One night of the 2016 NFL Draft is in the books. You can read our reaction right here, along with our thoughts on Darron Lee. Here are a few more thoughts on night one and what to look for tonight, where the Jets have two picks (51st overall and 83rd overall).
1. There is too much of a rush among many to slot players into traditionally formatted depth charts. The 2016 NFL is not your Madden roster, which explains the value of a player like Lee who is a 230 pound linebacker that runs a 4.4 forty yard dash. It explains the value of Deone Bucannon playing “moneybacker” in Todd Bowles previous defense in Arizona. When you play New England twice per year and routinely face all the other spread looks in the NFL, you need guys who can play multiple positions and stay on the field for all three downs because of their combination of speed and physicality.On offense, you need tight ends and running backs who line up as a wide receiver. On defense, you need safeties who can play linebacker, you need linebackers who can play inside and outside, you need a full time slot. This was a Jets look on third down last season. They have David Harris as the middle linebacker and Demario Davis as the outside linebacker coming off the edge. Is either of those situations ideal? Lee can be an inside linebacker in nickel and dime looks, while also being utilized off the edge depending on who the Jets want to pair with him. He could line up as the box safety, if they want to let Calvin Pryor roam or want a look with both of them down inside box. He brings speed and versatility…something the Jets needed at linebacker.
2. Lee isn’t a home run pick…there rarely are such things but he provided good value along with filling a need. Yes, the Jets may regret passing on Myles Jack but every other team in the NFL passed on him. There are clearly serious medical concerns that moved teams away from him in round one…and he may still be an option in round one. Paxton Lynch was a toss up. Was he worth the 20th pick or being overvalued because of a weak quarterback class? Only time will tell. The Jets interest in a wide receiver may have been a bit of a smokescreen and may not be a priority until later in the draft, if at all.
Lee will need prove his ability to be a factor when the Jets play more run heavy teams. He will have a great defensive line protecting him but teams will try to attack him because of his size. When in pass coverage, he still needs to refine his feel for zone defense and man to man skills, although he should be a much more challenging target than Demario Davis long term. Can the Jets finally stop a wheel route?3. Between Calvin Pryor, Sheldon Richardson and Lee, the Jets aren’t going to have a shy or quiet defense. This will be a unit you want to mic up. Lee plays with a high amount of energy and confidence. Hopefully, along with Pryor and Lorenzo Mauldin he will be a building block to a revitalized, faster back seven.
4. It was interesting to see two AFC East teams pick linebackers in back to back spots last night, with one taking the bigger, slower player and one taking the smaller, faster player.
5. What about tonight? A few names to watch: Myles Jack, Christian Hackenberg, Andrew Billings, Mackensie Alexander, Jason Spriggs, Kevin Dodd, Cody Whitehair, Noah Spence and Braxton Miller.
6. Similar to Lynch/Jets buzz, it seems like there might be too much of Hackenberg/Jets buzz to take seriously. Personally, I am not a fan of Hackenberg who barely completed 50% of his passes in the Big Ten last season. He had one quality college season, where Allen Robinson pulled a 2015 Brandon Marshall for him. In the 4th round? OK, maybe worth a floater. In the 2nd round? Overvaluing because of a weak quarterback class. Take Dak Prescott in the 3rd round if you want a mid-round option. The Jets did take a quarterback prospect I wasn’t crazy about last year in Bryce Petty so maybe this will be an ongoing trend.7. If Alexander does somehow fall to #51, he would be terrific value. You could argue he is a highly comparable prospect to Eli Apple who the Giants took 10th overall. Another name to watch at corner is Xavien Howard.
8. My short answer on taking Myles Jack or Noah Spence at #51 – Yes. It feels unlikely Jack goes that far but Spence could be there. He is a true edge threat and the Jets shouldn’t hesitate to add him just because they went linebacker in round one.
9. Spriggs and Whitehair are not flashy names but would be solid value additions to the Jets offensive line and are the type of players who could immediately push for playing time on this offensive line.
10. As we’ve been saying since January, the Jets were never going to get a 2016 first rounder for Muhammad Wilkerson. Mike Maccagnan said he isn’t going to be traded but I’m sure the Jets would listen to the right offer of middle round picks and potential 2017 picks.
11. The Jets could still use more draft capital, with only five picks remaining and two of them in the seventh round. A trade down is still a possibility for tonight in either round.
12. Keep an eye on Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry and LSU CB Jalen Mills.
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