New York Jets – Mike Maccagnan Draft Pick Evaluation Through Three Full Seasons

Joe Caporoso with quick thoughts on Mike Maccagnan’s draft picks through three years…

Since taking over as the team’s General Manager, Mike Maccagnan has drafted 22 players over three years for the New York Jets. Here is a quick overview of their overall performance to date. We will go more in-depth on many of these players in the offseason (not you, Jarvis Harrison). 

2015

Round 1, #6 Overall – Leonard Williams, Defensive End 

Williams had a disappointing third season for the Jets, as he struggled to build on what looked to be a breakout 2017. The disappearance of Muhammad Wilkerson and the lack of a pass rush at linebacker are working against Williams but the Jets drafted him at #6 to be good enough to overcome any situational constraints. His first there years have not been as good as either Wilkerson or Sheldon Richardson’s first three years (other recent first round picks by the Jets at his position) but Williams does look the part of a foundational building block on defense with a floor of a very good starter. As of now, he doesn’t look the part of an annual All-Pro player but rather somebody is consistently a cut below that level.

Round 2, #37 Overall – Devin Smith, Wide Receiver

Some say it isn’t fair to blame a GM for injuries but ultimately it is part of the evaluation process. Smith has been a bust through three years by being unable to stay on the field for the overwhelming majority of his time here. In the right situation, he has the skill set to be a productive deep threat but that doesn’t matter if he can’t stay healthy. Getting a complete goose egg in round two is problematic (see Hackenberg, Christian).

Round 3, #82 Overall – Lorenzo Mauldin, Outside Linebacker 

Mauldin had an intriguing rookie season but struggled when he put weight on in year two. He had a quiet 2017 training camp and preseason before being knocked out for the year with an injury. It is hard to expect much, if anything, from him in 2018. He has looked overmatched as anything but a role player and will have an uphill battle to defensive playing time next year.

Round 4,  #103 Overall – Bryce Petty, Quarterback 

The ceiling for Petty was always a backup quarterback at this level and through three years, it doesn’t look like he will hit that ceiling. It is likely the Jets will cut him this offseason and it is doubtful he ever starts a game in the NFL again.

Round 5, #152 Overall – Jarvis Harrison, Offensive Line

Harrison never played a snap for the Jets before being cut. He is currently not on a NFL team.

Round 7, #223 Overall – Deon Simon, Nose Tackle

Simon showed some promise through two years but lost his job to Mike Pennel over the summer. He was added to the team’s roster in week 17 but never played a down this season. Simon will already be 28 years old by next season and is unlikely to ever be an impact player here.

Other Notes: The Jets traded picks and draft spots this year to acquire Brandon Marshall, Ryan Fitzpatrick, DeVier Posey and Zac Stacy. Marshall and Fitzpatrick were successful short term investments that flamed out after one season. Posey and Stacy contributed nothing of value.

Grade: D – This is a fairly awful draft class. The only reason it isn’t a F is because Williams is a very good player and Marshall/Fitzpatrick had major roles in the only Jets season with a winning record since 2010.

2016

Round 1, #20 Overall – Darron Lee, Inside Linebacker

Lee improved on a pedestrian rookie season this past year but still looks the part of an average starter at best. He has shown flashes of being able to get after the quarterback and playing sideline to sideline against the run and screen game but is still far too inconsistent and a liability in the passing game. As a third round pick, you’d be satisfied with his first two years but as a first round pick? It is hard to say he has been a success so far.

Round 2, #51 Overall – Christian Hackenberg, Quarterback

I’ll take a break from beating the dead horse. A complete disaster of pick.

Round 3, #83 Overall – Jordan Jenkins, Outside Linebacker

Jenkins had a somewhat similar 2017 to his 2016, except in a bigger role. For the second season in a row, he finished the year strong and looked the part of a competent, edge setting outside linebacker who will ideally eventually be paired with a premium pass rusher. A starting caliber player in the third round is nice value.

Round 4, #118 Overall – Juston Burris, Cornerback 

Burris showed some positives signs as a rookie but was completely overwhelmed in a larger role as a sophomore.. It is unlikely he is anything but a role player and special teamer in his third year as the Jets look to build out and improve the cornerback position. Burris lacks the athleticism and instincts to be a starter on the outside.

Round 5, #158 Overall – Brandon Shell, Offensive Tackle

Shell has more than held his own as a starting right tackle when given the chance over his first two years. Outside of a few minor injuries and hiccups, he has looked the part of a quality starter and building block on offense. Considering the Jets moved up to get him and the position he plays, you can make an argument this has been Maccagnan’s best value pick.

Round 7, #235 Overall  – Lachlan Edwards, Punter

After a rocky rookie year, Edwards settled down into being a quality punter in year two. Using draft picks on punters is always a little questionable but at least Edwards looks the part of a player who will be here for a few years.

Round 7, #241 Overall – Charone Peake, Receiver

A late round flier at receiver who was quickly overshadowed by UDFA Robby Anderson. Peake had a quiet summer before being knocked out for the season early in 2017. It is unlikely he ever makes much of impact here or even lands a roster spot in 2018.

Other Notes: The highlight of this class wasn’t even drafted, as Maccagnan found Jets lead receiver Robby Anderson as a UDFA (let’s give Todd Bowles a nod here too because I don’t think the Jets are digging around Temple if he isn’t there). The Jets traded a pick from this class for Ryan Clady, who lasted one season here before being cut.

Grade: C+ – A definite improvement from 2015 but the lack of impact from the first two picks drags the grade down. Jenkins, Shell and Anderson becoming long term starters helps mitigate whatever happens with Lee and Hackenberg somewhat though.

2017 

Round 1, #6 Overall – Jamal Adams, Safety

A good but not great debut season from Adams who struggled at times in coverage and didn’t make a high number of impact plays. Regardless, he showed terrific versatility and athleticism and should only get better moving forward as the defense improves around him. At a minimum, Adams will be a foundational piece and long term starter here, the question is if can ever become an All-Pro caliber player.

Round 2, #39 Overall – Marcus Maye, Safety

The Jets best second round pick since David Harris and their best overall rookie in 2017. Maye didn’t miss a beat starting from day one and stabilized the back end of the Jets defense. Similar to Adams, he should be a long term starter here and has a chance to become an All-Pro caliber safety if the defense continues to grow around him.

Round 3, #79 Overall – ArDarius Stewart, Wide Receiver

Stewart will already be 25 during the 2018 season so it was disappointing to see his career get off to such a slow start. He was a non-factor this year and struggled with the ball in hands with the few opportunities he was given. With Quincy Enunwa coming back, the Jets receiver room could get crowded  quickly, limiting his chance to make an impact. Stewart does not have the skill set of the traditional “slot receiver”many fans describe him as but rather somebody you manufacture touches for in the screen/run game and occasionally attack deep with.

Round 4, #141 Overall – Chad Hansen, Wide Receiver

He had a couple of encouraging moments down the stretch and got reps over Stewart despite being the lower pick, yet ultimately did not bring all that much to the Jets offense as a rookie. If Enunwa and Jermaine Kearse are both back in 2018, it will be an uphill battle for playing time for Hansen, just like Stewart.

Round 5, #150 Overall – Jordan Leggett, Tight End

Leggett basically missed his entire rookie year due to injury. He had a couple of moments in the preseason but even if healthy, likely would have had limited opportunities behind Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Eric Tomlinson and Neal Sterling.

Round 5, #181 Overall – Dylan Donohue, Outside Linebacker

Received an odd amount of hype from fans in the summer but was quiet in the preseason and first few weeks before being knocked out for the year. Donohue will already be 26 by the time next season starts.

Round 6, #188 Overall – Elijah McGuire, Running Back

Outside of Adams and Maye, the only 2017 Jets rookie to make a real impact. McGuire struggled running the ball outside of the Jacksonville game but made plays in the passing game and looks like a useful piece moving forward as a third down/receiving back.

Round 6, #197 Overall – Jeremy Clark, Cornerback

Clark didn’t log a snap in his rookie as he came back from a college injury. He will be battling for a roster spot in 2018.

Round 7, #204 Overall – Derrick Jones, Cornerback 

Jones didn’t log a snap in his rookie year. He will be battling for a roster spot in 2018.

Other Notes: The Jets traded one of their 2018 picks for cornerback Rashard Robinson, who struggled in limited duty and will be battling for a roster spot next year. They also acquired an additional second round pick when they traded Sheldon Richardson (also netting them Jermaine Kearse), in one of Maccagnan’s best moves.

Grade: TBA – It is too early to give a grade after one season. If Adams, Maye, McGuire are going to be the only contributors going forward, they need Adams and/or Maye to become an All-Pro type player to knock this grade higher than 2016. Hopefully, some of the other picks make an impact next season to add more depth.

Best Picks (Based on value, not best overall player)

  • Anderson (not a pick but we’re counting him)
  • Shell
  • Jenkins
  • Maye
  • McGuire

Worst Picks 

  • Hackenberg
  • Smith
  • Harrison
  • Petty
  • Donohue
  • Stewart (sorry, I just don’t see it).

Annoying Question: How would you feel about the 2018 Jets if they selected Vic Beasley and Deshaun Watson over Leonard Williams and Jamal Adams?

Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com 

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports