Will the Jets Gamble pay off?

(Photo via AP/Mark Humphrey)

So it’s finally over. The 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tennessee has concluded and we now know what direction our New York Jets are headed into. If you look all over sports media you can read up on every grade that was given for each team’s draft. By only looking at these lists it would seem as if every team had aced their draft. My only issue with these draft grades is that we will have no idea how well these draft picks are until they step onto the field. If every team followed the draft grades that were given to them by the media then we would have no mediocre teams in the NFL and that is easily not the case.

The point of this article is to give you my overall reaction to the draft, how I felt about the selections and what can we do to fix the remaining holes left on our team. Now I will give you a report of some players that you should be confident about and some players you should be worried if they may end up as busts. The entire NFL draft is almost like gambling. Each team selects a player that performed well in college and the farther away teams get from pick number 1 the higher chance they are at becoming busts.

The truth is I could be completely wrong about my analysis of these players just like the rest of the media, but just like one of those gambling experts, I will provide a sense of which of these bets have a higher chance of winning versus those that will most likely be a risky wager.

This year’s first-round pick for the Jets was DT Quinnen Williams from the University of Alabama. Almost every New York sports journalist had given Quinnen Williams an A- to A+ grade for the Jets. He has strength, explosiveness, and hand speed that make him the top-rated defensive tackle in the draft. He can run a 4.83 40 yard dash at 303lbs which is very rare, but what is more impressive is his side to side speed. When looking at the stat sheet you can only be impressed with his production. He had a total of 71 tackles this last season putting him in the same category as most linebackers, 46 solo 26 assisted. 19.5 of them were for loss and he had 8 sacks. All around a great player on the field, off the field he is a wiz in the film room and his old coach Nick Saban called him “perfect”.

(Photo via Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

For the Jets, Williams was the safest pick they could have possibly chosen, this was a bet that had a high probability of cashing out on. For Mike Maccagnan, this draft will be the defining moment for his future with the Jets. If you analyze the previous draft classes that were selected under Maccagnan, the first round selections have been pretty reliable. Since his first year as the Jets GM, in 2015, Maccagnan has drafted a starter for the team in the first round every season. Excluding 2016, Darren Lee being benched for CJ Mosely, Maccagnan has drafted players that have stepped right into the starting spots. Both Jamal Adams and Leonard Williams have been selected to the Pro-Bowl and Sam Darnold has shown great progress in his most recent season.

My issue with Maccagnan is not with his first round selections, it is what he chooses in the rest of the draft that frightens me as a fan. If you look at his previous second and third round selections you would be surprised at how poorly the players have performed in the NFL. Since 2015, there have only been three players selected those rounds that have played starting snaps for the majority of the season. It is hard to consider Nathan Shepard in that list even though he had started and played poorly but I included him anyway. Marcus Maye was the best 2nd round selection he had made in recent years but the issue is his health going forward. His gamble did not pan out as well as he hoped.

This year’s 3rd round selections Jachai Polite and Chuma Edoga have potential to be starters on the Jets. Jachai Polite, Edge Rusher from Florida, has some character flaws but was a complete force for the Gators defense. Having 11 sacks this past season gives the Jets hope that he could help their pass rush that is in dire need of a boost. Chuma Edoga can be a toss-up pick and what bothers me the most about this selection is the many reports of his “motivation” issue. Of the two selections, Politie feels like the better gamble.

(Photo Via Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

The remaining rounds have been worse than most other teams in the NFL. In rounds 4 through 7 Maccagnan has only drafted 3 players that had started on the Jets for more than two games since 2015. There were a total of 17 players selected and only 3 had been “starters” at some point in the past few years. If you do the math only 17% of the players selected by Maccagnan in rounds 4-7 actually have started more than two games.

This does not ease my nerves when analyzing the remaining selections of the Jets in the later rounds. Of all the selections the Jets have made the only pick that could have potential is Trevon Wesco, TE from West Virginia. He has the size of a good blocking TE and has athleticism, my bigger concern with this pick was that with the many holes that the Jets have, attacking the TE position was not on my list of needs.

All around when we look at the Jets draft my general reaction is that the first two selections in Quinnen Williams and Jachai Polite were the better gambles. Both have high ceilings and have 1st round talent. If you were a gambler these would be the bets you would throw your money on. When looking at Maccagnan and his history at drafting, usually the first 3 rounds have been average. They either become starters or role players on the team, but overall the Jets have not progressed forward due to the failed selections in the remaining rounds.

(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

In my opinion, I felt that the draft could have been better. It is very difficult to fix all the issues of your team with only 6 picks, but when you are a rebuilding franchise you do not draft gambles, you draft conservative long lasting picks. If you look at other successful teams in the league they build their team around their draft selections. The Colts, the Patriots, the Cowboys have built up their teams in the draft by selecting players that build up the foundation rather than pray they stay in the league longer than 3 years. We must wait until these players hit the field before we give them a grade but let’s just say that I do not trust a gamble to change a franchise.

So the question is, what now? The draft is over and the third wave of free agency has begun. From what I can see the Jets have still some positions they must address for the team to be seen as a completely rebuilt team. The biggest two needs come from the Center and Right Guard positions. I would have liked for the Jets to address these positions in the draft but beggars can’t be choosers. I believe the best available Guard is Mike Remmers from Minnesota. Remmers at the beginning of his career had some health issues but in the past 4 years he has only missed 5 games. He had played both guard and tackle last year for Minnesota.  He has the power and speed to make for a reliable option at the guard spot and I adding depth to the position would only help.
So the question is, what now? The draft is over and the third wave of free agency has begun. From what I can see the Jets have still some positions they must address for the team to be seen as a completely rebuilt team. The biggest two needs come from the Center and Right Guard positions. I would have liked for the Jets to address these positions in the draft but beggars can’t be choosers. I believe the best available Guard is Mike Remmers from Minnesota. Remmers at the beginning of his career had some health issues but in the past 4 years he has only missed 5 games. He had played both guard and tackle last year for Minnesota.  He has the power and speed to make for a reliable option at the guard spot and I adding depth to the position would only help.

(Photo via Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

To help bring some strength to the inside the best remaining center is John Sullivan from the L.A. Rams. Sullivan is getting up there in age but he has been both reliable and durable throughout his career. He has worked with many QB’s and I believe a veteran Center working with our young QB would be the best route for the team. Since Sullivan is near the end of his career the Jets would most likely find a bargain when signing him to a deal. They could sign him to a one or two year deal to bolster up the inside and not feel tied down to a massive contract. This adds depth the Center position and creates a competition between Jonotthan Harrison and Jon Toth to see who would be the starter. This will not only fix the inside of the line but they could regroup and decide what they would want to do after the contract ends either signing a new center or drafting a successor when the time is right.

Picture this, the Jets starting 5 Oline would include, Beachum, Osmiele, Sullivan, Remmers, and Shell. This I believe would be much more stable than keeping the line the way it is. Having Winters and Harrison as my starting Center and Guard does not boost my confidence every time Darnold drops back to pass. What most people do not realize is that a stable Oline makes fixing a team much easier. Having a superstar like Bell and a young growing talent like Darnold, a stable Oline will only boost their performance rather than halt its growth.

The 2019 NFL Draft had addressed some major issues on the defense, but do not let all of these draft grades fool you, the Jets are still in rebuild mode and have many holes to fill before they can be considered a playoff team. I believe the Jets are almost there. Adding pieces on the Oline and stabilizing the trenches will make the team in a better spot than the previous year. Making these additions may not make us a Superbowl contender but it creates a foundation that allows the team to move forward without having to overpay for certain players.

Photo via Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Mike Maccagnan is on the hot seat, that may be an understatement, I believe that he is sitting on top of Mount Vesuvius. This draft, excluding the first round selection, felt like a bunch of gambles of a man that does not know if he will be here next year. Each pick was a high-risk high reward selection. They may not have filled the needs I desired, but when we look back at Maccagnan’s career with the Jets we will be looking at this year’s performance as the final judgment on whether he had a positive or negative impact on the Jets. For Mike’s sake, if I were him, I would make a few more moves before that seat of his becomes too hot for him to avoid getting burned.

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