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Sunday, April 26, 2020

Jets Draft Analysis

All the draft gurus and myself will be grading the draft because people love to see different opinions and comments about each pick. The truth of the matter is and most of you know this, it will take 2-3 years before we really get an idea of how Joe Douglas did with his first draft. The one obvious thing about JD (Joe Douglas) is he knew how to maneuver correctly playing the odds, accumulate draft capital and still get player(s) of value. The biggest head scratcher was the second 4th round pick QB James Morgan from Florida International University. Like you, I wondered at the time what that pick was all about but 48 hours later, it makes more sense to me. I'll explain later. The one thing I will say that with a team like the Jets with a lot of holes, the first 2 picks have to be starters from day one. No ifs ands or buts!
Okay here we go.

1. OT, Mekhi Becton, Louisville
At first during the video clip of the announcement I thought we had drafted his father as he was struggling to get up off the couch and I was almost fainted. But then seeing Mekhi Becton I calmed down. Becton is the one of the four tackles with the most upside according to most draftniks. Personally I would have liked Tristan Wirfs but from what I read you could not have gone wrong with any of the  4 tackles. The concern by everyone is if he is able to keep his weight stable. This may not be a concern as all NFL times have a lot invested in nutritionists, cooks etc. and are able to monitor each player.

From his NFL draft Profile: 
Enormous frame complemented by surprisingly nimble feet and functional athleticism to handle either tackle spot. Becton's combination of movement and force should allow him to fit easily into all running schemes, but he needs to play with better patience in order to control and redirect all that mass into centered blocks in both run and pass. His technique and set-up are better than expected in pass pro, while his size and length allow him to recover and redirect both inside and outside rushes. With all really big prospects, weight and quickness will be concerns, but Becton's areas of concern are correctable or manageable if he's disciplined enough to prioritize them. He has the potential to be a good starter on either side, but the weight creates an obvious low-floor scenario.

                                               Mekhi Becton highlights

2. WR, Denzel Mims, Baylor
A few years ago the Raiders drafted a wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, with the 7th pick in the draft from Maryland based mostly on his speed. Heyward-Bey never lived up to expectations. The reason I mention him is because that is who I compared Denzel Mims to during the last college football season. I hope to the football Gods I am wrong. I wanted Micheal Pittman Jr. from USC but he was off the board pretty quick. Mims, who lit it up at the NFL Combine kept sliding down the draft board but it turned out well for JD because the Jets traded back to get more draft capital. Everyone says Denzel Mims is raw but he still has to start from day one. One of the positives about Mims when asked in an interview what he loves to do most he stated emphatically, blocking. This is rare coming from a wide receiver. Denzel Mims like Mekhi Becton is one of those players who can become real good if they are willing to put in the work. At issue was with some is his drops. But upon a close look according to ESPN Stats he had 5 last year which was a 4.3 drop pct. That number is lower than CeeDee Lamb (5.4) and Jerry Jeudy (4.5).

From his NFL draft Profile:
Mims is a long-striding outside target with excellent height, weight and speed and an insane catch-radius. He's a touchdown threat anytime he's near the red zone, with the focus and body control to finesse and finish catches above the rim. He struggles to release and separate from physical press corners, and he doesn't consistently compete and outwork opponents for positioning on contested catches. If the route work and intensity catch up with his natural athletic ability, he could become a dangerous "Z" receiver in a vertical offense, but the floor might be lower than some teams are comfortable with.

                                                  Denzel Mims highlights

3. S, Ashtyn Davis , Cal
I love this pick! I was a huge Jim Leonhard fan during the short time he was with the Jets and Davis reminds me of him. Athletes who love football that can and are willing to play different positions are my type of players. Davis was a walk-on at California by way of a track scholarship. He is listed as a safety but has played cornerback. The pick may not make sense with Adams and Maye locked in at Safety. But Maye has one year left on his contract and until Adams is signed long term, who knows where the Jets actually stand at the safety position. Ashtyn Davis also plays big on special teams and was California's special teams MVP two years in a row. Scouts rave about his A-plus character which seems to be JD's draft class theme this year.

From his NFL draft Profile:
Late-comer to the game who has rare physical gifts that can't be taught but can be capitalized on. His instincts are just average right now, but he appears to have decent recognition skills. He just needs to trust what he sees. Learning to play under control in coverage and as a tackler will be the difference between being considered a good football player instead of an explosive athlete. The elite traits should get him drafted inside the first two days, but there are some boom/bust elements to his game right now. He should become a future starter at safety, but his size, length and speed could create interest in him as a potential cornerback conversion.

                               Ashtyn Davis highlights

3. Edge, Jabari Zuniga, Florida
Like you the first thing I thought of was last year's Florida edge pass rusher Jachai Polite taken by Mike Maccagnan in the 3rd round. He is nothing like him! Zuniga’s monstrous start to his senior season was derailed by a high-ankle sprain. He came out of the gate strong early, adding 14 tackles, seven for loss and three sacks in just six games. He is a good kid with a lot of upside and nothing like Jachai Polite.

From his NFL draft Profile:
With Zuniga, you either buy into the flashes or you don't. He's an explosive athlete who has been splashing and flashing since his freshman season but failed to fully reach the promise his traits and explosiveness implied. A monstrous start to 2019 was truncated due to a high ankle sprain. He's disruptive in the gaps but is not stout enough at the point of attack. He has edge-rushing ability but could find stardom as a reduced rusher in sub-packages, where he's craftier and more capable of exploiting athletic mismatches. His boogeyman qualities could spring themselves upon unsuspecting offenses relatively early in his career, but his grade is based on projection over production.

                              Jabari Zuniga highlights

4. RB, La'Mical Perine, Florida
An excellent value pick. Perine grew up in Mobile, Alabama and turned down an offer to attend the University of Alabama. I love running backs who run close to the ground. And he can catch the football. He is not ultra quick (but quick enough) but he is very elusive. He has some good explosion and has better game speed than his 40 time (4.62) suggests.

From his NFL draft Profile:
High-character, hard worker on and off the field. Backup-caliber running back who fails to dazzle in any particular area, but who does enough of what's asked of him and has the character traits to become a dependable pro. He's most skilled in the early stages of the run, where his sticky feet and quick eyes help him find his initial rush tracks, but his lack of burst and second-level creativity make him more of a grinder than a playmaker. He has the play traits to compete for a backup role in a one-cut scheme, and his special teams experience improves his chances.

                            La'Mical Perine highlights

4. QB, James Morgan, FIU
Here we go! At the time it seemed like Christian Hackenberg all over again. If you look at the whole situation with the cap, if James Morgan is the back-up it frees more money rather than pay a Joe Flacco or Andy Dalton as a back-up. Remember starting this week a new stage of the free agent market opens up where if you sign a player, the team that loses him does not get any compensatory picks. So if the picking of James Morgan opens up the purse to sign a Logan Ryan or Jason Peters to a one year contract then it makes sense. My only issue is because of the Coronavirus and the lack of OTA's, if Sam Darnold gets hurt and James Morgan is forced into action lacking quality repetitions, it could get spooky! I cannot watch another game or for that matter even a quarter with a Luke Falk type at QB. Joe Douglas gets a mulligan on his first draft so I'll go with his judgement.

From his NFL draft Profile:
It's easy to tell that the Green Bay native favors quarterbacks like Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers when you watch his tape. Unfortunately, while he has similar zip to the Packer legends, he's nowhere near as accurate and lacks any semblance of touch. Morgan is very capable of making impressive throws to all areas of the field, but his violent release and inconsistent footwork hinder functional ball placement and accuracy. His lack of pocket mobility and instincts make him too easy for defensive coordinators to assault with a variety of blitz packages. However, some teams view Morgan as the only true developmental quarterback talent in this draft, and that could make him a middle-round pick.

                             James Morgan highlights

4. OT, Cameron Clark, Charlotte 
At 6'4" and 308 lbs., Clark gives the Jets some much needed depth at the offensive line. Was a two-year team captain, 2019 first-team All-Conference USA as voted on by the conference's coaches, and the team's Offensive MVP in 2017. He proved he could hang with the big dogs in Charlotte's game against Clemson in which he played very well. He could sit for year and I'd look for him to play  guard.

From his NFL draft Profile:
Clark has good arm length and played almost exclusively at left tackle, but his game is better-suited at guard. He has good upper-body power to shock and plays with a mauler's demeanor when battling and finishing. Lateral quickness is below average in the run game and his pad level needs to be corrected for a move inside. He's not a slick move-and-mirror pass protector, but length and redirect power are weapons to work with if he can get his footwork and punch-timing shored up. He had outstanding moments against Clemson but didn't sustain that level of play throughout the season. The flashes are there but he needs to play with better consistency to make a mark.

                            Cameron Clark highlights

5. CB, Bryce Hall, Virginia
The steal of the draft! A highly rated player who had a major setback because of an ankle injury. He suffered a fracture fibula and dislocated ankle that included torn ligaments on a punt coverage last October. If he is able to come back from this injury, and the Jets think he can, he has a shot to be a 10 year starter in the NFL. From Pro Football Focus: He led the nation with 23 forced incompletions back in 2018 before teams stopped throwing his way in 2019.

From his NFL draft profile:
Angular outside corner who uses instinctive footwork and long arms to close out and challenge a healthy percentage of throws. His backpedal and transitions are more functional than fluid and could be exploited by NFL route-runners and speedsters. His reactive quickness and ball skills fit nicely into zone-based coverages, allowing greater freedom to spy quarterbacks and squeeze short and intermediate throws. He can handle man coverage, but he needs protection over the top. Hall is a future starting cornerback but might garner attention at free safety at some point in his career.

                            Bryce Hall highlights

6.  P, Braden Mann, Texas A&M
"Never take the foot out of football"
                                          -Bill Parcells

Field position is everything in NFL games. I was a fan of Lac Edwards though he was much better in 2018 than 2019. But Adam Gase and JD opted for another direction. Braden Mann set the NCAA record with 51.0 yards per punt, placing 19 of 50 punts inside the 20-yard line and forcing 11 fair catches. Mann also performed well in his kickoff duties (57 of 80 for touchbacks) and made four coverage tackles on the year. Mann had a rare seven tackles in coverage in 2019. All I can say is I hope this man(n) can punt it high and far.

From his NFL draft profile:
Mann was the premier field-flipper in all of college football with the touch and talent to stick opposing teams near their end zone on pooch kicks. He offers additional value handling kickoffs and is an above average open-field tackler. He may need to sacrifice some distance for more hang-time to prevent out-blasting his coverage, but he has a chance to become a top-five punter in the league.
                               Braden Mann highlights

Un-drafted Free Agent Signings 2020
My good friend Lenny Kaye has always said that General Managers earn their stripes after the 3rd round all the way to the un-drafted free agents the team signs. Last year Mike Macaggnan does deserve credit for a few of his un-drafted free agents signings. Defensive lineman Kyle Phillips was a pleasant surprise and has some very good upside. Wide receiver Jeff Smith was brought up to the 53-man roster during the season as was Kyron Brown. Macaggnan signed 16 players in total. This year Joe Douglas seems to want more quality rather than quantity. As of this writing the Jets have signed 9 players. All have an outside shot to at least make the practice squad. Below is the list of the players. The ones I think that have a chance to stick with the team are in bold.

WR Lawrence Cager, Georgia
WR George Campbell, West Virginia
OT Jared Hilbers,Washington
DT Sterling Johnson, Coastal Carolina
DT Domenique Davis, UNC-Pembroke
LB Bryce Huff, Memphis
DB Shyheim Carter, Alabama
CB Javelin Guidry Jr., Utah
CB Lamar Jackson, Nebraska

Green Tidbits
.....I think the Jets should have a Dr. on staff just for ankles. The Jets either get players with ankle problems or players they have develop ankle problems.....Mentioned above, look for the Jets to sign a couple of left over free agents this week. If they do, possible cap casualties are: Avery Williamson, Brian Winters and Henry Anderson.....The Jets traded their other 6th round pick to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for cornerback Quincy Wilson. Good move.....As of now the Jets have 2 picks in next year's fifth round....Lots of team captains were drafted. Five I think. With the un-drafted free agents a few of the signings were graduate students. Good smarts!.....RB La'Mical Perine (fourth round):  One of three players in SEC with 2,000+ rush yards and 500+ receiving yards over last three seasons. Others: D'Andre Swift and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.....Florida defensive end Jabari Zuniga had a message for everyone: “I definitely consider myself the steal of the draft,” hope he's right.....Let's keep an eye on UDFA Bryce Huff from Memphis. His 16 sacks the last 2 seasons were all against good competition. I've reviewed tape and he has one of the quickest 1st steps I've seen in a while. Also he is an excellent tackler. And with a name like Huff, he has to make a New York team!.....

What The Jet Scribes Are Saying
Rich Cimini, ESPN
Grading Douglas: How did he fare in his first draft? It's impossible to give a letter grade, but let's say this:
For the most part, Douglas' selections came off the board where expected, which means good value. He hit two big needs: offensive tackle and wide receiver. He improved the team speed, particularly with the first four choices. He showed flexibility by making three trades -- two pick swaps and a third for veteran cornerback Quincy Wilson. He improved the overall depth on Days 2 and 3. On the downside, Douglas took too long to address the cornerback need, waiting until the fifth round for Bryce Hall (coming off ankle surgery). He went light at receiver, putting his eggs in the Mims basket. The fourth round was too early for a developmental quarterback, James Morgan, but that might be a nitpick because of the value of the position. All in all, Douglas did solid work.

Brian Costello, NY Post
James Morgan grew up in the shadow of Lambeau Field. Now, he may get to face the Packers there someday. The Jets selected Morgan, a quarterback from Florida International, with the second of their three fourth-round picks on Saturday in the 2020 NFL Draft. Morgan will get to be Sam Darnold’s backup, even though he is actually a few months older than Darnold. Morgan understands he is not being drafted to start, but the Jets also know they need to develop some depth behind Darnold — he has missed six starts in the past two years, and the Jets lost every one of those games.

“From the discussions we’ve had, one thing I think I’ve tried to make clear to them is whatever role I may have whether it’s helping Sam prepare, competing, whatever it may be, that’s out of my control,” Morgan said. “It’s up to them to decide. All I am going to focus on is what I can control and that’s giving my full effort to helping the team win. However it shakes out, I’m just here to help this organization win games.”

Morgan has a big arm and is clearly intelligent. He began his college career at Bowling Green and graduated from there in 3 ½ years with a degree in pre-law. Morgan transferred to Florida International after a coaching change led to him losing his starting job at Bowling Green. He wrote letters to 30 programs and FIU gave him his shot.

Manish Mehta, NY Daily News
The success of Joe Douglas’ first draft in the big chair won’t truly be known until years from now, but the new Jets general manager sounded pleased having final say for the first time in his two-decade long NFL career.

“This process went about as smooth as it could go under the circumstances,” Douglas said from his home after drafting nine players during this virtual experience. “I think it was a real team effort… Every department from video to IT to coaching to personnel, we all came together. We embraced the technology…. And there was great communication back and forth. We weren’t afraid to disagree. We weren’t afraid to have tough conversations. And I really think it led us to some good players and a good overall draft.”

Douglas addressed short-term and long-term needs, spreading the wealth by drafting eight positions (four on offense, three on defense and one special teamer). Day three was unofficially Leadership Day for the Jets, who selected five team captains to round out the draft class. Douglas also made his third trade of the draft by acquiring former Colts second-round cornerback Quincy Wilson for Gang Green’s final pick (No. 211 in the sixth round). Douglas made no secret that he wanted to improve the league’s worst offense by providing better protection and playmakers for Sam Darnold. The Jets added a starting tackle (Mekhi Becton) and wide receiver (Denzel Mims) with their first two picks before bringing in depth/rotational offensive pieces. Florida running back La’Mical Perine, who was taken with the first of three fourth-round picks on Saturday, is expected to play a complementary role to Le’Veon Bell in the backfield.

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