A new look New York Jets team — literally and physically — could use this draft to further solidify a future AFC East-winning roster.
State Of The Team
In transition is the best way to describe the Bengals right now. Three straight losing seasons were The New York Jets are still very much in the midst of a major rebuild but it’s safe to say that they do appear to be trending up. Well, as safe as it ever is to be optimistic with this team.
The recent selections of Jamal Adams and Sam Darnold have established a young identity for a franchise that has long lacked any sort of positive image. Adams and Darnold represent core building blocks on each side of the ball and are the foundation that the rest of the team is built around.
Free agency has brought about the additions of All-Pro caliber players such as Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley who will hopefully serve as major strengths to aid Adams and Darnold in their respective units.
The team still has holes to address and it would be foolish to anticipate 10+ wins in 2019, but a run at the postseason certainly isn’t out of the question if they could nail the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft and continue to see development from their young roster.
Total Draft Picks
The New York Jets currently have only six picks in the 2019 NFL Draft:
Round 1 (No. 3 overall)
Round 3 (No. 68 overall)
Round 3 (No. 93 overall)
Round 4 (No. 105 overall)
Round 6 (No. 196 overall)
Round 7 (No. 217 overall)
Top 3 Draft Needs
Edge Rusher: The Jets haven’t had a true star edge rusher since the days of John Abraham, and he left the team nearly 15 years ago. Since then they have trotted out washed up veterans, rotational pass rushers, and failed draft picks all with little-to-no success. Jordan Jenkins did an adequate job manning the strong side in 2018 tying for the team lead in sacks with seven, but the Jets desperately need a truly dominant pass rusher on the outside to tie the defense together. Jenkins is a reliable edge defender but isn’t exactly the strongest pass rusher and given the barren wasteland that is the remainder of the edge rusher depth chart, it’s apparent that this is a major need for the Jets heading into the 2019 NFL Draft.
Center: Gang Green has been floundering at the center position ever since Nick Mangold opted to retire following the 2015 season. The likes of Wesley Johnson and Spencer Long have been brought in to be the Jets legend’s heir apparent but neither worked out quite like the team had planned. The Jets re-signed versatile backup Jonotthan Harrison who started eight games last season but he’s more of a quality reserve than he is a viable starting option. Look for the team to perhaps bring in a veteran to compete for the starting job but don’t be surprised to see them address the need in the draft as well. The third round is a sweet spot to find center options and the Jets could finally solidify their offensive line and fill the massive shoes Mangold left behind — figuratively and literally — by drafting one this year.
Cornerback: With all the fantastic things the Jets did this free agency period their handling of the cornerback position remains perhaps the most puzzling situation. As expected, the Jets opted to let both Morris Claiborne and Buster Skrine walk in free agency, but their replacements leave little to be desired. Former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brian Poole was brought int to be the replacement for Skrine in the nickel, but the Florida product’s track record is spotty at best and his game is very reminiscent of Skrine’s. The Jets also re-signed versatile defender Darryl Roberts who impressed when given the opportunity in 2018 but has never been relied upon as a starter. Considering the struggles of current No. 1 cornerback Trumaine Johnson in his first year in the green and white, it’s difficult to feel good about the team’s current crop of cornerbacks. Expect the Jets to address this position in the draft as they look to give Roberts some competition on the boundary.
Top 3 Draft Targets
The Jets will enter the 2019 NFL Draft picking No. 3 overall and at the mercy of the two picks ahead of them. However, one player that is very likely to still be on the board when they pick is Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen. Allen is an athletic specimen who excelled during his senior season at Kentucky. His athletic profile and background projects similarly to a player like Anthony Barr at the next level which would give this draft marriage a cruel sense of irony if it were to materialize.
The other player that has been consistently tied to the Jets with their first-round selection is Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. While interior defensive line may not be a pressing need, Williams is one of the elite prospects in this year’s class and would be an immediate upgrade for the Jets defensive line. If the Jets look to deal Leonard Williams this offseason, Quinnen Williams would be an ideal replacement and would likely bring much more to the table as an interior pass rusher than the former USC standout.
C, Texas A&M
Shifting away from the first round, the Jets could have the ability to snag a plug-and-play center on Day 2 if they’re fortunate enough. Interior line prospects like Garrett Bradbury and Elgton Jenkins may be out of range for the team, but Texas A&M’s Eric McCoy could still be on the board with their first third-round selection. McCoy is a powerful run blocker who dominates at the point of attack and has done so with some of college football’s best in the SEC. Look no further than his tape against the aforementioned Quinnen Williams for proof. If McCoy is there in the third round, this would be a no-brainer selection. He may even be worth trading up for if he begins to slip a bit.
Decision Maker (Or Who To Blame If Things Go Wrong)
General manager Mike Maccagnan will be calling the shots for his fifth draft as the head honcho of the New York Jets. Jets fans will be hoping that his first-round selection turns out as well as his previous two appear to be while hoping that his mid-round selections leave a little more to be desired.
Best/Worst Pick In Current Draft Slot
Historically, who was the best pick and/or the worst pick based on where the team is currently picking.
Best: RB Freeman McNeil – 1981
The Jets have selected four different players with the third overall pick and had surprisingly incredible success. Of course, the team drafted quarterback Sam Darnold last year, but while the young signal-caller showed promise last season, it’s too soon to give him this honor. For that reason, Jets legend Freeman McNeil takes the cake.
McNeil is one of the greatest Jets of all-time and is second on the team’s career rushing leaderboard behind Hall of Famer Curtis Martin. The former UCLA standout was a three-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro parlaying his success into an eventual induction into the New York Jets Ring of Honor. McNeil barely edges out fellow Jets running back Matt Snell for the top spot.
Worst: DB Jerry Stovall – 1963
We had to dig deep to find the worst Jets draft pick from the No. 3 overall slot, and even this entry comes with a major caveat. The Jets three other picks from the No. 3 overall pick has been the aforementioned Darnold, McNeil, and Snell making it very difficult to select a “worst” pick. But back in their AFL days, the Jets selected defensive back/punter Jerry Stovall with the third overall pick in the 1963 AFL Draft.
However, Stovall never signed with the Jets and instead agreed to play for the St. Louis Cardinals who had selected him second overall in the NFL Draft. The LSU legend would play nine years with the Cardinals making three Pro Bowls along the way. But he never actually played for the Jets and thus must take the “top” spot.