The Jets will be active but as to who they will target is a partial mystery. Of course they will go strong for Kirk Cousins and no other team will be able to match the amount the Jets are offering. But with Denver, Minnesota and Arizona in the mix, Cousins may want to go to a more “playoff ready” team. On the other hand there will be a lot less pressure on him if he choses the Jets as opposed to the Vikings who just missed the Super Bowl. There is some history with Cousins and offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates. For the past three weeks I had predicted that Cousins will sign with the Vikings. As of the last 48 hours, I am now predicting he signs with the Broncos. Again anything can happen but the chances are less than 50/50 he ends up in green.
Long Term Plan
My idea for a plan for the Jets is far different than Mike Maccagnan and most Jet fans. I wrote in the last Green Rewind how only 50% of the quarterbacks in the last 30 Super Bowls were #1 draft picks. I also wrote about the many draft busts in the first round from JaMarcus Russell to Tim Couch to Vince Young and more! If the Jets do in fact sign Kirk Cousins, I will not jump out the window and he is an improvement at the position. He has a lifetime 4-19 career record starting against teams that finished the season with winning records. This scare me. I would like the Jets to first build a foundation then concentrate on the skill positions.
Here is my plan:
Andrew Norwell, G, Panthers. Age: 26
This is the guy I want. Andrew Norwell is one of the top guards in the NFL. He has improved every single season in the league, and he's now dominant in every regard. Norwell should continue to get better, as he won't even turn 27 until October. All the rumors have him going to the Giants to reunite him with new Giant GM Dave Gettleman.
Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars. Age: 25
Allen Robinson was a monster in 2015, catching 80 passes for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. However, he hasn't done much since. He had a lazy 2016 campaign. He was on the field for one game this past season before tearing his ACL. Torn ACLs aren’t what they used to be when Joe Namath played. Modern medical technology has changed it all. That said, Robinson will turn just 25 in August, so he could still have a very bright future ahead of him.
Ryan Jensen, C, Ravens. Age: 27
Ryan Jensen did a decent job as Baltimore's starting center in 2017 and would be a major upgrade over Wesley Johnson. Some are predicting Giant center Weston Richburg will end up in green but his concussion history would have me pass on him.
Trey Burton, TE, Eagles. Age: 26
Yes, he is the guy who threw the Philly Special TD pass in the Super Bowl. Playing behind Zach Ertz, he proved his value filling in for him against the Rams catching 5 passes for 71 yards and 2 TDs. If the Jets spend money on a tight end, I’d rather spend it on him rather than Austin-Sefarian Jenkins though I’d take him back as a reasonable price.
Jerry Attaochu, DE/OLB, Chargers. Age: 25
He is a former second-round pick, but hasn't quite lived up to it. He didn't even log a single sack in 2017. It has been a combination of numbers and injuries playing behind Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram that keeps him from getting reps. He had 8 sacks in the first 26 games he played in the league. If the injuries are behind him, I’d sign him on the cheap with incentives.
Avery Williamson, ILB, Titans. Age: 26
If the Jets can’t sign DeMario Davis, sign Avery Williamson. He was a fifth-round pick in 2014, but he has evolved into a capable inside linebacker. He can stand to improve in coverage, but he's a dominant run-stuffer.
Kenny Vaccaro, S/CB, Saints. Age: 27
Kenny Vaccaro was having a great year covering players in the slot, but suffered a groin injury in the middle of the season. He returned after a two-game absence, but struggled after that before landing on injured reserve. In 2015 Vaccaro had 104 tackles and 3 sacks. In the past 2 years he has 5 interceptions (including one by Tom Brady). I would play him at cornerback.
All 7 of the above players will make the Jets a better team. If they sign Kirk Cousins, this will limit the Jets spending money. There are better free agents available but the common denominator with my choices are that not one of the above players is over 28 years old. I’d also look at Deon Lewis, Sammmy Watkins and Trumaine Johnson and some others but the key is to keep it young. Now onto the draft.
(Some of the descriptions are right from Walter Football)
#1 (6th overall)
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame.
Baker Mayfield fans are not happy with me on this one. Nelson is the most talented and polished offensive lineman in the 2018 NFL Draft class, regardless of position. He also is one of the safest prospects in the draft class. Some team sources think that Nelson could be the best guard in the NFL early in his pro career and could be better than former Patriots All-Pro Logan Mankins. Team him with Andrew Norwell and you and I will be able to run through the holes.
#2 (37th overall)
Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
I fell in love with this player in the college playoffs. He shared the backfield with Nick Chubb. Michel averaged 7.9 yards per carry in 2017 for 1,227 yards with 16 touchdowns. He would have been a three-down starter at most schools, but Georgia had a huge stable of backs whom the coaches spread carries to. To close out his collegiate career Michel was excellent at breaking off long runs and running all over good defenses to propel Georgia past Auburn and Oklahoma.
#2 (49th overall)
Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond
In 2017, Lauletta completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,737 yards with 28 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He was the starter as a junior and sophomore. The knock on him has been his arm strength but he has great anticipation on routes and seeing the field. Projected before as a 4th or 5th rounder, this Senior Bowl MVP doesn’t make it out of the second round.
#3 (72nd overall)
Oren Burks, ILB, Vanderbilt
May be considered a sleeper just because the coaches have played him at three different positions in three years. Burks is one of those faster, lighter linebackers that can cover tight ends and running backs. Not a “sacker” but a smart, quick player that plays consistent.
#4 (107th overall)
Ade Aruna, 3-4 OLB, Tulane
This is a boom or bust pick. Aruna is said to run the 40-yard dash in the 4.65-4.75-second range, which is very fast for a defensive end. He is only in his fifth year of organized football, however, and is considered to be super raw. Sources label him as a fast, explosive athlete who is still harnessing his talent and learning the game. He was born in Nigeria, moved to America in part to play basketball before falling in love with the sport of football. Last year his production dropped because his team switched defenses from a 4-3 to a 3-4. But as a Junior he had 43 tackles with 10 for a loss, five sacks and one forced fumble for the Green Wave.
#5 (157th overall)
Michael Joseph, CB, Dubuque
Joseph is the rare Divison III player who earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl. He was up and down in Mobile, which illustrated that he has a skill set, but needs development. Joseph has good height, but could use more weight for the NFL. As a senior, he totaled 56 tackles with eight interceptions and eight passes broken up. Joseph made four picks as a junior and three as a sophomore. Rumor is BB has his eye on him.
#6 (179th overall)
Greg Stroman, CB, Virginia Tech
Jets need Stroman more for his punt return ability (see video below) than his cover ability. Stroman totaled 20 tackles with 11 passes broken up and four interceptions in 2017. He had three interceptions in 2016 and two in 2015. Over those seasons, Stroman made a combined 37 tackles. Getting stronger to tackle is necessary for him. In addition to him returning 4 punts for TDs at Virginia Tech, his average punt return yardage per punt went up each year:
2014-6.9 yards per return
2015-7.8 yards per return
2016-8.8 yards per return
2017-11.3 yards per return
#7 (235th overall)
Brandon Silvers, QB, Troy
Silvers played well enough to earn an invitation to the Senior Bowl. In 2017, he completed 64 percent of his passes for 3,290 yards with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Silvers had comparable numbers as a junior, sophomore and freshman. He did not participate in the combine. He started 48 games for Troy which in my book carries a lot of weight. And just a note, Troy beat LSU this year 24-21.
I am trying to lay out the best plan for the Jets to build a sound foundation for the future with youth combining free agency and the draft. In the NFL, free agency has changed a lot the last few years. GMs are trying to rid their teams of players over 30 and are trying to resign their own players who are 30 and under. With the cap space increasing every year, teams are able to afford both resigning players and are able to put the franchise tag on top talent and can now pay them. I will update the draft after the free agent signings. Obviously if the Jets land Kirk Cousins or sign another free agent QB besides Josh McCown, the picks will be different.
What The Jet Scribes Are Saying
Rich Cimini, ESPN
The way ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay sees it, Wyoming's Josh Allen is a good quarterback fit for the New York Jets. McShay says Allen's big arm and big hands (10 inches) make him ideal for football in the Northeast, and he suspects offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates would be able to fix Allen's well-documented accuracy issues.
"With Jeremy Bates, you have someone who has coached quarterbacks," McShay said Wednesday on a national conference call. "You have someone who I think could help Allen in terms of the consistency in his footwork, which should improve the consistency of his accuracy." In his latest mock draft, McShay has Allen going to the Jets with the sixth pick. Naturally, the landscape changes if they sign free agent Kirk Cousins…..In McShay's view, Darnold and Allen represent the upper tier of quarterbacks. Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and UCLA's Josh Rosen are a notch below, he said. This is a post-combine evaluation. Allen lit up the combine in the throwing drills, so there's always a tendency to overrate players based on combine performances…”
..For a lot of teams, it's become a little bit of a separation, with Darnold and Allen toward the top, and then Baker and Rosen a slight notch below," McShay said. "That doesn't mean it's for all teams, and certainly there are varying views on this year's quarterback class……
"Josh Allen seemed to surprise some people [at the combine] with how good he was on the board [during meetings with teams]. There were some people who kind of came around on him and were impressed by what he did at night [in meetings] when the cameras weren't on. We expected an impressive throwing session, but he couldn't have performed a whole lot better than he did on the field that day."
Brian Costello, NY Post
The Jets finally are No. 1 … in salary-cap space. With the moves the Browns made Friday, acquiring Jarvis Landry and Tyrod Taylor, the Jets moved past Cleveland to the top of the heap in salary-cap space. They have $89.9 million in space, according to overthecap.com, as free agency begins Monday with teams being permitted to talk to agents. Players cannot officially sign deals until Wednesday at 4 p.m. The Jets have the money to spend. The question now is whether they can find enough players worth spending it on. That is the problem with NFL free agency — the players who usually become free agents do so for a reason. They have a flaw that makes them expendable to their current team, whether that be age, salary demand or production. It is what scares some teams off from spending big in free agency. The Jets know they will end up overpaying players in free agency, but they can do that because of the war chest they currently have. The benefit of drafting so poorly from 2008-14 is having very few young players who need to be paid. Leonard Williams figures to be the next one, and he is not scheduled to hit free agency until 2020 if the Jets exercise his fifth-year option. The Jets have targets in mind, and they hope to find players who can stick with their team for several years. That starts with quarterback Kirk Cousins, whose agent will surely get a call from the Jets on Monday to set up a visit with the top free agent. After Cousins, GM Mike Maccagnan will be looking for younger free agents who can be part of the core of the Jets.
…..Jets to be aggressive at running back, center and possibly wide receiver. On defense, they need to add another cornerback and possibly a pass rusher. They also are trying to re-sign several of their own free agents, including Demario Davis, Morris Claiborne and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Manish Mehta,NY Daily News
The glass-half empty crowd has already given up on winning the Kirk Cousins Sweepstakes, wallowing in life without the prized free-agent quarterback. Oh sure, Cousins is still exploring all his options and surveying the landscape before signing on any dotted line, but Jets Nation, conditioned to expect the worst, already is thinking about the next best move for a team that hasn’t had a franchise quarterback since man first walked on the moon.
If the Jets lose out on Cousins, who could opt for a more ready-made team in Minnesota, there’s one man who could help Gang Green, an oldie but a goodie who’d play an invaluable part for this rebuilding outfit last year. Josh McCown could save the day. The 38-year-old would be the ideal mentor and bridge for an incoming rookie quarterback. McCown’s leadership, selflessness and quality of play proved invaluable last season. The lone problem — and it was a significant one — was that his bridge effectively led to nowhere given that the future answer at quarterback wasn’t on the roster. McCown must be paired up with a first-round quarterback this year. A McCown-Petty-Hackenberg (or equivalent) quarterback room isn’t going to cut it this year. It’ll be an abject failure if the Jets miss out on Cousins or don’t draft one of the top four signal callers in this year’s draft. “We’re just looking for the right fit, be it a veteran quarterback or a younger guy,” Todd Bowles said last week at the Scouting Combine about the kind of quarterback he needs. “We got to make sure we got the right fit for our team. It doesn’t matter what age he is.” Bowles revealed that the Jets have three or four plans to address the most important position in the sport, but make no mistake: All hope is not lost if Cousins isn’t wearing green and white in 2018, as long as they pair McCown with a coveted rookie.
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Greg Stroman Punt return