It’s been a long hiatus, but it feels good to be back where it all began. Over the next month I’ll have a weekly Jets Draft Notebook series which will include making the case for each quarterback, how to attack the later rounds and diagnosing the latest buzz around the league.
After some time away from Turn On The Jets, why wait any longer? Here…we…go….
Making the case for: Baker Mayfield
Call it the great debate of April 2018: who should the Jets select third overall? It’s safe to assume Sam Darnold will be off the board as the Browns have had their sights set on him for quite some time.
With that being said, many feel there is an argument for the following three between Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield.
With Rosen you have what is quite simply the most gifted player at the position in this draft. In some games he looks like the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck, he’s that naturally talented.
The two questions surrounding Rosen are long-term health and character conflict with a staff and/or a locker room. If these factors scare the Jets, could they turn to Allen or Mayfield?
As for Allen, this is simply too big of a risk in my eyes. Right now the game is too fast for him. In matchups against power five programs he simply could not hold his own. The arm strength is incredible, the athleticism and build clearly above average but at the end of the day quarterback rankings aren’t made from workouts.
This leaves us with Mayfield, who I’m going to go to bat for this week (next week I will make the case for Rosen).
Starting with the player, even despite his size he has one of the strongest arms we’ve seen over the last two years. The velocity and accuracy on intermediate throws is impressive. Even more noticeable is his ability to put himself in position to make these throws.
He has a feel for the pocket and the footwork to match for superb timing on his passes. No moment is too big for him, just look at his performances against both Ohio State and Georgia, two defenses absolutely loaded with NFL talent.
Away from the field, the Jets organization has put an emphasis on finding the right players for their culture. High character football players that fit in not only with the coaching staff but also those around them on the roster.
Outside of a minor arrest for public intoxication (it’s college, he gets a pass), Mayfield’s character is everything you could want for this team. He resembles the Jets as a whole: the franchise that plays ‘little brother’ in a big city where they are often portrayed a laughing stock when the opportunity presents itself.
The Heisman Trophy winner has never been a laughing stock, but he has been doubted and viewed as ‘not good enough’, simply overcoming those odds each time.
He won the starting job as a true freshman at Texas Tech after walking on the team. Considering the circumstances, he thrived that year but lost his starting job to Davis Webb due to injury (very rare to see any coach do that).
He left the program, walked on at Oklahoma and eventually won that starting job. After a Junior season where he completed 71% of his passes and threw for 40 touchdowns with only eight interceptions, he opted to go back to school to improve his draft stock (which was at best an early day three projected pick in the eyes of the NFL).
As a Senior he completed 70.5% of his passes with a YPA of over 11 for the second year in a row. He threw for 43 touchdowns and only six interceptions, leading his team to the college football playoff. Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy in a landslide where he received 86% of the possible voting points, becoming the first walk-on to ever win the award.
While his play certainly helps the cause, Mayfield’s persona elevates those around him that will do whatever it takes to win by his side. That’s what a franchise craves from a quarterback and as for the teams that are still doubting what he’ll do at the next level?
They’ll just be another example of the skeptics proved wrong and defeated by a two-time walk-on quarterback.
Risk vs. Reward
There are plenty of players in this class that will stir quite the debate in draft meetings whether they should be on the board due to off-field troubles.
This week, according to Mark Long of the AP, the Jets had a private workout with one of those players in former Florida wide receiver Antonio Callaway.
Callaway is a tremendous athlete with excellent testing numbers to match the explosiveness he briefly displayed on the field for the Gators. If not for a wide array of trouble away from the football field, he would’ve had a very good chance of being my highest graded wide out in this year’s class.
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) June 20, 2017
The Jets have rolled the dice on troubled players at this position before, signing Robby Anderson as a UDFA two years ago. On the field that move has paid tremendous dividends, but the problems off the field still remain an issue.
Could the Jets take another risk on a very talented but problematic wide receiver prospect?
Jets Mock Draft of the Week
After making the case for Baker Mayfield earlier and using Fanspeak’s simulator (with Matt Miller of Bleacher Report’s rankings), here’s what I came up with:
To get the obvious of the way the answer is yes, I realized I have accomplished the impossible by convincing Mike Maccagnan to select Mayfield with the third overall pick.
In a stunner, Hurst fell all the way to the 72nd overall pick. The former baseball player turned star pass catcher is projected to go in the middle of round two, but crazier slides have happened.
Hayden Hurst is TE1 for me, which is certainly not a popular take. I think he goes back end of round 2, but could be an instant impact pass catcher as a move TE pic.twitter.com/kzTwmA1BZS
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) March 23, 2018
He would be an upgrade as a receiver at the tight end position over Austin Seferian-Jenkins, with the ability to be the perfect mismatch chess piece at the position.
On day three it became a blend of attacking need and best player available. Turay is a very solid athlete with a relentless pass rushing style, on top of showing good bend off the edge to get to the quarterback. He could see the field as a situational pass rusher during his rookie year.
Toth is your classic case of a project offensive tackle pick, but an absolutely perfect fit for a zone scheme in the run game. With Brandon Shell and Kelvin Beachum expected to start, he’d have the time to develop.
Cichy would’ve been a day two selection if he didn’t miss his final college season to injury, but his Pro Day was a very good sign that he’s close to previous form. He’s the ideal special teams contributor that would also provide linebacker depth.
Danny Johnson isn’t a well know name amongst the national draft media, but his ball skills and athleticism alone make him a draftable prospect (17 career interceptions in college). This would also fill the Jets need at both return spots, where he thrived for Southern University.
Photo Credit: NFL.com