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NY Jets: The Amazing Adventures Of A Fake GM

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 Gang Green Nation Community Mock Draft is in the books. Over three weeks dozens of intrepid fake GMs traded picks, players and jibes. We managed to get through three full rounds before the clock ran out on us last night. You can see the full results of the GGN Community Mock Draft here.

I was the fake GM of the fake Jets in this draft. Through three rounds I made three selections. After completing a whopping 15 trades in this draft I ended up with six selections in the 2017 draft: Pick # 19 in the first round, Picks # 105 and 107 in the third round, Pick # 143 in the 4th round and Pick #219 in the 7th round. Since we only completed three rounds I actually made only three picks.

At Pick #19 I came away with edge rusher Derek Barnett. Barnett is thought by many to be the second best pass rusher in the 2017 draft. After trading down multiple times I actually traded back up to snag Barnett with the 19th pick of the draft when the value became too compelling to ignore. I think the chances are good Barnett would be the best edge rusher the Jets have had since John Abraham.

At Pick #105 I took tight end George Kittle, a favorite of mine. The Jets have no credible tight ends on the roster. Kittle provides an instant upgrade as a dual threat in-line tight end who is an outstanding blocker and underrated, fast, athletic, sure-handed receiver.

At pick #107 I took safety Xavier Woods, a good prospect at free safety who flew under the radar a bit at Louisiana Tech. Woods is very quick and fluid, with good cover instincts. He is very good at man coverage and can handle single high responsibilities. He also is not reluctant to deliver a hit and mix it up at the point of attack. I think Woods has an  excellent chance of being a plus long term starter at safety for the Jets.

I also have Pick 109, only one pick away. My choice there would either be Trey Hendrickson, a small school physical freak of an edge rusher with great measurables and a great motor but who is very raw and will need time to develop; Cameron Sutton, an underrated cornerback with good man coverage skills; or Taywan Taylor, a highly productive, very nice route runner and a pretty good deep threat at wide receiver. Two of these three are guaranteed to be available at Pick 109, since it is only one pick away.

That haul probably feels a bit underwhelming. If so, there are reasons. I approached this draft as if I were a brand new Jets GM. As such I felt I had at a minimum three years to put my stamp on the team before major heat would come from poor results, unless I turned out to be a complete disaster like he who shall not be named, but it rhymes with Widzik.

My goal was to completely overhaul the Jets talent poor roster through the draft and trades over the next two years, getting younger, freeing up cap space for free agent acquisitions, and leveraging my draft assets to accumulate more picks. In furtherance of the latter, I deliberately traded away multiple 2017 picks in order to accumulate more and higher picks in 2018. Although there is a convention that a pick a year out is worth one round lower in the current year, I struggle to see why that makes sense. As such I sought to leverage 2017 picks into a better collection of 2018 picks. This goes with my philosophy of looking at this holistically as a two year collection of picks, rather than just the 2017 set in isolation. To judge this approach it is probably best to compare the entire set of draft assets as a two year group, first as the original set of Jets picks, and then as the final set of picks accumulated.  As an aside, the enormous number of trades consummated is of course highly unrealistic. However, you work within the confines of the rules of the game and the players in the game. This set of fake GMs proved trade happy, and I was only too happy to participate, as it allowed me to stockpile young players and a lot of draft assets. So let's look at the players I acquired, the players I lost and the draft assets I ended up with.

Players Lost:

Sheldon Richardson

Muhammad Wilkerson

Steve McLendon

Calvin Pryor

Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Matt Forte

Brent Qvale

Bryce Petty

Dakota Dozier

Eric Decker

Whoa!  That's a lot of players.  Let's go through them a bit.  Petty, Dozier, Qvale, and Seferian-Jenkins I view as fringe players. None of them are worth fretting over and should be easily replaceable at minimal cost.

Decker is very good, but he is on the wrong side of 30, is coming off of two major surgeries and his contract is up in two years.  Trading him frees up a lot of cap space for a player who is unlikely to be here when the Jets are ready to compete. I wasn't eager to see Decker go, but the trade opportunity presented itself and I jumped at it.

Forte used to be good, but he is 31 years old and looks washed up to me.  No great loss there. In fact, trading him for anything at all is a net gain, as it takes what I viewed as his untradeable guaranteed salary off the books.

Pryor has been a disappointment, and the Jets are probably not going to pick up his 5th year option, meaning this is likely his last year in green and white.  Better to get something for him now than nothing for him a year from now.

Richardson, like Pryor, is unlikely to be a Jet past 2017. I got an offer for a high 3rd round pick and jumped at it.

Wilkerson was a major disappointment in 2016. While I view it as likely he will bounce back in 2017, Wilkerson has a ridiculous contract which will have $20 million in 2018 cap space fully guaranteed if he is on the roster at the start of the 2018 league year in March 2018.  I never considered allowing that black hole of a cap hit to remain on the books.  It's a shame, because I'd like to keep Wilkerson, but he had to go now to get some compensation, as opposed to cutting him a year from now and getting none.

McLendon is a pretty good player, but I view the rise of Deon Simon as making McLendon expendable.  I think Simon is a better player, and the opportunity to get compensation for a player who I view as a backup in 2017 was too good to pass up.

We have effectively dismantled the entire starting defensive line other than Leonard Williams. That sounds scary. Maybe it is. But ask yourself this: for all the enormous draft resources the Jets poured into the defensive line, and for all the hype the defensive line got, when did it ever truly dominate?  Only one game comes to mind, the 2016 season opener against the Bengals.  I am sure there are a few others, but they don't spring readily to mind.  The Jets had two different head coaches considered to be two of the better defensive minds in the NFL, and neither one could figure out how to effectively utilize all these 300 pound defensive linemen together.  Maybe it's just a flawed model. Or maybe we just need the right coach. Either way, the Jets are not changing head coaches in 2017, and maybe not for a while after that.  It's time for a change.  Losing a couple of potentially toxic influences like Wilkerson and Richardson in a young locker room doesn't hurt either.

Now let's look at the players I acquired.

Players Acquired

Carlos Hyde

Eric Reid

Garrett Celek

Arik Armstead

Blake Bell

Andre Ellington

Carlos Hyde gives the Jets a young, tough, effective power back who can also catch passes out of the backfield. A nice complement to Bilal Powell in the backfield.  Andre Ellington provides excellent third down back skills as a pass catcher and as a runner, and he also can line up effectively as a wide receiver.  Blake Bell and Garrett Celek provide two young tight ends with some upside who instantly become the best two tight ends on the roster.  Eric Reid is a former first round draft pick at safety who finally lived up to his draft status in 2016.  He is a big upgrade over every safety on the Jets roster. He also becomes a free agent after 2017, so if he doesn't work out there are no long term consequences.

Now let's take a look at the draft picks.

Before

After

2017

Round 1

#6

#19

Round 2

#39

Round 3

#70, #107

#105, #107

Round 4

#109, #143

Round 5

#150

Round 6

#191

Round 7

#224

#219

.

2018

Round 1

1 pick

2 picks

Round 2

1 pick

3 picks

Round 3

1 pick

4 picks

Round 4

1 pick

4 picks*

Round 5

1 pick

2 picks*

Round 6

1 pick

2 picks

Round 7

1 pick

2 picks*

Picks marked with an asterisk represent one pick in each such round of the 2018 NFL draft in which such picks might rise one round if certain conditions are met.  All such conditions are realistic, but not necessarily the most likely outcome.

In this draft I managed over a two year period to turn 14 2017 and 2018 picks before the draft into 25 picks after the draft. I managed to turn eight picks in the first four rounds over two years into 16 picks in the first four rounds over two years.  In nearly every round I managed to increase my number of picks over the two year stretch. Those 16 picks in the first four rounds should, with decent drafting, result in a franchise changing overhaul of the teams' starters and set the stage for a swift rise up the standings by 2019.  In addition, if the Jets see a quarterback or two they think can be their franchise guy in the 2018 draft, they are now set up with more than enough draft assets to trade up and grab him, if such a trade opportunity arises. If not, then the Jets are set up with so many premium picks in 2018 they should be able to transform the franchise and set it up with a good talent base for whenever a franchise quarterback opportunity arises.

The 19 picks in 2018 are too many to actually use and bring to camp, so the Jets will either be using some of them to trade up, or if the right opportunities don't arise the Jets will look to trade back into the 2019 draft and once again leverage up a round, thereby continually upgrading the draft stock year after year.

Now let's look at the salary cap.  Before this draft the Jets were set to end up with virtually zero cap space in 2017 and approximately $43 million in cap space (after providing for the 2017 and 2018 draft classes and a 2018 practice squad) in 2018.  Following this draft the Jets cleared about $13 million in additional 2017 cap space, which will carry over into 2018, and another $34 million in 2018 cap space.  Now instead of a pedestrian $43 million in 2018 cap space the Jets will have a whopping $90 million in 2018 cap space, loaded for bear.  So when you look at the current results of the draft and note the Jets didn't yet acquire a cornerback or a tackle or whatever, just note the enormous draft and cap resources the Jets now will have in 2018 to fill a ton of holes.

So that about wraps things up.  The Jets revamp their defensive line, replacing Wilkerson, Richardson and McLendon with Armstead, Deon Simon and Lawrence Thomas, a clear downgrade as the Jets move in a new direction. The Jets revamp their safeties, replacing Pryor and Gilchrist in the starting lineup with Eric Reid and Xavier Woods. The Jets get younger deeper and better at running back with the additions of Carlos Hyde and Andre Ellington. The Jets completely overhaul their tight ends with the additions of Blake Bell, Garrett Celek and George Kittle.  And most importantly, the Jets hugely upgrade their future draft stock, adding nine picks in the first four rounds to the four they already held in 2018, and adding $47 million to their salary cap war chest to seriously upgrade the roster in 2018 through free agency.  With the huge salary cap war chest and the huge number of premium picks the Jets feel they can build a young, athletic serious contender for the long haul as soon as 2019.

What do you think?  How do like the vision for the future and the results of the 2017 GGN Community Mock Draft?  Let us know in your comments.