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Early expectations for 2017 NFL Draft class of the Jets

Apr 28, 2017; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets first round draft pick Jamal Adams during a press conference at the Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 28, 2017; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets first round draft pick Jamal Adams during a press conference at the Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
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new york jets
new york jets

Apr 28, 2017; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets first round draft pick Jamal Adams during a press conference at the Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets are hoping their 2017 NFL Draft class will contribute immediately upon arrival. Here are some early expectations for each pick.

On a team like the New York Jets, the 2017 NFL Draft will always be a hot topic, especially considering the recent futility the team has experienced in terms of drafting players who can find a role on a roster with plenty of holes to fill.

Right off the bat, the Jets addressed their immediate needs in their defensive secondary. It was important to bolster their cornerback and safety situation since it was in dire need of talent.

The Jets also addressed some needs at wide receiver and again, added, even more, depth to their secondary. It’s hard to tell how each pick will pan out during training camp and eventually to the regular season, but there is hope that they will show signs of positive development along the way.

The future of the Jets may lie in the hands of those drafted in 2017. With that in mind, here’s what to expect from a draft class that may mean so much for the future.

Next: The safety of the future

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new york jets

May 23, 2017; Florham Park, NY, USA; New York Jets safety Jamal Adams (33) runs a drill during their organized team activities at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Jamal Adams, S, LSU

There’s a reason the Jets traded away recent first-round pick Calvin Pryor to the Cleveland Browns. While Pryor deserves a shot to fulfill his potential on an NFL roster, given the current state of the Jets, they simply can’t afford to wait around and see if he meets that potential.

At the Jets’ official draft party at MetLife, the crowd was extremely pleased that the team drafted Jamal Adams. While the Jets aren’t currently in the same universe regarding comparisons to any team like the Seattle Seahawks, it’s clear they have observed that great safety play is a recipe for building a great defense.

If all goes to plan, Adams is the first piece in that construction. He is expected to not only play some incredible defense but also be a vocal leader in the locker room.

Next: Another stud safety

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new york jets

May 5, 2017; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets safety Marcus Maye (26) during New York Jets mini rookie camp at Jets Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Maye, S, Florida

If picking Adams, arguably the second most talented player in the draft based on their college history, wasn’t enough evidence that the Jets were investing in secondary play, here’s the second piece of evidence.

The Jets roster currently has five safeties on it. Rontez Miles fills the role of a utility man on the secondary and special teams leader. Miles is a jack-of-all trades who may deserve a shot at one of the starting positions in the secondary, but he plays an important part in the role he is currently in.

Look for Marcus Maye to “compete” for the second safety position with Miles. There would be no loser in this competition. If Maye were to “lose”, he would likely take on Miles’ role as jack-of-all-trades in the secondary/special teams. Otherwise, he’s a starting safety next to Adams.

The Jets expect Maye to form a dynamic duo with Adams once both are able to be on the field at the same time on defense. This is a great situation for the Jets to be in as they continue their rebuilding with younger players in their secondary.

Next: A future starting wide receiver

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new york jets

Jan 9, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver ArDarius Stewart (13) runs past Clemson Tigers linebacker Kendall Joseph (34) in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ardarius Stewart, WR, Alabama

The first three Jets’ picks came from the SEC, which is not surprising given that the SEC is arguably the most competitive conference in college football. In case you haven’t gotten the memo, the Jets like competition.

As of today, the Jets have 13 – thirteen – wide receivers on the roster. It’s safe to say at least seven of those will not make the final cuts. All other positions within the Jets receiving corps are open season.

With Eric Decker gone, the Jets have the most barren receiving corps in the league. It makes you wonder why they didn’t draft receivers earlier if this was the plan all along. Stewart doesn’t have the stature of a number one receiver, but he could be a Jerricho Cotchery-type on a team in need of weapons surrounding young quarterbacks.

Next: Jets drafting positions in twos

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new york jets

May 23, 2017; Florham Park, NY, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Chad Hansen (6) runs with the ball during organized team activities at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Chad Hansen, WR, Cal

The concern here – even with the Jets having little receiver depth with Decker on the roster – was that Hansen wasn’t a need. Now, he is a massive need, and the Jets need production from him. Could Chad Hansen be a miss? Potentially, as not all 4th Round picks pan out.

The Jets picked these wide receivers in a good spot in the draft. While the late rounds are usually for hit-or-miss type talent, the mid rounds are usually for solid picks, where there may be a lowered ceiling for talent, but a lower floor too. Nobody is going to vilify the Jets for blowing a 4th Round pick if other picks pan out in the draft.

With all that being said, Hansen looks like a pretty good 4th Round pick. A favorite target of Giants 3rd Round choice Davis Webb, Hansen appears to pass the eye test. His reason for being a mid-round choice in this class may have had to do with his combine performance, which wasn’t bad but wasn’t anything special.

Watching the tape, you can see his natural ability as a wide receiver. He catches the ball without breaking stride and takes long strides that allow him to create separation. Do not be surprised if, at the end of 2017, we look at him as Quincy Enunwa was viewed a few years back before he broke out.

Next: The tight end of the future?

Jordan Leggett, TE Clemson

The overall consensus among many groups of Jets fans was that the tight end position could’ve been addressed earlier. A name I kept seeing show up in many Jets’ fans requests for players to draft was Jake Butt. Butt was slated as an early-round pick before tearing his right ACL in Michigan’s bowl game. He fell significantly, as he ended up being picked just 5 spots before Leggett. The Jets continually traded down

Butt was slated as an early-round pick before tearing his right ACL in Michigan’s bowl game. He fell significantly, as he ended up being picked just five spots before Leggett. The Jets continually traded down in this draft, as the theme was stockpiling picks. This left fans even more agitated as the team passed over multiple tight ends as they moved down.

General manager Mike Maccagnan may have had a plan after all regarding his tight end draft strategy. Leggett is taller, has bigger hands, and longer arms. According to his NFL draft profile, Leggett dropped just two passes in is final two seasons at Clemson.

Drops plagued recent Jets’ draft failure Jace Amaro, who also had great size for the tight end position. The Jets are looking for Leggett and Austin Seferian-Jenkins to revitalize a position they haven’t had a solution for in years. This may be a pick where time is needed to see if there is value.

Next: Potential special teams stud

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new york jets

May 5, 2017; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets linebacker Dylan Donahue answers question from media during Jets rookie minicamp at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Dylan Donahue, DL, West Georgia

Special teams are a huge area of concern for the Jets. Once a strength under famed special teams coach Mike Westhoff, the Jets have fallen in the ranks.

According to Football Outsiders, the Jets ranked second to last overall in the special teams department last year. Donahue could be the anchor of a special teams unit in need of reinforcements.

Fans may recall Nick Bellore, who patrolled the Jets secondary from 2011-2014. The Jets need another one of those types of players to solidify a special teams unit in need of grit. Donahue may be the answer here. The Jets need a cowboy to roam the special teams unit, and Donahue fits the mold.

Next: A possible steal

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new york jets

Sep 5, 2015; Lexington, KY, USA; Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns running back Elijah McGuire (15) runs the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats in the first half at Commonwealth Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Elijah McGuire, RB UL Lafayette

I’ll say it: I’m super excited about this pick. The depth in this running back class was unprecedented, and with teams operating with caution when considering drafting running backs, this leaves even more talent at the back end of a draft.

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Combine that with a player going to a non-power five conference school, and you have a recipe for a heck of a draft steal. McGuire could be that.

There’s a reason he fell to the 6th Round. NFL teams do not see him as a regular/starting back.

He takes short, quick steps that would make him hard to slow down, which may come in handy in a punt returning role.

If he gets a shot at some carries, watch out, as he could be a headline come later in the season. A few years from now, and this may come across as bold (June is the time for making bold statements) the Jets could also be talking about how they drafted their running back of the future in the 6th Round of this year’s draft.

Next: Low risk, high reward pick at cornerback

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new york jets

May 5, 2017; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets safety Jeremy Clark (34) during New York Jets mini rookie camp at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Clark, CB, Michigan

Clark simply hasn’t been able to stay healthy throughout his collegiate career. The Jets need depth at the cornerback position (and everywhere else) as the position has hit the dark ages. Nobody would’ve faulted the Jets if they drafted a cornerback early on. Instead, we had bookend secondary picks.

At 6’3”, Clark has a ridiculous size for the position. With 10 cornerbacks on the roster as it stands, some, like the wide receiver position, are bound to be cut.

Clark is the biggest one of the 10, which may make him a necessity on this roster, and the source of some highlight plays if he can remain healthy. A 6’3” cornerback in the 6th Round is an investment worth taking a risk on.

Next: Another cornerback late in the draft

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new york jets

May 23, 2017; Florham Park, NY, USA; New York Jets cornerback Derrick Jones (31) runs a drill during their organized team activities at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Derrick Jones, DB, Ole Miss

Speaking of size at the cornerback position, Jones has the stature of a wide receiver. In fact, Jones did play some snaps at the position during his time at Ole Miss. Jones is 6’2”, yet weighs only 188 pounds, which will affect his physicality.

An NFL-level workout plan could allow him to succeed. He may have been a reach where he was drafted. Lots of secondary talent was taken later in the 6th Round, but careers aren’t made based on where you are drafted. In a perfect world, all draft picks find a role on a team.

Must Read: Top 5 reasons Jordan Leggett will shine in 2017

The Jets are using the strategy of buying up a bunch of tickets for an increased chance at winning the raffle, and Jones could be a winning ticket just as much as any other. To stick, Jones will need a role carved out, and that’s not out of the realm of possibility.

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