Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Leonard Williams (Southern California) poses for a photo with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell 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
As the New York Jets prepare for the upcoming regular season, their draft class of 2015 have high expectations as they enter their sophomore seasons in 2016.
Last season, general manager Mike Maccagnan stepped into his new team with the New York Jets. After a big spending spree in free agency, the new “boss in town” turned in a phenomenal draft. Media outlets sang his praises and the fan base of the Jets lined up solidly behind him.
In year one, we saw some of the potential these players had to offer to the team’s future, in year two, many fans are hoping for even bigger things from this draft class. Some analysts have even gone as far as to claim that the success of the entire team may lie with these young players.
Here are the expectations of each draft pick for the Jets from the 2015 NFL Draft class.
Next: A premier defensive end looking for bigger impact
Defensive end Leonard Williams
Defensive end Leonard Williams has become a household name in short progression for the Jets. The big 6’5″/302 pound defensive lineman turned in a solid rookie season, posting 63 tackles and three sacks. The numbers aren’t elite, causing some fans to question his abilities, but considering his part time role in a very talented front, the criticisms might be premature.
The Jets will need to have Williams take the next step in 2016. Williams’ potential has yet to be fully seen, and with defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson once again facing suspension by the NFL, an upgraded performance from Williams could be huge for the Jets. Competition promises to be intense along the defensive line, but I’m thinking when the smoke clears, Williams is among the starters in year two.
Next: One speedy wide receiver looking to bounce back
Sep 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Devin Smith (19) catches a pass during warmups before a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Wide Receiver Devin Smith
Round two brought wide receiver Devin Smith to New York. The 6’0″/196 pound wide receiver was supposed to be the spread the field, deep threat the Jets have lacked for years now. Instead, he only managed nine receptions in ten game appearances before ending the season on injured reserve with an ACL tear to his knee. The rookie wide out did account for 115 yards on those nine touchdowns, but some poor routes and missed opportunities caused Jet fans to get down on him early.
Smith will need to come out in year two and prove his worth. With the top two spots being filled by Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, Smith will be given every opportunity to get the job done this summer. The Jets drafted Charone Peake in the seventh round and also brought in several other wide receivers to the group. Competition will be deep this summer, and the Jets are hoping for big things from their speedy receiver.
Next: A linebacker trying to go full-time in 2016
Aug 13, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin (55) gets past Detroit Lions tackle Michael Williams (73) during the second quarter in a preseason NFL football game at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin
Round three brought Lorenzo Maudlin to the Jets’ linebacker corps. The 6’4″/243 linebacker impressed the coaching staff of the Jets last summer and continued to develop as the season went on. Maudlin played in a rotational role last summer, but managed to post 17 tackles, four sacks and one forced fumble. He may never become a star in the NFL, but Maudlin has the making of a good linebacker and contributes on special teams as well.
The Jets have seen a huge change at linebacker this year, and to have Maudlin step up and lead would be huge. Darron Lee and Jarvis Jenkins were both drafted this summer and the Jets have signed a plethora of young players to compete. The Jets could use Maudlin to lead more this season, he’s familiar with Todd Bowles‘ schemes, so expect him to play a bigger role in 2016.
Next: Grooming this quarterback for a bright future
May 25, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) during OTA at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Quarterback Bryce Petty
The fourth round brought Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty into the fold. Petty was met with mixed reviews from Jet fans. Some saw him as the future of the team, while others saw him as too raw to develop into much more than an NFL backup.
Petty comes to the Jets standing 6’3″ and weighing 230 pounds. He offers ideal size for an NFL quarterback, he isn’t very fast and his long ball accuracy isn’t very good. He has an adequate arm to make most throws, but came from a one-read system at Baylor. The Jets coaching staff has been upbeat on Petty’s development, they point to intelligence and leadership skills, Regardless, I don’t expect much from Petty this year, he’s likely going to spend much if not all of it on the bench.
Next: An offensive guard continuing his development
Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets logo prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Offensive Guard Jarvis Harrison
Round 5 brought the team a big powerful guard in the form of Jarvis Harrison. The big man measures out as 6’4″/320 pounds. Harrison’s stock fell as scouts pointed out his conditional issues and overall motivation. He takes time off at times, but otherwise he’s a solid project player.
With questions about the Jets’ offensive line, the team would be thrilled to have him come in healthy and focused. Harrison played both guard positions in college, and with the Jets needs at the position, fans are hoping he can win out in a competition this summer. Harrison deserves watching as the summer progresses, I think he easily earns a spot, and fans are hoping he get into the mix during the season. It was a nice pick by Maccagnan and fans are hoping he can step up and start producing for the team.
Next: A defensive tackle that might be cut
Aug 13, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions offensive guard Laken Tomlinson (72) blocks New York Jets defensive tackle Deon Simon (65) during the third quarter in a preseason NFL football game at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Defensive Tackle Deon Simon
The Jets didn’t own a sixth round pick, but their seventh round pick brought us Deon Simon. He is a small school player, coming from North Western University. Standing 6’4 and tipping the scales at 332 pounds, there is no mistaking this guy for a punter, but it’ll be another uphill battle for him this year. The Jets are super talented up front, barring injuries, Simon will have to show up huge this summer. I’m not expecting Simon to contribute much of anything this year, and he may very well be a cut before all is said and done.
The Jets were a 4-12 team when Maccagnan took over last year with the Jets. The team under his guidance nearly made the NFL Playoffs last year. The Jets could use last year’s draft class to step up and show development. The schedule projects to an uphill battle for the team this season, so if they wish to better last year’s record, these young players must contribute. The entire season may very well be depending on them.
How do you see last year’s draft class? Maybe you have a favorite among these players? The Jet Press wants to hear your thoughts so please, leave us a comment below, and Let’s Talk Jet Football!