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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Jets Soar In 2018 Draft

Butt fumble be damned! The New York Jets are on their way toward success. Many including myself thought Baker Mayfield would be a Jet on Friday morning. Thankfully we were wrong. By some magic, USC quarterback Sam Darnold fell right into the Jets lap at number three after the Browns took Baker Mayfield and the Giants took Saquon Barkley. For those Jet fans who wanted Mayfield, please wait and see. You are going to love Sam Darnold. Years ago when Bill Parcels was coaching the New England Patriots, he had a choice with the first pick of the draft between Rick Mira and Drew Bledsoe. After choosing Bledsoe when asked why, Parcells responded,

”Bledsoe is three years younger which gives us three more years to develop him.” 

Baker Mayfield is twenty three and Sam Darnold is twenty. The same holds true here. Patience is a tough thing to have as an NFL fan but it would be in the franchise’s best interest if Darnold sits a year. This may or may not happen. Todd Bowles has said every position is an open competition. I would not be surprised if Darnold plays this season depending on how well he absorbs everything he needs to know. 

Jets Draft Grade A
Round 1 (3) Sam Darnold, QB, USC, 6' 3” 221 lbs
In 2016, the USC Trojans started out 1-3 on the season as they were about to face my alma mater Arizona State University. Of course I had it marked down as a win the Friday before.  I stayed up to watch the game and USC changed starting QB’s putting in a guy named Sam Darnold. He proceeded to beat ASU 41-20 passing for 352 yards with 3 TD passes. I was hooked on him! Darnold led USC to 9 straight wins and after beating Penn State in the Rose Bowl 52-49, I sat and wished the Jets could get a player like that. Well Jet fans all our prayers have been answered. There is no guarantee Darnold will lead the Jets to the Super Bowl and be inducted into Canton but the Jets are now closer than they have ever been to turning around this franchise. Darnold can do it all and everything you hear about his turnovers are blown out of proportion. Yes he did fumble more than you would like in 2017 but his ability to see the field and extend plays will have Jet fans seeing things they haven’t seen in years. He is the real deal.
From Pro Football Focus:
Darnold fell into the laps of the New York Jets at No. 3 overall, after the New York Giants selected Saquon Barkley at No. 2. Despite a rough stretch in the middle of the season, Darnold was the third-highest graded quarterback across every other week (taking out Weeks 4-7). Even with that, the Jets add a quarterback in Darnold who led the nation in big-time throws, throwing 34 of our highest-graded throws a season ago. He capped a brief, two-year career of playing experience at USC with the majority of his positively graded throws coming across the middle of the field, an area where he generated a 108.1 NFL passer rating. All told, Darnold’s top-end passes are among some of the most impressive in the class, and he’s extremely clutch, as our Steve Palazzolo outlined earlier this offseason.

Round 3 (72) Nathan Shepherd, DL, Fort Hays State,  6' 4” 315 lbs
This is a great value pick. When speaking about a player’s age you want to have a young quarterback a la Sam Darnold. If you have an older player, offensive or defensive line is where you want the player. Nathan Shepherd is 24 years old and this Canadian born citizen will succeed in the NFL. In 2017 he had 38 tackles. 12.5 tackles for loss and 4 sacks. NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock's had Nathan Shepherd ranked as the 43rd best player in the country. A native of Ontario, Canada, Shepherd was a 205-pound linebacker in high school.He is raw but is a hard worker which seems to be the theme of this year’s Jet draft class. Shepard worked his way into a few colleges then dropping out, working at odd jobs for tuition money then going back to school. He worked at becoming a better football player. Reminds me a lot of “Snacks” Harrison overcoming the odds.

Round 4 (107) Christopher Herndon IV, TE, Miami (Fla.),  6' 4” 253 lbs
What are the Jets going to get first? A franchise quarterback or an All Pro tight end? Herndon started 11 games his senior season (40 receptions, 477 yards, four TD), but a knee injury ended the year prematurely.  He has been playing in a two tight end set the last two years at Miami. The tight end position on the Jets will be very competitive. Herndon may be the most athletic of all the tight ends on the Jets roster. Another good pick.

Round 6 (179) Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane, 5' 10”, 182 lbs
This could be the steal of the draft!  I cannot understand how he lasted to the 6th round. The only knock on him is his size. But he is excellent in man-coverage. He works hard and can be the perfect answer for slot receivers. Ran the 40 in 4.32.

Underrated cornerback with terrific ball skills. Quick and fluid transitioning off the line, instinctive and stays on the receiver’s hip out of breaks. Four-year starter who was named First Team All-AAC after leading the conference with six interceptions, making 55 tackles and breaking up eight passes in 2017. Earned Second Team All-AAC honors as a junior after finishing tied for fifth in the conference with four interceptions and added nine PBUs. Led Tulane with six pass breakups in 2015. Finished tied for second in the AAC with five interceptions as a redshirt freshman and was named Honorable Mention All-AAC.

From Pro Football Focus
The Jets spent a sixth-round selection on Tulane CB Parry Nickerson, a pick well spent based on reactions around the league. PFF has applauded the value picks that the Jets have made over the course of this weekend, but the analysts there love this one the most. Nickerson was the 55th ranked player on the PFF big board, as he allowed just one touchdown in each of the past two seasons. While he may be small, the speedy corner has tremendous ball skills. Most of the football world has applauded the pick as a steal for Gang Green. That includes the folks at Pro Football Focus, who could not believe the value New York got.

Round 6 (180) Folorunso Fatukasi, Edge, Connecticut, 
6' 4” 318 lbs 
Fatukasi grew up in Far Rockaway and played at Beach Channel High School.  In 2017 UConn had 3-9 record but Fatukasi was one of the few bright spots. He had 168 tackles in 48 games for the Huskies. He is tough to block and with the drafting of Shepard at three, the Jets are trying to shore up the middle of the defensive line.

Round 6 (204) Trenton Cannon, RB, Virginia State, 5' 11”, 185 lbs 
This player was slated to be an un-drafted free agent. Obviously the Jets saw something in him they liked and never let him get out of the draft. A tremendously explosive change-of-pace runner who will need to live in the cafeteria and the weight room early on to help build his frame up to NFL standards. Cannon has that big-play ability in space. Cannon can catch it and has a history of handling kick return duties when needed so that may be enough to help him find a practice squad this season.

More Draft Grades
This is from Pro Football Focus

I love these guys from Pro Football Focus! They do as much in depth analysis of any draft web site I’ve seen. Below is their feelings about the Jet draft. The Jets were one of only two teams (Dallas being the other) that PFF gave an “Elite” rating to.
My only disappointment is there was nothing on Trenton Cannon. 

1 (3) Sam Darnold, QB, USC, 83.6
3 (72) Nathan Shepherd, DI, Fort Hays State, n/a
4 (107) Christopher Herndon IV, TE, Miami (Fla.), 81.8
6 (179) Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane, 85.1
6 (180) Folorunso Fatukasi, Edge, Connecticut, 83.2
6 (204) Trenton Cannon, RB, Virginia State, n/a

Day 1: The Jets should be ecstatic that Darnold was still on the board at No. 3 overall. Our No. 2 player on the PFF Draft Board, Darnold has shown exceptional high-end play, throwing with the accuracy and anticipation desired from an NFL quarterback. He has two strong years of grading under his belt, and while last year was not as good as anticipated, Darnold was still the No. 3-graded quarterback in the nation outside of his four poor games. He must cut back on the bad decisions and fumbles that marred that four-game stretch, as he finished with the fifth-highest percentage of turnover-worthy plays in the draft class last season, but it’s the big-time throws that make him a potentially special prospect as he ranked second. Darnold has shown well in crunch time, whether at the end of the half or with the game on the line, and his ability to make plays both inside and outside the pocket will lead to memorable moments for Jets fans.

Day 2: With only a third-round selection on Day 2, the Jets add athletic defensive lineman Nathan Shepherd to the mix, a small-school player who looked strong during his limited reps at the Senior Bowl. He has outstanding size and athleticism, and he could develop into a good all-around player given his measurables.

Day 3: Christopher Herndon showed strong big-play ability last season, forcing nine missed tackles on only 40 receptions and averaging 9.3 yards after the catch per reception. Parry Nickerson could become a steal in the sixth round as he has three outstanding years of production to go with 4.32 speed. He allowed a passer rating of only 41.7 in 2017 and 32.5 when targeted in 2016. Folorunso Fatukasi is an outstanding run defender, grading between 82.8 and 86.1 in all four years at UConn, though he provided little as a pass-rusher, including a 3.1 pass-rush productivity last year that ranked 131st in the draft class.

Overall grade: Elite

Around The AFC East
Buffalo Bills
Give Bills GM Brandon Beane credit. He moved up to seven showing patience grabbing Josh Allen. This is great value for the Bills who are building a formidable opponent to AFC East rivals. With their second first round pick they chose Tremaine Edmunds who could be one of the top two run stopping linebackers in the draft. With their last two picks the Bills took two wide receivers that will help in the long term. 

Miami Dolphins
As well as the Bills did to move up I thought that Dolphin GM Chris Grier and VP Mike Tannenbaum missed the boat letting the Arizona Cardinals move one spot ahead of them taking quarterback Josh Rosen. This will turn out to be a huge mistake. Their number one pick Minkah Fitzpatrick DB/S from Alabama (by way of Jersey City) is a stud.

New England Patriots
Every year people gush what genius picks coach BB makes when in reality his picks are just above average. His first pick Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia is an excellent pick but he my need 1-2 years to develop. BB knew I loved Sony Michel, RB, Georgia so he picked him just to torture me. BB is excellent trading up and down the draft accumulating picks and he did just that.

Jets Undrafted Free Agent Signings
This is a partial list. There will be players added especially quarterbacks because they need bodies to pass in the upcoming rookie mini-camp.
Tre’ Williams, Linebacker, Auburn
Dimitri Flowers, Fullback, OU
Dakota Shepley, Offensive Line, Canada
Darius James, Tackle, Auburn
Austin Golson, Offensive Line, Auburn
Tyrice Beverette, Defensive Back, Stony Brook
Frankie Luvu, Linebacker, Washington State
Nifae Lealao, Defensive Line, Vanderbilt
Canon Rooker, Kicker, Middle Tennessee
Mych Thomas, Defensive Tackle, Texas Tech
Reggie Hall, Cornerback, Jacksonville State
Lord Hyeamang, DT, Columbia
Austin Wolf, WR, Akron (rookie tryout)



Sam Darnold Highlights

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