Oct 8, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes safety Malik Hooker (24) returns the interception during the second half against the Indiana Hoosiers at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes won 38-17. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
With the 2017 NFL Draft just two months away, the New York Jets have almost too many roster issues to address.
Last season’s Fitz-tragic 5-11 season revealed a fractured locker room of over-compensated, under-performing, discontented veterans, and overwhelmed, overrated, under-performing picks/projects, led by a technique-weak, methodologically unfocused, and personally disconnected coaching staff. Are there any strengths to build on?
General manager Mike Maccagnan has now had two drafts, which in fairness still rate as incomplete. But it would also be pure folly to believe that this GM is gonna score that proverbial 1989 Cowboys draft that yielded Troy Aikman, Daryl Johnson, Mark Stepnoski, Steve Wisniewski and Tony Tolbert.
On that sobering note, this NYJ blogger — whose 2016 Mock chose better talent than certain well-paid GMs — offers insight into NFL-quality talent worthy of consideration for the latest Gang Green rebuild.
Next: Round 1
Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers looks like a once-in-a-draft baller with super freakish skills who can play anywhere in the secondary. But if the team has concerns with Peppers, they should pay Hooker, who drew Ed Reed comparisons as a Buckeyes underclassman.
Jamal Adams, SS, LSU
The latest Baton Rouge-schooled defensive secondary great. Like Hooker, Adams is a savvy safety worthy of the #6 selection in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Next: Round 2
Oct 3, 2015; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers linebacker T.J. Watt (42) during the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium. Iowa won 10-6. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
Plant the youngest Watt brother at linebacker next to defensive leader David Harris —and across from promising Jordan Jenkins — and watch him bloom. The move could also finally unleash Lorenzo Mauldin‘s potential as a situational pass-wrecker.
Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
The Jets desperately need cornerback help, and the national champion Tankersley looks ready for prime time. Iowa’s Desmond King or Florida’s Jalen Tabor also would be sound choices as Top 40 picks.
Next: Round 3
Nov 12, 2016; Stillwater, OK, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Patrick Mahomes II (5) throws the ball as Oklahoma State Cowboys defensive end Cole Walterscheid (82) attempts a sack during the second half at Boone Pickens Stadium. Cowboys won 45-44. Mandatory Credit: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports
Pat Mahomes III, QB, Texas Tech
Doubtful he’d still be available — don’t be surprised if gets snapped up in the first round — but Trader Mike needs to evaluate this gritty field commander with deep gridiron bloodlines. Smart and controlled, evocative of David Carr or Dak Prescott.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington
Next: Round 4
Nov 26, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Pat Elflein (65) blocks during the second quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Pat Elfin, C, Ohio State
Assuming they receive a fourth-rounder for the crosstown departure of Snacks Harrison, the Jets need to retool the O-line. Both this converted Buckeyes guard and LSU road-grader Ethan Pocic look like Day One starters — which would be key to moving on from the great Nick Mangold.
Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State
The NYJ need running back help. So if not the record-holding Pumphrey, then someone like Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon, Tennesee’s Alvin Kamara, Texas’ D’Onto Foreman or Toledo’s Kareem Hunt.
Next: Final Round Picks and Training Camp Invites
Jan 21, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets new general manager Mike Maccagnan speaks during a press conference at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com via USA TODAY Sports
Final Round Picks and Training Camp Invites
Dan Skipper, OT, Arkansas
He’s 6’10” and struggles with speed rushers, so the RT will either be a home run or a strikeout on the next level. If still on the board late, he’s definitely worth a flyer. USC’s Chad Wheeler would be the safest choice — the highest risk/reward lineman is FSU’s Roderick Johnson.
Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson
Hunter Dimick, DE, Utah
More than a luxury pick if still available, this nasty Ute sack machine may not possess the requisite NFL skill set — but he is a high-motor, workout-warrior, “football lifer.” He and/or all-time NCAA tackling record-holder Lindenwood’s Connor Harris could energize Todd Bowles’ moribund “D.”
Cooper Rush, QB, Central Michigan
This rangy Chippewa has all the intangibles pro coaches covet. Another dark horse gunslinger worthy of consideration is Montana’s Brady Gustafson, with his big Carson Wentz-like frame.
Hardy Nickerson, ILB, Illinois
The son of the same-named 5-time Pro Bowler is another player that won’t measure up at the 2017 NFL Combine. But this bruising backer would benefit from a year learning under David Harris before stepping in. A similar lunch-pail mauler, if available, is Wisconsin OLB Vince Biegel.
Garry Brown, WR, California (PA)
TRAINING CAMP INVITES
Of course, it’s impossible to predict which players will go undrafted. But here are 10 lesser-rated talents who could definitely contribute, on any given Sunday:
Xavier Woods, SS, Louisiana Tech
This two-time Conference USA First Teamer is the type of ballhawk this roster needs.
Justin Shanks, NT, Florida State
A massive run-stopper, who due to injury, played three games in the last two years.
Channing Stribling, CB, Michigan
The lesser-known Wolverine secondary star after Peppers broke out big time in 2016.
Jaleel Wadood, FS, UCLA
An underclassman who may have come out too early, this Cali kid looks raw and ready.
Jonnu Smith, TE, Florida International
A Senior Bowl sensation with size and finesse; may even be worth a later-round pick.
Elijah McGuire, RB, Louisiana-Lafayette
This Ragin’ Cajun who ran for over 4,000 yards will get his shot, one way or another.
Jon Toth, C, Kentucky
Scouts see big flaws, but all he’s every done is over-perform and exceed expectations.
Storm Norton, T, Toledo
This late-round worthy, 6’8″, 308, two-time All-MAC star fights through every snap.
Nico Siragusa, G, San Diego State
Donnel Pumphrey’s massive key run-blocker may be around after a bad Senior Bowl.
Zane Gonzalez, K, Arizona State
The Sun Devils’ NCAA record holder for career field goals could battle with Nick Folk.