Apr 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Darron Lee (Ohio State) with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the New York Jets as the number twenty overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at Auditorium Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets have made some significant selections in the 2016 NFL Draft. Not only have they addressed immediate needs but also a big one for the future.
The Jets are in the thralls of the draft. We have completed the first three rounds of the event, and it was filled with surprises and disappointments. The overall surprises began with the San Diego Chargers not taking cornerback Jalen Ramsey with the third overall pick, and it had a trickling affect throughout the entire draft.
Of course the story of the first night was offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil falling to the Miami Dolphins. The story of Day 2 was the Dallas Cowboys taking a huge risk in selecting linebacker Jaylon Smith with pick No. 34.
The Jets on the other hand for the most part had a very good draft with their picks at No. 20, 51 and 83. They were able to fill some needs and get another quarterback, but they made one big mistake.
Without further ado, here are the grades for the first three draft selections made by the Jets.
Next: Darron Lee fills a major need
Apr 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Darron Lee (Ohio State) after being selected by the New York Jets as the number twenty overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at Auditorium Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Round 1: Darron Lee, A
The Jets filled a need immediately, and they did it with Darron Lee. He was the best pass rusher available and the Jets are in dire need of a consistent pass rush from the second level.
While his stats don’t jump off the page (146 tackles, 27.0 tackles for loss and 11.0 sacks in two seasons), he was used in a 4-3 base defense at Ohio State. Lee was generally lined up behind their sack master, third overall pick defensive end Joey Bosa. So his stats numbers would generally be lower in that case.
According to NFL.com, he needs to improve on quite a few areas. His weakness include too many arm tackles and the inability to shed blocks but work with an NFL strength and conditioning program and proper coaching will aid in both of those weaknesses.
The combination of their No. 83 overall pick Lee, Leonard Williams, Sheldon Richardson, and Muhammad Wilkerson will make a formidable front seven. It will be a pick-your-poison pass rush, and the Jets should be able to get more than the 39 sacks they got in 2015.
The Jets forced 22 turnovers in 2015 and we should expect similar numbers with this pass rush, because there’s only so many blockers you can commit. This pick was a great pick for the Jets in the grand scheme of things.
Next: Making a mistake with Christian Hackenberg
Nov 28, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) scrambles out of the pocket during the second half of a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Round 2: Christian Hackenberg, C-
The immediate grade for this pick was F, but upon further review and allowing for time, it had to be higher, and this grade isn’t based on Hackenberg’s ability, but where the Jets took him. He should have been pick in the third round, and the Jets should have switched second and third round picks, because Hackenberg would have still been available.
He has the size and arm strength that NFL teams look for, but his accuracy is inconsistent. According to the NFL.com scouting report, he only completed 51.5% of his passes beyond the line of scrimmage.
With that being said, he showed amazing leadership by staying at Penn State by not leaving after the Jerry Sandusky trial. He also showed amazing arm talent under current then head coach, Bill O’Brien, but after he left the team to the Houston Texans, Hackenberg’s performance precipitously dropped.
A quarterback’s base is the most important aspect of pass accuracy, and based on the tape, Hackenberg will need to work on his footwork to maintain consistency. He can make all the throws, and if he can get accuracy back to where it was in 2013, he will be a good NFL quarterback.
He has a lot of talent, and the right coaching can unlock his true potential. He has a lot of work to do, but it’s not impossible.
Next: Landing a hidden gem with pass rusher
Jan 2, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Jordan Jenkins (59) tackles Penn State Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley (26) during the third quarter at EverBank Field. Georgia defeated Penn State 24-17 to win the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Round 3: Jordan Jenkins, A-
The grade on this pick is a combination of value and who they picked in the first round. The combination of Jenkins and Lee will book end the linebackers, and will be a formidable duo.
Jordan Jenkins wasn’t a “sack master” at Georgia, compiling only 19 sacks in four years, but he was asked to do the dirty work of stopping the run at Georgia. According to NFL.com’s Mike Mayock, “Leonard Floyd got all of the attention, but this kid did all of the dirty jobs. I think he’s a 4-3 base end. He’s a better football player than he is an athlete.”
His size is what NFL team look for in edge rushers, because he can withstand the blocks of offensive tackles. With that said, NFL.com says he’s stiff, and as Mayock pointed out, his lack of athleticism may hurt him against NFL tackles.
Their ultimate ruling on him, though, is:
"Three-year starter who has played both outside linebacker spots in the Bulldogs 3-4 defense. With Jenkins length and outstanding power on the edge, he is a natural fit as an edge-setting strongside 3-4 outside linebacker in the pros. Jenkins may not be viewed as dangerous enough as a pass rusher to warrant a first round pick, but he’s a safe pick whose toughness and football IQ make him an early starter candidate."
Even though he may not be a great pass rusher, he’s talented enough behind the Jets’ front-three. He may have more production in the NFL than in college, because of the talent around him and the focus not being on him.