I always like to provide you all with my immediate thoughts (if you follow me on Twitter, you get those) and then give more in depth thoughts a couple of weeks later. Like what I hope Christian Hackenburg does not throw this season, let’s take this Pick Six back on the 2017 Jets draft class…
1. I absolutely love the Jamal Adams pick. He was the top rated player on my big board and was the player I wanted during the entire lead up to draft night. Repeat after me: Jamal Adams is not a box safety. He spent 41% of his snaps at free safety, 31% at cornerback, and 11% as a strong safety (or box safety). He can play in the box, but that is not his game. It is lazy to classify him as that. He is a game changer on the back end, and in the locker room.
The same can be said for Florida’s Marcus Maye, who the Jets took in round two to hopefully buck the Round Two Curse that has plagued this team over the last decade. Maye serves two purposes: one, he allows for Adams to play his game and not have to worry about the player opposite him not playing up to their potential. Two, it allows Todd Bowles to play Calvin Pryor much closer to the line like a de facto OLB in this system. The Jets chose to basically ignore edge rusher, and I think the reason why is because the Jets plan to deploy Pryor as an extra blitzer and in run support. I think you’ll see a lot of 3-2-6 personnel formations; if the Jets opt to foolishly keep Sheldon Richardson, I think their best personnel defensively is the one that lines up Leonard Williams, Muhammed Wilkerson, and Richardson as their three down linemen, Darron Lee and Jordan Jenkins as the primary linebackers, and then Adams, Maye, Pryor, Morris Claiborne, Justin Burris, and Buster Skrine as the defensive backs.
There is a lot of flexibility with that defensive grouping, and it allows the Jets to utilize veterans like David Harris and Steve McClendon as rotational pieces while the Jets transition to the new leaders on this team. Adams and Maye allow the Jets to have this defense grow together, since the oldest full time starter (Wilkerson) is under 28 years old.
2. The Jets doubled up at Wide Receiver with ArDarius Stewart and Chad “To Catch A Touchdown” Hansen. Stewart was ranked 100 on my big board, and the Jets took him at 79th overall. I had eight other wide receivers ranked higher than him, and I was very surprised he went in round 3. I actually thought this would have been the spot the Jets targeted Tarall Basham or Derek Rivers. I might have even gone three for three in the secondary and taken Cordarea Tankersley.
However, the Jets now appear to be trying to recreate the New Orleans Saints/San Francisco 49ers offense that Offensive Coordinator John Morton worked with. This was, also, an insurance pick since we found out that Devin Smith tore his ACL doing God knows what during the offseason. Stewart is now expected to fill the Brandin Cooks role, while Hansen fills the Marques Colston “Big Slot” role. I think Quincy Enunwa is the Jimmy Graham in this equation, with Jordan Leggett playing the Ben Watson position. I think you will see a lot of four pass catcher-one running back sets. I call them four pass catchers and not four wide receivers because this will not be your traditional trips sets with an in-line TE. I think Enunwa will be moved all over, and I think you will see the Jets take advantage of Stewart’s athleticism on jet sweeps and bubble screens and drags across the formation.
I think Hansen and Enunwa will be peppered with a ton of targets, but you will see an equal distribution as the Jets use the pass to set up the run. This is why I think Matt Forte’s demise is greatly exaggerated. As a pass catcher, Forte can still contribute. Bank on him possibly catching 60 passes this year.
3. All of these moves are being done to make Christian Hackenberg’s job substantially easier. Aside from growing the Luke Skywalker goatee from Return of the Jedi, we do not really know what he has been up to. Like Joe mentioned in his 12 Pack, it is an absolute indictment if Hackenberg cannot beat out Josh McCown. It will be magnified as we probably watch Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes produce at a high level. The Jets have skill players on offense (Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Eric Decker, Stewart, Hansen, Leggett, Forte, Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire) to have Hackenberg be productive next year. Does this mean they will win games? Probably not, but it will be up to Jeremy Bates and Morton to make Hackenberg’s job easier through simple reads and utilizing his underrated athleticism to get him outside the pocket. They also want to rebuild his confidence, and that is what easy completions will do for him. It will be interesting to see how vertical the Jets offense is once he does take over. He has the arm strength to make those throws, and the Jets have guys that can get down the field.
4. Elijah McGuire will end up being the starting running back by the end of the season. Dylan Donahue will finish the year with six sacks and end up taking playing time from Lorenzo Mauldin. Those two have a big opportunity to produce statistically as initial part time players and on special teams. McGuire’s skill set lends itself to what I think this offense will look like. Donahue just has a relentless motor and the Jets need someone that can clean up off the edge when WWS collapses the pocket. Donahue could be the beneficiary.
Brandon Shell, while not a pick in this draft, counts towards this draft class since the Jets traded a pick in this year’s draft to go get him. If Shell turns into the starting Right Tackle, the Jets move on from Decker, and McGuire takes over as the starting RB , then Maccagnan and Bowles would be responsible for about 17 of the projected 22 starters on both sides of the ball. Let’s take a look:
QB: Christian Hackenburg (MM)
RB: Elijah McGuire (MM)
WR: Quincy Enunwa (JI)
WR: ArDarius Stewart (MM)
WR: Robbie Anderson (MM)
TE: Jordan Leggett (MM)
LT: Kelvin Beachum (MM)
LG: James Carpenter (MM)
C: Wesley Johnson (JI)
RG: Brian Winters (JI)
RT: Brandon Shell (MM)
DE: Muhammed Wilkerson (MT)
DE: Leonard Williams (MM)
DT: Sheldon Richardson (JI)
OLB: Lorenzo Mauldin (MM)
ILB: Darron Lee (MM)
ILB: David Harris (MT)
OLB: Jordan Jenkins (MM)
CB: Morris Claiborne (MM)
CB: Buster Skrine (MM)
S: Jamal Adams (MM)
S: Marcus Maye (MM)
This is Maccagnan and Bowles’s team through and through for the first time since they have been here, and it will be interesting to see how that begins to take shape on the field now that they have turned over the roster and added their own guys for the most part.
5. The Jets ended the day by adding two corners, one who is technically sound but is coming off a serious injury and another who is just an athlete but is incredibly raw. It will be interesting to see which one of them, or if both of them, develop into contributors on a secondary that was not very good last year. It is important that the Jets hit on some late round guys because they need more talent and they passed up on safer choices at positions of need. Even guys that probably won’t be starters, like Justin Burris/Donahue/Sefarian-Jenkins/Miles/Bruce Carter, will contribute on special teams and in certain packages. Will one of their late round guys step up and seize a starting position? If not, can they at least contribute on special teams? A lot of people focused on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, but the special teams has been god awful for years and it is high time the Jets find a way to consistently win on that side of the ball because they are most likely going to need a few special teams touchdowns and to block some punts to make Hackenberg and the offense’s life a little easier.
6. The selections from this class, plus the development of Christian Hackenberg, further confirm what I figured at the end of this past season: Todd Bowles will not be fired at the end of this season. I feel like I can say that unequivocally, seeing as how him and Maccagnan have worked together to rebuild this roster from the top to the bottom and their handpicked QB will now get the chance to seize the starting QB position. Bowles is not a great coach, but he is not the worst coach in the league like some have argued. He will get every chance to sink or swim with this nucleus, but Maccagnan should be under the same kind of pressure. I do find it funny that Maccagnan skates by despite having 100% roster control. Bowles gets all the blame, but Maccagnan needs some of it too if this roster does not mesh well. I would hate to be in a scenario where Maccagnan gets to pick a second coach and then we are now the Buffalo Bills with Doug Whaley. Don’t go full Buffalo Bills.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com