It is never too early to throw around mock drafts. When I do mock drafts here at TOJ, I frequently include two versions: one predicting what Mike Maccagnan will do and one outlining what I’d prefer the Jets do. Here is an example from last year (hey, I got three of Maccagnan’s picks right but now I’m sad again because I wanted Deshaun Watson). Here is a pre-free agency edition, with both versions…
These mock drafts are both being done under the assumption that Kirk Cousins signs with the Denver Broncos or Minnesota Vikings, not the New York Jets. I will do one next week under the assumption Cousins signs with the Jets and becomes the most popular man in North Jersey.
Round 1 – Quenton Nelson, OG Notre Dame – BPA is Maccagnan’s strategy, regardless of positional value. We saw this with the Leonard Williams selection. We saw it with the Jamal Adams selection and we kind of even saw it with the Darron Lee selection. He completes the non-premium quad-fecta (is that a word?) of DE, ILB, S and OG with Nelson, who is a monster and should fortify the interior of the Jets line for the next decade. However, it will mean either Brian Winters or James Carpenter will have to be moved unless Winters is going to become a backup.
Round 2 – Mason Rudolph, QB Oklahoma State – Maybe the Jets stay put and get him or maybe they trade into the back half of round one to get him but Maccagnan drafts his quarterback without spending his premium pick. In this scenario Rudolph is paired with either Josh McCown or another veteran like Tyrod Taylor.
Round 2 (Seattle Pick) – Nick Chubb, RB Georgia – The Jets maintain confidence that Elijah McGuire can be their third down/passing back and go with Chubb to be their early down complement to Bilal Powell or just takeover the role entirely (it wouldn’t surprise me if Powell was on the trade block this offseason).
Round 3 – Da’Shawn Hand, DE Alabama – The Jets add Hand to help fill the role vacated by Muhammad Wilkerson and hopefully boost the pass rush. There hasn’t been a major investment in 3-4 outside linebackers by this regime, as it seems like there is more of a belief players with Hand’s skill set can generate a pass rush.
Round 4 – Tarvarus McFadden, CB Florida State – He may end up being a day two guy but would be nice value here. McFadden has great size to play on the outside and has upside at only 21 years old. He should quickly leap over people like Juston Burris and Daryl Roberts on the depth chart.
Round 5 – Marquis Haynes, DE/OLB Ole Miss – The Jets may cut ties with 2017 day three pass rusher Dylan Donahue after his drive through the wrong way of the Lincoln Tunnel, so the Jets could potentially double up with pass rushers. Haynes is an older prospect, something Maccagnan has not shied away from at all but offers more explosiveness and better overall pass rushing traits than Donohue.
Round 6 – Quadree Henderson, WR Pittsburgh – The Jets didn’t get much from Chad Hansen or ArDarius Stewart last year so I don’t think they will be shy on taking on a day three flier at receiver. Henderson has the potential to help fix their long standing problems in the return game.
Round 7 – Lowell Lotuleilei, NT Utah – A big body in the middle to be groomed behind Steve McLendon at nose tackle. Hopefully he can gain more traction here long term than Deon Simon did.
Round 1 – Baker Mayfield, QB Oklahoma – Trade up if necessary. If the Jets don’t sign Kirk Cousins, they need to do everything in their power to leave the draft with Mayfield or Josh Rosen.
Round 2 – Billy Price, C Ohio State – Wesley Johnson is not a NFL starter. Price would be terrific value in round two and could start from day one and provide an immediate upgrade.
Round 2 (Seattle Pick) – Ronald Jones, RB USC – A back with the skill set to play on all three downs, who can gradually ease into being a full time starter behind Bilal Powell. The Jets should not bank on Elijah McGuire being a major part of their offense.
Round 3 – Durance Armstrong, Jr, OLB Kansas – An enticing frame and skill set for a day two pass rusher. Armstrong gives the Jets the upside getting after the quarterback that Lorenzo Mauldin and Jordan Jenkins did not as round three picks.
Round 4 – Uchenna Nwosu, OLB USC – More pass rushers. I’m not sure he can ever be an every down player but he may have enough juice to be a pass rush specialist and a staple in sub/nickel packages.
Round 5 – DJ Reed, CB Kansas State – A day three flier at corner who is not as raw as Derrick Jones and has more upside than Jeremy Clark, the Jets two late round fliers from 2017. The Jets should be rebuilding CB from scratch this offseason and Reed is an intriguing piece to have in the mix going forward.
Round 6 – Kurt Benkert, QB Virginia – Yes, I am double dipping at QB. Cut Bryce Petty. Cut Christian Hackenberg. Put the two rookies with Josh McCown or Chad Henne and hope Benkert can be your backup in 2019.
Round 7 – Greg Stroman, CB Virginia Tech – A potential weapon in the return game who can compete to be a depth defensive back long term.
Photo Credit: NFL.com