The pass/fail grading scale is challenging one, particularly when assessing recent draft picks but in this era of frequent roster and staff turnover, it is a useful zero sum way to look at results thus far. There is no better way to build a successful roster than drafting effectively, particularly if you can consistently hit on day two and day three picks. Let’s break down the New York Jets four years of draft picks under Mike Maccagnan on this scale with the following qualifiers:
- Round matters. There are different expectations for a top six pick and a sixth round pick.
- Roster status matters. If the Jets still have a glaring need at a player’s position or role, they do not get a passing grade (this will come up when discussing Jordan Leggett and Elijah McGuire).
- Grades are not in perpetuity and are based on current available NFL performance and projected role. This is being done based on the player’s contributions to the Jets to date, factored in with their likely role in 2019 and beyond based on what we’ve seen so far and other corresponding moves at their position.
Leonard Williams – FAIL: There were four players I found particularly difficult to do this for: Williams, Marcus Maye, Elijah McGuire and Jordan Leggett. Williams is a good football player, who is who he is after four full seasons. There is no magical 15 sack season coming, regardless of who the Jets put around him. I ultimately went with fail over pass for two reasons. He was the 6th pick in the draft and it is still an open question whether the Jets should give him a second contract as he heads into year five. He was the 6th pick in the draft and many believe the Jets should draft Quinnen Williams third overall because they need interior pressure AKA Williams is not capable of providing that on his own (and no Williams is not doubled anywhere near as much as most make him out to be).
Devin Smith – FAIL: At the time, a logical swing on a deep threat to pair with presumed starting quarterback Geno Smith. He flashed a few times his rookie year (and was missed repeatedly by Ryan Fitzpatrick) but ultimately could not stay healthy and never made any notable contributions to the team. It is unlikely he will ever play meaningful NFL snaps again.
Lorenzo Mauldin – FAIL: Showed signs of life his rookie year but struggled with added weight and a bigger role in year two. Similar to Smith, he struggled to stay healthy and he also lacked the necessary athleticism to play edge at this level. It is unlikely he will ever play meaningful NFL snaps again. He has also blocked me on Twitter…probably because of evaluations like this!
Bryce Petty – FAIL: This was a shaky mid round swing from the moment it happened (and was the first of two years in a row the Jets selected my least favorite draft eligible quarterback – hooray!). Petty was overmatched when given an opportunity to play in the NFL despite a few okay moments in the preseason. He may catch on as a third stringer somewhere for a few weeks but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Jarvis Harrison – FAIL: At the time, the pick was looked at as a high upside swing on a player with intriguing measurables but questionable work ethic. The problems with work ethic won out as Harrison didn’t make the roster his rookie year and has not played a NFL down to date.
Deon Simon – FAIL: Similar to Petty and Smith, an older prospect. He played a handful of reps here or there early in his career but has not seen regular NFL action over the past two years.
What is most wild about this draft class is that outside of Leonard Williams, it is very likely not a single other player will be on *any* NFL roster come week 1 of the 2019 season.
Darron Lee – FAIL He has struggled throughout his first three years and despite some flashes early last season, ended the year on a suspension. The Jets told you everything they thought about his viability by making CJ Mosley the highest paid inside linebacker in NFL history, one year after paying Avery Williamson in free agency. It would be a shock if Lee is not traded before week 1.
Christian Hackenberg – FAIL: A disaster from the second the pick was made. Hackenberg was bad in college and was unsurprisingly unplayable in the NFL. This is about as terrible as you can possibly do with a second round pick, as Hackenberg wasn’t just the worst quarterback in the NFL…he was the worst quarterback in the AAF (RIP).
Jordan Jenkins – PASS: He left college with a somewhat similar profile to Mauldin but unlike him, has been able to stay healthy and carve out a nice role with the Jets. Despite lacking top end athleticism, Jenkins has a relentless motor and is a competent complementary edge player.
Juston Burris – FAIL: There were a few flashes his rookie year but when pressed into a bigger role in 2017, he struggled immensely and quickly fell off the roster. I wouldn’t bet on him playing meaningful NFL snaps anywhere in 2019.
Brandon Shell – PASS: Shell has been injured and more up and down than many Jets fans want to admit but he’s been a competent right tackle for most of the past two years, which is a nice find for where he was taken in the NFL Draft. He is also still a projected starter for the team this upcoming season and has a chance at a second contract here.
Lachlan Edwards – PASS: Using a draft pick on a punter, when you are as bad as the Jets have been is shaky decision making but Edwards has been good at his job and should maintain his role for at least the next year or two.
Charone Peake – FAIL: He has stuck around because he is an okay special teamer, despite providing no offensive value. It is unlikely he is a rostered player here in 2019, especially with the signing of Josh Bellamy.
The first two picks make this class very hard to stomach, despite potentially having a second contract player in either Shell or Jenkins from the middle rounds. I’d guess only one of the two receives it from this regime.
Jamal Adams – PASS: There is a valid discussion to have around Adams’ positional value but at the end of the day, he is an All-Pro by his second year and is the unquestioned leader of the team (and their top recruiter). He is a flat out great football player.
Marcus Maye – PASS: Maye has been a solid running mate for Adams when healthy…unfortunately he was unhealthy for basically his entire sophomore season. I am not punishing him for being selected after the Jets already took a safety in front of him but this year is make or break for his value as a second rounder.
ArDarius Stewart – FAIL: One of those picks that should have had you scratching your head the moment it happened. Stewart was an older prospect who lacked the athleticism to be a NFL receiver and is now already off the Jets roster and currently unsigned by any team. Hindsight is 20/20 but Chris Godwin was staring them in the face.
Chad Hansen – FAIL: Had a few moments his rookie year, was allegedly having a great offseason and then fall off the map with a poor training camp and preseason. Hansen will be competing for a roster spot with the Broncos this summer.
Jordan Leggett – FAIL: An okay rotational/third tight end, who still needs to split reps with a player of Eric Tomlinson’s ability (who the Jets also brought back). It would not be surprising if the Jets added a new backup to Chris Herndon via the NFL Draft as neither Leggett or Tomlinson did much to inspire confidence lsat year.
Dylan Donahue – FAIL: A late round pick that never had a chance. Pass rushers with short arms, limited athleticism who did not play Division I and are 25 years old when drafted are not wise investments.
Elijah McGuire – PASS: McGuire is a good pass catcher out of the backfield for a running back. He is not good as a runner and struggled heavily when given a larger role last year but as a 6th rounder, he is worth having on the 53 man roster heading into his third year so just barely, a pass.
Jeremy Clark – FAIL: Still kicking around the bottom of the Jets roster but has never suited up for a regular season snap in two years. It would be shocking if he made the final 53 this year.
Derrick Jones – FAIL: Flashed promise last preseason and has an intriguing skill set. I can’t put him at “pass” yet because he hasn’t made a single regular season contribution and is currently still positioned as a backup/borderline roster player.
Jamal Adams, fan favorite, has saved “The Maccagnan Nine” from being a complete train-wreck on par with “The Idzik Twelve.”
Sam Darnold – PASS: Showed enough as a 21 year old rookie to make you believe he is the franchise quarterback we have all been waiting for. A huge sophomore jump could make this a playoff team, while a disappointing season or a lateral one to his rookie year could leave them well under .500 and many people without a job.
Nathan Shephard – FAIL: Similar to Donahue and Stewart, this was a head shaker when the pick was made. Shephard played over 340 snaps last season but struggled to make any type of impact. The Jets heavily invested in Henry Anderson in front of him on the depth chart and have kept Leonard Williams around, which will continue to limit the opportunities he sees in 2019.
Chris Herndon – PASS: Based on what we have seen so far, the best mid round pick Maccagnan has made. Herndon looked like a future above average starter/potential Pro Bowl caliber player down the stretch last season and should be a valuable weapon for Sam Darnold.
Foley Fatukasi – FAIL: The Jets doubling down on interior linemen last year was mind numbing. Fatukasi did nothing in the preseason and was inactive for the entire regular season. He will likely backup Steve McLendon this year in a very limited role.
Parry Nickerson – FAIL: Played over 200 snaps as a rookie and looked overmatched. The Jets signed Brian Poole to replace Buster Skrine in the slot, instead of handing the role to Nickerson who will likely be a special teamer only if he makes the team this year.
Trenton Cannon – FAIL: If the Jets add another running back at some point via free agency or the NFL Draft, something that is likely to happen, Cannon will probably be knocked off the roster. He didn’t show any chops as a returner last year and was inconsistent as a punt gunner despite an odd perception from some fans that he was a really good special teams player.
I would be willing to bet this is remembered as a two person draft class by the end of this season, if it isn’t already.
- Pass: 8
- Fail: 20