New York Jets: Five Draft Weekend Storylines

David Aitken with five storylines for the New York Jets heading into the 2017 NFL Draft

Five NFL Draft weekend storylines for the New York Jets from David Aitken

Will the Jets Move Back?

Reportedly the Jets, Bears, 49ers and ostensibly every other team in the top ten is looking to move back if there’s a decent enough offer on the table.

The narrative is that this is a deep draft, particularly in positions the Jets have massive opportunities for instant rookie contributions (TE, CB, RB, S for instance). But the fact that so many teams want to move back and there is little reported interest in teams moving up should be a warning sign. Jets fans shouldn’t set themselves up for disappointment if the pick goes in at six.

The one bit of information that has gotten play and gives this a chance is the Browns’ possible interest in moving back up to secure North Carolina QB Mitchell Trubisky. The Browns have plenty of picks in the first few rounds of the next two drafts, and this bears watching if Trubisky falls out of the top three.

Are the Jets Serious About a Quarterback?

The work the Jets have done assessing this draft’s quarterbacks has been extensive. Picking high enough to probably have their shot at any signal caller, the Jets have held private workouts with the consensus top four prospects as well as Davis Webb, the probable fifth quarterback off the board.

If Maccagnan is doing all of this work to feign quarterback interest like a devious Machiavellian schemer for no other reason than to get a trade up to 6, it’s a little over the top. Planting seeds in the media about one or two names would have sufficed. Privately working out every possible prospect that could go in round one sends a different message.

I wrote at length a few weeks ago about why the Jets could consider a quarterback in round one here. Frankly with a quarterback depth chart that looks like it does, the Jets as an organization have a responsibility to put significant work into potential day-one signal callers. One special spring day in Happy Valley shouldn’t make Maccagnan pass on a franchise caliber prospect if extensive research this year tells him one of these prospects has those qualities.

I think it’s on the table. Perhaps not at six, but in a trade back out of the top ten I would consider anything possible. I’d especially keep an eye on whether any of the prospects worked out at quarterback make it to round two.

Staying at Six: Something Will Have to Give

With how this draft class is stacked talent wise, the Jets and the rest of the top ten outside of Cleveland at number one overall face a conundrum. As a game that revolves around the pass, the premium positions in the league are quarterback, left tackle, edge rusher, and cornerback. The quarterback group lacks consensus and the offensive line class is weak as a whole. Once Myles Garrett deservedly goes first overall, the edge class is flush with mid-first to day two talent, but no obvious top ten player (considering Solomon Thomas ill fitted for the Jets’ 3-4 OLB). Is a player like Charles Harris or Haason Reddick worth grabbing at six due to position value? The cornerback class is absolutely insane, yet the consensus top corner Marshon Lattimore’s injury history should give Jets fans a bad case of PTSDee. Are you still going to take him at six?

And the positions where there are players heralded with All-Pro potential? Let’s take a look at the top ten of Arif Hasan’s composite big board. Two safeties, a running back, tight end, and an off-the-ball linebacker. Is it better to gamble on perennial Pro Bowl potential at one of these positions, or “settle” for a good edge prospect? Complicating that question further is the depth of the class at those positions as well. It is debatable where OJ Howard or Leonard Fournette are such can’t miss players that you’re better off taking one of them in the first rather than the quality available on day two.

I’m reminded a little of the 2012 draft. It was unique to see a running back go top three, a strong safety seventh, and an inside linebacker rounding out the top ten as well with no edge rusher off the board until pick 15. Those top ten picks were all heralded as potential All-Pro players, whereas a deep edge class had first round talents but no one pushing into the elite prospect stratosphere. Fast forward to today, and Luke Kuechly remains one of the draft’s elite selections. But Trent Richardson washed out of the league, Mark Barron took until his second contract to find a niche as a LB/S, and the first round brought Melvin Ingram, Bruce Irvin, Chandler Jones, Whitney Mercilus and Nick Perry in the mid-to-late first round.

If it’s Jamal Adams, or Malik Hooker, or OJ Howard, the Jets better be sure they’re getting a top tier player.

Will Sheldon Richardson be Traded?

Rich Cimini reported that there appears to be little interest in a trade for Sheldon Richardson. In terms of likeliness of a trade, you would think there would be a little more buzz with the draft just days away.

The value of Richardson’s continued presence on the Jets roster is so low that the Jets should just take whatever they can get. This DE situation has been screwed up miserably from the start, but the team will only compound it by holding onto Richardson into the 2017 season. This is a player that Todd Bowles has struggled to fit in amongst Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams (in fairness, you’re not *supposed* to play three 3-4 DEs), is out of contract after this year, and this season has already been chalked up as a youth movement.

My expectation is he’ll be shopped throughout day two and day three, and the Jets will have to settle for moving him to an NFC contender after the draft for a conditional 2018 pick.

What Are Some First Round Picks Out of Left Field?

Here’s a list of some players I could see the Jets surprising by taking high in the draft, and some quick thoughts on it.

WR Corey Davis – A personal favorite of mine. One of those players whose stock will be looked at as being overthought years from now. Get the Decker release out of the way, play him with Enunwa and Anderson, and prosper.

LB Haason Reddick – Temple connection, supreme athlete, can be a lot of things as one man in a Todd Bowles defense. This may not even be that out-of-left-field come Thursday night.

RB Christian McCaffrey – The latest buzz is that he could go as high as pick eight to Carolina. As an alleged best player available purist, Maccagnan could be attracted to McCaffrey’s potential as a three-down defensive headache and ability to chip in on special teams.

OT Cam Robinson / OT Garrett Bolles – Tackles tend to go highly in the draft. This is as weak a tackle class as I can remember, so it’ll be interesting to see if demand drives up the value of the top names the way it often does for quarterbacks. These two players have all the tools – that can often be enough.

DL Jonathan Allen – I had to bring it up. Well, Richardson should be traded, and if the Jets make this selection they have flexibility in moving Williams for a king’s ransom or even Wilkerson when his deal is more favorable in the future, or maybe just keep Richardson and play four 3-4 DEs at once!?

QB Davis Webb – Mike Maccagnan’s Unholy Trinity of bizarre quarterback selections is complete with the selection of Davis Webb in round one. Gather round as Josh McCown teaches a trio of overdrafted passers what it takes to survive in the league for over a decade without ever actually being good. What could possibly go wrong?

TE David Njoku – Howard comes out of the box as an all-situation tight end with supreme athleticism, but Njoku has the ceiling to develop into this class’s most dominant receiver. And when you’re drafting tight ends in round one, that’s what it’s all about.

QB Patrick Mahomes – The darling of Jets twitter. This team drafting a player in round one that the fans actually want is maybe the craziest thing of all.

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