Draft grades are stupid unless they praise the Jets. Let’s see how many smart Draft grades are out there in 2019.
New York clearly wanted to fix its defense. After exploring a draft back, the Jets stood at No. 3 and took Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. He’s one of the two elite players in this draft. They followed it up at No. 68 with Florida pass rusher Jachai Polite. If the draft took place when the college football season ended, Polite wouldn’t have lasted that long. He was doomed by a bad combine and interviews. Coordinator Gregg Williams will know how to utilize his skill as an edge player.
After that, Chuma Edoga is a little undersized for a tackle, but he gets out on the move. Trevon Wesco is, at the least, a good blocking tight end. Blake Cashman could make his name on special teams and filling in at linebacker.
The big issue is waiting until the end of the sixth round to get a cornerback.
New York Jets: B
Top needs: Edge rush, wide receiver, tight end
This was a really quiet weekend for the Jets. They got their guy early on Thursday, and they mostly kept to themselves. After all the talk that the Jets wanted to trade out of the No. 3 spot to add more picks, taking Quinnen Williams was a great consolation prize. You could make the case that he is the best overall player in the class, but the positional value at defensive tackle is less than quarterbacks and edge rushers. He will thrive in Gregg Williams’ attacking, hybrid defense as an elite interior disruptor.
This class has to get dinged at least slightly because of how much GM Mike Maccagnan gave up in the trade to get Sam Darnold last year, which cost the team three valuable second-round picks, including the No. 34 pick this year. They obviously hope Darnold is worth it, but it’s not like this team is without needs. There’s a reason they are consistently drafting in the top 10.
Maccagnan did get an extra third-round pick by trading Teddy Bridgewater last year, and the two third-rounders are decent values. Jachai Polite (No. 68) has first-round tape but he bombed the combine and his athleticism (and work ethic) is in question. Still, you don’t get 11 sacks in the SEC without some talent. Chuma Edoga (No. 92) played right tackle for the Trojans, but he might move inside to guard. I rated Trevon Wesco (No. 121) as my top H-back in the class, and he’s a ferocious blocker who’s just a little undersized at 6-foot-3, 267 pounds. He will likely move to tight end full time. Blessuan Austin (No. 196) had some injury issues in college, but if you can get him on the field, he’s a solid player.
Defense was the priority, and Williams is going to be a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate. If Polite can show what he did on the field last season, the Jets have something.
Day 1 grade: A
Day 2 grade: A-
Day 3 grade: B
Overall grade: A-
Draft analysis: Williams was a dominant player at Alabama and will be a thorn in the side of NFL offensive lines. New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams wanted an interior presence whether he calls in three or four-man fronts, and Williams is all of that. Jets fans may have been looking for an outside pass rusher in Round 1, but it’s tough to fault them for taking Williams.
Polite’s tape shows he has both power and bend to terrorize NFL quarterbacks. If he proves himself to be a professional, the Jets will have the steal of the draft. If Edoga is healthy and has his head on straight, he’ll be an effective pass protector and nasty in the run game, much like the Jets’ Kelvin Beachum. Note that the team gave up its second-round pick this year in last year’s trade to land Sam Darnold, and that deal should pay off.
Wesco will block and receive for the Jets. Cashman brings athleticism to the linebacker corps, and Austin would have been picked on Day 2 of this draft if not for a knee injury.
Given how anxious the Jets were to trade Pick 3, you have to wonder what they’ll say to Quinnen Williams. (You were our top guy all along!?) There are worse things than snagging the player whom many believe was the best in the draft, but it’s worth pointing out that the Jets already have a similar style of force in Leonard Williams and a paucity of edge rushers, which will be a problem when new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams goes to his various disguised Cover 2 concepts.
With no second-round pick after trading up last year to get Sam Darnold, the Jets couldn’t address their talent-bereft defense again until the third round, taking the pure edge rusher that many thought they’d get in Kentucky’s Josh Allen at No. 3. Instead it is Jachai Polite, who could play the passing down specialist role that Genard Avery played under Williams in Cleveland last year. They went for raw talent later in the third round, this time on offense, in the form of USC offensive tackle Chuma Edoga, who they hope can develop enough to give them options next year when the contracts for their top three tackles, Kelvin Beachum, Brandon Shell and Brent Qvale all expire.
New Jets interior defender Quinnen Williams was a no-brainer pick for New York. PFF’s No. 3 overall player in the class, Williams earned the highest grade we’ve ever given to a college interior defender (96.0) in his lone season as a starter at Alabama.
“He’s freakishly athletic. He knows how to use his hands at an elite, elite level already. I don’t know how he didn’t play at all a year before.” – Pro Football Focus’ Lead Draft Analyst Mike Renner
Florida edge defender Jachai Polite fell in the draft in wake of poor athletic testing and interviews at and after the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. However, before any of that happened, he was considered a first-round pick by many because of his outstanding play on the field. He earned the fourth-best pass-rush grade (90.9) among qualifying edge defenders in the draft class in 2018.
USC’s Chuma Edoga is slightly built and needs to add more muscle to his frame, but he is already stingy in pass protection. He allowed just four pressures last season, and he entered the draft as PFF’s No. 64 overall player in the class, so scooping him up at No. 92 was a value play for the Jets.
Trevon Wesco, a physical, aggressive run-blocking tight end with great size for the position, is a solid pick for the Jets. But it’s the Blake Cashman pick at No. 157 for the Jets that takes the cake as the team’s best selection on Saturday.
Cashman earned a 90.0-plus overall grade this past season and tested out as one of the most athletic linebackers in the class at the combine en route to the No. 59 overall spot on PFF’s big board.
DRAFT GRADE: ABOVE AVERAGE