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 made all of their selections already in the 2016 NFL Draft as they hope all their picks turn into key impact players in the future. What kind of grades did they earn?
The Jets had several key needs to address in this year’s draft. General manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles entered their second draft with each other with high expectations.
Who was the Jets best selection? Who was their worst? Did the Jets fill all their needs? What should fans expect from all these rookies heading into the upcoming season?
Here is my breakdown on all that down in this special edition of preliminary draft grades for the Jets.
Next: 5. The Jets golden ticket
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
5. Linebacker Darron Lee, A-
Linebacker Darron Lee wasn’t the Jets best draft selection because he went in the first round and is the most talented prospect the team drafted. He’s the Jets best draft choice because he provided phenomenal value and filled an immediate need.
Lee has the capabilities to play outside and inside as the Jets have revealed he’ll be playing the ‘Mo’ linebacker position behind linebacker Erin Henderson. As he develops, he’ll be a three down linebacker for the green and white.
David Harris and Henderson are both in their 30’s and the Jets were ahead of the curve by drafting him and seasoning him now for the future. He’ll be able to contribute immediately and one of the first things he said during his meeting at the draft is being excited and able to cover tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Safety Calvin Pryor did a great job of that last year for the Jets before getting hobbled by an injury. Having another guy that can step to the plate should only benefit this already stout Jets’ defense.
Next: 4. The worst pick for the Jets
Sep 27, 2014; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) warms up prior to the game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
4. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg, C+
Now take this with a grain of salt, the reason for this grade is because the Jets had other needs that could have been filled that needed immediate attention. Believe it or not the Jets have picked a league-high 11 quarterbacks since 2000, including one in each of the past four drafts.
This pick could easily change from the worst to the best if he can become the face of the franchise for this team. There is no doubt that quarterback Christian Hackenberg showed flashes in his freshman season of being a potential top-five pick.
He then went on to put up two years of bad tape with understandably worse talent and a different coaching staff. But the potential is there and the Jets saw that and made a heavy investment.
The Jets haven’t had the best of luck in recent years with their second round picks, especially when it comes to selecting quarterbacks. But perhaps with proper coaching and the right pieces around him, Hackenberg can flip the script.
Next: 3. Some serious sleeper potential
Sep 5, 2015; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Charone Peake (19) carries the ball during the first half against the Wofford Terriers at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
3. Wide receiver Charone Peake, A+
So we’ll break down a couple of the Jets sleeper picks here, starting off with a player that has the highest ceiling, wide receiver Charone Peake. He’s exactly the kind of talent you draft in the seventh round.
This guy was literally a top 50 prospect on some of the biggest draft experts big boards. He’s big (6’3, 200+ pounds), he’s fast (4.37 recorded 40 time) but there are some major injury concerns.
He finally got his chance last season to be the guy on offense and he responded with 50 catches, 716 yards and five touchdowns. He fits the NFL mold you’re looking for and potentially the Jets found an eventual starter in the seventh round, not too shabby.
Next: 2. More sleeper potential
Sep 5, 2015; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Jordan Jenkins (59) rushes the passer against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks during the first half at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
2. Linebacker Jordan Jenkins, B+
Jordan Jenkins, the Jets’ third round draft choice had a mid-second draft grade. He slipped in the draft more likely than not because of his low ceiling as a pass rusher.
It’s ironic that the Jets potential replacement for Calvin Pace is a 10-year younger version of himself. In four seasons, he produced 19 sacks, 40 tackles-for-loss and six forced fumbles.
He won’t wow you with his explosion, but rather he can set the edge against the run and could provide three to seven sacks a season. He complements fellow linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin very well as the Jets continue their overhaul of the linebacker position.
What he lacks for in pass rushing prowess he makes up for with a blue collar work ethic, as he’s consistent and he seems to always be around the football. The Jets got great value in the third round and that can’t be understated.
Next: 1. The best of the rest
Nov 15, 2014; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive lineman Dante Fowler Jr. (6) rushes as South Carolina Gamecocks offensive tackle Brandon Shell (71) blocks during the first quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
1. The best of the rest
Offensive tackle Brandon Shell: B
The Jets needed to come out of this draft with at least one offensive lineman and they met the minimum requirement. Shell’s got some upside and he could be a really good backup or a solid starter at right tackle.
Cornerback Juston Burris: B-
To be honest the Jets probably should have addressed the cornerback position a little bit earlier in this year’s draft. They passed on a lot of good talent in lieu for something else. In terms of value, Burris went where he was projected to go and will be thrown into the mix in the battle for the number two spot at cornerback.
Punter Lachlan Edwards: B
It’s pretty simple here, Ryan Quigley signed with the Philadelphia Eagles which opened up a hole at punter. The Jets filled it in the seventh round. In his three collegiate seasons, Edwards averaged 42.8 yards on 185 punts. He also put 45 punts inside the 20.
The Jets had some missed opportunities to rebuild the offensive line, they could’ve invested more youth in their cornerback depth chart, but they did bring some intriguing talent on an already formidable roster. While there is still the obvious question mark at the quarterback position, the Jets did a solid job in year two of the Maccagnan/Bowles draft era.