Apr 27, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Jamal Adams (LSU) poses with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (right) as he is selected as the number 6 overall pick to the New York Jets in the first round the 2017 NFL Draft at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The 2017 NFL Draft is officially in the books as the New York Jets made sure to make moves to acquire additional draft picks to start the rebuilding process. Here are their final grades for each selection.
Fans of the New York Jets at first were rather surprised to see general manager Mike Maccagnan make not one, not two, but five trades in the 2017 NFL Draft. Maccagnan ended up wheeling and dealing to acquire more additional selections thanks to all of these trades for more picks.
All in all, it’s hard to truly grade any draft class since it takes at least three years to see how all these new players pan out. Hopefully, the Jets did all their required research to avoid drafting any players that could very well end up being busts. Remember, at one point fans were excited for cornerback Dee Milliner when he was their first round pick back in the 2013 NFL Draft and we all know how that ended up.
Before we get into issuing final grades on every single draft pick the Jets made, here’s a look at every selection Maccagnan made:
Round 5 – No. 181: DE Dylan Donahue, West Georgia
Round 6 – No. 188: RB Elijah McGuire, Louisiana-lafayette
Round 6 – No. 197: CB Jeremy Clark, Michigan
Round 6 – No. 204: CB Derrick Jones, Mississippi
Without further ado, let’s getting into issuing final grades for each draft pick of the Jets.
Next: Round 1 – No. 6: S Jamal Adams, LSU
Apr 27, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Jamal Adams (LSU) is selected as the number 6 overall pick to the New York Jets in the first round the 2017 NFL Draft at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Right off the bat, Maccagnan knew he had to address the defensive secondary of the Jets heading into this year’s draft. Last season, they were terrible, to say the least. Opposing quarterbacks had a field day against this secondary as that was easily the top priority of the Jets to address.
With the No. 6 overall pick, Maccagnan literally had history repeat itself as safety Jamal Adams out of LSU was right there for the taking. It wasn’t too long ago that the Jets were in a similar situation when defensive end Leonard Williams was also surprisingly available when the Jets were on the clock.
Just like in 2015, it was a no-brainer then and is a no-brainer now. Maccagnan took the best player available on defense that also now infuses the secondary of the Jets with a real defensive cornerstone. It was a great pick because they now have a defensive back they can build around for years to come.
This is easily an A+ since Adams is a superb safety that will undoubtedly make his mark on defense and to the rest of the NFL as an overachieving defender. At LSU, Adams totaled 209 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and five interceptions. He will have little to no issues making the transition to the pros.
Next: Round 2 – No. 39: S Marcus Maye, Florida
Mar 5, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Florida free safety Marcus Maye speaks to the media during the 2017 combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Surprisingly here, Maccagnan decided to draft another defensive back with the No. 39 pick rather than address their struggling offense. The truth of the matter is, the offense of the Jets struggled to score touchdowns last season and it was expected they would have used one of their first three picks on an offensive player. At that particular point in time, some solid offensive players were still on the board available for the taking.
Every general manager has their own draft board that takes months to create. Of course, it will be different than the next person but at the end of the day, a general manager will have a good idea on who they feel is worth drafting. In this case, Maye was more than likely high on Maccagnan’s draft board and is a very good draft pick. Maccagnan scores an A+ here thanks to everything Maye brings to the table.
Safety Marcus Maye is in a similar situation as Adams in that he’s also an overachieving safety that has a knack for having a high football IQ. He’s not going to give up a big play easily and knows it’s always best to stop a play rather than risk going for an interception and it backfiring on you. With Adams and Maye in the secondary of the Jets, they now have two defensive studs that could very well be the next dynamic duo in the NFL. They have the potential to really make a name for themselves since they play fast, aggressive, and above all else, they play smart football.
In his collegiate career at Florida, Maye totaled 205 tackles, one sack, six forced fumbles, and five interceptions. He’s going to be a big part of revitalizing the secondary of the Jets and partnering him up with Adams will bring respect back to the unit while having a whole lot of fun in doing so.
Next: Round 3 – No. 79: WR ArDarius Stewart, Alabama
Mar 3, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama wide receiver Ardarius Stewart speaks to the media during the 2017 combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
With the defensive secondary of the Jets now accounted for with two solid draft selections already by Maccagnan, it was time to bolster their receiving corps. Unfortunately, the majority of solid wide receivers have already been taken off the board by now.
Wide receiver ArDarius Stewart is a physical receiver yet is a bit small in stature. At just 5’11” and 204lbs., he’s going to have some issues transitioning to the next level. With how much the NFL is a passing league, teams have stacked up their defenses with premium defensive backs that hit hard and make it tough to get one up on them.
Stewart will work hard to keep those chains moving but tends to play too aggressively which often times will get him to not stay focused on his routes. In his collegiate career, Stewart totaled 1,713 receiving yards, 129 receptions, and 12 touchdowns.
This selection gets a C+ only because Stewart isn’t a Week 1 starter and will need to be coached and developed. He’ll more than likely have to work his way up the depth chart and will see time on special teams as a returner as he gets acclimated to life in the NFL.
Next: Round 4 – No. 141: WR Chad Hansen, California
Mar 3, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; California wide receiver Chad Hansen speaks to the media during the 2017 combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Maccagnan sure likes to replicate picks to make sure he doubles up his options for each positional group, eh? After drafting back-to-back safeties, he follows suit and does the same with wide receivers.
With the No. 141 pick in this year’s draft, Maccagnan selected wide receiver Chad Hansen out of California. This was actually a very good pick here since Hansen will give the offense of the Jets a nice dimension.
Hansen thrives in making big plays out of nowhere as he averaged 13.5 yards per reception. In two years at California, Hansen totaled 1,498 receiving yards, 111 receptions, and 12 touchdowns. Best of all, he’s a natural born playmaker that is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.
Whether the Jets decide to redo their offensive playbook to be mostly a West Coast aerial offense or stick to a ground-and-pound style of rushing attack, Hansen can do it all. He’ll line up as a slot receiver or do his part in blocking and relatively does well in his assignments. This selection gets a B- due to his versatility and ability to contribute in various receiving roles.
Next: Round 5 – No. 150: TE Jordan Leggett, Clemson
While Maccagnan might have waited a bit longer than many would have liked to draft a tight end, he finally landed one with pick No. 150. Out of Clemson, Jordan Leggett is exactly the kind of tight end that the Jets needed and then some.
It doesn’t matter who is under center for the Jets this upcoming season. It’s a rebuilding year so expectations should be relatively low as the Jets try to work in as many younger prospects they have to get regular season experience. This is important to see who is worth keeping around for the long run, especially with their quarterback situation.
Whether it’s Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg, a quality tight end will only help their progression. Leggett made a name for himself in college thanks to his size and hauling in touchdowns. Leggett totaled 1,598 receiving yards, 112 receptions, and 18 touchdowns.
At 6’5″ and 258lbs., Leggett will finally bring some solid production out of a position that the Jets forgot about for the past few years. New offensive coordinator John Morton must have had a big smile on his face when this selection was announced. This pick gets a final grade of B+ since Leggett will be a household name in no time wearing a Jets uniform.
Next: Round 5 – No. 181: DE Dylan Donahue, West Georgia
Mar 5, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; West Georgia defensive lineman Dylan Donahue does the vertical jump during the 2017 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Depth is incredibly important in the NFL, especially on a defensive line. The general rule is that a football game is won or lost in the trenches as it’s important to bolster a defensive line just in case anything happens.
The regular season is indeed a long one and well, Maccagnan knew that it was important to bring quality depth to the defensive line of the Jets since one knows anything can happen. Plus with how big moves and trades happen out of nowhere during the NFL Draft, it was rumored the Jets wanted to trade defensive end Sheldon Richardson at some point to acquire even more draft picks. If such a move came to fruition, the Jets would have needed to add another defensive end regardless.
Since no such trade happened, he took a chance on defensive end Dylan Donahue out of West Georgia. While Donahue does have speed and is athletic enough to play either defensive end or linebacker due to his collegiate experience, he’s undersized and doesn’t excel in either role. At 6’3″ and 248lbs., Donahue needs to bulk up if he’s ever to earn and keep a starting spot in the NFL.
Since the special teams unit of the Jets is in dire need of talent, Donahue will most likely land a spot in that part of the team and work his way up the depth chart. This grade gets a D+ since Donahue is a developmental player that will need a lot of work and time to figure out how he can consistently fit on a defense in a position he can thrive in.
Next: Round 6 – No. 188: RB Elijah McGuire, Louisiana-lafayette
Mar 2, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns running back Elijah McGuire speaks to the media during the 2017 combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a hidden gem alert! With pick No. 188, Maccagnan could have easily found his diamond in the rough. Running back Elijah McGuire will be a name to remember as Morton will easily use him in multiple ways on offense.
McGuire excels as a top-notch receiving option out of the backfield that uses his frame as a running back and can shift gears into the kind of speedy receiver that can take the top off of any defense. Maccagnan undoubtedly found a quality running back that will surprise many this upcoming season in his rookie year.
To give you an idea of the kind of production McGuire made in college, he has a combined total of 5,695 yards from the line of scrimmage. On the ground, he totaled 4,301 yards, 710 rushes, and 42 touchdowns. As a receiving option, McGuire totaled 1,394 yards, 130 receptions, and 10 touchdowns.
McGuire is a workhorse and will work his way into a situational role at running back on the Jets. This grade easily gets a B+ because McGuire is going to generate a ton of excitement once he gets to do what he does best on the gridiron every single time the football is in his hands.
Next: Round 6 – No. 197: CB Jeremy Clark, Michigan
Oct 10, 2015; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines cornerback Jourdan Lewis (26) celebrates with safety Jeremy Clark (34) after he scores a touchdown on an interception in the second quarter against the Northwestern Wildcats at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Again, the secondary of the Jets was the biggest weakness of the team last season. With two safeties already drafted in both Adams and Maye, Maccagnan is now looking to add some quality depth. Unfortunately, he’s taking a big risk on a cornerback that is coming off an ACL tear injury.
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Cornerback Jeremy Clark out of Michigan is known for being a hard-hitting cornerback that while doesn’t possess a good amount of speed, he more than makes up for it with his aggression. The only problem is, it led to his ACL tear to the point where it’s hard to ever envision him being a consistent starter on the Jets defense.
The only thing that makes sense is to see if he can earn a roster spot on special teams and use his style of tackling to give the Jets someone who can quickly take down any kickoff or punt returner. Aside from that, he has a long way to go before he is ready to take on the elite receivers in the NFL who will make him pay if he’s not 100 percent focused on the task at hand.
Clark will need a plethora of coaching and will hopefully be healthy enough to compete in training camp for a roster spot. Otherwise, he’ll be on the outside looking in.
Next: Round 6 – No. 204: CB Derrick Jones, Mississippi
Nov 26, 2016; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi Rebels wide receiver Derrick Jones (19) and Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive back Lashard Durr (25) battle for the ball during the second quarter of the game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
Maccagnan is surely hoping that either Clark or cornerback Derrick Jones out of Mississippi turns out to be something worth mentioning. Just like Clark, Jones has a similar outlook in that he has a long way to go before being ready to play a regular season game.
At 6’2″ and just 188lbs., Jones doesn’t have the typical size to be a true shutdown cornerback as he’ll need to be coached and developed to hone his craft. Jones will have a tough transition into the NFL due to his lackluster production at Ole Miss.
In his collegiate career, Jones only totaled 54 tackles and two interceptions. Needless to say, Jones doesn’t tackle well and tends to not wrap up properly. He’ll need to bulk up, hit the weight room, and really go above and beyond everything he’s asked to do for the Jets to even be interested in keeping him around throughout training camp.
Jones has a lot of work cut out for him but if he’s willing to put in the time, patience, and dedication, he could very well be worth stashing on special teams or even the practice squad. The odds are against him since he literally has to start from scratch with little room for error.