It has been a little less than a week since the New York Jets draft and UDFA class was set in place. Here is a quick hitting 12 thoughts as they wrapped up their first rookie minicamp practice today…
1. All The Near Trades – We have heard reports the Jets almost traded back with the Dallas Cowboys, tried to trade up with the New York Giants and were looking at trade back options in the middle rounds. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if the deal doesn’t get done but it is interesting to see how fluid team’s “draft strategies” can be depending on how the board breaks in front of them. A trade with Dallas means no Darron Lee. A trade with the Giants means no Christian Hackenberg but a new plug and play tackle in Laremy Tunsil. Similar to all teams, we of course we now hear how the Jets wanted Lee and Hackenberg all along.2. Under The Radar – Darron Lee will continually get to fly under the radar heading into this year because of all the attention given to Hackenberg, which is probably a good thing. The selection of him finally allows the Jets to begin turning the page at the linebacker position and build a group equipped to play defense in today’s NFL. The Jets new “moneybacker” doesn’t fit into a traditional depth chart but will be a movable chess piece for Todd Bowles, who is regularly put into position to make impact plays. Many fans will initially lukewarm on the selection but Lee has the skill set to quickly become a fan favorite because of his high energy, high impact style of play.
3. Death By Takes – This comes with any quarterback but is only amplified with how high he was selected but the Christian Hackenberg takes are FLYING. My super short synopsis on my feelings before diving into a longer film breakdown in the next week is this: Hackenberg is a physically gifted prospect with the tools to be a quality starting quarterback in the NFL. He also needs to be rebuilt, particularly when it comes to accuracy, footwork and how to handle a pass rush. It would not be advisable for him to play this season. He was a second round pick (and arguably a third to fourth round prospect) for a reason. I still think the Jay Cutler ceiling to Rex Grossman floor is a reasonable projection. Stop tweeting me his ceiling is Tom Brady, especially if you were tweeting me the same thing about Bryce Petty last year. Hackenberg’s ceiling isn’t arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
4. Young Edge – My initial thought on this class is that it will be remembered for rebuilding the Jets back seven and special teams. The previously mentioned Lee is part of that but so is third round pick Jordan Jenkins who should walk into immediate playing time and a potential starting role in the Jets base 3-4. He is built to do the dirty work that Calvin Pace did here for so, so long. We are going to miss you CP, my Twitter feed certainly will at least.
5. One More On The D – Don’t forget about 4th round pick Juston Burris, who is positioned well to contribute in certain cornerback heavy packages and one injury away from seeing serious playing time in the Jets base three corner set on defense (pending a standard Dee Milliner injury). Burris has the right skill-set and man to man history to fit into this defense. It will be interesting to see how the Jets move him along and if they see him as more than just a special teams player in year one.6. PUNTER BATTLE – Lachlan Edwards. Tom Hackett. The Jets are going to get a new and hopefully competent punter in place this summer. Many would argue Hackett was the superior prospect but the Jets opted to draft Edwards and sign Hackett as a UDFA. There hasn’t been this much excitement around the Jets punter position since Tom Tupa came into to play quarterback in 1999.
7. A New Kicker – It is no secret the Jets are light on cash right now. Could highly regarded UDFA Ross Martin beat out Nick Folk in camp and allow them to save a little money while taking care of the position for the long term? It would not be shocking. Yes, Randy Bullock was nothing special last year but how much did it really cost the Jets to be without Folk down the stretch last season?
8. The Return Game – Still completely wide open. Right now the Jets only have three players who have ever returned NFL punts: Jeremy Ross (79 returns), Eric Decker (14 returns) and Dri Archer (1 return). None of their draft picks have return experience. Is this a potential opening for UDFA Jalin Marshall? He has a better shot than a UDFA usually would, especially if he can show some value elsewhere.
9. Peake Potential – 7th rounder Charone Peake will need to show some type of special teams value but he has enough physical potential to have a good shot of sticking on the Jets 53 man roster. Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Devin Smith and likely Kenbrell Thompkins are all locks but after that the 5th and potentially 6th spot are up for grabs. Peake fits well as an outside, vertical receiver in the Jets base three wide set.10. Mid-Round Struggles – Will Campbell. Oday Aboushi. Dakota Dozier. Jarvis Harrison. Brian WInters. The Jets haven’t had much success with targeting middle round offensive linemen. Hopefully, Winters can build off last season’s finish and be a competent starter or Harrison can push him. This year’s 5th round pick Brandon Shell has a good chance to be the top backup at offensive tackle and maybe, maybe be an alternative to a very mediocre Breno Giacomini.
11. Random Predictions
- Least Likely To Contribute In 2016: Hackenberg, Shell
- Best “Value” Contributions In 2016: Jenkins, Peake
- Most Impact Plays: Lee
- UDFAs Most Likely To Stick: Martin, Hackett, Marshall
12. Friday GIFs…
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com