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Grading the Jets’ 2017 draft class after two seasons

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 11: Jamal Adams #33 of the New York Jets warms up prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on November 11, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 11: Jamal Adams #33 of the New York Jets warms up prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on November 11, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
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EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – NOVEMBER 11: Jamal Adams #33 of the New York Jets warms up prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on November 11, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – NOVEMBER 11: Jamal Adams #33 of the New York Jets warms up prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on November 11, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

The New York Jets 2017 draft class has wrapped up its second season. Only five of the team’s nine picks still remain on the roster. How should each pick be graded?

The 2017 draft class of the New York Jets has wrapped up its second season in the league. Unfortunately, only five of the team’s nine picks still remain under contract, so it’s safe to say the team missed more than it hit.

Jamal Adams leads the group after having his first of many Pro Bowl seasons. He’s joined by fellow safety Marcus Maye who was selected in the second round. Then, there are late-round picks Jordan Leggett, Elijah McGuire, Jeremy Clark, and Derrick Jones.

How should these prospects be graded after their first two seasons in the league? How much can they improve? Are they long-term pieces for the Jets? Here are your answers.

DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 10: Jamal Adams #33 of the New York Jets celebrates a play in the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 10, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 10: Jamal Adams #33 of the New York Jets celebrates a play in the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 10, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Round 1, 6th Overall – S Jamal Adams

Jamal Adams has proven he was one of, if not the best prospect in the 2017 draft. He is one of the four top-ten picks to have already made the Pro Bowl along with Myles Garrett, Mitch Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes. He was also honored as a member of the NFL’s Second-Team All-Pro.

Adams is only 23-years-old, and he’s regarded by many as a top three safety in football. He posted 115 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 12 passes defended, three forced fumbles and an interception in his sophomore campaign. Those stats are phenomenal and he still has room to improve. His ceiling is ridiculously high.

Adams was a no brainer for the Jets at sixth overall. He probably shouldn’t have fallen that far, but he did and the Jets didn’t overthink it. Now, he’s among the best safeties in football and he’s only getting better. The Jets drafted themselves a stud in round one of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Grade: A+

Next: Round 2

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – OCTOBER 14: Wide receiver Zach Pascal #14 of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball against free safety Marcus Maye #26 of the New York Jets during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium on October 14, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – OCTOBER 14: Wide receiver Zach Pascal #14 of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball against free safety Marcus Maye #26 of the New York Jets during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium on October 14, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Round 2, 39th Overall: S Marcus Maye

Some viewed the Jets as foolish for drafting safeties back-to-back to start off the draft while some viewed the Jets as innovative and smart. Others just thought it was gutsy. Choice two seems to be the correct answer as Maye and Adams have been nothing short of excellent through their first two seasons.

Marcus Maye has played well so far in his career. He’s a well-balanced player, having the ability to play coverage, run defense, or to just hit someone hard. Maye can do it all at the safety position and he often plays deep coverage while Adams moves into the box.

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So, why is his grade not higher? Well, Maye has struggled to stay on the field long-term for the Jets. After injuring his ankle during the last game of his rookie season, his career has been marred by injuries. He only played six games in 2018, racking up 34 tackles, two passes defended, a forced fumble, and an interception (that he returned for 104 yards without scoring a touchdown!).

If Maye can prove he can stay healthy long-term, he will prove to be a great pick for the Jets. Unfortunately, he hasn’t proven that just yet. He hopes to return to his healthy ways and be a key piece for the Jets in the future.

Grade: B-

Next: Rounds 3 - 5

JACKSONVILLE, FL – SEPTEMBER 30: Jordan Leggett #86 of the New York Jets attempts a reception against Tashaun Gipson #39 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the game on September 30, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL – SEPTEMBER 30: Jordan Leggett #86 of the New York Jets attempts a reception against Tashaun Gipson #39 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the game on September 30, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Rounds 3 – 5: WR ArDarius Stewart, WR Chad Hansen, TE Jordan Leggett, OLB Dylan Donahue

I’m putting these rounds together because they all bring you to the same point. What were the Jets thinking?

Gang Green failed miserably in the middle rounds of the 2017 draft. ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen, and Dylan Donahue were all cut after just one season and Jordan Leggett wasn’t safe from joining them back in August either.

Leggett is the only one among these picks still on the Jets roster, but he’s nothing near a starting-caliber tight end. The Jets must agree, having drafted Chris Herndon with their fourth-round pick just one year later. He posted 14 catches, 114 yards and one touchdown in 2018 serving as a backup behind Herndon.

Mike Maccagnan has always had a difficult time finding talent in the middle rounds and it showed in 2017. It’s almost what got him fired. He was better in 2018, drafting Herndon and Nathan Shepherd who both started in their first season.

Grade: F

Next: Round 6 - Part 1

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 15: Running back Elijah McGuire #25 of the New York Jets runs the ball against defensive end D.J. Reader #98 of the Houston Texans in the first half at MetLife Stadium on December 15, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 15: Running back Elijah McGuire #25 of the New York Jets runs the ball against defensive end D.J. Reader #98 of the Houston Texans in the first half at MetLife Stadium on December 15, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Round 6, 188th Overall: RB Elijah McGuire

Elijah McGuire may not be an elite NFL talent, but he was certainly a solid pick for the Jets in the sixth round. He has seen significant playing time in both of his first two seasons as a Jet and most don’t think he’s reached his full potential yet.

McGuire has run for 591 yards and four touchdowns while also reeling in 36 passes for 370 yards and two touchdowns. He started for the final stretch of the 2018 season with both Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell off the field due to injuries.

Crowell is expected to be cut and Powell is an unrestricted free agent so McGuire could be in for a bigger role in 2019. Most expect the Jets to go for a premier running back in free agency which could be either Le’Veon Bell, Tevin Coleman or Mark Ingram. No matter what happens this offseason, McGuire seems to be in the team’s long-term plans in the backfield.

Grade: B+

Next: Round 6 - Part 2

Round 6, 197th Overall: DB Jeremy Clark

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Jeremy Clark is still quite the mystery for Jets fans. He didn’t make the 53-man roster, but he was signed to the team’s practice squad after being cut. Later in the year, he was called up after the aforementioned Maye was placed on the injured reserve. He didn’t play much, though.

Most teams don’t find talent in the sixth round anyway, so even being a part of the team for three seasons would be a milestone for Clark. Who knows? Maybe he will be a starter in a couple of years and we just haven’t seen his potential yet.

It’s hard to grade him because he spent his first season injured and his second season inactive. The Jets may see something that we don’t in Clark, but he hasn’t shown any signs of being a part of the Jets future.

Grade: C-

Next: Round Six - Part 3

PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 30: Markus Wheaton #80 of the Philadelphia Eagles cannot catch a pass against Derrick Jones #31 of the New York Jets in the first quarter during the preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on August 30, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 30: Markus Wheaton #80 of the Philadelphia Eagles cannot catch a pass against Derrick Jones #31 of the New York Jets in the first quarter during the preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on August 30, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Round 6, 204th Overall: CB Derrick Jones

There is little to be said about Derrick Jones that wasn’t said about Jeremy Clark. They are very similar draft picks and we haven’t seen either of them much. That being said, it’s difficult to grade Jones.

The one difference I can think of between Jones and Clark is that Jones did play well in the preseason. He made the roster over Clark because of the potential he showed. Although he made the roster, he was a healthy scratch for most games.

What to do with the Jets backup QB position. Next

Jones was drafted as a player who was supposed to develop over time, so it’s not like we should be giving up on him because he isn’t a starter yet. If he continues to improve he could very well be a part of the Jets future plans in the secondary. “Bones Jones,” as they call him, would be a great name to add to New Jack City.

Grade: B-

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