Welcome back to another edition of the Turn On The Jets 12 Pack, brought to you by PrimeSport, official sponsor of the New York Jets.
A post NFL Draft review of the New York Jets roster, broken down by positions and a rough estimation of where it ranks league wide.
1 – Quarterback (Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg, Bryce Petty)
McCown is likely to start the season under center before giving way to Hackenberg at some point. If we are being blunt, the Jets have a bad 38 year old, an unproven lowly regarded second rounder and a likely career third stringer who is injured. It is hard to argue against the Jets having the worst group of quarterbacks in the NFL. They are betting on Hackenberg taking major, major strides this year. If he doesn’t and if Josh McCown doesn’t morph into 80% of 2015 Ryan Fitzpatrick, it will be ugly.2 – Running Back (Matt Forte, Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire)
Forte sticks out like a sore thumb on this roster and is inevitably going to be cut after 2017. He can still be effective with the right usage and more of a focus in the passing game. Powell is regularly underrated and underused. McGuire was an intriguing flier in the 6th round who hopefully gets plenty of run on a rebuilding team. Even if you are bullish on Powell (nobody is more bullish on him than this writer), this group is in the bottom third of the NFL, if not a bit lower.
3 – Wide Receiver (Eric Decker, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen, Charone Peake, Jalin Marshall, Quinton Patton)
After the selection of both Stewart and Hansen, it is fair to wonder if we will see more of Enunwa at H-Back than outside the numbers. Regardless, he should lead the Jets in targets for 2017, even if Decker is healthy. Despite being written off by many, Decker is likely to be on the roster this season and again, if healthy, is one of the 25-30 best wide receivers in the NFL. Anderson had an encouraging rookie year but will now be battling Hansen for reps on the outside. Stewart is more of a running back/receiver hybrid and will catch most of his passes within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Peake, Marshall and Patton all have an uphill battle to make the team, nevermind make an impact. This is a bottom third group in the NFL with a high ceiling to be in the top half of the league if Decker is Decker, Enunwa continues to improve and Anderson doesn’t hit a sophomore slump.4 – Tight End (Jordan Leggett, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Braedon Bowman, Eric Tomlinson)
The best player here might be the 5th round rookie Leggett, in what is the worst tight group in the NFL. Seferian-Jenkins is already suspended and could not stay healthy or make an impact last season. Bowman and Tomlinson are camp fodder. The Jets could use another body here, even though Leggett has intriguing potential and should be involved in the offense from day one.
5 – Offensive Line (Kelvin Beachum, Brian Winters, Wes Johnson, James Carpenter, Brandon Shell, Ben Ijalana, Brent Qvale, Dakota Dozier)
There no big names here but the Jets have a quality of pair of guards in their prime. Quietly, Carpenter has been one of the best interior linemen in football over the past two years and Winters improvement since the middle of 2015 has been encouraging. Johnson, Shell and Beachun all have plenty to prove but have flashed in small sample sizes. This group has potential to be middle of the road and to exceed most expectations for them but one injury or let down could tumble them down to a bottom five unit.
6 – Defensive Line (Muhammad Wilkerson, Leonard Williams, Sheldon Richardson, Steve McLendon, Lawrence Thomas, Deon Simon)
The strongest positional group on the team (again), with or without Richardson, who is being shopped. Williams is a rising star. Wilkerson is an All-Pro talent looking for a bounce back year. McLendon is a competent nose tackle who is on the verge of being replaced by the ascending Simon. Keep an eye on Thomas, who the organization is very high on. This is a top ten unit in the league, when they are playing to their potential.
7 – Linebackers (David Harris, Darron Lee, Lorenzo Mauldin, Jordan Jenkins, Bruce Carter, Corey Lemonier, Freddie Bishop, Dylan Donahue, Josh Martin, Julian Stanford)
Harris is STILL the best player in this unit despite being 401 years old. Lee had an inconsistent rookie season at best, as Jenkins, the third rounder, showed more down the stretch. Mauldin is trying to bounce back from a disappointing sophomore season. The rest of the group is JAGs and potential camp fodder, although Lemonier may be worth keeping an eye on. This is a bottom ten group in the NFL unless Lee makes big strides and either Jenkins or Mauldin becomes a consistent force off the edge.
8 – Cornerback (Morris Claiborne, Buster Skrine, Marcus Williams, Juston Burris, Daryl Roberts, Jeremy Clark, Derrick Jones)
If healthy, Claiborne is the top player here but he is usually only good for 8-10 games per season. Skrine is wildly overpaid and best suited for the slot. Williams has shown the most to be the other outside corner but Burris will get every opportunity to take his job. Both Clark and Jones were interesting late round selections who have long term potential. This is one of the least proven and arguably worst cornerback groups in the NFL, particularly if Claiborne is not healthy.
9 – Safety (Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, Calvin Pryor, Rontez Miles, Doug Middleton)
The Jets invested heavy here with their first two draft picks, relegating Pryor to trade bait or a situational backup. The talent is there for this group to be very good to great long term but there will likely be rookie growing pains. The hope is by the end of the season this is one the team’s best positions and at least around middle of the pack league wide.
10 – Specialists (Chandler Catanzaro, Lachlan Edwards, Tanner Purdum)
Catanzaro had a career worst season in 2016. Edwards also flat out stunk last year. Purdum is a quality long snapper. The Jets will likely count on Stewart or McGuire at returner and Donahue to help with coverage units. Until proven otherwise, this is one of the worst special teams units in the NFL.
11 – Coaching Staff (Todd Bowles, Kacy Rodgers, John Morton, Brant Boyer)
Bowles is coming off a highly disappointing season and is perceived by most to be on the hot seat (although I think his job may be more secure than many assume). Morton is an unproven commodity, who will be looking to bring concepts from New Orleans to New York without the benefit of having Drew Brees. Rodgers’ unit was putrid last season and he is fighting the perception he only has a job because he is Bowles’ friend. Boyer’s units were putrid and poorly managed last year. Let’s hope it was rookie season jitters…
12 – Front Office (Mike Maccagnan)
The darling of most Jets fans because of a playoff-less 10-6 2015 and his reputation as a “football guy.” Maccagnan has smartly developed relationships with the media to better craft his narrative, unlike his predecessor who was clueless in that regard. Many seem to pin Maccagnan’s biggest mistakes (Darrelle Revis contract, Muhammad Wilkerson contract, Antonio Cromartie contract…basically every free agent contract besides James Carpenter) on Woody Johnson, which is a reach.
Regardless, Maccagnan will sink or swim on his draft classes. There were promising signs from players like Jenkins, Shell, Burris and Simon last year, if those guys hit, along with Anderson and Williams building on a strong 2016, the core of a competitive team will be there. It will be too early to get a read on his nine selections from 2017 but a high impact rookie year from Adams and contributions from a few of the mid rounders will go a long way. All eyes will also be on Christian Hackenberg, if he flops the way many assume he will, it will be an ugly stain on Maccagnan’s short resume.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com