Grading a team’s Draft haul immediately after the selections are made is a fool’s errand. We won’t know for sure how good the class was for at least three to five years. That won’t stop media types from doing just that, however.
Here are what some experts have to say about how well the Jets did in 2018.
As always, these grades are stupid...unless they praise the Jets.
Day 1 grade: A
Day 2 grade: B
Day 3 grade: B
Overall grade: B+
The skinny: The Jets gave up three second-round picks to move up three spots to find a quarterback. They might have gotten the top quarterback on their board with Darnold sitting there (though they wouldn’t admit it if he wasn’t their top QB). They paid a pretty high price to get him, but it’s not franchise-killing if it doesn’t work out. It was a good move that could become a great move. The Darnold trade limited their selections on Day 2. Shepherd will take over the nose tackle spot for the Jets, using his power and leverage to keep the line of scrimmage right where it is. The Jets found value to add to their tight end group with the tough and athletic Herndon. Trading a sixth-round pick to the Colts for Henry Anderson (who didn’t fit the Colts’ shift to a 4-3 defense) was a great move for the Jets, as was picking potential future starters in Nickerson and Fatukasi. The team failed to find a pass rusher or help at offensive tackle, though, which puts pressure on the team to find the top undrafted free agents at those positions.
New York Jets: B
Top needs: Quarterback, offensive line, wide receiver
Jets GM Mike Maccagnan went for it last month, giving up three second-round picks -- two this year, one next -- to move up three spots from No. 6 to No. 3. And the Jets have to be thrilled that quarterback Sam Darnold made it to them. Darnold looked like a lock to be the No. 1 pick after the 2016 season, but he had a shaky season in 2017, committing 22 turnovers (13 interceptions) and developing a few bad habits with his footwork. If he can get that corrected, watch out. New York would have a franchise passer for the next 15 years. If he keeps turning the ball over, it’s not going to be pretty in the AFC East. Darnold needs to get back to his 2016 form -- this Jets draft is all about whether he’s the answer.
Without those second-round picks, it’s tough for New York to fill holes elsewhere. And this is a team with several holes. The Jets filled a few in free agency, throwing money at cornerback Trumaine Johnson and linebacker Avery Williamson, for instance, but there aren’t many playmakers here. Who is Darnold -- or Josh McCown -- going to throw to in 2018? I don’t think Terrelle Pryor Sr. is the answer, and Robby Anderson has off-field issues. I did like the pick of Nathan Shepherd at 72, an active defensive tackle who showed at the Senior Bowl against better competition that he belongs. Tight end Chris Herndon IV (pick 107) was rising up boards over the last few weeks. Cornerback Parry Nickerson (197) ran a 4.32 40 at the combine and was a four-year starter at Tulane.
As I said, this Jets draft is all about Darnold, but giving up three second-round picks to move up three spots is a ton. I think he’s going to end up playing early.
New York Jets
When the Browns passed on quarterback Sam Darnold with the first pick, he became the obvious choice for the Jets. Darnold’s flaws are obvious. He has to figure out his turnover issues — both fumbling and throwing interceptions — but he’s good at throwing his receivers open and he’s unflappable.
After not having a second-round pick due to the trade that landed them Darnold, the Jets had to hit with the 72nd overall pick. They did with Fort Hays State defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd. He’s an aggressive interior lineman who is at his best ripping past offensive linemen and getting into the backfield.
Cornerback Parry Nickerson was one of the better picks on the third day of the draft. He provides good depth as a nickel corner. Fellow sixth round Foley Fatukasi is a pure nose tackle, but a good one. A below-average run defense in New York got a boost with Fatukasi.
Andy Benoit (Sports Illustrated)
NEW YORK JETS
Draft picks: USC QB Sam Darnold (No. 3), Fort Hays State DT Nathan Shepherd (No. 72), Miami TE Christopher Herndon (No. 107), Tulane CB Parry Nickerson (No. 179), Connecticut DT Folorunso Fatukasi (No. 180), Virginia State RB Trenton Cannon (No. 204).
When the Jets traded up, it was obvious the team was aiming for a quarterback. Whether Sam Darnold was the guy the franchise wanted, we’ll never know. But we do know that New York landed the player who was widely regarded as the best QB in the draft. Now what type of offense does new coordinator Jeremy Bates build for Sam Darnold? Bates has West-Coast roots, so one might figure a zone running game, which means an emphasis on moving pockets and play-action—and that would fit Darnold’s strength as an on-the-move passer. We don’t know when Darnold will take over for his soon-to-be mentor Josh McCown. Darnold is only 20, and New York’s trade up to No. 3 cost several second-round picks, making it impossible to address their deprived skill positions. (It’s important that fourth-round tight end Christopher Herndon contribute SOMETHING as a rookie.) Issues remain, but the biggest has been resolved. You have to respect a team that makes a daring move and winds up with a desired quarterback.
New York Jets
Picks: QB Sam Darnold (1); DT Nathan Shepherd (3); TE Chris Herndon (4); CB Parry Nickerson (6); DT Foley Fatukasi (6); RB Trenton Cannon (6).
Analysis: Sam Darnold was a perfect pick for the Jets, who were lucky the Giants didn’t take him at No. 2 (which they probably should have). There’s not too much else to get excited about — I get the need for quarterback but trading a lot of picks to move up when you have a thin roster is a tough proposition. Maybe Fort Hays State’s Nathan Shepherd will be a small-school star, and Chris Herndon will be an answer at tight end. I like the Darnold pick — though I hated how much they spent to get him — but if he doesn’t work out there’s not much else to get excited about here.
New York Jets: C+
They landed what they believe is their franchise passer in Sam Darnold, moving up to the third spot to take him. Most rate this as a great pick, but I am not as sold on Darnold. Even so, they had to get a passer in that spot. Third-round nose tackle Nathan Shepherd will help improve the run defense. If Darnold is a star, this draft will be a really good one. I don’t think he will be, but instead he will be just a solid quarterback.
How would you grade the Jets’ 2018 Draft?
This poll is closed
I’m with John B. This is a ridiculous venture. Ask me in five years.