Following a wildly successful free agency, Mike Maccagnan and the Jets needed to fill in the holes in their roster through the draft. They walked away from the draft with six new players, each filling in some of these holes. But notably, the Jets neglected to draft a center and wide receiver. A failure which may prove costly in the seasons to come.
Overall it was a successful draft, addressing needs on the defensive and offensive front. When each pick arrived, the Jets selected the best player on their board, with both the highest risk and reward.
Today the Jets’ picks are rational yet optimistic, and may bolster a team destined to make their first playoff run since 2010. However, The Jets will have to wait years to see what truly becomes of this years draft class.
Quinnen Williams: A +
1st round: 3rd pick
This pick was perfect. The Jets took the best player on the board, arguably in the draft. Williams will have an immediate impact on the defensive line, being a nightmare for quarterbacks and offensive coordinators. Williams is nicknamed “the 300-pound bar of soap” for a reason. He can slip effortlessly through the seams in the O-line, disrupting opposing offenses’ running and passing games. The Jets just made a massive upgrade to their defense.
Jachai Polite: B +
3rd round: 68th pick
Polite’s combine failures and character concerns don’t reflect the damage this edge rusher did while playing last year in the SEC for Florida. He racked up 19.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, and 6 forced fumbles. Numbers roughly comparable to another SEC edge rusher, in top prospect Josh Allen. Polite was considered one of the premier edge rushers in this draft prior to his poor combine.
However, it’s still hard to forget his underwhelming performance at the combine. If Polite does rise above his combine, and replicates his collegiate success at the pro level, Mike Maccagnan and Jets will look like geniuses. On the other hand, this is still a risky pick, it’s possible that Polite’s combine performance was a preview for his play at the next level. If all goes as is hoped for the Jets, this pick is a third-round steal that addresses a serious defensive need. If all doesn’t go as is hoped, the Jets once again will have failed to draft the edge rusher they need.
Chuma Edoga: B –
3rd round: 92nd pick
Chuma Edoga, Offensive tackle out of USC, has the physical abilities and record that both show he’s able to prevent pressure on the quarterback. The Jets, with the loss of both James Carpenter and Spencer Long to free agency, needed to acquire a lineman through the draft. Drafting Edoga potentially addresses this need. Edoga is an experienced, long-armed tackle with above-average footwork and athleticism. Jets scouts hope he also has the necessary positional flexibility to shift from tackle to guard.
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But Edoga’s record and abilities also come with a slew of questions about discipline and character. Questions that should concern a Jets organization with a long history of locker room issues and player misconduct. This pick finally addresses the Jets offensive line woes, and the Jets can only hope Edoga’s talent on the line outweighs any character issues off the field.
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Trevon Wesco: A –
4th round: 121st pick
One of the Jets major offensive draft necessities was a tight end. Taking Trevon Wesco in the 4th round, Mike Maccagnan and the Jets are looking to give Sam Darnold another large target beside Chris Herndon. Similar to Herndon, Wesco is 6’4”, with soft hands, a wide frame, and a physical toughness that allows him to catch balls up the middle. Pre-draft, Wesco was ranked as one of the most effective tight ends on the block. Wesco can clear lanes for Le’Veon Bell and the newly minted Jets running game. This late in the draft, the Jets find a diamond in the rough, making life easier for their star running back and franchise quarterback.
Blake Cashman: B +
5th round: 157th pick
The first obvious question for Mike Maccagnan is why an inside linebacker. This was clearly not a need with both C.J. Mosley and Avery Williamson. But Cashman to some was one of the most talented inside linebackers in this draft. Cashman performed well at the combine, displaying his elite speed on the field. This may not necessarily be a present need, but it may signal the Jets going in a different direction with linebacker Darron Lee. Cashman can use that elite speed to his advantage: sprinting sideline-to-sideline, covering running backs and tight ends.
The Jets may have just found a starter in the 5th round.
Blessuan Austin:C –
6th round: 196th pick
Cornerback was one of the Jets remaining needs on day three when the 6th round arrived. Still on the board was a handful of talented cornerbacks, but the Jets decided to take a risk, drafting Blessuan Austin out of Rutgers. It doesn’t look great when a prospect has only played five games in the last two seasons. He didn’t run well at the combine and wasn’t able to play to refute any concerns that arose from his numbers. Maybe Austin doesn’t get injured again, which is unlikely given his track record, and maybe Austin is able to silence his critics wrong on the playing field. But in the end, this pick seems too high risk, too outweigh the possible reward.