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NY Jets: Winners And Losers

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Which Jets players benefited the most from the 2016 draft? Which players were hurt the most?

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The 2016 NFL Draft is in the books.  Which current Jets players had their prospects solidified?  Which players saw their roster spots become more precarious?  Let's break it down.

WINNERS

Geno Smith. Prior to the draft there was speculation the Jets might choose a quarterback in the first round, possibly Paxton Lynch.  If they had done so, the way the NFL is today, that first round quarterback would very likely have played sooner rather than later, and Geno would have been relegated to the bench barring a stellar performance in the preseason and/or in early regular season games.  Instead, the Jets got their quarterback in the second round, and Christian Hackenberg, even if you like his potential, is unlikely to challenge for the starting position in 2016.  This could still change when and if the Jets sign Ryan Fitzpatrick or some other veteran stopgap, but as of now Geno Smith is the Jets' starting quarterback, and barring a complete meltdown, a big leap in development by Petty, or the signing of a veteran stopgap, Geno will likely be the starter for all of the 2016 season, or at least until the Jets are out of playoff contention.  It's still early, and this could easily change, but that is a rather stunning development for the Jets' embattled signal caller.

The Tight Ends.  These are the the tight ends currently on the Jets roster: Jace Amaro, Brandon Bostick, Kellen Davis, Adrien Robinson, Wes Saxton, Zach Sudfeld.  With the possible exception of Amaro (and even he seemed to be in the doghouse with the new regime before his season ending injury last year), it is an extraordinarily weak group.  Not one player on that list, with the possible exception of Amaro, could have expected his roster spot was safe before the draft.  Yet the Jets completely ignored the tight end position in the draft and in the undrafted free agent class, with the exception of a Ferris State Tebow clone they will try to convert to tight end.  The Jets tight ends still will be facing cuts, but at least one more of this pedestrian cast of characters will end up with a job than they had reason to expect before the draft.

Brian Winters, Dakota Dozier, Jarvis Harrison and Brent Qvale. Right guard has been a major problem for the Jets in recent seasons.  Although Winters improved somewhat last year, it was improvement from such an abysmal base level he was still well below average for an NFL starting guard. The fact that none of the other names mentioned here ever threatened Winters' job speaks volumes about their level of play last year.  There was good reason to suspect the Jets would draft a guard in the middle rounds this year.  Unless fifth round pick Brandon Shell is slated for a switch to guard, that didn't happen. As a result, some or all of these backup level linemen will likely retain their jobs for one more season.

LOSERS

Geno Smith. While the selection of Hackenberg does not threaten Geno's position immediately, it may well cost Geno his job if and when the Jets sign Fitzpatrick or another veteran stopgap.  Geno now finds himself in the curious position of being simultaneously the presumptive Day One starter and the most likely quarterback to be cut if the Jets bring in another quarterback. Uneasy lies the head that wears the Jets quarterback crown.

Trevor Reilly. Prior to the draft Reilly was a possible replacement for Calvin Pace at the strong side outside linebacker position.  Third round selection  Jordan Jenkins may or may not claim the starting position on Day One, but barring a terrible showing in camp, Jenkins will likely threaten to take the spot at some point during the season.  If the Jets see substantial improvement in Deion Barnes from last year's rookie class, it's possible Reilly, who is already 28 years old with pretty much zero upside, could find himself off the roster this season. Special teams play might prevent the Jets from cutting Reilly, but his place in the pecking order has surely taken a substantial hit with the selection of Jenkins.

Erin Henderson, Bruce Carter and Taiwan Jones. First round selections play in the NFL, barring a terrible preseason.  They play, and they play a lot.  Darron Lee may not be a full time starter on Day One, but he is surely going to be groomed to be one at the earliest opportunity.  His selection makes the positions of Carter and Henderson as inside linebackers opposite David Harris much more precarious.  It could also spell the end for Taiwan Jones, everybody's favorite backup linebacker.  If the Jets like Jones as much as rumored they will find a roster spot for him and groom him as Harris' replacement.  If they aren't as enamored as is rumored, with only so many roster spots to go around, and two linebackers selected in the draft, perhaps Jones finds himself on the outside looking in.

Breno Giacomini.  The Jets moved up in the draft to take offensive tackle Brandon Shell.  Shell looks most suited for the right tackle position.  Breno has been subpar throughout his Jets career and looks like one of the likeliest spots where a cut could clear up some much needed cap space.  If Shell has a good camp, the math is not in Breno's favor.

Nick Folk. Folk has always been challenged by one other kicker in camp.  This year the Jets have signed two undrafted free agent kickers to compete with Folk.  Like Breno, Folk's salary makes him one of the likeliest salary cap casualties.  If either UDFA kicker impresses in camp, Folk may be gone.

Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle. These cornerbacks have been major disappointments to date and neither was brought in by the current regime.  If the Jets like what they see from fourth round selection Juston Burris, at least one of these two cornerbacks may be gone.