Our ultimate views on the Jets’ Draft class in 2019 will be shaped over the years to come and be much more relevant than our initial impressions. But we have to start somewhere so here are my initial thoughts on the Jets’ Draft class.
- I think that if you aren’t excited about this team adding Quinnen Williams, odds are that you haven’t watched him in detail. The guy dominated at the highest level of college football. I’m sure some people have gone in depth with his film and have legitimate concerns, but these folks are in the minority.
- It seems like the Jets used a strategy of complementary Drafting with their first two picks. If you were conflicted between Williams and Josh Allen, knowing that you will likely have Jachai Polite sitting there at 68 might serve as something of a tiebreaker. You are taking a calculated gamble that you can get both the edge guy you need and still benefit from what Quinnen Williams brings to the table.
- It’s tough to say how most of these guys will turn out, but with one exception the Jets made big swings with their picks. When you are low on quantity of picks, you have to roll the dice on upside. Jachai Polite at 68 is one such example. Mike Maccagnan has drafted four edge rushers in his tenure with the Jets, but the other three were limited players with low ceilings. This is the first time he has picked a guy who has a legitimate chance to be a consistent double digit sack guy.
- When you go through this process, sometimes you stumble upon guys you really like but have no use for your team. I originally thought Blake Cashman was one of those guys for the Jets. Given the team’s current roster construction, it would have made no sense to pick a linebacker before day three of the Draft. I thought Cashman would be long gone before then. When he fell into the fifth round, suddenly things opened up. At that point, you are simply looking for a player. Position becomes less important. I can’t tell you Cashman will become starting material in the NFL, but I think he has a decent shot. In the meantime I think he will be a good special teamer. What I want in the fifth round is somebody who can help immediately as a special teamer with starter upside.
- This is a big one. For the third time in his five Drafts, Mike Maccagnan left with less picks than he started. It’s really tough to be an effective drafter operating like this. Yes, I know the Sam Darnold trade was necessary. Yes, I know the offers at 3 might not have been to his liking. This isn’t something that started yesterday, however. This is a long-term trend. The smart teams in the NFL incorporate adding Draft capital into their holistic roster building strategy year round.
The NFL Draft is always a game of odds. You do your best to take educated guesses on players, but it is impossible to say with certainty how any of these guys will pan out. Some it it is outside the team’s control. It’s tough to predict a guy’s career being derailed by injuries.
By having so few picks, the Jets have left themselves with minimal paths to a successful Draft. In fact, I think it comes down to Polite. If he fails to become a consistent double digit sack guy, we probably won’t remember this as a very successful class. There are paths to get there, but it seems unlikely to me. Maybe Chuma Edoga becoming the left tackle of the future could salvage the class in the event of a Polite bust. That’s all I got.
New England also took a third round edge rusher, Chase Winovich. If Winovich busts, New England still can have a successful class if some combination of Joejuan Williams, Yodny Cajuste, Damien Harris, or Hjalte Froholdt hits their ceiling. They’ve built in more margin for error by having these extra picks. They can withstand a bust.
- It’s not that I think Trevon Wesco is destined to be a useless player, but this is a pretty low ceiling guy to be taking in the fourth round. There doesn’t seem like much untapped potential in his receiving game to me. He wasn’t that productive in college. He didn’t run a very diverse route tree that showed ability on film when he wasn’t getting the ball. And there is barely any raw athleticism to mold. In a league where the tight end position has become about creating mismatches and challenging the seam Wesco is the tight end of yesterday, block first and occasionally go out as a checkdown option. There’s a place for a guy like this in today’s NFL, but it’s merely as a complementary part. I think his ceiling is a TE2 and a fifth or sixth banana in the passing game who blocks effectively and has one or two hot red zone years. That’s just not a high enough ceiling for me in round four in a year with only six picks.
Jury Still Out
- If you want me to be wait and see on Blessuan Austin, I’ll play ball. I like trying to find undervalued players late in the Draft. Perhaps this is a talented player who has fallen due to injury and is ready to bounce back. I still have major concerns with him coming off two serious knee injuries and missing two important developmental years. I have seen a few analysts put out claims that he would have been a second day pick if he had stayed healthy, but those are dubious claims. Nobody can say for sure. A successful season of play can skyrocket a player’s value, and a disappointing season can cause a player to tumble several rounds. We have no idea how Austin’s season would have played out or what his stock would have been had he stayed healthy. This is a case where the Jets think they know something nobody else does. We will find out whether they are right.