 5th round last year, and he had a productive season playing behind Bilal Powell and Matt Forte. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Powell at age 29 is a trade chip at some point this season. There is some late round talent at RB with players such as Iowa’s Akrum Wadley, Notre Dame’s Josh Adams, and Tennessee’s John Kelly, but the Jets don’t really have a spot for another young RB at this time.

Michigan v Iowa

WR: The Jets currently have 15 WRs on their roster. Robby Anderson could be facing a short suspension for telling a cop that he was going to nut in his wife’s eye. Quincy Enunwa is coming off of a neck injury that hopefully won’t have a lasting impact. Jermaine Kearse had a productive year for the Jets, coming from Seattle in the Sheldon Richardson trade. This offseason, they signed Terrelle Pryor, who looked lost last year in Washington after a 1,000 yard season in Cleveland. The Jets drafted WRs ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen, but they combined for only 15 receptions for 176 yards. The Jets have a lot of question marks at WR, but with FIFTEEN of them on the roster combined with a relatively weak WR draft class, I don’t see them drafting one this year. Given how weak this WR class is, teams that need receivers will have to snatch the ‘good ones’ earlier than they would usually. One guy I am really interested in, however, is Indiana’s Simmie Cobbs Jr. I wrote his name down in my phone on August 31, 2017 when he was putting on a show against Ohio State. He has drawn some Mike Evans comparisons but suffered an ankle injury last year. If he’s available in the 6th/7th round, I wouldn’t hate that pick at all.

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TE: The Jets listened to me and drafted Jordan Leggett last year, but he was injured most of the season. This offseason, they added Clive Walford and Bucky Hodges, who are 26 and 22. With five TEs on the roster, I don’t think that they’ll draft another one this year.

OL: The Jets don’t have an offensive lineman older than 29 on their roster. This is good for development, but the O-Line is still a glaring issue for this team. Last year, PFF ranked the Jets’ line as 30th in the NFL, and they allowed the 6th most sacks in the league. With the Jets drafting one QB, having a 38 year old as the starting QB, and another QB coming off of a career-altering injury, the Jets will absolutely continue to address their offensive line and will be in the market for their future LT/someone that can step into RT right away. I would not be surprised at all if a tall, athletic offensive lineman is selected in the 3rd round. I don’t know shit about O-Line, but Geron Christian looks good to me.

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DL/EDGE: This is another one of the Jets’ most glaring issues. They are poor at pressuring the QB, which is big trouble when that’s paired with a weak secondary. Coming into last season, I loved LSU’s Arden Key based off sheer athleticism. He is comparable to Jadeveon Clowney in college, including the questions of whether or not he takes plays off. Key had a down year, so his draft stock has fallen quite a bit, but not far enough for him to slip into the 3rd round. Had the Jets kept their two 2nd rounders, I think that they may have been lucky enough to grab him there.

This is a pretty deep class for edge rushers, and half of them seem to be from Ohio State. Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, Jerome Baker, and Jalyn Holmes are all OSU front 7 guys that could all be gone in the first three rounds. With that much talent on one team, it does beg the question of whether or not each of them are individually great talents or if they are a factor of a strong defensive unit from a well-coached system. Dorance Armstrong is a late round edge rusher that I like…he even laid off Baker Mayfield knowing that they’d be teammates in a year.

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Also if the Jets take this literal reincarnation of Wolverine I wouldn’t be opposed:

LB: The Jets signed 4 LBs this offseason and have two young early-round draft picks on their roster in Darron Lee and Jordan Jenkins. They suddenly have a lot of depth at this position for the first time in a long time. However, if an OLB with speed off the edge becomes available in the later rounds, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Jets take one. Perhaps one of Baker Mayfield’s former teammates Obo Okoronkwo?

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DB: The Jets took Jamal Adams 6th overall last year and surprised many people by taking Marcus Maye in the 2nd round. With the safety position locked up for the foreseeable future, the Jets still do need help at Corner, especially in defending slot receivers. Buster Skrine has been a liability and has suffered quite a few concussions in his playing career.  Tarvarus McFadden is a late round option at CB whose stock plummeted this past year. McFadden and Derwin James were supposed to carry Florida State’s defense to glory last year, but a Week 1 injury to their QB1 turned their season upside down. Also at 6’2″ 204, he fits the big body mold that so many teams need against WRs that keep getting bigger and bigger around the league. Considering the two CBs that the Jets selected last year played four combined games, the bar for McFadden to jump over is not high by any means.

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So there you have it. This is an exciting time to be a Jets fan. We’re just a few days away from having a franchise QB after years of juggling aging veterans and mid round question marks. The Bills are in no mans land, the Dolphins just sold off all their players, and the Patriots have a bunch of question marks of their own to deal with. If the Jets have a solid draft and they stay healthy this upcoming season, a .500 season is very attainable and a Wild Card berth isn’t too crazy to think about.

In a perfect world, here is how this upcoming weekend will turn out:

Round 1, Pick 3 – QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Round 3, Pick 8 – OT Geron Christian, Louisville/EDGE Arden Key, LSU/CB Carlton Davis, Auburn

Round 4, Pick 7 – EDGE Dorance Armstrong, Kansas/RB Akrum Wadley, Iowa/WR James Washington, Oklahoma State/OT Chukwuma Okorafor, Western Michigan

Round 5, Pick 20 – OLB/EDGE Obo Okoronkwo, Oklahoma/RB Josh Adams, Notre Dame/EDGE Chad Thomas, Miami

Round 6, Pick 5 – CB Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State/OL Will Clapp, LSU

Round 7, Pick 17 – WR Simmie Cobbs Jr, Indiana/RB Justin Jackson, Northwestern/DE Joe Ostman, Central Michigan

 

Live look-in at me if the Jets follow my draft guide:

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