The New York Jets haven’t always had the best of luck in their recent draft classes but if all goes according to plan, this year’s class could be one for the ages. Here’s a 2018 NFL Mock Draft where the Jets address major needs right from the start.
Drafting professional talent is an inexact science.
For every can’t-miss prospect that turns out to be great there’s a can’t-miss prospect that, well, is an enormous miss. Or in New York Jets terms, for every Leonard Williams, there’s a Vernon Gholston.
With that in mind, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that the Jets have had their fair share of blunders in recent draft classes. From Dee Milliner to Quinton Coples, Calvin Pryor to Kyle Wilson, and dare I mention a certain quarterback from Penn State who is yet to play an NFL game going into his third season.
But none of that matters now. Let’s pretend that the Jets are perfect talent evaluators. Let’s pretend that the Jets organization is in possession of a crystal ball that predicts the future success of the hundreds of players that will be eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft. For just a few moments, let’s pretend that everything will go right for this team.
It sounds crazy, yes. But for three nights, starting on April 26th, 2018, the stars will align and take the shape of a colossal Jets emblem shining down on AT&T Stadium in downtown Arlington, Texas and the football gods will be firmly planted in the franchise’s corner.
The following is an idealistic scenario of what could take place come April as the Jets prepare for yet another draft day. Of course, realism is taken into account here. The players that will be listed are projected on or around the specified round and while this scenario isn’t probable, it certainly is possible. So no the Jets will not be taking Sam Darnold in the seventh round.
In addition to all the draft coverage you will find here at The Jet Press, please also visit Walter Football, DC Pro Sports Report, and EDS Football. Let’s get right to this ideal draft in a full 7-Round mock specifically on the Jets.
Next: Round 1
If everything goes according to plan, this will be the offseason the Jets finally find their franchise quarterback. This team has been searching for a true franchise signal-caller since the days of
Mark Sanchez….. Chad Pennington….. Ken O’Brien….. Richard Todd…..Joe Namath.
It’s been that long.
While the Jets may very well address the quarterback position in free agency with a potential Kirk Cousins signing, the smarter (and cheaper) option would be to attack the position through the draft. Cousins is by no means a bad option, but with the myriad of high-end quarterback talent in this year’s class, it would seem a bit careless to sign the current Washington Redskins QB to such an expensive deal.
That’s why, in this dream draft day development, the Jets sit pretty and take perhaps the best quarterback talent in the entire class in Josh Rosen. Now, there’s absolutely no guarantee that Rosen is even on the board when the Jets will pick but if he is, it would certainly be in their best interest if they introduced the Pac-12 passer to the Green and White.
One possible scenario could have the Browns and Broncos passing on Rosen in favor of other quarterbacks with potentially more upside in Sam Darnold and Josh Allen respectively. The Giants and Colts opt to go elsewhere with selections of Saquan Barkley and Bradley Chubb while the Browns select arguably the best defensive player in the class in Minkah Fitzpatrick after getting their franchise QB with the first overall pick.
This is all very possible and it would continue the trend of stellar prospects falling to the Jets at pick number six. In 2015, some thought that defensive lineman Leonard Williams was the best player in the draft and could even go number one overall. He ended up falling outside the top-5 and right into the hands of general manager Mike Maccagnan.
Fast-forward to 2017 and the same thing happened again with safety Jamal Adams who many also believed to potentially be the best player in his class. Adams was passed over by five teams and although his rookie season was filled with some ups and downs, the former LSU standout seems well on his way to being a premier defensive back in this league.
Could the same happen for Rosen? Absolutely. But what makes him such a steal at the sixth pick? Who is Josh Rosen?
Rosen stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs in at 218 pounds. The word “natural” has been thrown around a lot over the course of the scouting process and that’s because it’s the easiest way to describe his ability as a passer. His smooth footwork helps him move effortlessly in the pocket, his anticipation on routes is unmatched, and he just looks to be in complete control when he’s on the field. He’s got plenty of arm strength to get by and he’s also one of the draft’s most accurate throwers.
Detractors will point to his attitude concerns and the fact that some believe that he’s too smart for his own good and that it might make him uncoachable at the next level. He’s been called stubborn. Well, I think it’s the draft evaluators that are being stubborn.
The UCLA star is known to speak his mind, be it with his political associations or his views on the NCAA. He’s an intelligent man and he’s certainly not afraid to let you know that. But none of this should be enough to ignore the talent that this man has on the gridiron and in many ways, it’s a bit refreshing to see an athlete with his public status speak their mind and not be muzzled by the pressures of the media.
Rosen is going to be a very good quarterback at the next level and the Jets would be lucky to have him fall to them in the first round, muzzle or no muzzle.
Next: Round 2
Much like the aforementioned Rosen, the Jets should be counting their blessings if Billy Price falls to them in the early second round. Projected a late first rounder, many feel that Price is the best center in the entire class but since the position isn’t valued too highly, there is a chance that the Ohio State center could be on the board when the Jets select again at pick number 37.
When analyzing Price, the first thing that might jump out to Jets fans is his position and school. Twelve years ago the Jets happened to select another center from Ohio State who turned out to be pretty good. His name was Nick Mangold, maybe you’ve heard of him.
Much like Mangold, Price is a bit larger than your average center. Standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 312 pounds, there’s been talk of moving the former defensive lineman to guard at the next level.
For the Jets, it’s an obvious fit at an obvious position of need.
The entire offensive line struggled this past season as they routinely failed to open up running lanes and struggled mightily in pass protection. While second-year player Brandon Shell showed signs of promise and free agent acquisition Kelvin Beachum put together a quality campaign, the interior line struggled mightily. Guards James Carpenter and Brian Winters both had disappointing seasons, although the latter was dealing with an abdominal injury for much of the year. The worst culprit, however, was center Wesley Johnson.
Johnson’s lack of a push up front was the primary reason for the Jets nonexistent running game for much of the season. There were also multiple instances of miscommunication with blocking assignments which generally is the responsibility of the center. Overall a subpar showing from the man who the team trusted to be Mangold’s heir apparent.
Johnson will be a free agent this offseason and it’s unlikely the team will bring him back, instead opting to search for his replacement through either free agency of the draft. If the Jets are lucky enough, Price could be that guy.
Apart from his abilities on the field, the Buckeye center is said to be a locker room leader and he has been the heart and soul of the Ohio State offense for the past three years. Bleacher Report’s Tully Corcoran did a fantastic piece on who Price is as an individual and I’d highly recommend the read.
The search for Nick Mangold‘s replacement may have hit a minor speed bump this year but if this fantasy draft prediction were to come true, the Jets might’ve found themselves a successor in the most familiar of places.
Next: Round 2 (from Seattle)
When scouting players coming out of college, talent evaluators like to compare current prospects to established NFL stars as a way of analyzing their potential impact. Every year we hear about how so-and-so could be this year’s Russell Wilson or how “Player X” is a carbon copy of J.J. Watt. While these comparisons are oftentimes overblown, the comparison you’re likely to hear at least a dozen times between now and draft day is that between Sony Michel and New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara.
Both players are about identical in size (Michel is one inch taller but they both weigh 215 pounds), neither player was used as a feature back in college and were thus seen by NFL scouts as more of a complementary back rather than a feature one, and both possess the explosive, playmaking ability to be one of the most dynamic running backs in the league.
Teams let Kamara slip all the way to the third round last year. Don’t expect the same to happen for Michel.
The athletic Georgia tailback split his carries with fellow NFL prospect Nick Chubb to combine for one of college football’s most powerful one-two punches at running back. And although Michel was never the most notable name of the two, it wouldn’t be surprising in the least to see Michel hear his name called before Chubb.
Michel is everything a team wants in a running back. He’s dynamic as a runner, is an excellent pass catcher who runs precise routes, and also happens to be a developed blocker which is something of a lost art in today’s college football. All of this will make him very intriguing to NFL teams come late April and the Jets should do everything they can to snatch him up before others can get their hands on him.
Concerns about size and durability are warranted, but it’s hard to look at a player like Kamara, and the success that he’s had, and pass up on Michel. Many believe that Michel will be a better NFL player than he was in college. He just needs the opportunity to be a lead back.
Running back may not be a pressing need for the Jets, but a backfield consisting of Michel, Bilal Powell, and Elijah McGuire sure seems like a talented running back rotation which makes the dynamic Sony Michel an intriguing option in Round 2.
Next: Round 3
Much like the quarterback position, the Jets have lacked a true presence at edge rusher for quite some time now. In fact, the best outside pass rusher they’ve had since the team switched to a 3-4 defense way back in 2007 has been…Calvin Pace? Or is it Bryan Thomas? Nope, I got it, it’s definitely been Quinton Coples and his four total years spent in the league.
Whoever it’s been, it’s safe to say that they’ve lacked the game-changing ability of a premier pass rusher.
This past season was arguably the worst production the Jets have gotten from the edge rusher position during the team’s 3-4 tenure. Veteran special-teamer Josh Martin and second-year pro Jordan Jenkins held down the two starting outside linebacker spots throughout this season with reserves David Bass, Freddie Bishop and Dylan Donahue getting in on the rotation. None of these players were able to surpass 3.5 sacks which is certainly a cause for concern.
Jenkins has the best potential of the group but even he projects more as a solid edge setter and an above average run defender than a true pass rusher. The former Georgia Bulldog would pair well with an athletic pass rusher opposite him to give the Jets the best of both worlds. Martin’s only value on defense is with his ability to set and control the edge. The Columbia product contributes next-to-nothing as a pass rusher and his average run defense doesn’t make up for his inability to get to opposing quarterbacks.
The Jets are desperately in need of a quick, athletic pass rusher to not only provide more frequent pressure against their opponents but also to free up some blockers so that stud defensive lineman Leonard Williams isn’t always getting double-teamed. A large part of the reason Williams flew under the radar in his third NFL season was due to his lack of a supporting cast.
This is where USC standout Uchenna Nwosu could step in.
Nwosu is a high-motor player who has developed nicely as a pass rusher since originally committing to USC as a safety. He has used his safety skills to maintain an eye for the ball which allowed him to record 13 pass deflections during his senior season with the Trojans, most of which coming on footballs batted down at the line of scrimmage. He’s a versatile player who could be used as an edge defender or even in coverage if asked to, but his skill set should keep him close to the football in most instances.
The young linebacker is a polished pass rusher already packing a couple of solid moves in his arsenal. He has good instincts and his hand usage allows him to disengage blockers with relative ease.
While Nwosu may not be the next Khalil Mack, there is no doubt that the USC standout could be a productive player at the next level. His versatility will go a long way into proving his true value to NFL scouts and one could only hope that the Jets evaluators see enough in this kid to take him with their third-round selection if he’s still on the board, of course.
But remember, we’re talking ideals here. And in this idealistic scenario, the Jets select Uchenna Nwosu in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Next: Round 4
Michael Gallup has been one of the draft’s most exciting rising stars over the course of the past couple months.
The young wide receiver has all the traits to be an ultra-successful player at the next level with his playmaking ability and aptness for the local highlight reel being his most prominent traits. Gallup, a JUCO transfer from Butler Community College, finished his two seasons with the Colorado State Rams as one of the most productive receivers in school history.
Altogether, the 2017 Biletnikoff Award finalist, an award given to the best receiver in college football, played in 26 games over two years with Colorado State and finished with 2690 receiving yards on 176 catches while recording 21 touchdowns through the air.
Not bad for a former junior college transfer.
One thing that stands out when watching film on Gallup is his toughness. He’s not afraid to go over the middle of the field and more often than not, the defender is the one taking the brunt of the collision. He uses that same toughness to go up and win 50-50 balls by boxing out defensive backs with his large frame. At 6-foot-1 and just over 200 pounds, Gallup is plenty big enough to body opposing defenders and his long arms allow him to reach for balls and catch them at their high point.
The NFL hopeful has solid hands and has the ability to make plays in open space. He has a knack for making defenders miss with quick cuts or simply barreling over would-be tacklers.
He is by no means a finished product as his route running ability still comes into question from time to time and his opposing level of talent will be a major step up from the Mountain West Conference to when he gets to the NFL. Still, it’s hard to ignore the type of production Gallup had while at Colorado State.
The Jets wide receiver situation, although promising, is murky at the moment. Budding star wide receiver Robby Anderson was recently arrested for the second time in eight months and his future status with the team is currently up in the air. Young wideout Quincy Enunwa missed all of last season with a neck injury and there’s no guarantee he will continue his development at the same rate. The only constant is veteran Jermaine Kearse who is a solid if unspectacular option but is by no means a number one caliber receiver. Moreover, rookies ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen did little to stand out and shouldn’t be counted on for major roles come the start of the 2018 season.
This leaves the Jets with somewhat of a hole with an asterisk at receiver. If all goes right and Anderson and Enunwa both return to form, the Jets could have a powerful trio at wide receiver. But it certainly wouldn’t hurt to get a player of Gallup’s talent in the fourth round if he’s still available.
If anything, Gallup could provide more depth at a position of slight need and, in this dream scenario, provide new rookie quarterback Josh Rosen with a dynamic playmaker to help jumpstart this new look Jets offense.
Next: Round 5
Once the later rounds of the draft come along teams start to look for a player with upside and versatility who, with a little fine-tuning, could turn into a solid contributor at the next level.
San Diego State defensive back Kameron Kelly checks both of those boxes as a potential late round steal.
The former high school quarterback has excellent size, at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, which he puts to good use as his physical techniques and hard-hitting capacity make him one of the more enticing prospects that could go as early as the third round.
In fact, Kelly spent his first three collegiate seasons at the safety position before transitioning to outside cornerback this year, and he adapted to the change very well. His hip flexibility stood out to many scouts as did his ability to push through blockers to break up potential screens, surely a product of his safety experience.
Kelly was the ultimate swiss army knife for the Aztecs defense during his tenure with the team. The San Diego State star has all the physical traits needed to be a No. 1 cornerback in the league, he just needs to put it all together. He needs to get better at covering underneath patterns and his tackling ability isn’t what you would like from a former safety.
Still, if Kelly is on the board when the Jets select in the fifth round it would be an absolute steal of a selection. The Jets are very thin at cornerback at the moment with top corner Morris Claiborne uncertain to even return to the team. There’s a chance nickel corner Buster Skrine may not even be back as he could be a cap casualty come the spring, although even he had his share of struggles in 2017. Neither Darryl Roberts or Juston Burris showed enough to be considered starting candidates going into 2018 with the latter having an extremely disappointing season.
The team will likely address the position in free agency but even that shouldn’t be enough to fix the Jets depleted secondary. Adding Kelly would give the Jets a player with versatility and high upside at a position of need.
And something like that seems like a no-brainer in the fifth round.
Next: Round 6
The interior defensive line is often overlooked in defense, particularly in a 3-4 where their primary responsibility is to be run stuffers up the middle. On TV it may just look like a giant mass of bodies converging to hold the opposing team to a measly two-yard gain on the ground. But in reality, there is a defensive lineman, or multiple defensive linemen, hard at work using their massive builds to plug up rushing lanes and keep running backs at bay.
This is why a prospect such as Folorunso Fatukasi may get overlooked.
But make no mistake about it, it’s pretty darn difficult to overlook someone as large as Fatukasi. Standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing in at well over 300 pounds, the UConn defender is as notable on the field as his magnificent name is off of it.
He is an above-average run defender who utilizes his large frame to be an immovable force in the middle of the defense. The pride of Beach Channel High School had a breakout sophomore campaign as he totaled 51 tackles while amassing 8.0 sacks but he failed to match either of those numbers again with disappointing junior and senior seasons.
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Fatukasi has the ability to play either defensive end or nose tackle for the Jets and should help to bolster a defensive line rotation that lacks any sort of depth. Veteran journeymen Xavier Cooper and Ed Stinson are the only two real backups on the team at defensive end with the athletic Kony Ealy used mainly as a stand-up pass-rusher while Mike Pennel was the team’s primary reserve nose tackle.
Although Pennel proved his worth as a reliable run stopper there’s no guarantee he’ll be back with the team as he’s a free agent. And considering Cooper and Stinson contributed next to nothing for the team, there would certainly be room for a young player such as Fatukasi to join the unit.
The Connecticut product would likely compete for a roster spot but given his competition, or lack thereof, there’s plenty of reason to believe he would make the team. Fatukasi in the sixth round would make a lot of sense for the Jets if only to provide much-needed depth along the defensive line. Perhaps he could even recapture some of that magic from his sophomore season.
Besides, how could you pass up on a guy with as cool of a name as Foloronsu?
Next: Round 7
Seventh round NFL prospects either have to display some variety of athletic promise or at least be potential contributors on special teams. While Myles Pierce may never be a starting caliber linebacker at the next level, the Citadel linebacker has the skills necessary to be a capable special teamer in the NFL.
What Pierce lacks in size (he’s only 5-foot-11 and 227 pounds) he more than makes up for with his high motor and stellar football instincts. Pierce has been the heart of the Citadel defense for the past two seasons leading the team in tackles, tackles for loss, and pass breakups his senior season.
His natural tackling ability and solid block shedding capacity make him a prime candidate for a special teams position at the professional level but his linebacker traits shouldn’t be ignored either. Some teams may disregard him because of his size but there have been instances of players succeeding in the NFL despite their limited stature, the Chargers’ Jatavis Brown comes to mind.
Pierce makes sense for the Jets because the team is relatively old at backup inside linebacker with veterans Bruce Carter and Julian Stanford holding down the fort last season. Both players are 27 years or older so it would make sense for Gang Green to get another young body in there to compete for a special teams spot.
The Citadel linebacker is also quite the intelligent fellow with a near 3.9 GPA and a job waiting for him at a top accounting firm if he fails to make it in the NFL.
The Jets could find themselves in the enviable position of having one of the world’s first hybrid crosses between a football player and an accountant at their disposal if they select Pierce in this year’s draft.
This is a player who could effectively shoot the A-gap, run a proper hook zone in coverage, and file your taxes if need be.
Now that’s a double whammy.