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
The New York Jets looked to fill needs across the roster both for the immediate future and down the line. Heading into the 2016 NFL Draft, they addressed both.
The first round of the 2016 NFL Draft started just as most people expected, with quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz being drafted by the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively. A number of people believed that the New York Jets would draft Paxton Lynch with the 20th overall selection.
Nothing against Lynch, but thankfully, that would not be the case. Quarterback is a position of need like any other year in New York, but there are positions on the Jets that should be addressed sooner than later.
Things became interesting following a video of top prospect Laremy Tunsil taking a hit on a bong. He began to drop with each passing selection; great news for the Jets who desperately needed help on their offensive line, eventually being drafted 13th overall by the Miami Dolphins.
The Jets would go on to select the outside linebacker from Ohio State in the first round, Darron Lee. Without further ado, here is Lee and the rest of the Jets’ 2016 draft class.
Next: Round 1: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
Jan 12, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Darron Lee gestures to the crowd in the fourth quarter against the Oregon Ducks in the 2015 CFP National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
After passing on Lynch, the Jets grabbed just what they needed: a linebacker. Lee totaled 146 tackles (27 for loss), 11 sacks, three interceptions and three forced fumbles with Ohio State. He played two seasons with the Buckeyes.
The Jets had some questions heading into the 2016 season at linebacker, needing to add depth, speed and youth to the equation. Lee can answer all of those questions for the Jets. At 6’1″, 232 pounds, he is not “of ideal size,” nor is he your “typical” linebacker, especially on the inside where head coach Todd Bowles suggested he will play.
That will not matter given the skills Lee brings to the field: quickness, athleticism, flexibility, coverage ability and sideline-to-sideline range. He is a natural three-down linebacker. Bowles can suggest that Lee will play inside, but expect movement from him every Sunday. Expect Lee to present his versatility and make plays across the field.
Stop making the comparison to Vernon Gholston. Lee was a great pick for the Jets, polarizing, and fans should fully expect him to prove to be a very successful selection. It’s about time the Jets have added some athleticism to the linebacker corps.
Next: Round 2: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
The Jets expressed interest in their second round pick, Christian Hackenberg, all through the scouting process and up until the draft. After studying tape, going to Penn State for a private workout and having him visit the Jets’ facilities, it was pretty obvious New York was interested.
Hackenberg played three seasons at Penn State University. He completed 56.1% of his passes for 8,457 yards, 48 touchdowns and 31 interceptions, performing best as a true freshman under head coach Bill O’Brien.
The situation at Penn State for Hackenberg in his sophomore and junior years were less than ideal. Under a new coaching staff including head coach James Franklin and other than his accuracy issues, his skills seemed to regress and he struggled against constant pressure.
How much of this his own doing, or is the coaching staff to blame? Take 25 minutes out of your day and watch Hackenberg above. After watching, a new outlook and hope for the kid was instilled in my mind.
At 6’4″, 223 pounds, he has ideal size for a quarterback in the NFL. He has a big arm, great knowledge of the game and leadership ability, but needs to work hard on his accuracy and footwork. There’s a lot of potential moving forward and hopefully the Jets’ coaching staff can tap into that talent and find a franchise quarterback for New York.
Next: Round 3: Jordan Jenkins, OLB, Georgia
Nov 21, 2015; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Southern Eagles running back Markeis Hallback (38) runs against Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Jordan Jenkins (59) during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgie defeated Georgia Southern 23-17 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Jordan Jenkins was a solid, good value pick for the Jets, again addressing their need at linebacker. This marks the second consecutive year the Jets selected an outside linebacker in the third round, adding Lorenzo Mauldin in 2015. Including their first round selection, Lee, Bowles now has two new, young skilled linebackers for his defense.
Jenkins played four seasons for Georgia. In his four seasons, he totaled 204 tackles (39 for loss) with 19 sacks, and six forced fumbles. In 2014, Jenkins was Georgia’s most improved player. He followed that up with a hot start in 2015, only to be limited by groin and hip injuries.
Jenkins is physical at the point of attack, can get out and set a strong edge and be a great run defender. He has good ability to shed blocks and get into the action. Unfortunately, he will not tally very many sacks on the outside.
Instead, he plays the game very similar to former Jets’ linebacker Calvin Pace, so if Von Miller is what you were expecting or looking for, look elsewhere. On a positive note, New York doesn’t have to bring Pace back for his ninth consecutive season.
Next: Round 4: Juston Burris, CB, NC State
Oct 9, 2015; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies wide receiver Isaiah Ford (1) drops a pass in the end zone against North Carolina State Wolfpack cornerback Juston Burris (11) during the second quarter at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets needed to add a young cornerback to the pipeline, but it was a little surprising they waiting until the fourth round where they added Juston Burris from NC State. Burris started three seasons at NC State.
In three seasons starting for the Wolfpack, he totaled 121 tackles (5 for loss), adding two forced fumbles and just three interceptions. Burris didn’t fill the stat sheet, but he played man-to-man at NC State, so he should fit right in with the Jets.
With his size and physicality at the line of scrimmage, Burris should be a nice man/press corner in Bowles’ defensive scheme, whether that be in the slot or outside. He has good ball skills, but you will have to look past the interceptions for that. He was targeted 44 times last season. Just 34% of those passes were completed.
It will be interesting to see if general manager Mike Maccagnan and Bowles hit a home-run with Burris or not. After Darrelle Revis and Buster Skrine, the Jets have a group of young players (Marcus Williams, Dexter McDougle and Dee Milliner) vying for position.
Next: Round 5: Brandon Shell, OT, South Carolina
Nov 15, 2014; Gainesville, FL, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks offensive tackle Brandon Shell (71) blocks Florida Gators defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard (90) during the second quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets traded a 2017 fourth-round draft pick to move up in the 2016 NFL Draft to select Brandon Shell. Trading draft picks seems to be something general manager Mike Maccagnan likes to do.
And yes, the last name is Shell, like Pro Football Hall of Famer and family member Art Shell. He indicated his great-uncle was helpful, giving pointers and information on the draft process, combine and pro day.
Shell has ideal size, length and athleticism for an offensive tackle, standing 6’5″, weighing 324 pounds, and having 34 3/4″ arms. His 112″ broad jump and 10-yard split displayed his great athleticism for his size.
At South Carolina, he played his first three seasons at right tackle and his senior year at left tackle, indicating that he feels more comfortable on the right side. Shell will need to work on his consistency in the block, control and hand work. Ideally, he can win the job from an under-performing Breno Giacomini.
Next: Round 7: Lachlan Edwards, P, Sam Houston State
Feb 24, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Sam Houston State kicker Loc Edwards speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Drafting a punter had to be done. The Jets got exactly what they needed drafting Lachlan Edwards (and signing UDFA Tom Hackett): a competition at punter.
All kidding aside, the Jets desperately need upgrades on special teams as it was one of their biggest obstacles in recent years. Selecting Edwards more or less guaranteed an upgrade at the position, even if Ryan Quigley was still on the team.
Edwards is from Australia. In Australia, he played Australian football, rugby, cricket and ran track-and-field. Edwards first punted a football in 2012, where one of his professors witnessed the event and put him in contact with a kicking coach. From there, he submitted highlight tapes to American universities.
Edwards played three seasons of college ball for Sam Houston State where he averaged 42.8 yards per punt (185 punts), pinning 45 within the 20-yard line. Between Edwards and Hackett, Edwards seems to be the better NFL option, having better hang time and standing 6’5″ and 205 pounds.
Next: Round 7: Charone Peake, WR, Clemson
Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Charone Peake (19) warms up before playing against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Charone Peake was a great, interesting selection for the Jets this year. He is a set to be a boom or bust player, bottom line. Standing 6’2″, 209 pounds, Peake has excellent size and the physical tools you would look for in an NFL receiver.
Peake has showcased his skill on the field and speed at his pro day. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds. Peake was projected by some as a possible third-round pick but due to an ACL tear in 2013, and another minor knee injury in the summer of 2014, he slipped to the seventh round.
In five seasons at Clemson, Peake totaled 99 receptions for 1,172 yards and 10 touchdowns. His first four seasons were limited due to the injuries he sustained and playing behind DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins. Of his aforementioned stats, 50 receptions, 716 yards and five touchdowns were in 2015 alone. The ability is there. If Peake can remain healthy, the Jets might have found themselves a gem at wide receiver in the seventh round.