As the New York Jets prepare for their final slate of games after the bye week, here’s a look at how their entire 2017 NFL Draft class is doing so far this season.
When it comes to the 2017 NFL Draft class of the New York Jets, so far, their first few picks have panned out very well. Not only have both Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye overachieved, but they look like defenders that will be cornerstones at safety for years to come.
Of course, like with any draft class, not every pick works out. Some are still developmental players and one of their main draft picks, tight end Jordan Leggett, who had major upside coming into the pros, unfortunately, was injured all season long.
Such is the life with rookies entering their first season in the NFL as the transition isn’t always an easy one. Luckily, the Jets have some bright spots to remember of 2017 from their rookie class since it’s all about rebuilding and developing for the future.
Without further ado, here’s a look at the entire 2017 NFL Draft class so far.
Next: Safety Jamal Adams
Safety Jamal Adams
What can one say when it comes to safety Jamal Adams? Not only has he overachieved in every possible way for the Jets, but he’s developing into the kind of defensive player a team can build around for years to come.
So far this season, Adams has totaled 38 tackles, two sacks, two fumble recoveries, and has started in all 10 games this season. He’s a vocal leader and clearly, someone who should have a bright future with the Jets.
Adams is the definition of a safety that can help out a defense in many ways. You’ll always find him swarming to anyone holding the football and brings a great energy to those around him. Whether it’s against the run or defending against the pass, Adams has proven to keep up with the best of them.
The Jets got it right when they drafted Adams with their No. 6 overall pick in this year’s draft since he’s going to be a force to reckon with for years to come. He’s so good, even his jersey number is popular among football fans.
Next: Safety Marcus Maye
Safety Marcus Maye
The most successful teams know that at the end of the day, it’s important to draft players that have good synergy together. Most of the time, this applies to quarterbacks and wide receivers but the Jets took this mentality to their defensive secondary.
In the second round of this year’s draft, the Jets drafted another safety in Marcus Maye to partner him up with Adams since the season before, their entire defensive secondary was a complete mess. So far this season, Maye has done exceptionally well, despite all the mainstream attention Adams gets.
At this point in time, Maye has totaled 36 tackles, one forced fumble, and two interceptions. He pairs up very well with Adams as the two will only get better as the years go by to turn into quite the dynamic duo.
Maye is just as important as Adams to the Jets since he’s also a smart defensive player that can make big stops when needed. The Jets are just a few more pieces away from their secondary being a well-oiled machine thanks to everything their two new safeties bring to the table.
Next: Wide Receiver ArDarius Stewart
Wide Receiver ArDarius Stewart
Unfortunately for ArDarius Stewart, patience will be something he’ll need to continue having due to the crowded depth chart at wide receiver. He hasn’t been used much at all this season since the Jets picked up Jermaine Kearse, Jeremy Kerley, and saw the rise of Robby Anderson so far this season.
Considering that the Jets have also been using the tight end position much more with Austin Seferian-Jenkins, means rookie players like Stewart are on the outside looking in. This actually might help his overall development since one can learn a lot from the sidelines.
Stewart’s small size (5’11”) also limits what he’s capable of doing since starting defensive backs tend to have an advantage on him when it comes to coverage due to a size differential. Stewart can develop over time but is still a work in progress kind of player.
Depending on how the playoff hopes of the Jets are as the season continues after the bye week, Stewart could possibly see more playing time. Besides that, he more than likely won’t see his number called a lot over these final slate of games.
Next: Wide Receiver Chad Hansen
Wide Receiver Chad Hansen
When it comes to wide receiver Chad Hansen, the Jets selected him for his ability to be a natural born playmaker. Unfortunately, just like with Stewart, Hansen falls under the same circumstances.
The Jets have a stacked wide receiver corps, more reps going to the tight end position, and even their running backs are being used as eligible receiving options out of the backfield. All of this cuts into the possible reps Hansen would have gotten as for now, he’s mostly learning from the sidelines.
Hansen has only been used in relief situations on offense as so far, he’s only totaled three receptions for 33 yards and has yet to score his first NFL touchdown. He might have a future as a possible kickoff/punt returner but hasn’t gotten the green light by the Jets to be used in that role just yet.
For now, don’t expect to see Hansen do much of anything unless someone gets hurt ahead of him on the depth chart or if the Jets are mathematically eliminated from making the playoffs. Maybe then, he’ll see some increased reps coming his way to see what he could do in the slot role, which is what he excelled in at California.
Next: Tight End Jordan Leggett
Tight End Jordan Leggett
There was a lot of hope that tight end Jordan Leggett would be exactly what the Jets needed at a position they haven’t properly utilized in what seems like forever. At Clemson, Leggett was a quality tight end that made big plays consistently.
Unfortunately, Leggett has been suffering from knee injuries that have pretty much sidelined him all season long. The Jets put Leggett on the Injured Reserve List in late October and will have to wait until next season to finally play with the team that drafted him.
Leggett was pretty successful at Clemson as in his collegiate career, he totaled 1,598 receiving yards, 112 receptions, and 18 touchdowns. There was hope that Leggett could be a surge of talent at the tight end position but luckily, Seferian-Jenkins has stepped up and delivered on that end.
Here’s to hoping that next year, the Jets will have more than just one viable tight end in the mix as once Leggett is healed up and ready to resume football activities, he could be another surge of young talent to help the Jets continue building for a brighter future.
Next: Defensive End Dylan Donahue
Defensive End Dylan Donahue
Unfortunately for the Jets, the injury bug has hit another one of their drafted players. Defensive end Dylan Donahue was mostly used in a reserve/rotational role. He played some snaps on their defensive line and was even used in situational plays as a linebacker.
Donahue suffered a severe elbow injury when blocking a punt earlier in the season and was put on the Injured Reserve list. He ended his year with just four tackles for the Jets as he was slowly being eased into live action.
The truth of the matter is, Donahue is another developmental player that will have to continue working his way up the depth chart if he’s to ever see a lot of reps. He has a long way to go but the talent is there as it just needs more time to come to fruition.
It’s always good to have players that can cover multiple positions as it will be interesting to see the continued development of Donahue.
Next: Running Back Elijah McGuire
Running Back Elijah McGuire
Besides Adams and Maye, McGuire has also been a nice bright spot for the Jets so far this season. When starting running back Matt Forte missed some time due to injury, McGuire held his own and made the most out of opportunities.
Week 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, McGuire put on an absolute clinic. He totaled 93 rushing yards on 10 attempts and even scored his first touchdown as a pro. As a receiving option, McGuire also added 38 yards on two receptions.
Unfortunately for McGuire, his production was halted thanks to some confusing and bad playcalling by offensive coordinator John Morton who kept messing around with a winning formula. Morton opted over the next few weeks after that huge game to depend more on airing it out or simply, not using the talents of both McGuire and Bilal Powell effectively.
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General manager Mike Maccagnan got it right here and drafting McGuire in the sixth round of this year’s draft has been looking like a steal so far. McGuire has starter material written all over him as it won’t be long until his time comes.
Next: Cornerback Jeremy Clark
Cornerback Jeremy Clark
The Jets already knew what they were getting when they drafted cornerback Jeremy Clark out of Michigan. He has a keen defensive skillset and hits like a truck but unfortunately, tore his ACL last year in college and is still recovering from it.
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Before the start of the regular season, the Jets placed Clark on the Injured Reserve/Non-Football Injury list as won’t be playing at any point this season. Unfortunately, this will put Clark at the bottom of the totem pole as he’s also another developmental kind of player that has a lot of work ahead of him.
The cornerback situation of the Jets is another area that will need to be addressed this upcoming offseason. Clark, at best, might be a decent defender over time but is nowhere near starting material.
At the end of the day, the Jets will have to evaluate everyone at cornerback and decide who is worth keeping around for the long term. There is some potential here for Clark but considering he hasn’t played at all in his rookie season suggests it might be hard to keep him around unless coaches feel he’s worth investing in.
Next: Cornerback Derrick Jones
Cornerback Derrick Jones
Much like Clark, cornerback Derrick Jones is another underachieving college player that was drafted by the Jets but is nowhere near ready to see any real action on the gridiron. At just 6’2″ and 188lbs., he is a bit small in size and needs a lot of coaching and training to take his career to the next step.
If anything, Jones is simply depth at this point in time and probably won’t see any playing time at all despite being healthy. Jones is in a similar situation with Clark as he has a long way to go in order to be ready to be a consistent cornerback.
Jones has always had a problem with proper tackling techniques and just having a keen defensive mindset in order to be one step ahead of the players he’s assigned to. These will be the major areas of opportunity he’ll need to work on as he continues to hone his craft with the Jets.
Don’t expect to see Jones playing at any point this season for the Jets since he’s nowhere near ready. Perhaps in another year or two but not this year.