It’s that time of year again so let’s talk about the NFL Draft. Yeah I know. What else would we be talking about? It’s kind of stupid for me to start like this, but I have a reason for that.
I have been personally scouting the NFL draft since 1990. The first 10 years were rough, learning what to look for at each position plus getting good tape was near impossible. I have evolved as an amateur scout over my 30+ years. I have also developed a pipeline of good video including coaches video over time.
Since I have been here writing for JB at Gang Green Nation I have always made my favorites known. I do not hide my belief. If I like someone I will say so. My scouting reports are like no other on the planet. Scouts will chuckle over some of my conclusions then most of the time will later say it was a nice job on a certain player. I’m not always right, but I believe in my scouting and my ability to do so. If I ran the Jets (scouting + salary cap + free agency only) they would have been to a Super Bowl in my estimation. So enough of the conjectur. Let’s see what I thought and when. These are actual ways I thought about each Draft. I don’t care if I am wrong. I do care if I am right.
2016 NFL Draft
With the Jets picking at #20 I was looking to draft an offensive tackle (if possible). The Jets had tried to force D’Brickashaw Ferguson to take a pay cut so he just retired instead. This was one of many head scratching moves by possibly the worst GM in Jets history Mike Maccagnan. I loved Jack Conklin, but I knew he would never make it to us. I also really liked Ronnie Stanley, but the story was the same. I held out some hope that Taylor Decker could fall, but that was a no go. So I looked for the best CB to play across from a less than Revis-like Darrelle Revis. My top guy was William Jackson III from Houston. He was available at #20 ,but instead Macc chose Darron Lee which just blew me away. When he then selected Christian Hackenberg in the 2nd round who I had as a late 6th round pick and PFF had as an UDFA I could not believe my eyes. That could be the most disappointed with the Jets that I ever was. I knew right then that the Jets would not be relevant as a team for at least 3 years even if our next two Drafts were stellar. Of course they weren’t.
I loved Jamal Adams, I know that might not go over well, but I did. I had Myles Garrett as my #1 player. I believed he may be a generational talent. If he can stay poised while playing he might just be that. Adams was a two time All-Pro for the Jets who got them a bevy of high picks so I’m counting this as a win.
I also espoused the notion of trading down then picking Ryan Ramczyk with a lower pick.
2018 NFL Draft
That was the one draft everyone was really freaky about. No one wanted to listen to anyone. They just stayed entrenched in their beliefs on who they liked. I liked (as you should know) Josh Allen. He was athletic with the best arm, and a great work ethic. Plus he was a high quality kid. He was the leader of his team. They would have been near nothing without him. I did extensive research on him, and everything came back aces.
Yet I was castigated, called a fool; Allen was the last QB the readers wanted, and they made that abundantly clear to me. So much so I stopped even mentioning his name. All I heard was that no one with a 55% completion rate has ever been any good in the NFL. That meant nothing to me, I scout the player not the stats.
I watched the game that Mike Maccagnan went to at USC against Texas. Maccagnan had a front row seat to a game that USC won, but I thought that Sam Ehlinger (a freshman at the time) outplayed Sam Darnold. You can watch the game for yourself on YouTube.
Baker Mayfield has done better than I thought he would. He was my #4 QB in the draft, and I had Lamar Jackson #5 because he was so dependent on the run plus his technique was near no- existent. All players have to develop, especially quarterbacks. Jackson had very poor mechanics which is why he was so inaccurate. He had probably never had any true coaching on how to throw a football because he was such a great athlete with superior speed. To his credit he worked hard and developed himself. You can still see huge cracks in his technique when things break down, but doesn’t diminish what he has accomplished. He is that team’s leader.
2019 NFL Draft
I liked a host of players early in the first round and wrote glowing reviews about Devin White and Quinnen Williams. I didn’t need to write about Nick Bosa because he was a lock top 3 pick no matter what. I also had a kid from Penn State named Amani Onuwariye who was taken in the 5th round (#146) that I had ranked in the top 20 players. I scouted him then placed him where he belonged. No one had him in the first 3 rounds. He is now the best corner on the Lions (he had to earn his way) while the Lions’ #3 overall selection the following year, Jeff Okudah, is still trying to find his way. Onuwariye has 9 INTs and 21 PBU in 39 games, many of which he was given only token playing time.
2020 NFL Draft
I wrote an article titled “Would You?” in which you would trade Sam Darnold (who I never liked) to the Bengals with the #11 pick for the #1 pick in the draft. I was called insane. Let Darnold develop I was told. I would have taken Joe Burrow in that first round, a leader; something I knew Sam Darnold never was.
It’s funny because many of those same people who were screaming for patience with Sam are now saying that Zach Wilson is a bust, or at least a wasted pick after a single season. I am supremely confident that Zach will be fine, he is a baller and loves to work. I have a lot more confidence in Zach than I do Mekhi Becton.
I wrote an article on Tristan Wirfs showing his attributes as a wrestler and a weight room God at Iowa where the weight room is like a shrine. He had just great character, and you knew he would succeed if he stayed healthy.
2021 NFL Draft
It’s a little (a lot) too early to start grading the 2021 NFL Draft since it’s only one season. Yet I loved the Zach Wilson selection. I am sure he will be great. I was less enthralled with trading two 3rd round selections to move up for Alijah Vera-Tucker. It’s not like I don’t love the player (I do,), but the cost was ridiculous for a team that couldn’t win 3 games in 2020.
I mean I agree with the idea of building through qualit. In fact I demand it. Yet a team who won two games the year before should not trade away two 3rd round picks. That should be a rule not only for the Jets but every team. I was shocked and dismayed when they traded two opportunities to get better.
The idea to stay and not trade away a chance at Elijah Moore was a wise one. I think he is special, as long as you can bring in more diverse players who can make him become a great downfield threat or a slant/dig route runner who can get open and get open quick which is what you need with a young QB.
The mock draft to follow is what I would do as GM. I think Joe Douglas would also make some of the same trades/picks if he could. Some seem a little generous, but when teams trade up early in a Draft you have to pay a surcharge. Also a team that is cash strapped with a player needing a serious pay raise might not get full trade value for that player, and you know Joe Douglas plays hardball with all trades.
The Final 2022 New York Jets Mock Draft:
#4- The Jets trade the #4 selection to the New Orleans Saints for picks #16, 19, 194 and a 2023 2nd round pick. New Orleans needs a QB, and they want to get in front of the Carolina Panthers before some other team looks to trade up with the Jets. This trade was hashed out weeks before the Draft so that executing it would be seamless once no QB was selected with the first 3 picks. Joe of course was fielding offers from other teams as well heading up to the draft, but the New Orleans offer was considered the best.
#10- Jermaine Johnson Edge FSU 6’ 4 5/8” 259 lbs
Johnson is long, smart, tough, fast, quick, and relentless with power and upper body strength. He will be a monster on the edge to bookend with Carl Lawson to improve the worst defense in the NFL in 2021. He uses his hands exceedingly well and is very coachable with great character. He will be a team leader in short order.
#16- Traded to the San Francisco 49ers with the Saints 2023 2nd a Jets 2023 3rd for #93 and Deebo Samuel
Samuel is a game breaking receiver that the 49ers could never sign which is a boon for the Jets. The trade package is indicative of the problems teams with great players but no cap room to sign them. The 49ers have under $2 million in cap space now and still have to sign their Draft class. Moves have to be made. With Trey Lance unable to carry the team in his 2nd year the 49ers are forced to keep Jimmy G. for an additional year. Without a 1st round pick next year the 49ers were keen to get the additional 2023 2nd from the Saints and the 3rd from the Jets in the trade.
Deebo is a deep threat talent who doesn’t need to go deep to be effective. He is what the NFL is evolving to which is a multi0talented (run or pass) player who can be exceptional in all 3 levels of the defense. The Jets extend his contract with a $101 million /4yr contract.
#19- Traded to Dallas for picks #24 + 88
Dallas has been looking to trade up if the player they coveted was within range so they made the move when the total cost would be only a 3rd round pick.
#24- Devin Lloyd ILB Utah 6’ 2 3/4” 237 lbs
Once considered a lock to be a top 15 pick Lloyd didn’t run as expected (4.66/40) at the Combine. That with the fact he is not a very instinctual player had him drop down some boards. Saleh is a coach who wants great linebacker play and can teach the position well. Lloyd has a year to work with CJ Mosley to learn the defense. He will be a cornerstone of the defense and a leader on the field. Lloyd is known as a hard worker with impeccable character and should be ready to dominate in year 2.
#35- Dax Hill FS Michigan 6’ 0 1/4” 191 lbs
Hill is a terrific cover man with quick feet and a player who has the talent to play as a single high safety. He is also a fantastic slot corner which is where he will start out in 2022 while he learns the ins and outs of the deep safety position from Lamarcus Joyner. He has near elite speed (4.38/40) and played all over the defense for the Wolverines. He has sideline to sideline ability in coverage with great vision to see route combinations.
#38- Tyler Smith OT Tulsa 6’ 4 3/4” 332 lbs
Smith is a salty mauler who can man the right tackle position for the next decade. A player who plays until the echo of the whistle, he is a tough guy with great length. He was the leader on his line despite playing on the end. A smart kid who has only been working on the O-Line for the past 5 years, he is an ascending talent who loves to dominate. Yes, that is him as the left tackle taking his man near off screen.
#69- Nick Cross SS Maryland 6’ 0 1/8 212 lbs
Cross is a versatile player who can play as a deep safety or on the line. He can cover a wide area with his tremendous speed (4.34/40) or rattle the teeth of a runner with a bone jarring hit. He is a muscled up sprinter who can cover tight ends and play as a pass coverage linebacker or deep safety. He has only 20 starts playing all over but had 5 INTs in those games. He is known as a ball hawking hard nose tackler who is also a great blitzer.
#88 Calvin Austin III WR Memphis 5’ 7 3/4” 173 lbs
Austin is a diminutive receiver with near world class speed (4.32/40) and superior quickness. He will slide right into the slot on day 1 in place of Jamison Crowder. Playing all over for Memphis, Austin was a game breaker with 137 receptions 16 yards per catch, and 19 TDs over the last two years (23 games). He is a home run threat every time he touches the ball, and he would be dynamite out of the backfield. No 2nd level defender could ever cover him.
#93- Luke Fortner C Kentucky 6’ 4 1/8” 307 lbs
Fortner is a solid blocker with great technique, good power, and incredible character. He is a very smart kid who has the best snap to step quickness in the class. He made all the line calls and was the unquestioned leader of the Kentucky offensive line. He went up against the behemoth Jordan Davis (6’ 6 3/8” 341 lbs) in two separate games and allowed no penetration and no leakage. He can be a swing guard/center in 2022 and take over as the starting center in 2023. He has a personality Jets fans will love. He is #79.
#111- Eyioma Uwazurike DT Iowa State 6’ 6 1/8” 316 lbs
He is massive defensive lineman who can play anywhere on the line in any scheme. He has Robert Saleh type size with amazing length (35 1/8”) with intriguing athleticism. Playing on a 3 man line he still had 12 TFL with 9 sacks in 13 games in 2021. He is just learning how to play so he has plenty of growth potential. A self made student/player who has a terrific can do attitude, he can be a rotational lineman in 2022 until he finds his spot.
#146- Daniel Bellinger TE San Diego State 6’ 4 7/8” 253 lbs
Bellinger played in a run first offense and is probably the best blocking TE in this class. He is fast for his size with excellent hands. He wasn’t used as much as he should have with his skills. He has the ability to run the seam as well as crossing or flat routes. He can be a traditional “Y” TE during running plays to give great blocking then occasionally slide out for the pass in 2022. He is an ascending player who could develop into a George Kittle type in time if he is given the coaching and opportunities.
#163- Pierre Strong RB S. Dakota State 5’ 11 3/8” 207 lbs
A FCS running back with elite speed (4.37/40) and outstanding production (4,500 yards 40TDs) along with 63 receptions in his career, Strong is a speed back who gained the vast majority of his yards between the tackles. He also was cursed with a poor offensive line who rarely opened holes. He is a home run threat every time he touches the ball. Nearly 20% of his carries went for 10 yards or more. A stout runner who can break tackles with the type of speed needed in a wide zone running system, he is not some little scat back. He is a runner with good size and strength with powerful thighs.
#194- Damarion Williams CB Houston 5’ 10 1/4” 182 lbs
Williams is a tough, quick, smart corner who was a true team leader. He is not a big talker but was voted by his teammates as a two time team captain. He played exclusively on the outside but has the type of quick feet and quickness to play in the slot. He plays bigger than he actually is and will give his all to make a tackle. He does well in press coverage and has a very quick click and close on the ball from off coverage.
Well there you have it. If the Jets could pull off this Draft they would be well on their way to respectability first then competing for conference titles in a couple years. Most if not all these players have great talent but also great character. They are all true competitors while working in the confines of their schemes.
When it comes to the Draft there are those who have their favorites so I apologize if I didn’t pick your favorite guy, but I really believe this draft would help the Jets.
Let me know what you think.