By Green Rewind Contributor Ray Clifford
I've had about a week now to absorb the Jets draft and look at their picks a little more closely. And I would give them a grade that hovers somewhere between a C+ and a B-. I will start by saying that I don't include their first pick in my assessment because a) If you're anyone but the Giants that pick was a gimme and b) I felt all along that this draft grade would be determined by their picks in the later rounds, not by their first pick. It would have been nice to have a 2nd rounder but not having one is the reason we DO have Sam Darnold. Which is where my problem with Maccagnan's drafting begins. The Jets seem to be going about this in reverse of the trends of the successful teams of late. Look at the Cowboys, the Browns and the Colts. They rebuilt their teams by concentrating on the O Line. Yes, Dallas and Indy already had their QB's but they knew to protect him they needed to upgrade the line. As it turned out Romo got hurt and Dak Prescott stepped right into a great situation and has thrived. Andrew Luck has apparently returned to his Pro Bowl form and Baker Mayfield has clearly benefitted from the line in front of him. Now compare that with the Jets. Mike Maccagnan has drafted exactly THREE players for the offensive line since he has been the GM. He knew for two years they were going to draft a "franchise" quarterback and did virtually nothing to prepare for him. So I thought this year, other than the first pick, would be different. Let's look at these picks. In round 3 they had two picks and with the second one took an OL Edoga out of USC. A solid pick because of his flexibility to play multiple positions. But the first pick was Polite, an LB out of Florida. Definitely a risk/reward pick. I would rather have seen them take Terry McLaurin out of OSU if he was not going to take an OL, mainly because he has blazing speed, could be a 3rd or 4th receiver and will be a Special Teams standout. Three lineman he passed over that could have been good additions were Deiter out of Wisconsin, McGovern from Penn St. and Froholdt from Arkansas.
In the 4th the Jets picked Trevon Wesco, a TE from W.Va. a stretch pick that every publication I looked at had rated as a late round pick. Meanwhile they passed on guards Powers and Samia both out of Oklahoma and Jordan from OSU. Maybe Wesco would have still been available in a round or two later?
In the 5th they took Cashman, a LB out of Minnesota. Undersized but got good reviews. Is he better than Darron Lee? I guess we'll find out. Passed on tackles Edwards from Wisconsin and Skule from Vanderbilt.
Finally, in the 6th they took Austin a cornerback from Rutgers. I live in Big 10 territory, so I saw enough of Rutgers to wonder, what about their defense was any good? He passed on tackles Prince out of OSU, Daley of South Carolina and Gray of Maryland. I know Maryland wasn't very good either, but their offense was actually decent, they just couldn't stop a runny nose on D. I'm not saying he should have taken these guys instead of who they took. Drafting is a crap shoot not a science. If it was that black and white Tom Brady wouldn't have lasted to round 6, Joe Montana to round 4 and James Harrison wouldn't have been undrafted. But if you want to build a team to be a consistent winner you need to build from the lines out, not the other way around. But Maccagnan has spent the better part of his drafts on either defense or offensive skill positions. Leaving the OL to see who gets cut, undrafted free agents or trying to trade for someone to get another year or two out of them. We had a TON of cap room this past offseason and it was mainly spent on a RB, a LB, a WR and a DB along with re-signing a couple of their own. He missed on at least three OL who were highly sought after free agents. Knowing this I can't look at this draft and say that Maccagnan did enough to put Sam Darnold in a position to thrive.
Jets Lose To Vikings Again
Being a Jet fan since 1964 I tend to be a glass half empty type of guy. All is going okay and I loved the Jets signing Wake Forest wide receiver Greg Dortch as an un-drafted free agent (see Cimini and Mehta below). So far so good. Then I see get a report from Pro-Football Talk that the Jets lost out on a good wide receiver prospect Jeff Badet. This guy is a real speedster who could have added a nice “stretch the field” element to the Jet offense. But at the 11th hour it was the Vikings who scooped him up from their own practice squad. According to Pro-Football Talk:
“the Vikings gave Badet a $75,000 signing bonus to keep the 2018 practice-squad player away from the Jets.”
After three years at Kentucky, Badet transferred to Oklahoma, because he wanted to play with Baker Mayfield. He did not get an invitation to the Combine but Badet ran the 40-yard dash in 4.27 seconds at the Oklahoma Pro Day in 2018. He did not light it up statistcally in college but in his last year at Kentucky he averaged 21.6 yards per reception. These are the type of receivers I love. Is it me or does it seem like unless Mike Maccagnan over pays (really over pays) for a free agent, he cannot complete a deal. Yes the Jets got C.J. Mosley this year but with a five-year, $85 million contract and Truman Johnson last year for a five-year, $72.5 million contract. I don’t see where Maccagnan is making great moves. I do give him credit for the Sam Darnold trade and he does pretty good right after the draft signing un-drafted free agents. But the lack of offensive linemen and getting stiffed by the Vikings (Anthony Barr also) is not good. Except for the start of free agency, Maccagnan just does not move quickly enough. He moved down in the later rounds but has not done so in the earlier rounds. In 2020 the Patriots will have 13 draft picks. The Jets will never be able to compete as long as this continues. And by the way, Adam Gase does not get a free ride. Sure the Jets just signed former Dolphin QB Nick Falk but I haven’t seen one other former Dolphin want to come to the Jets to play for Gase. I’m more nervous with the possibility of seeing Sam Darnold get injured than anything else. Like I said I’m a half empty type of guy.
.....If Avery Williamson can improve on his pass coverage just a little bit, he may have an All-Pro season with the new weapons around him on defense....Trumaine Johnson’s weight is down and he seems to be taking things more serious.....Prediction for Jet fans that if he is serious about his career Jachai Polite will be the steal of the draft…..The Jets need for DBs may be overrated if the Jet pass rush becomes a legitimate threat…..If Darron Lee is not traded I still want Frankie Luvu and Neville Hewitt to get as many or more reps than him.....Le'Veon Bell signing still does not feel right. Please let me be wrong and let Bell rush for 125 yds and catch 5 passes for 75 yds and score 2 TDS vs Bills on opening day…..IMHO Trenton Cannon needs an awesome preseason to stick on the roster….My latest prayer to the Ewbank in the sky is that unknown offensive linemen Jon Toth, Eric Smith and Ben Braden turn out to be gems…….According to NFL Next Gen Stats, in addition to his 7 sacks last year, Henry Anderson was double teamed 60% of the snaps and had 16 QB hits. Anderson may be the best Jet signing this off-season….90% of the phone calls on sports radio around NY have been about Giants picking Daniel Jones in first round at #6. The pick was fine. The rationalization by GM Dave Gettleman might eventually bury him……Jets are collecting tight ends and quarterbacks at warp speed. Oh know! They just let Brandon Silvers go!….Jets new uniforms do nothing for me but admittedly I really like the helmets…..If I were a betting man, I’d say Davis Webb is the next QB to be gone from the Jets….Living in the suburbs can I ever go to a bagel or grocery store on a Sunday morning just once without local youth teams and cheerleaders asking for donations?......
What The Jet Scribes Are Saying
Rich Cimini, ESPN
As an economics major at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, Mike Maccagnan studied risk versus reward -- a concept he applies to his current job as general manager of the Jets. Based on risk and reward, Quinnen Williams was perhaps the safest big decision he has ever made. No player is a 100 percent sure thing, but recent trends show the former Alabama star is as close to "can't miss" as there is in today's NFL…..Williams and coach Adam Gase have something in common. Actually, that something is a someone -- Saban.Like Williams, Gase worked under the legendary coach in college. At Michigan State, he was an undergraduate assistant on Saban's coaching staff, basically a behind-the-scenes grunt eager to cut his teeth in the coaching profession. Gase must have done a good job because he was invited to join Saban's first staff at LSU, where he served as a graduate assistant….Of the 17 rookie free agents who signed with the Jets, the most fascinating is Wake Forest wide receiver/kick returner Greg Dortch, a 5-foot-7, 173-pound spitfire who averaged one touchdown per game in college. He led the ACC last season with an average of 145.8 all-purpose yards per game. He recorded 89 receptions for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns, and he also scored twice on punt returns. In three seasons, Dortch scored 19 touchdowns in 20 games. Clearly, Dortch's size was the main reason he wasn't drafted, but there's a big heart in that small body. In 2017, he punctured his small intestine while landing on a pylon as he scored his second touchdown against Louisville, but he stayed in the game and scored two more touchdowns. He was rushed to the hospital later that night and underwent emergency surgery, ending his season. Dortch couldn't have landed in a better place because -- maybe you've heard? -- the Jets need a punt and kickoff returner after losing All-Pro Andre Roberts in free agency…..The addition of quarterback Luke Falk, who was claimed on waivers on Friday, is a clear indication Gase isn't sold on Davis Webb as the No. 3. Why would he be? After all, Webb has yet to take a regular-season snap. Neither has Falk, but he has a connection to Gase because he spent last season with the Miami Dolphins. Gase likes Falk's potential, so he pulled him off waivers for the second year in a row. (Last September, he was released by the Titans, the team that drafted him in the sixth round in 2018.) The Jets will take four quarterbacks to training camp, which means one has to go. Falk, Webb and Brandon Silvers are fighting for two spots. Sam Darnold and Trevor Siemian are set as the No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
Brian Costello, NY Post
The NFL draft is over. The active part of free agency is long over. Rosters are not set, but the heavy lifting is done. Now, it is tinker season. Teams will add and remove pieces for the next few months until they have to settle on their 53-man rosters to start the season. With their roster pretty much set, the Jets have undergone some major changes. They spent more than $120 million in free agency — highlighted by the additions of Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley. They made a big trade for guard Kelechi Osemele. Then, last week they drafted Quinnen Williams in the first round and added others who they hope can contribute this season. “I think we’ve done some good things in terms of improving the talent at certain positions,” general manager Mike Maccagnan said. “I think you’re never truly done. I don’t think people realize it’s not as if you finish the draft and that’s the last time you spend looking at the roster.”…..The Jets currently have Jonotthan Harrison penciled in as their starting center. The 27-year-old is no stranger to that role. He started 19 games at center for the Colts in 2014-15, plus another four at guard in 2016. With the Jets, he ended up starting eight games last year after Spencer Long was injured and ineffective. The Jets were happy with how Harrison played down the stretch. Still, he projects more as a competent backup than a Week 1 starter. The Jets showed some interest in centers in free agency, but seemed scared off by their hefty price tags and decided to spend that money elsewhere. Then, they went into the draft thinking about drafting one, but things did not fall that way.It is still possible that Maccagnan could sign a veteran or make a trade for a center, but the market is thin.……you’d like the Jets to have an All-Pro wide receiver. But overall, they have upgraded the offense around Darnold enough to help him in Year 2. Bell is a huge addition that will help the passing game as well as the running game. Jamison Crowder is a weapon for Adam Gase in the slot. Chris Herndon showed a lot of promise as a rookie and now can be paired with rookie Trevon Wesco to form a nice duo at tight end. The key here will be Gase. Can he get the most out of Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa?
Manish Mehta, NY Daily News
Keep an eye on Wake Forest wide receiver Greg Dortch. One NFC scout I spoke to this week was fawning over Dortch like he was the next coming of Wes Welker. I had to tell the scout to exhale and relax, because there’s little chance of Dortch turning into Welker. But this kid could have a shot to stick as a returner and slot option. Dortch is only 5-7, 173 pounds, but his quickness and start-stop ability inside the numbers make him an intriguing flier. Dortch racked up 142 catches for 1,800 yards and 17 touchdowns as a two-year starter. He was a high-volume pass catcher last year, accounting for a ridiculous 39.6 percent of his team’s receptions. He also averaged 22.1 and 20.9 yards per kickoff return, respectively, in two years.…..The Jets would trade Lee in a New York minute in a reasonable deal. It hasn’t happened yet, so he’s a member of the team. For now. Don’t rule out a trade later this spring. In the meantime, his $1.8 million base salary in the final year of his rookie deal is relative peanuts. The Jets won’t pick up his fifth-year option, which is about $10 million. They’ll gladly take the 2021 compensatory pick when he walks in free agency after this season. Truth be told, Lee did a decent job in coverage last season. He could find a meaningful role in Greg Williams’ defense…..
Around The NFL
…..Baltimore Ravens sixth-round pick Trace McSorley, an athletic quarterback out of Penn State, signed his four-year rookie contract the team announced on Saturday…..Mecole Hardman,the Chiefs' top 2019 draft pick, who was one of four Kansas City selections who signed rookie contracts, the team announced on Saturday…..Albeit, it was the first day of rookie minicamp without any pads, but receivers D.K. Metcalf (Seattle) and Parris Campbell(Colts) grabbed headlines and highlights with their showcase performances.Metcalf, a star at the NFL Scouting Combine, turned heads with a leaping catch along the sidelines of his initial Seahawks practice and drew praise from new coach Pete Carroll. "He may be even more unique than we thought," Carroll said via the Seattle Times' Bob Condotta.Campbell, who went up against fellow second-rounder Rock Ya-Sin on a few occasions at the Colts' minicamp, hauled in contested catches, broke some big gains and lined up in the slot and outside, which was the biggest question mark for him coming into the draft…..It just might take a while for Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott to get said extension as Dallas has a logjam of players deserving of paydays. That line began with pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, who signed a mega deal, and quarterback Dak Prescott and receiver Amari Cooper are next up.After picking up Elliott's fifth-year rookie option, Dallas executive vice president Stephen Jones stressed that a deal will get done, but there's no rush as it pertains to the NFL's reigning rushing leader…..Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden put an end to any lingering speculation surrounding his offensive tackles.Gruden announced Friday that second-year pro Kolton Miller would remain on the left side to start off the season, while Trent Brown will man the right side. Brandon Parker carries the responsibility of swing tackle…..There was no escaping the narrative of cornerback Greedy Williams being a bad tackler during the 2019 NFL Draft."What's missing is if you studied the game film, I was mostly a man corner," Williams told NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala. "At LSU I did my job. Tackling wasn't a big thing they wanted me to do. They wanted me to cover."I wasn't able to showcase my tackling ability. Now that I'm here, I can work zone, man, anything. So I'm able to prove that I'm a great tackler.”…..The Houston Texans couldn't afford to maintain the status quo during the offseason when it came to protecting their franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Texans used the draft to bolster the ranks with the selections of offensive tackles Tytus Howard in the first round and Max Scharping in the second round.The Texans began the rebuilding process on the offensive line during free agency by signing left tackle Matt Kalil and bringing back right tackle Seantrel Henderson…..New England traded Garoppolo to San Francisco during the 2017 season for the 49ers’ 2018 second-round draft pick. That pick turned out to be the 43rd overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. But the Patriots didn’t use it. Instead, they traded it for two picks — and then traded those two picks for more picks, and kept making more trades until the point when they’ve drafted six players with picks that came completely or in part from the 49ers’ second-rounder. And they’re still not done……