The Jets sit on the verge of a season that looks as unpromising as they’ve seen in a while, and for this team that’s saying quite a lot. On paper the roster the Jets are going to put out there is probably less intimidating than any other in the league. When we sit and look at how they got to this point, you can’t help but look back at the team’s draft performance, and from a Jets perspective those memories aren’t always the most enjoyable. Here we’ll take a look back at the past three first rounds, and see how the Jets would have fared if they went with the available player most commonly mocked to them pre-draft (via walterfootball.com). Let’s go.
Jets selection (6th): Jamal Adams, S, LSU
1- Mitch Trubisky, QB, UNC (selected 2nd by Bears)
2- Jets new pick: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
3- Marshon Lattimore, CB, OSU
Would Jets be better or worse off? - It’s obviously too early to tell, but right now I think the Jets would certainly stick with this pick. Adams was a team favorite pre-draft and it was never considered realistic for him to be there at #6, making the pick a no-brainer. You could also make a great argument for the physically imposing tight end Howard, who like Adams has had an impressive offseason so far. The Jets offense is likely the worst in the league, and the same could possibly said for the tight end group. Having talent of any kind on that side of the ball would be much appreciated, and Howard certainly has the potential to be one of the best offensive producers in this draft. However, as of right now the man picked 13 spots higher than the other is the smarter bet, even if he’s a defensive player. But this will be interesting to watch play out.
Jets selection (20th): Darron Lee, LB, OSU
1- Jets new pick: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
2- Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
3- Taylor Decker, OT, OSU
Would the Jets be better or worse off? - A lot of people would gladly switch out the underachieving Lee for a first-round QB, but Lynch has been highly unimpressive and has been unable to make substantial progress towards the starting job in year two. Reports on him aren’t great and he needs to show up this preseason to see the field this year. Lee’s first year wasn’t impressive, but there is physical talent to build off of and he will get plenty of opportunities to learn on the job. Neither is looking great right now and there were plenty of better players taken after this point, but I’d stick with Lee here.
Jets selection (6th): Leonard Williams, DE, USC
1- Jets new pick: Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson
2- Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
3- Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Would the Jets be better or worse off? - This is really tough. Leonard Williams was considered a major steal where the Jets got him, as he was widely seen as the draft’s best overall player. He’s already been tremendously productive and is progressing fast towards his high ceiling as a young prospect. Beasley has an argument here, though. He became a really productive edge defender for Atlanta, notching 15.5 sacks and 6 forced fumbles last year.
Take note of the last number on this chart. Williams’ 43 tackles for a loss or no gain lead the entire league over the last two seasons. However, when comparing these two players, position is important to consider. The Jets have accomplished talent on the interior defensive line, with Wilkerson, Richardson, Steve McLendon as well as Deon Simon who has had his moments. It’s the deepest position on the team, while the edge rush is arguably the weakest area on the defense. Is Williams far enough ahead of Beasley overall to make up for the fact he plays at a stronger and arguably less valuable position?
Honestly, I’d say yes and stick with him here. He’s doing it as a Jet, and while Beasley is also becoming a star player, we just don’t know if it would work out if he came to NJ instead of Atlanta. Remember Wilkerson’s slump last season as well as Richardson’s decline and off the field struggles. You can’t have enough talent at any position. Keep in mind Williams is also two years younger.
What do you think? Would you have stuck with these picks? Or go with what was expected beforehand?