The 2018 NFL Draft is now completed. The Jets have six new players (seven if you count a trade).
I am still in the process of gathering my thoughts, but a couple of things have popped into my mind about the way the Jets approached this class. I noticed two themes about the players the team selected.
These are only theories I have. I couldn’t tell you with 100% certainty that either is true. The way the Jets drafted this year does suggest a couple of things about the way the front office may function. They both relate to the renovations the team has made in its college scouting department.
Shortly after Mike Maccagnan was hired, I heard more than one insider note that during his interviews Maccagnan pressed the need for the Jets to invest more heavily in college scouting. While no team announces publicly how many people it has working on college scouting and job titles can mean different things across different organizations, a while back I went through the media guide of each NFL team. I found the Jets had one of the largest college scouting departments in the league.
With that in mind, here are my two thoughts on the 2018 class.
- The fact that two of the six selections were from small schools lines up with an investment in college scouting. These are players who fly further under the radar than your typical big school prospects. In this day and age, there aren’t many true unknown sleepers. Even small school players get plenty of games shown on TV or at least streamed online. The proliferation of scouts on the internet also means more players get studied. With that said, a certain amount of legwork sometimes has to be done to scout small school prospects. There are multiple layers. There is extra projection involved figuring out how they will perform against a much higher level of competition in the NFL. There are even logistical hurdles. At a certain point in Draft season, there are a ton of on campus pro days happening simultaneously each day. Every team is going to send somebody to big schools like Alabama and Ohio State where there are numerous prospects working out. Are there still extra scouts to represent the team at a small school pro day?
2. It also seemed to me like the Jets were looking for undervalued players. Players can be undervalued for many reasons. Again, small schools factor into this. Of the six picks the Jets made, only two played at Power Five conference schools. Players can be undervalued for other reasons. One might argue Chris Herndon was undervalued because he was blocked by another talented player in David Njoku for much of his career and because he is coming off an injury. Perhaps Parry Nickerson was undervalued because of his size, even though the Jets have told us they believe he potentially can work around that issue and still play outside cornerback in this league. The Jets seem to be looking for a fourth rounder who can give more than a fourth round impact and a sixth rounder who provides more than a sixth round impact.
Of course, results are all that matter. It is one thing to have a big scouting department. The people working there still have to be doing a good job. You can invest all you want. If the scouts make bad evaluations, the team will still suffer. On the same note, we haven’t proven the Jets are right about those players being undervalued.
The proof will come when we find out whether the Jets were right about these guys. I think I at least see what they are trying to do.