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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Jets Picks Fall Into Their Laps, but why?

In 2015 Leonard Williams was thought to be one of the best players in college. He was projected in most mock drafts to be picked as one of the top three players. In fact many had him rated
as the best player. With the Jets picking sixth, I remember there was talk of taking receiver Amari Cooper or maybe defensive end Vic Beasley with the pick. What happened and it seems to happen a lot, is he fell to number six and the Jets swooped him up. In 2016 the Jets had the twentieth pick. Darron Lee, the Ohio State linebacker projected as a top ten pick again fell to the Jets. In 2017 LSU safety Jamal Adams was rated as the best player in the draft. Many thought the Jets had their eye on tight end OJ Howard but again Jamal Adams fell to them. Then this year with the Jets picking third and expecting Baker Mayfield to be there, Sam Darnold who they had rated as the best QB again fell into their laps. Is this four year trend good or bad for the Jets? Or do the other teams have better scouting? Let’s see! 

Leonard Williams
Leonard Williams benefited his first two years in the league playing with both Mo Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson when they both actually cared a little. People forget that Williams was only 20 when he was drafted. Has he lit it up? Not exactly but he is far from a disappointment like some are quietly saying after a modest 2017 season. In his second season he produced 7 sacks and was selected to the Pro Bowl. The players surrounding him right now are not exactly lighting it up either though Steve McLendon is one of the more underrated players in the NFL. Drafting Nathan Shepherd in the 3rd round will help Williams. If there were points in the NFL for players who stay out of trouble, don’t get hurt a lot-he has played in 47 of 48 games thus far, and don’t get a lot of penalties, then Leonard Williams has been a solid pick. Sure the Jets could have drafted Vic Beasley, Todd Gurley or Marcus Peters instead of Williams but this is a solid pick. Look for him to have a breakout year in 2018. In Pro Football Focus for players under 25 years old, Leonard Williams was rated 16th best in the league. Mark my words if by some chance the Jets let him go into free agency, there will be a ton of demand for him.

Darron Lee
This one is tough. There are times that when you are watching the Jets defense you will see a quick blur go across your television screen and he makes a great play with incredible lateral movement. It turns out it was Darron Lee. The problem is there are not enough of these plays. That on top of his pass coverage which to me looks like one of the worst in the league for a linebacker and you have a player that is not living up to expectations but does give you some production. The book is not closed on Lee but there is pressure on him to produce. Pro Football Focus did have an interesting stat on Darron Lee and his play during the season:

“New York Jets linebacker Darron Lee has enjoyed an impressive three-game run, culminating in the highest single game grade of his career against the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night. Lee posted a grade of 86.0 in the Jets 34-21 win, largely due to an impressive run defense grade of 87.1. Lee compiled two sacks and a hit as a pass-rusher along with two run stops on a very productive night for the second year linebacker. It follows two weeks of impressive play that started in Week 7 against the Miami Dolphins where he racked up 11 tackles and six defensive stops. Over the past three weeks, Lee has accumulated nine stops in the running game for a run stop percentage of 12.5 percent. Up to this point, Lee had struggled somewhat in his young NFL career. After being selected with the 20th pick in the 2016 NFL draft, he posted a PFF grade of just 36.2 as a rookie. Through six weeks of his sophomore season, Lee had only managed an overall grade of 31.9 before his recent string of breakout performances”.

Let’s hope Lee can build on this.

Jamal Adams
Jamal Adams was rated as the fourth best Jet for the 2017 season according to Pro Football Focus. I thought his play was a little suspect at times and number two pick, safety Marcus Maye looked more polished than Adams a lot during the season. Adams is an incredible talent with an amazing upside. He was burned by Gronk in the first Patriots game but in the second game, he shut him out. Jamal Adams has greatness written all over him. One only has to look at that great play he made against the Raiders tackling Marshawn Lynch from behind. Marston Lattimore the cornerback from Ohio State had a much better year than Adams but I still wouldn’t trade Adams even up for him. 

Whatever the reason when a pick falls to you and you have done your homework, pounce on it. Drafting the best athlete available is basic NFL Drafting 101. Getting Sam Darnold will change the Jets franchise around. As hard as it is Jet fans, be a little bit more patient. As sure as I’m writing this, the Jets will be in the playoffs in 2019 with a good franchise foundation.

Green Tidbits:
…..The Jets have acquired tackle Antonio Garcia on waivers via New England and have waived kicker Nick Rose. The Patriots traded up to take Garcia in the third round (No. 85 overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft. He didn't play at all last preseason as he battled blood clots in his lungs and was placed on the Pats' Reserve/Non-Football Injury list in September. In March, Garcia told New England media he was cleared to return to football, and in April it was reported he would be a part of the Patriots' left tackle competition following Nate Solder's departure for the Giants. However, the Patriots waived him last week…..The Jets have signed defensive lineman Nathan Shepherd, their third-round selection (No. 72 overall) in last month's NFL Draft. Shepherd (6'4", 315) grew up in Ajax, Ontario, Canada, and began his college football career at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, the only NCAA-affiliated school north of the border, in 2011…..Recently, appearing on NFL network, Charlie Casserly mentioned the Jets as one of the most improved teams in all of football heading into 2018….The beginning of OTAs on Tuesday afternoon marks the beginning of the road to the 2018 regular season for the New York Jets…..Entering his third season with the Jets, it seems Jordan Jenkins will no doubt be a starter on Todd Bowles’ defense. He enjoyed a successful season as a starter in 2017, recording 49 tackles and three sacks. Jenkins is young and has shown steady improvement…..Jets now are #1 with cap money to spend in 2019. Heading the list of unrestricted free agents right now are: Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald, Oakland Raiders DE Khalil Mack, Houston Texans DE Jadeveon Clowney, Dallas Cowboys G Zack Martin….. 

What The Jet Scribes Are Saying:
Rich Cimini, ESPN
The New York Jets claimed left tackle Antonio Garcia off waivers from the New England Patriots on Monday. Garcia, the Patriots' 2017 third-round pick, was waived by the team on Friday with a non-football-illness designation. The Jets don't have a short-term need at left tackle -- Kelvin Beachum is the returning starter -- but they see Garcia as a player with potential to develop over time. If he makes it to training camp and performs well, he could challenge longtime backup Ben Ijalana for the No. 2 job. Ijalana re-signed in the offseason for one year, $2.4 million, but only $500,000 is guaranteed. The Jets didn't draft any offensive linemen.Also Monday, the Jets worked out free-agent tackle/guard Byron Bell, who has 74 career starts with the Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys.
The 6-foot-7, 302-pound Garcia was selected No. 85 overall last year after he was credited with 70 knockdown blocks and didn't allow a sack in more than 900 offensive snaps as a senior at Troy.
With Nate Solder entering the final year of his contract in 2017, the Patriots had traded a third-round pick (No. 96) and fourth-rounder (No. 124) to move up to select Garcia, with the hope of grooming him as a possible replacement in 2018. Solder signed with the New York Giants as a free agent this offseason.

Manesh Mehta, NY Post
Sam Darnold is the luckiest rookie quarterback for reasons that have nothing to do with scheme, playing time or immediate impact to his new team. He will have the good fortune of playing in a drama-free environment with quite possibly the most selfless player in the NFL. Which of the other first-year signal callers can say that? Spoiler: None.Consider the burgeoning frostiness in Pittsburgh, where Ben Roethlisberger has already taken public swipes at the Steelers' decision to draft Mason Rudolph in the third round. Look at former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco's apparent aversion to communicate with Ravens first-rounder Lamar Jackson. Football is family… until you think your job is at stake. Then, it's dog-eat-dog, passive-aggressive warfare between veterans and rookies. Strap on your big-boy pants, because it's every man for himself.The Jets will avoid any awkward and uncomfortable moments in their quarterback room this year thanks to Josh McCown, who will be an invaluable resource for Darnold.

"Obviously, he's a great guy," Darnold said. "I am just going to try and learn as much as I can from him. He's seen a lot of football, been in a lot of locker rooms, which helps him out in terms of understanding what you need to do and what not to do…. So, just learn from him, (and) gain all the knowledge that I can from him."

Josh McCown won't cause a quarterback controversy with the Jets. Josh McCown won't cause a quarterback controversy with the Jets. (JOE MAHONEY/AP) McCown's importance to Darnold's development this year shouldn't be marginalized. He will be a pivotal component to the rookie's transition to the next level. It'll also be an advantage that the former USC star has over the rest of the rookies.Think about it.
Josh Allen will have no Yoda in Buffalo. How much can AJ McCarron, who has four career starts in four seasons, teach the Bills’ top pick? Tyrod Taylor will be a quality teammate for Baker Mayfield in Cleveland, but if you don't think that the 28-year-old former Bills starter has designs on re-igniting his career with the Browns, I have some swampland in Florida you might be interested in purchasing.
Sam Bradford promised Josh Rosen that he'd be "an open book" in Arizona, but remember that this is the same guy who pouted after the Eagles drafted Carson Wentz a couple years ago.
Then, there's Roethlisberger, who didn't hold back his feelings on his team adding Rudolph: "I was surprised when they took a quarterback because I thought that maybe in the third round, you know, you can get some really good football players that can help this team now. Nothing against Mason… I'm sure he's a great kid. I just don't know how backing up or being a third [string]… helps us win now."
Ouch. Sam Darnold needs to take advantage of having Josh McCown as a mentor. Sam Darnold needs to take advantage of having Josh McCown as a mentor. (JULIO CORTEZ/AP) McCown resides on the other end of the spectrum.

"The best thing I can do is look back in five years and Sam Darnold is in the Pro Bowl," McCown told me after the Jets took Darnold with the No. 3 overall pick. "That would be the most satisfying thing. We'll see. It'll be fun."

Brian Costello, NY Post
There is always a quarterback storyline with the Jets. This year’s will be: How soon does Darnold start? McCown is the starter entering training camp, but the Jets have been clear that Darnold can win the job. Bridgewater’s health is a question that needs to be answered. The Jets could dangle him as trade bait if he is healthy. Upgrade? Yes. Though McCown might not be able to duplicate his 2017 success, this is a better overall quarterback room with Darnold and Bridgewater.

Around The AFC East
Buffalo Bills
Retiring a number in the NFL is no easy task.
While franchises in other sports may be quick to retire numbers, NFL teams are working with large rosters and a limited amount of available numbers to be worn on jerseys.
But there comes a time when a player is so legendary to a team and a city, no one should be allowed to wear his number ever again.The Buffalo Bills currently only have the No. 12 of Jim Kelly and the No. 78 of Bruce Smith completely off-limits. That will change this year. It was only a matter of time before the team made it official with Thurman Thomas. And to make it that much more exciting, the ceremony will come during the October 29 Monday night game against the New England Patriots.

Miami Dolphins
Danny Amendola evidently is making his presence felt even before playing a game with the Miami Dolphins. Amendola signed a two-year, $12 million contract with Miami earlier this offseason after spending the past five seasons with the New England Patriots. It remains to be seen how much of an impact Amendola will make between the lines with his new team, but Dolphins head coach Adam Gase is impressed by what he has seen from the veteran wide receiver thus far. “It’s one of those values that I don’t think you can put a price on,” Gase said this week on “PFT Live,” per ProFootballTalk. “He’s been great in our locker room. I think the guys watch him work on the field and in the weight room and they understand why he’s played as long as he has, why he’s had success in big situations.” Amendola had a knack for stepping up in clutch situations with the Patriots. The Dolphins are coming off a 6-10 season and have gone to the playoffs just once since 2009, but Amendola could play a major role in helping Miami improve moving forward, in large because of his intangibles.

New England Patriots
Matt Light will be immortalized forever in Patriots history. New England announced on Wednesday that the former left tackle will be inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in September. Light was one of three selected as a finalist for The Hall by the Patriots Hall of Fame Committee back mid-April and through fan vote beat out the likes of Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour…..The New England Patriots announced today the signing of 2018 second-round draft pick defensive back Duke Dawson. Terms of the contract were not announced. Dawson, 22, was selected by the Patriots in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft with the 56th overall selection out of Florida. 

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