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Three years from now, this New York Jets draft class will be remembered for…
Joe Caporoso – A draft that was critical in retooling the Jets defense and special teams namely because Darron Lee and Jordan Jenkins develop into quality starters, while Juston Burris finds a role in the Jets CB heavy scheme. Beyond that a punter and kicker will have been founded with either Lachlan Edwards or Tom Hackett taking the punter role and Ross Martin eventually overtaking Nick Folk, and Charone Peake sticking as a depth receiver and special teams asset.
It will also be remembered for the decision to take Christian Hackenberg in the second round, as similar to drafting Kellen Clemens and Geno Smith, the Jets will still be searching for a long term answer at QB three years from now. Hackenberg will have moments but I’m not sold he establishes himself as unquestionably “the guy” by 2019.Dalbin Osorio – Three years from now the New York Jets draft class will be remembered for the 7th straight time the Jets opted to go defense in the first round, and for the draft they passed on Paxton Lynch. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I haven’t been shy about voicing my displeasure at the Jets not taking the signal caller from Memphis. The fact that they opted to go defense over the quarterback instead of OG Cody Whitehair or WR Laquan Treadwell just made me even more agitated.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Darron Lee. I think he landed in the perfect spot for him, but I won’t pretend to like Christian Hackenburg more than Lynch just because the Jets drafted him. The Jets had an opportunity to draft their franchise QB and a QB who is a lot better today than the one they drafted in round two. If Paxton Lynch becomes the QB I expect him to become in Denver, it doesn’t matter if Lee becomes Luke Kuechly because a franchise QB is always worth more than a playmaking LB. If Lynch becomes the next in a long line of first round busts that got over drafted and Hackenburg becomes the Jets franchise QB, then it will be remembered as the draft the Jets finally found their guy by sticking to their draft board.
David Aitken – Revamping the linebacker core. I’d love to say that this is the draft the Jets finally found their long term quarterback, but I’m much more confident at this point about the players taken in rounds 1 and 3 than the one in round 2. Hackenberg will be a project. Lee and Jenkins, on the other hand, should be contributors from day one. It’s important to remember that when Maccagnan and Bowles inherited this roster, the linebacker core was in rough shape and on a downward trajectory. The solid if athletically limited David Harris was surrounded by: a struggling Demario Davis, a 1st round bust defensive end masquerading as an OLB, and old man Calvin. Now going into 2016, Harris is the only projected starter of those names. In hand with 2015 3rd rounder Lorenzo Mauldin, Harris is now flanked by a trio of young, athletic, high energy talents. Looking back on this, we’ll remember the linebacker core as the first real position group Mike Maccagnan fixed as a draft priority.
Nikki Charlesworth – The 2016 Jets draft will initially be remembered for being the first time that Mike Maccagnan, who has been largely lauded by Jets fans for his additions since January 2015, did something that really polarized (confused, angered…) the fan base and the sports media. The response to the overpaying of Antonio Cromartie was small fry compared to the at best quizzical and at worst vitriolic negative responses to the drafting of Christian Hackenberg in the second round. “In Macc we trust,” has been tested! However, in three years time; this will be of little incidence – if Hackenberg does turn out the be ‘the guy’ then we’ll be celebrating the pick as a turning point in franchise history. If he doesn’t, then it’s likely that (following Charley Casserley’s mantra), the Jets will have drafted again in the search for ‘the one’.2016 will be more productively be remembered for its big role in the revamping of the Jets linebacker group. NFL.com analysts project that first rounder Darron Lee may be the best LB from this class in five years as he is a the epitome of “Today’s NFL linebacker.” Add Jordan Jenkins and you suddenly have a very different looking group to those who ended 2015. David Harris now becomes the ‘old man’ surrounded by talented young backers including Lorenzo Mauldin. As with the secondary, Todd Bowles is building a roster of exciting young talent to fit his system and he clearly has Mike Maccagnan on side.
Kevin Zielaznicki – We will look back at this draft class in three years and be very happy with how it turned out. We will be thankful that the Jets got younger and more athletic at several key positions and that they have finally solved any depth issues. With the additions of Darron Lee and Jordan Jenkins, the Jets defense found two starters who will finally bring the desperately needed youth and speed to the Jets linebacking core. Late round pick Justin Burris also gives the Jets depth at the cornerback position. On the offensive side of the ball, the Jets added South Carolina OT Brandon Shell, Clemson WR Charone Peake, and most notably, Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg. Shell was one of the better pass blockers in the country last year and could possibly be a replacement for D’Brickashaw Ferguson if he is able to develop. Peake brings some speed and playmaking ability to the Jets offense and should he stay healthy, he will see a lot of work on special teams. But the ultimate thought about this draft class will rely on whether or not Christian Hackenberg can eventually win the Jets starting quarterback job. If he does, we will look back at this class and be amazed by the work that Macc and Todd Bowles did in the 2016 NFL Draft.
John Hargaden – The 2016 Jets draft class is going to be remembered for a few things. For changing a LB core that has been aging for several years prior and getting athletic at the position. The additions of Darron Lee and Jordan Jenkins will provide a new era for the Jets defense and will be staples for years to come in a ever changing league. This class is going to also be remembered by the Jets drafting what will be the franchise QB. Many people questioned GM Mike Maccagnan drafting Christian Hackenberg in the 2nd round. Those same people said he was drafted too early. Maccagnan watched all of Hackenberg’s snaps at Penn State and also went back to his high school tape as well to get all the information that he felt was needed. With the right tutoring and mentoring by Chan Gailey and company, Hackenberg has all what you look for in a franchise QB, he can and will be the guy.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com