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, just like every other team in the NFL, made some interesting moves in the first half of the 2016 NFL Draft. Here’s a breakdown on what to expect from the impact players of Rounds 1 – 3.
As has been majorly discussed among Jet fans, general manager Mike Maccagnan continued their streak of drafting defense in the first round of the draft. The debate prior to the pick has blazed through the offseason all year long, with debates ranging between offensive line help and upgrading their linebacker corps.
Linebacker Darron Lee in the end became the Jets’ top pick at number twenty after rumors that they tried to trade up to land the big Laremy Tunsil at left tackle. Lee is the celebrated Ohio State linebacker who played havoc on opposing quarterback in the NCAA for the Buckeyes.
Since he was the first pick for the Jets in the first round, let’s start off with exactly what they’re getting in Lee.
Next: A classic overachiever
A classic overachiever
Lee measures in at 6’1″ and weighs 232 pounds, his body size offers 33 1/4″ arms and 9 3/4″ hands. Lee is a speed pass rusher from the outside and posted an impressive 4.47 sec forty. He’s an explosive pass rusher with a great burst off the line, which often leaves offensive lineman out of position to take on his charge towards the quarterback.
While at Ohio State. Lee was a two-year starter, totaling 16.0 sacks in 2014, and doubling down on his talents by recording 11.0 sacks in 2015 despite double teams coming his way. Lee is a definite talent, but may need some time to step on the NFL Stage.
The pick has caused a split among Jet fans as a whole.
A majority loved the pick and seemingly think Lee is the guy to put the Jets back into the NFL Playoffs.
He has his detractors among Jet fans as well however.
Some argue he wasn’t the best player available, while still others knock his size and abilities against the run.
As with all picks, Lee’s time in the NFL will prove his worth in time. Todd Bowles is a defensive-oriented head coach that has earned a reputation for getting the most out of his players, so it would appear Lee has landed in an ideal situation.
Next: A quarterback with great character
Sep 5, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) walks off the field following the competition of the game against the Temple Owl at Lincoln Financial Field. Temple defeated Penn State 27-10. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O
A quarterback with great character
Round 2 of this year’s draft was a hard round for me to watch, as I had hoped the Jets might make a move up the board to grab one of the talented left overs from the first round. It didn’t happen as the Jets stood firm at number 51, passing on some top offensive lineman, before finally settling on Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg.
As most of my readers already know, I’m a Penn State Alumni and attend games on a regular basis. I’ve met Christian several times, at various events on campus, and can tell you he is a smart kid, with an impressive grasp of the game. He also has a nice character, with a great sense of humor and leadership capabilities. Jet fans should enjoy his pressers if he gets the opportunity to be their starter in the future.
The pick has already become controversial in Jet circles. Many fans are pointing to the fact that they passed on quarterback Paxton Lynch in the first round and they see Hackenberg as a disappointment. Still others claim the Jets “reached” in drafting the young signal caller in the second round. Of course there is a group of fans who liked the pick and see him as the next franchise quarterback for our team.
Hackenberg definitely possesses the ideal size for an NFL quarterback, standing 6’2″ and tipping the scales at 232 pounds. He has a big arm, making him capable of making all the throws he’ll need to make at the NFL level. His four years at Penn State were filled with diversity, but Hackenberg stuck with the program despite coaching changes and lack of a coherent offensive line. At Penn State, Hackenberg showed character while posting 8,457 yards, 48 touchdowns, 31 interceptions and a mediocre 56.1 percent completion rate.
While I liked the pick, I personally think the Jets overstretched to land him. Hackenberg has a number of issues he’ll have to work through at the NFL level, and is rather raw for a second round pick. He’s one of those “make or break” prospects in my eyes, and the Jets might have landed him in the third round without much difficulty. The Jets now have three young signal callers on their roster and only time will tell if they have one they can develop.
Regardless of how the Ryan Fitzpatrick deal works out, it promises to be a fun watch this summer in camp!
Next: Jets go defense again
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
Jets go defense again
After going offense in the second round, Maccagnan quickly returned to building Bowles’ defense. In the third round, the Jets went to the podium and selected another linebacker in the form of Georgia’s Jordan Jenkins.
The new Jet linebacker played alongside first round pick Leonard Floyd at Georgia, and was underrated as a result. Jordan is a “blue collar” type guy, he’s not going to be a sack specialist, but he’s solid against the run and has a motor that seemingly never stops. Jordan fits a need for the Jets and Maccagnan may have hit a home run in the third round.
Jordan measures out nicely, standing 6’3″ tall and hitting the scales at 259 pounds. At Georgia, he was a workhorse against the run, and disrupting protections for Floyd to get to the quarterback. During his four years at Georgia, Jordan managed 19 sacks, 107 solo tackles, 97 assists and 39 tackles for loss.
Jordan also has experience dropping back in coverage and taking on opposing tight ends. While not prolific against the past, he did manage to record five pass defenses to add to his stats at Georgia. Finishing out his stats, Jordan provided six forced fumbles and three fumble returns.
Jordan doesn’t seem to be known very well among Jet fans and as a result has caused plenty of grumblings among everyone. Most of the complaints have come from fans hoping for more offense from the organization. Either way, Jordan was a solid pick, and I’m looking forward to seeing him this summer.
Next: Wrapping it up
Dec 6, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan before a game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The first two days of the draft have been an interesting watch for Jet fans. The picks are in for the first three rounds and they seemingly haven’t satisfied many Jet fans. The base is continually breaking down the top three as they are very important, and I expect that debate to rage on as the rest of the offseason plays out.
It’s still early in the process to how these top draft picks develop, but here’s my short take on our top three. Lee will provide a significant upgrade as a pass rusher from the linebacker corps, they will attempt to bulk him up without affecting his speed, and Bowles will love that quickness.
I believe he’ll need to work himself into a starting job, but you can’t ignore the potential in this young man. Maccagnan might be questioned whether he was the best player available, but Lee has met the need and may arguably be the best player that fit what the Jets were trying to do in the draft. Day 1 gets an overall grade of B from my book.
Hackenberg is a huge stretch at the position he was taken. Raw mechanics and a low completion rate are enough to make you question choosing Hackenberg this high. I like the pick, but teams were shying away from the next level of quarterbacks, with the next run on signal callers coming late in the third round. Again, this pick could easily blow up in the Jets’ faces. Beast or Bust candidate gets a C- in my book.
Jenkins is my favorite pick of the three. He may never be a Pro Bowler for the Jets, but expect big contributions from him as he develops. Bowles will get him on the field this year, and that is a positive for their defense. At this point, Jenkins is the steal of this year’s draft for the Jets, I had him as a second round talent, so it was great to see him there when the Jets chose him. Great pick in my book that gets a grade of B+.