Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Leonard Williams (Southern California) poses for a photo after being selected as the number sixth overall pick to the New York Jets in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
When it comes to the New York Jets, the staff writing team of The Jet Press gathered our final predictions for what to expect when it comes to the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
We here at The Jet Press have written hundreds of articles, formulated tons of slideshows and analyzed every kind of scenario the Jets might head into when they’re on the clock tonight in the first round of this year’s draft. It’s hard to predict what will happen but at the end of the day and as always, we’ll do our best to predict what might actually transpire.
As the football world prepares for what should be an eventful evening tonight when teams all across the NFL get ready to hopefully change their franchise for the better, it will be very interesting to see the direction the Jets head in with their twentieth overall pick.
Without further ado, here are our final staff writer predictions heading into the first round of this year’s draft!
Next: Luis Tirado Jr. goes offensive lineman
Feb 26, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan State Spartans offensive lineman Jack Conklin (11) participates in a drill during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
To win plenty of football games is to win the battle of the trenches. The Jets know their offensive line is only getting older and eventually will need to develop young talent to be their next anchors of the future. It’s tempting to go with a quarterback or pass rusher here, but the best offensive linemen will be long gone after the first round. It’s imperative the Jets grab one before they’re all taken off the board.
With that being said, the Jets select offensive tackle Jack Conklin out of Michigan State. He’s strong, reliable and has a high football IQ to not only do well in pass protection but also establish the rushing attack the Jets plan to launch this upcoming season.
No matter who is at quarterback for the Jets, to get a premier offensive lineman with the skill-set of Conklin is too much to pass up on. He’ll be able to handle anything coming his way defensively and hone his craft to the next level. He’s NFL-ready to start this upcoming season.
Overall, it might be a boring pick but at the end of the day, it’s the smartest one the Jets can make to bolster their offensive line for years to come. Make no mistake about it, Conklin will be the next best offensive lineman for the Jets.
Next: Matthew Cava goes offensive lineman
Dec 31, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Michigan State Spartans offensive tackle Jack Conklin (74) during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2015 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Cava, Staff Writer – Offensive Lineman Jack Conklin Twitter
The Jets will be on the clock at #20 come Round 1 on Thursday – no trading up or down. Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State will be their selection.
A safe pick that will ultimately prove to be the right move as Conklin will go on to be a viable replacement to (retired) D’Brickashaw Ferguson. He fits in at four of the five line positions, so there will be room for shuffling early on.
Conklin was a walk on at Michigan State and went on to start 35 of 38 games at left tackle. No doubt he’s one of the top four lineman in the draft, but the other names are expected to go earlier in first round.
He may not be the best player available on the board at #20, but he’s the best player for the Jets needs. Starting to craft an aging offensive line with talented youth like Conklin is the move the Jets must make.
Next: Paul Esden Jr. goes cornerback
Feb 29, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive back Eli Apple runs the 40 yard dash during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
With the 20th overall pick the Jets will select the best player available and no that isn’t a cop-out answer. The Jets clearly have needs along the offensive line, specifically needing upgrades at right guard and right tackle.
But no guard warrants top-20 consideration and the top four offensive tackles are projected to be off the board. Arguably the biggest need for the Jets this offseason is acquiring an edge rusher.
Again at this point in the draft who will be available is a huge question mark, Noah Spence will certainly warrant some heavy consideration at this spot. But the Jets might be able to snag him in the second round.
So with all that being considered, the Jets set their sights on the cornerback position and draft Eli Apple out of Ohio State. The Jets need youth at position and will become a need when Darrelle Revis retires inevitably.
Next: Ryan Patti goes linebacker
Feb 28, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Clemson Tigers defensive lineman Shaq Lawson participates in a workout drill during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Patti, Staff Writer – Linebacker Shaq Lawson Twitter
What more could the Jets ask for if this happens to fall their way? Lawson is a true edge rusher which has been the missing piece for quite some time in New York’s defense.
Fortunately, there is actually a very good chance this can happen. Many of the teams picking ahead of Gang Green are in desperate need of secondary and offensive line help, so he could fall right in their lap similar to how Leonard Williams did in the 2015 NFL Draft.
On top of that, everyone is gushing over Georgia standout Leonard Floyd to the point where Lawson, Noah Spence, and Emmanuel Ogbah are getting no love at all anymore. Guys who can get after the quarterback like those three can deserve all the attention in the world.
If Lawson slips to 20th overall, expect him to play with an enormous chip on his shoulder in his rookie campaign. Pair him up with second-year outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin and the Jets’ pass rush has the potential to be one of the most underrated units in the league.
Next: Richard Rodgers goes quarterback
Feb 27, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Memphis Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch throws a pass during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets are in desperate need of a future quarterback whom they can eventually build the team around. Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch certainly has the potential to be that guy, and it appears as if the Jets may have some significant interest in the 22-year-old.
Lynch’s combination of size, arm talent and athleticism is extremely rare to see in a quarterback. He has all of the tools to be a successful NFL quarterback if the team that selects him handles him correctly.
The main concern with Lynch is that he comes from a very basic college system at Memphis. Lynch will be a major project as it will take him at least one year to adjust to the pro game and whatever system he ends up in.
If Lynch is coached up correctly and given the proper time to adjust to the pro game, he has star potential in the NFL. He is a talent at the quarterback position that the Jets simply cannot pass up on.
Next: Matthew Stalker goes offensive lineman
Feb 26, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Taylor Decker runs the 40 yard dash during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Stalker, Staff Writer – Offensive Lineman Taylor Decker Twitter
Look for the Jets to address their offensive line needs early and throughout the draft. Their need for depth and youth across the line is something they should not sleep on.
Decker is hands down one of the best offensive lineman in the draft, and would be able help the Jets immediately in adding youth on the line. Decker has good size, length and very good core strength.
Realistically, Decker could come in and start in place of Breno Giacomini at right tackle; a guy who consistently under-performed in both run and pass blocking. In turn, New York could free up just under $4.5M on their salary cap if they choose to cut Giacomini.
While the Jets lost left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, they did add the younger, all-pro left tackle Ryan Clady. Clady is great, but health has proven to be a concern throughout his career. Ideally, Decker would start at right tackle, but could work to be versatile if needed at left tackle.
Next: Steven Blush goes defensive end
Nov 21, 2015; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers defensive end Kevin Dodd (98) celebrates after a sack during the third quarter against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Clemson defeated Wake Forest 33-13. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
All of the last remaining Day One-starting offensive line behemoths such as Jake Conklin or Taylor Decker — that the Jets so desperately need with the sudden retirement of D’Brickashaw Ferguson — should be gone by Thursday night’s pick #20. So expect general manager Mike Maccagnan to go plug one of the roster’s many glaring holes with the ubiquitous “best player available.”
It’s no secret that a star in the making is Clemson defensive end Kevin Dodd, often overshadowed in the gridiron media by his flashier line-mate Shaq Lawson. If he falls in the draft, expect Gang Green to pounce on this possible replacement for the disgruntled $15 Million Dollar Man, Muhammad Wilkerson.
Dodd is much more than an imposing specimen at 6’5” and 277 pounds — he is a gifted athlete with a relentless motor, who leads with a quiet professionalism. Some prognosticators question his one year of starting experience, but that was mostly due to injury, and all the experts say that he’s got the football smarts to play the game now.
The Jets need a ferocious pass-rushing machine, and Kevin Dodd is the perfect player for that Todd Bowles’ Arizona-style defense. The ex-Tiger is what they call a cornerstone player.
Next: Michael Pallas goes defensive end
Feb 26, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Eastern Kentucky defensive lineman Noah Spence speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets will end up taking Noah Spence in this year’s draft. The Jets do need a quarterback, but to take one so high wouldn’t make sense.
The Jets need to improve on their pass rush from 2015, Spence will be the best available pass rusher and they can get a decent offensive lineman at pick No. 53. Spence give the Jets versatility as a 4-3 end or a 3-4 rush linebacker.
His off-the-field issues are well documented, and he has turned himself around from them quickly. That looks great to teams, which allows his stock to remain stable or even move up.
He doesn’t seem to wear down as the game goes on as he plays at the same speed throughout. The fact that he played FCS football doesn’t hurt him because he played supremely well in the Senior Bowl.
Next: Brian Murphy goes defensive end
Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jake Coker (14) is brought down by Clemson Tigers defensive end Shaq Lawson (90) during the second quarter in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Murphy, Staff Writer – Defensive End Shaq Lawson Twitter
With the 20th pick in the draft, the Jets select Shaq Lawson, defensive end from the University of Clemson. This is filling a major void for this defense.
Lawson is a 6’3″ 269 pound edge rusher that would be plugged right into the defensive lineup. During the 2015 season at Clemson, Lawson had 24.5 tackles for a loss (1st NCAA) and 12.5 sacks (1st ACC.)
If past SuperBowl winning teams have proved anything it’s that getting to the quarterback is the best way to win. Drafting Lawson will be another piece to the puzzle in completing a defense that can do just that.
Lawson is the way the Jets should go in this year’s draft. If for some reason he is off the board by the time they pick, another 3-4 edge rusher should be the top priority for the franchise.
Next: Anthony Russo goes defensive end
Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Clemson Tigers defensive end Shaq Lawson (90) reacts during the third quarter against the Clemson Tigers in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Russo, Staff Writer – Defensive End Shaq Lawson Twitter
The key to winning the AFC east is defeating Tom Brady. The key to defeating Brady is keeping him on the sideline and putting his behind on the turf.
I did consider Cody Whitehair from Kansas State but there’s a few good guards in this draft and he’s a bit of a reach.
So the next best thing is adding to the pass rush and Lawson would be a nice fit. He’s similar to his former teammate and 2015 first round pick Vic Beasley.
He’s got a great frame and could play standing up or with his his hand in the dirt in the Jets’ defensive scheme. He and Mauldin would form a nice duo and hopefully give Brady some trouble for many years to come.
Next: Mark Kelly breaks down top three players
Feb 28, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Darron Lee participates in workout drills during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Kelly, Staff Writer – Linebacker Darron Lee Twitter
I’m going to be a little risky in my assessment of what the Jets need to do to improve not only this year, but for the years to come and is part of my strong beliefs in how to build a team that can develop and produce consistent success.
First off, I have the Jets trading Wilkerson to the Minnestoa Vikings for their 1st rounder (#23) AND a 2nd or 3rd round pick next season. Second, I have the Jets trading their 20th overall pick to the Green Bay Packers for their 1st round pick and one of their 4th round picks (#131).
That gives the Jets two more picks this year (giving them 6 in first 4 rounds and 8 total) and one next year, along with freeing up salary cap space and allowing them to fill up some of their holes through the draft.
With those picks, this is the order I would draft in depending on the players available.
1. OLB (Darron Lee is around at #23, he would be my selection)
2. CB (If Lee is taken I would select William Jackson III)
3. OL (If both Lee and Jackson III are gone, I would select Taylor Decker at #23. German Ifedi I would select at #29, but not at #23).
Here are the players I would select based on if they are around:
1. Darron Lee or Leonard Floyd or Myles Jack or Shaq Lawson
2. William Jackson III
3. Taylor Decker
4. Vernon Hargreaves III
With the added 4th round selection in this year’s draft, that would allow the Jets to select the next need based on best player available in the 2nd and 3rd round (someone like Su’a Cravens or Jason Spriggs) along with using that extra 4th round pick on a QB (Christian Hackenberg, Connor Cook if they are around that late or Dak Prescott and Cardale Jones) and RB (Marshaun Coprich or Josh Ferguson). The two picks in the 7th round can then be used on special teams type players or great athletes that could develop (Frank Shannon, Moritz Boehringer or Tyrone Holmes).
Next: Danielle McCartan goes linebacker
Nov 28, 2015; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines safety Jabrill Peppers (5) runs the ball Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Darron Lee (43) moves to defend in the first quarter at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Based on the moves this offseason, the Jets should select Darron Lee, OLB from Ohio State University 20th overall in the draft. The Jets are missing speed at the linebacker position, made clear in their release of Demario Davis in March.
Speed is Lee’s best asset: he ran a 4.47 second 40-yard dash at the 2016 NFL Combine this February. Another notable player to also run a 4.47: Ezekiel Elliott, the top coveted running back in this year’s draft. Lee (OLB) is as fast as Elliott (RB): he will have no trouble keeping up with any team’s offensive weapons.
At Ohio State University, Lee participated in a 4-3 defensive scheme and would seamlessly transition into the Jets’ game plan. According to a CBS Sports scouting report: “he is a high character competitor, playing with sky-high confidence and natural football instincts to pick things up quickly”.
It is hard to believe that Lee has only played two full seasons at linebacker. Still, with nuances to learn, he has sensationally adapted to the position. He is, without a doubt, a rising star and would look great in Jets’ Green.
Next: Paul Harris goes linebacker
Nov 7, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Darron Lee (43) gets the crowd fired up during first quarter action versus the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State leads 14-0 at halftime. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Paul Harris, Staff Writer – Linebacker Darron Lee Twitter
The Jets don’t have many holes to fill after having a successful first season under Bowles, but with what Bowles wants to do with his defense, it will require young and fast players at the linebacker position.
The Jets are putting a lot of faith into second year Mauldin to be a breakout player next year after the departure of a few key role players (Harrison, Pace). Drafting Darron Lee with the 20th pick would be the smartest and safest move for many reasons. Gang Green’s linebacker situation isn’t so bad where Lee would be pressured to start right away and have to be a dominant force.
Obviously that would be a huge win for the Jets if that happened and that’s what you hope for, but if Lee can duplicate Mauldin’s stats from last season, I would be happy. That would be some dynamic duo at linebacker.
I have the Jets once again starting out the draft on defense which will make this the eighth consecutive defensive player drafted in the first round for New York.
Next: Matthew Ordazzo goes linebacker
Nov 28, 2015; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back De’Veon Smith (4) rushes on Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Darron Lee (43) in the first half at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Ordazzo, Staff Writer – Linebacker Darron Lee Twitter
Everyone is torn between which position the Jets will look to invest in during the first-round of the draft. The top three positions that naturally come to the minds of Jet fans everywhere are 1. CB, 2. Pass rusher, and 3. QB. My personal belief is that Gang Green will invest in a pass rusher in the first-round by drafting linebacker Darron Lee out of Ohio State University.
The Jets noticeably lacked depth in the linebacker position last season cutting former first-round selection Coples, leaving the team left with the aging Pace, and Lorenzo Mauldin. Defensive end Sheldon Richardson even played a hand full of snaps at the linebacker position last season. With Pace gone and the Jets signing Bruce Carter who has not lived up to expectations during his time in Dallas and Tampa Bay, the Jets will seek a pass rusher in the first-round to help strengthen their linebacker corps.
A former 195 pound cornerback and quarterback coming out of high school, Lee transitioned impressively to a linebacker on the Buckeye’s defense, ultimately filling in after Ryan Shazier left for the 2014 NFL Draft. Lee recorded an impressive 81 tackles and 7.5 sacks during his first year on defense, and also recording 66 tackles with an additional 4.5 sacks his sophomore season.
Lee is a fast, versatile and physical linebacker that will be a great asset to the Jets’ defense that currently lacks pass rushers. Currently, the Jets have Richardson, Williams and Muhammad on their defensive front, adding a OLB such as Lee in the first round will only be a compliment to that already solid front. A fast, athletic linebacker that’s solid as a blitzer, run stuffer and as a linebacker in man coverage. Lee should incorporate nicely on the defensive side of the ball as Bowles uses a 3-4 and 4-3 base defensive scheme, something Lee is already familiar with as he played two seasons in the Buckeye’s 4-3 base defense.
Next: Jerry Romei goes offensive lineman
Nov 29, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Taylor Decker (68) celebrates with fans following the game versus the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won the game 42-28. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Jerry Romei, Staff Writer – Offensive Lineman Taylor Decker Twitter
I have a feeling the first round of this year’s draft will have much more movement up and down the board. We have already seen two trades take place and the draft has not even begun! The Jets will be one of these teams that will be doing some movement but it will not be up the board, it will be down. The Jets’ brass will realize that to fill all the holes they have and to offset the picks they traded away, they will need to collect more through trading down.
The Jets will be licking their chops at the sight of Noah Spence almost making it to them but will then be destroyed by the Buffalo Bills taking him one pick before them. The Jets are on the clock at 20 and Paxton Lynch still on the board. The phone rings and it is John Elway offering up a third round pick to move up and grab the young signal caller. After some discussion back and forth, the Jets deal the 20th pick to Denver for the 31st overall in the first, the 63rd overall in the second, and a swapping of 3rds (83rd for the 94th).
With the 31st pick in the draft, the Jets select offensive tackle Taylor Decker. Decker is the perfect fit for right tackle possessing a strong lower body and aggressive hands. He is a mean, hard nosed tackle with good technique. He will provide a major upgrade to the right tackle position from day one.
Next: Christopher Stephano goes linebacker
Feb 26, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Stephano, Staff Writer – Linebacker Leonard Floyd Twitter
With the 20th overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the New York Jets select Leonard Floyd, OLB, out of Georgia.
The Jets top three needs heading into the draft are offensive line, quarterback and linebacker. With Jared Goff and Carson Wentz going 1-2 in the draft, the Jets would be foolish to reach for any other quarterback with their first round pick.
With the departure of D’Brickashaw Ferguson, offensive tackle Jack Conklin would look great in Jets green. In the end, however, their glaring need for a pass rusher will compel them to pick Floyd.
Beyond the first few selections, trying to predict the NFL draft is at best an extremely educated guess. However, if he falls to the Jets, Floyd would represent an excellent pick that fills a clear need.