We have finally made it to arguably the most important draft week of the last decade for the New York Football Jets. The Jets moved up to the third spot in the NFL Draft about a month ago, with their eyes on finally drafting a franchise QB. While there is some skepticism over who Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan will pick, the odds are lined up for Jets fans to be very happy. That, coupled with an impactful offseason filled with younger additions, has Jets fans more excited than usual for the upcoming season. Here are six things I’m thinking as we enter this very important week.
1 – I’ll be releasing my last first round mock on Thursday, but with a hypothetical gun to my head I’m still saying UCLA QB Josh Rosen is the pick for the Jets. Rosen is the better QB today, fits what I think Jeremy Bates and Rick Dennison will run, and won’t be fazed by the New York media. The injury concerns people mention about Rosen, but conveniently ignore about Baker Mayfield, scream of a narrative being pushed in favor of one prospect over the other. The mentions of swag and attitude when ranking Mayfield over Rosen are comical as well, considering they’re both pretty confident, and all the confidence in the world doesn’t suddenly make you a better player. Rosen’s transition will be easier to the NFL, he has pro-ready processing speed, and an NFL arm to hit every throw. I think he is the pick on Thursday night.
2 – Leonard Williams has the most to prove this upcoming season for the New York Jets. As Joe Blewett highlighted in today’s film breakdown, there were a lot of times this past season that Leo didn’t perform like a top 6 pick in the draft. Leo can be a disruptive force, but he has struggled to be consistent in this regard. The Jets picked up his 5th year option, which means they will now pay him $14.2M this coming season. For comparison’s sake, this makes him the 8th highest paid DE in football. The six DEs ahead of him average almost 11 sacks a year, and the seventh is JJ Watt who was injured last year. Leo Williams has averaged 4 sacks a year, and has struggled to generate a consistent pass rush through his time with the team. This year is different because there is legitimate talent in the secondary, but Leo will now not have Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson on the defensive line to draw attention for him. He is the best player on this defense, and it is on him to set the tone. If he has a subpar year, it’s possible the Jets look to move on.
3 – I think the Jets stand pat through rounds 3 and 4, as there should be some impact players that fall due to the expected run on QBs and CBs. Do not be surprised to see them try and acquire a veteran for one of their later picks. Mike Maccagnan has acquired Brandon Marshall, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Ryan Clady for later draft picks. This team needs more in the middle class of the roster, and those later picks could’ve helped with that, but this seems like a Maccagnan thing and I could see them try to swing a trade for a veteran like Martavis Bryant.
4 – It’s going to be interesting how Quincy Enunwa is used in this offense and just how healthy he is. The former will give us an insight as to how Bates and Dennison envision their receivers: is it a Chan Gailey-like offense where all the WRs are interchangeable, or is it more John Morton-like with receivers in more traditional roles? This will also determine who sticks on the roster and whether guys like Terrelle Pryor and Charles Johnson are more camp bodies or will they have a chance to contribute. If Enunwa is 100% healthy, I think both Pryor and Johnson are cut. If Enunwa is banged up and isn’t able to return at full strength, then you could see a scenario where Pryor and Johnson (who have contributed to NFL offenses in the past) are used in ways people didn’t expect them to when they were both signed. If I had to guess today, Terrelle Pryor and Charles Johnson are not on the 53 man roster.
5 – The Jets have drafted one player from non-powerhouse/D2 programs in every draft under Mike Maccagnan, and this year should not be any different (again, a #MaccagnanThing). Five guys that I would watch out for? FB Marcus Martin of Slippery Rock, WR Daurice Fountain of Northern Iowa, TE Dallas Goedert of South Dakota State, OT Desmond Harrison of West Georgia, and DT Nathan Shepherd of Fort Hays State. Martin is a versatile player, having spent his entire career at DE and setting the college football record for most sacks ever with 56. Fountain is 6’2” and 210 pounds, and could be an option for a team that needs WR depth despite the 17 currently on the roster. Goedert is ranked 77 on my big board, and some scouts believe he’ll be the best TE in this class in three years. Harrison is a developmental pick that could develop and then replace Kelvin Beachum next year when his contract expires. Shepherd is the 83rd ranked prospect on my top 100, and the Jets clearly want to improve their DL depth and Shepherd would be a great pick.
6 – I think Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan will both be back in 2019. The Jets have more talent on both sides of the ball, will have a new QB that (if it’s the expected pick) should start from the beginning, and a manageable schedule. The Jets should be a fun team to root for, as they continue building on the last three years. The 10-6 season with Ryan Fitzpatrick was fools gold, and that should’ve been the first year of the rebuild. The Jets foolishly doubled down on a second year of “Fitz Magic” and things went expectantly off the rails. Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles’s draft picks have not all panned out (in fact, most haven’t provided immediate impact except for Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, and Jordan Jenkins with varying degrees). With that said, last year they received a mulligan of sorts and neither of their handpicked QBs could do anything with their multiple opportunities. This year, he and Bowles have a chance to rectify their past mistakes and draft a difference maker at the most important position. I think they do that, and both he and Bowles do enough to be retained for another year.
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