Archive for ‘2017 Draft’

April 27, 2017

In the 2017 Draft, the Jets Should Select…

nfldraftTwo of the biggest positions of need for the Jets are at the two most important positions in today’s NFL – Quarterback and Cornerback.  With the sixth overall pick in the draft, I would love for the Jets to draft a QB or CB but, unfortunately, in this year’s draft, I just don’t see a QB or CB that warrants such a high pick.

For three of the last four years, I have written that I’d like to see the Jets draft an offensive lineman and an outside linebacker with their first two picks.  I’d spend our sixth pick on an elite Left Tackle if there were one in this draft.  I’d also spend our pick on an elite OLB.  The only OLB I’d draft with the sixth pick is Myles Garrett from Texas A&M.  Short of a Thursday afternoon Tweet and Instagram post of video with Garrett smoking marijuana off a gas-mask, I think it’s safe to say that Garret will be off the board long before the Jets’ pick.

With all that said, I started then to think about how we can make the QB position or the CB position better.  A QB can benefit from a strong running game.  I think Leonard Fournette, RB from LSU is worthy of a sixth overall selection.  I would not be upset with this pick but he wouldn’t be my first choice because RB is such a physically demanding position that it’s tough for them to stay on the field and their careers are usually shorter than players in other positions.  Furthermore, I think, of all the position groups on the Jets’ current roster, RB is one of their strongest.  I think both Forte and Powell are starting caliber players and I think Powell has earned the opportunity to play more.

When a QB is struggling (and I think it’s safe to say that whoever wins the starting QB spot this year will have their share of struggling moments), their best friend can be a good TE.  In this years draft, I think there is a TE that’s worthy of a sixth overall selection.  O.J. Howard of Alabama is a complete TE and would be a fantastic fit for a team that will likely rely on their run game.  Not only does Howard create mismatches in the passing game but he’s an excellent blocker (an attribute that has become increasingly rare among today’s TE’s).  However, despite his anticipated contributions to the run game and the coverage he’ll draw away from other receivers, I still have a hard time picking an offensive skill player that might only touch the ball five to seven times a game with such a high pick.  Consequently, Howard would not be my first choice but I would not be upset if he were the Jets’ selection.

So with a pipe dream mention of my 1st choice, Myles Garrett, OLB, Texas A&M and honorable mentions to my 3rd choice O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama and 4th choice Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU, my 2nd choice (who probably won’t be there but there’s a chance) is…

Round 1, Pick 6

With the 6th pick in the 2017, the New York Jets select Jamal Adams, Safety from LSU.  I think Adams is a complete safety.  He is versatile with excellent instincts.  He has elite leadership skills.  He’s got NFL bloodlines – his father (RB) was drafted in the first round by the Giants.  Adding an outstanding safety to the secondary can help everyone get better.  CB play should improve substantially if they don’t need to be as concerned with covering the middle of the field.  It’s rare that safeties are drafted this high but I think Adams is well worth the pick.  Unfortunately it’s likely that the Bears and Jaguars (or even 49ers) also believe that so I’d be pleasantly surprised if he fell to the Jets.  If he does, I think the Jets shouldn’t hesitate to make this selection.

Round 2, Pick 39

Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA

McKinley has been characterized as a relentless, high motor, high-effort player.  He has excellent burst off the ball and is fast with fluid change of direction skills.  He has extremely long arms that, once he’s coached up to better utilize them, are ideal to keep blockers from grabbing hold of him.  However, he currently doesn’t use his hands well and he needs to get stronger.  These are both things that can be addressed with good coaching and a good strength and conditioning program.  While he isn’t the ideal height and his frame is narrower than you’d like, he still has room to add girth to his upper body.  The Jets have long since had an edge rusher that gave their opponents pause.  “Takk” could be that for the Jets.  He possess a lot of the attributes you look for in an OLB that are not coachable and many of his deficiencies are coachable.  If he’s still on the board, I think he’d be an easy selection.  If he’s not, I would explore options to trade back and collect more picks.

Round 3, Pick 70

Pat Elflein, Center, from Ohio State

For me, this is the most interesting pick or the Jets.  They may have several compelling options here.  I was really torn between Elflein and OT Dion Dawkins from Temple.  Also, if the Jets don’t select a TE with either of their first two picks, I’d also consider Bucky Hodges, TE, from Virginia Tech.  I think any of these selections would be excellent.  While I think Tackle is a greater need than Center, the Jets are in need of establishing a young core of cornerstone players.  With Mangold gone this year and Ferguson the year before, the Jets no longer have any stalwarts along their offensive line.  I think Elflein has a high floor and a high-enough ceiling that he is both one of the safer picks in the draft and could become a fixture on our offensive line for the next ten years.  I like offensive lineman that are smart, strong and with a bit of a nasty streak – plus it’s a bonus if they’re former wrestlers.  Elflein not only checks all of those boxes but he also has versatility in that he can any of the three interior line positions.  He is a smart, high-effort natural leader who could be the anchor of this post Ferguson/Mangold line.

Round 3, Pick 107

Nathan Peterman, QB, Pittsburgh

I really wanted to draft a QB with the first overall pick.  Not because I’ve given up on Petty and Hackenburg – I haven’t.  I am really pulling for them both.  However, as of now, neither have claimed the mantle of franchise Quarterback.  Until that happens, I think the Jets need to keep investing draft picks in the position.  As Wayne Gretzky famously said,  “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  While the Jets have missed plenty of shots they have taken in the post-Chad Pennington era, they need to keep taking them.  While I really wanted to take a QB with our first round pick, the only QB I thought could warrant a pick that high was Mitchell Trubisky and I went back and forth with him as our pick.  I like Trubisky’s game and I think there’s an good chance that he’s the best QB in the draft but ultimately his sample size of just 8 wins and 13 starts is just too small.  As I looked at other QB options, I came to become really intrigued by Nathan Peterman.  He started out at Tennessee and lost his job to a fellow QB in this draft Joshua Dobbs.  Instead of giving up his football dream, he went on to Pitt and earned their starting QB job while getting his MBA.  He made the most of his second chance.  In handing the national champion Clemson Tigers their only loss of the year last season, Peterman threw for over 300 yards with 5 TDs and no interceptions.  He plays in a prostyle offense and is arguably the most pro-ready QB in this draft.  His physical attributes are nothing special but he’s accurate and anticipates well.  He does most of the cerebral things you want in a QB.  He has excellent vision and reads defenses well, works through progressions, looks off defenders and can throw receivers open.  He has excellent poise.  While his ceiling is not as high as guys like Trubiski, Watson, Mahomes and even Kizer, I think Peterman has the highest floor of any QB in this draft class.  I think his floor is that of a excellent back-up and he’s got a ceiling of being a solid, middle-of-the-road starter.  While it’s tempting to try and swing for the fences and try and draft the next elite QB, given the riskiness of the players with elite upside and the breadth of the Jets’ needs, from the vantage point of the ditch that the Jets are in, middle-of-the road sure does look good.

Round 5, Pick 150

Corn Elder, CB, Miami (Fla.)

At 5’10” and 183 pounds, Elder is undersized and may be limited to covering receivers in the slot but he’s a confident, scrappy player who has been described as ‘not realizing he’s undersized’.  He plays press coverage well and is physical at the line, forcing receivers to deviate off of their routes.  He has a good football IQ and is able to recognize routes and anticipate assignments.  He’s a sound tackler and also has experience returning punts.  I think it’s important to infuse some more young talent in the secondary.  If Jamal Adams is not available for the Jets with in the first round, I’d also consider selecting John Johnson, Safety from Boston College with this selection.

Round 6, Pick 191

Channing Stribling, CB, Michigan

If you’ve read this much of this long post, I presume you’re probably like me in that you follow the Combine pretty closely.  If that’s the case, you might be surprised that I have the Jets selecting Stribling.  He had a pretty terrible Combine – worst among defensive backs in the long jump, 20 yard shuffle and bench press plus a dismal 30th out of 33 in the 40 yard dash and 28th out of 31 in the vertical jump.  His less-than-ideal speed, which was demonstrated at the Combine, shows up on the game film too.  He sometimes latches onto receivers downfield and has drawn penalties for holding and pass interference in multiple games.  All that said, he has rare length for a CB and long arms.  He also fits the Jets scheme in that he’s a press corner.  Stribling has good ball skills and snared 5 interceptions in his final 13 games.  Despite his lack of strength, he is aggressive in run support, wraps well and is able to bring down larger ballcarriers.  His lack of long speed is certainly problematic but he may be able to compensate with his very good route recognition.  While he only has one season as a full-time starter and was the beneficiary of being surrounded by a lot of talent, given his length, style as a press corner, and ball-hawking ability, I would like to see the Jets invest their 6th round pick in Stribling.

Round 7, Pick 224

Jerry Ugokwe, OT, William & Mary

My late round picks usually come in one of two flavors: diamonds in the rough or rough diamonds.  Rough diamonds are character issue guys that would have otherwise been drafted much higher.  I rarely suggest that the Jets draft any guys with character issues early in the draft.  However, in the sixth and seventh rounds, I think it’s ok to take a flyer on a young man that seems remorseful and claims to be on the straight and narrow.  Players selected with such a late pick know that there status with the team is tenuous and, if they regress to their old ways, the team won’t hesitate to cut them.  This year, however, I favor selecting a diamond in the rough.  This is a high potential player that just needs development.  I think, with the right coaching, Jerry Ugokwe could be a tremendous player for the Jets.  He is one of my favorite guys in this draft.  He has a massive, prototypical tackle body (6’7”, 321 lbs).  He is athletic.  He’s got good foot quickness, balance and lateral movement.  He has big, quick hands, long arms and good body control.  He’s also really smart.  Being a Nigerian native, he was late to football (his father was actually Nigeria’s ambassador to Austria).   Ugokwe didn’t start playing football until his junior year in high school.  He walked on at William & Mary and demonstrated both versatility (playing on both the left and right sides) and durability (starting 42 games and missing just one due to injury).  He has significant technique deficiencies but has been characterized as very coachable.   Ugokwe has all the makings of an ideal project.  If the Jets can be patient with him and provide him the coaching he needs, he could be an excellent Tackle for us in the future.

So to sum up, here is are my selections for a best-case draft:

Round 1, Pick 6

Jamal Adams, SS, LSU

Round 2, Pick 39

Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA

Round 3, Pick 70

Pat Elflein, Center, Ohio State

Round 3, Pick 107

Nathan Peterman, QB, Pittsburgh

Round 5, Pick 150

Corn Elder, CB, Miami (Fla.)

Round 6, Pick 191

Channing Stribling, CB, Michigan

Round 7, Pick 224

Jerry Ugokwe, OT, William & Mary