New York Jets – Why Does The 2nd Round Suck?

Joe Caporoso on why the New York Jets keep failing in the second round…

The New York Jets have struggled with drafting over the past decade. One round in particular magnifies this problem, the second round. Why do the Jets keep missing in this spot of the draft and what common thread exists between all the picks? Let’s dig a little deeper into the history…

In 2007, the jets selected inside linebacker David Harris in the second round with the 47th overall pick. Harris will be a Ring of Honor player and has anchored the defense for the past decade. Unfortunately, he is the last positive selection the Jets have made in that round.

  • 2008: No Pick
  • 2009: No Pick
  • 2010: Vlad Ducasse, Offensive Guard
  • 2011: No Pick
  • 2012: Stephen Hill, Wide Receiver
  • 2013: Geno Smith, Quarterback
  • 2014: Jace Amaro, Tight End
  • 2015: Devin Smith, Wide Receiver
  • 2016: Christian Hackenberg, Quarterback

Off the top, the Jets last six second round picks have been offensive players. Ironically, their last six first round picks have been defensive players (while we are at it, five of their last six third round picks have been defensive players). So, the Jets have a (largely ineffective) pattern. Here is a closer look at each individual player…

2010 – Vlad Ducasse 

  • Best Known For: King Ugly, turnstile impersonations 
  • Red Flags: Small school with lower level competition, generally considered a reach, more of a “potential” than production pick

Ducasse had the physical tools you desire in an offensive lineman but went to UMass and had never performed against top tier competition. He struggled to distinguish himself with the Jets and has since bounced around the league as a backup and spot starter. Ducasse could never find consistency and struggled particularly in pass protection.

2012 – Stephen Hill

  • Best Known For: Dropped passes, awful routes 
  • Red Flags: Wing T college offense, limited production, a late riser up draft boards, more of a “potential” than production pick 

This is a similar story to Ducasse, Hill had all the physical tools you would want in a receiver but was rarely targeted in a run heavy college offense. The Jets thought he would be Demaryius Thomas 2.0 but Hill was a track star forced on to a football field. He could not run routes. He could not handle physical coverage and he could not catch. He is currently a free agent.

2013 – Geno Smith 

  • Best Known For: Behind the back fumble, $600
  • Red Flags: College offensive system, late slide down draft boards

Smith had flashes his rookie year but stagnated in year two and lost his chance to start in year three over a locker room fight. He had a chance to get his job back in year four but got hurt. The ship has sailed on him in New York but he may settle into being a productive backup and spot starter elsewhere. Smith was never set up to succeed here but also did not help himself with inconsistent play and a handful of minor off the field incidents.

2014 – Jace Amaro 

  • Best Known For: Small hands, dropped passes 
  • Red Flags: College offensive system, ability to block at the NFL level 

Amaro was generally considered good value in the second round and had moments during his rookie year. However, he could not stay healthy in year two, struggled to stay in shape and lacked the physicality to stay on the field. The Jets found a much better, more versatile version of him in Quincy Enunwa when Chan Gailey took over the offense. Amaro is currently with the Tennessee Titans.

2015 – Devin Smith 

  • Best Known For: Dropped passes, fumbled kick return on TNF 
  • Red Flags: College route tree, physicality 

Smith was another player considered generally good value in the second round. Ryan Fitzpatrick missed him plenty of times as a rookie, limiting his production but Smith didn’t help himself with dropped passes and a killer fumble for a touchdown in a primetime game. Smith basically missed his entire second season due to injury and is now facing a make or break year three as he was passed on the depth chart by players like Robby Anderson and Jalin Marshall.

2016 – Christian Hackenberg 

  • Best Known For: Being a 4th stringer and anonymously ripped by players and coaches, Han Solo GIFs from this writer’s Twitter handle 
  • Red Flags: College tape and production, generally considered a reach

Hackenberg was considered a reach in the second round and did little to disprove that as a rookie. He was objectively terrible in the preseason and was a 4th string quarterback for the bulk of the year. Internally, the Jets don’t consider him a serious option to start in 2017. Hopefully, Hackenberg can prove everybody wrong but it is hard to be optimistic when he was buried on a depth chart behind Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith and Bryce Petty.

When it comes to Hackenberg, Hill and Ducasse, the Jets fell into the trap of thinking they could develop players despite what the college tape and production was showing them. When it came to Smith, Amaro and Devin Smith, the Jets did not create an ecosystem that helped players transition from a spread college offense (or college route tree) to the NFL. These are two different issues that have led to six disappointing picks. Needless to say, it is crippling for a NFL team to have four of their last six second round picks not on their roster and the other two to have limited expectations heading into 2017.

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Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the EVP of Content at Whistle Sports