New York Jets Jets 2019 Draft Recap – CS

Clayton Smarslok gives his grades on the New York Jets 2019 NFL Draft class

After waiting so long for the draft, it’s already gone. This offseason was one of the most important in franchise history, having to build the roster around their quarterback who is now entering his second year. The draft usually just fills up the last few holes the front office and staff want filled up and with their five selections, it looks like they did the best they could with what they had.

Now we enter the worst three to four months as a football fan, just looking forward to opening weekend of the 2019 season. Before we do that, let us review who was added to the team these last few days to help the team reach their ultimate goal of finally making the playoffs after a long hiatus.

Round 1, Pick 3: IDL Quinnen Williams, Alabama

You will see no complaints here. Going interior line maybe wasn’t the biggest need but the roster needs top tier talent and that is exactly what Quinnen provides. He was the top player in the class, regardless of position, according to many TOJ contributors, NFL Draft media and of course myself.

With the Jets staying in a 3-4 base defense, it’ll be interesting to see how they plan to use him in his rookie season. He has plenty of experience playing any technique between 0-3, while occasionally lining up further away from the quarterback (i.e. 5-Tech). Quinnen is best utilized when between the guards and letting him wreck havoc on the interior offensive line, meaning he will likely cut into Steve McClendon’s and Henry Anderson’s playing time.

Williams provides help as both a pass rusher and run stuffer with his elite initial burst, lateral movement, strength, short area quickness, IQ, and the list goes on and on. But it will be very beneficial in ways that people don’t think about. Outside the obvious, being a three down player is so valuable in that he won’t need to come off the field when the offense brings in their subs and possibly run something to counter the Jets’ subs. He can stay on the line providing the versatility to be the best player on the line, no matter the play call.

Mixing Quinnen Williams in with Leonard Williams, Henry Anderson, Steve McClendon and Nathan Shepherd gives the Jets fantastic depth on the interior defensive line, hopefully making it a group they don’t have to worry about for at least a couple years. There is so much that can be said about how great this selection is, but to just close it, Jets fans should be very excited in that we get to watch this player become a Fletcher Cox-type player and possibly even better.

Grade: A+

Round 3, Pick 4: EDGE Jachai Polite, Florida

Love, love, love the pick by Maccagnan and company. For those of you who didn’t want Quinnen, here’s your edge rusher. For those of you that wanted Quinnen, rejoice!

In his first season in Todd Grantham’s defense and playing on the outside, Jachai was a top edge rusher in the class, who was easily a first round prospect. He showed elite bend, first step quickness and a bevy of pass rush moves to go along with great production making him an All-SEC selection at his position, despite him being more of an interior player earlier in his collegiate career.

Then came the disaster that was the NFL Combine. It first started with poor interviews with both the media and teams, followed by a very disappointing workout, and finished with a hamstring injury. Weeks later he participated in his Pro Day and somehow did even worse there, something that is almost impossible to do. People questioned his maturity and work ethic, which is hard to argue with considering how unprepared he was for the draft process.

His tape showed the highs of this pick and the offseason showed the lows, but it was a risk worth taking in the third round. If he gets back to the highs, he’s double digit sack artist waiting to happen. And if that happens, a front seven consisting of Jachai, Quinnen, Leo, Henry, CJ Mosley, Avery Williamson and Jordan Jenkins could be one of the better fronts in the league.

Grade: A

Round 3, Pick 28: OT Chuma Edoga, USC

This was very close to the pick we had in the Twitter poll about a week ago. Instead of taking him in the fourth like you guys voted, the Jets decide to trade up one pick in the late third to get Darnold’s old college teammate for protection up front.

This pick is pretty similar to Polite, as Edoga too has a low floor but a pretty high ceiling. He has traits that make him a day two selection, like his size, length and athleticism but there are concerns. This was not added in the Twitter mock but apparently with Edoga there are work ethic questions and how he may not love putting in the work, but one can assume that Edoga got the stamp of approval from Sam Darnold (Thanks to Connor Rogers to pointing that out on the Bleacher Report stream). It will obviously be important for his development that that is false. He will need to add more strength and discipline, mainly in the pass game.

Coming in as a rookie, it is not expected that he steps in and plays right away. He could possibly push Brandon Shell for his spot but we should expect him to be the main swing tackle that could possibly kick inside if needed. It’s good that they finally went offensive line relatively early after not doing it the last two drafts but I thought there were some better prospects on the board. With that being said, I do like them taking the risk on the upside Edoga possesses.

Grade: B-

Round 4, Pick 19: TE Trevon Wesco, West Virginia

After trading back a couple times to get this pick, the Jets get who they wanted all along. Wesco wasn’t the biggest name amongst Jets fans when the pick was announced but with his style of play, it would not shock me to see him become a fan favorite.

Trevon Wesco is kind of a do it all tight end. He can be a target for Darnold over the middle showing sure hands and a dog mentality to not go down on first contact. Albeit, he will have a lot to learn as a route runner as it seems like he only ran a few routes in his time at West Virginia. But to be clear, just because he did not run a lot of routes in college does not mean he can’t do it. Dana Holgerson did not prioritize the tight end position and never has, so he didn’t ask them to do much, even if they could. That will be the part of his game that will be most in question.

The part of his game where there will be no questions though is his blocking ability. Whether he is lined up in the backfield, on or off the line, he will have that same dog mentality and bully defenders. Trevon is a strong man at nearly 270 pounds and will have no problem using that strength in the NFL. He isn’t the same player as Herndon and that is perfect, they compliment each other well and could be on the field at the same time. Once Herndon is back from a likely two game suspension, we should expect to see a ton of 12 personnel, clearing up a lot of holes for the running back we just gave a huge contract. The best part about this selection is that it likely means the end of Eric Tomlinson in New York. I am on record saying he is my least favorite player on the roster and it’s not particularly close.

Wesco should get a good amount of playing time considering the state of the position behind Herndon. So while we didn’t take a receiver like Kelvin Harmon or Riley Ridley, a selection like Wesco can help in both facets of the offense and if Brian Baldinger is even remotely close when he calls Wesco “Baby Gronk”, all of the haters of this pick will jump on board in a heartbeat.

Grade: B

Round 5, Pick 19: LB Blake Cashman, Minnesota

After the trading back in the fourth round, Mac was able to gain this one fifth rounder. And while it wasn’t something anyone really saw coming, it was something I’m glad I saw happen and I will convince you all why you should be too.

First thing first, yes, Cashman had surgery done on both shoulders which is the worst part about this selection. Playing a position where the shoulder is going to get hit on almost every play on the field won’t help but he has still managed to play in 33 of 38 possible games in three seasons.

Cashman was a former walk-on who wound up being a team captain for Minnesota. That speaks volumes of his work ethic and leadership, something that can’t just be put to the side, especially at a position like linebacker who is often the quarterback of the defense. Getting a player who wants to work and play the game is always welcome in my mind, especially if the skills are there to match.

As a player, he is a straight up athlete that moves all over the field with his sideline to sideline speed. With that comes great instincts while in coverage being able to see the field around him and know where he has to be to make a play. While he doesn’t have any interceptions, he has been around the ball to cause a drop or get a pass deflection quite often. There can be some issues with diagnose plays and taking angles but that can be coached up. Where Cashman can really be used right away is as a blitzer. He has done a tremendous job in this part of the game getting through the A gap, getting around on delayed blitzes, causing trouble for the quarterback very often.

While taking a linebacker wasn’t an immediate need and there were some options at needs available, they did need to get depth behind Mosley and Williamson. Blake has a chance to get some playing time, especially if Darron Lee gets traded because the defense won’t really be a 3-4 defense, as it will be more multiple than we have seen in the past. For a fifth round pick, this is a steal in my eyes but we just need to hope that he can stay healthy to make an impact.

Grade: B+

Round 6, Pick 24: CB Blessuan Austin, Rutgers

The Jets finally addressed the cornerback position but it just so happened to be a player that is coming off two season ending knee injuries and will likely start on the PUP list, according to Mike Maccagnan. Because Rutgers is such a bad football school, it’s understandable if most of you don’t know the player but it’s a promise that he wasn’t as bad as the football program has been.

As mentioned above, Austin had season ending knee injuries, on the same knee, the last two seasons. Not only that, but those injuries happened in the first game and fourth game, respectively. He played in five of a possible 24 games, after playing in 20 games in his freshman and sophomore seasons, obviously showing he was an immediate contributor for the Scarlet Knights.

Throughout his career, he recorded four interceptions (one every season) and 18 pass deflections (14 in his sophomore season). With that being his last full and best season, that’s where most had to go back to see him play.

Right away you can tell Austin has a slight frame, both upper and lower body, which won’t help him with staying healthy. But when the play starts, there are some things to like about his game. His short area quickness and ability to move in space is probably his best ability. So his click and close to prevent outs, hitches, comebacks is really great to see. However, his lack of physicality will hurt him in press and 50/50 balls, which makes this somewhat odd because Gregg loves corners that are on the physical side. He’s an athlete with long arms, which is always nice to see but his technique will need to be spot on at this level if he doesn’t have that strength, which it isn’t a lot of times.

Austin has some upside to his game so I understand a team selecting him in the sixth round. With that being said, this isn’t the greatest selection for the Jets because of how big of an immediate need cornerback depth is and the kind of cornerbacks that Gregg usually wants doesn’t match up with Austin’s style. Here’s to hoping that Gregg and Dennard Wilson can develop him to become solid depth in the future but not expecting him to make the 53 man this year and will likely be on the practice squad when off the PUP list.

Grade: C

All in all, the Jets had a very solid draft. In Quinnen Williams, they got the best player in the draft with the third pick. They addressed the need at edge rusher with Jachai Polite, who was a top 15 player on film, in the third round. The offensive line got some needed depth with Chuma Edoga in the third round as well, who will be more of a developmental piece with pretty high upside. Immediate second tight end in Trevon Wesco in the fourth round who will create a lot of holes for LeVeon Bell. A draft crush of mine for needed depth at linebacker in the fifth with Blake Cashman and a local, developmental cornerback in late day three in Bless Austin. The needs of the team weren’t all filled but the roster got some depth where it needed and some good value along the way. Now we wait until next month to see these guys on the field with the new helmets.

Overall Grade: B+