The New York Jets are still building the framework in what looks like an all-out rebuild. Prior to free agency, they made some smart business decisions as they cut a handful of established veterans which included the likes of: Brandon Marshall, Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis, among a few others. They must now capitalize in the 2017 NFL Draft and reload with a good haul of young talent. With a lot of holes to fill, this team won’t get fixed overnight, but in a deep defensive draft, they can build a solid core to build around in the next couple of years.
Quarterback of course remains the topic of discussion for the New York Jets. While they’ve been linked to the likes of Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky, if they don’t feel comfortable taking one at #6 – I don’t think they take a QB the rest of the draft. At the current state of their franchise, they’re way better off keying in on other areas of need and bypassing the QB position, for now. They brought in Josh McCown who can serve as a decent stopgap and at the very least have the Jets in prime position atop next year’s draft. Plus, you have the likes of Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty – two young QBs who you’ve gotten a very limited sample size from. Give them another year and see if they flash. If not, you take a QB early in 2018 – a class which shapes up to be much better at the position compared to this year.
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Round 1 (Pick 6): Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
If the Jets don’t go QB here, not only do I think they don’t address QB the rest of the draft, but the pick is more than likely going to be Marshon Lattimore. While the Ohio State All-American corner has well-documented hamstring issues, the Jets are willing to overlook that here based on his tremendous cover skills and athleticism. Lattimore is the type of corner who needs no safety help and can fend for himself patrolling the sideline. Even after signing Morris Claiborne, the Jets biggest weakness on that defense remains corner – and they address that early on.
NYJ: 2nd RD (#56), 3rd RD (#88), 2018 Conditional 4th RD
OAK: 2nd RD (#39), DL Sheldon Richardson
The New York Jets need to acquire as many picks as humanly possible as they’re in all-out rebuilding mode. They unload Sheldon Richardson, even though his value is at an all-time low. In return, they move down a bit in the 2nd round but pick up an extra 3rd round pick along with a conditional pick in the 4th round of next year’s draft.
Round 2 (Pick 56): Marcus Williams, FS, Utah
After going Lattimore at #6, they continue to address the secondary with Marcus Williams. Not only would he give the Jets their second player named Marcus Williams, but he would fill a hole at free safety and allow them to upgrade from Marcus Gilchrist. Williams plays with tremendous instincts as the high safety and has the ball skills to match. A guy like Malik Hooker is stealing the buzz in the 1st round, but Williams presents solid value in the middle of the 2nd.
Round 3 (Pick 70): Carl Lawson, EDGE, Auburn
Even before trading away Sheldon Richardson, the Jets were in need of a boost off the edge. The biggest knocks on Carl Lawson are his lack of length and durability issues over his career at Auburn. However, he plays with a non-stop motor and is a relentless pass rusher off the edge – a trait which Todd Bowles will greatly admire. If he can stay healthy, Lawson looks like a perfect fit in the Jets’ defensive scheme.
Round 3 (Pick 88): Duke Riley, WILB, LSU
With David Harris nearing retirement and out of contract after the 2017 season, the Jets draft his future replacement. Pairing last year’s 1st round pick Darron Lee with Duke Riley would give the Jets a solid, young tandem on the inside. Riley was a consistent staple on LSU’s defense this past season and seemed to get better as the year progressed. He plays with great instincts and will only get better under Todd Bowles.
Round 3 (Pick 107): Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson
Currently, the New York Jets lack a quality starting tight end, unless you still think Austin Seferian-Jenkins has some upside. Regardless, the Jets will cash in on this deep positional class as they take Jordan Leggett at the tail-end of the 3rd round. Leggett was a slow starter this past season, but he really settled in during the 2nd half of the season and proved to be that security blanket for Deshaun Watson in the underneath game. Leggett has elite size for the position, and will be that safety valve the Jets’ offense needs.
Round 5 (Pick 150): Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina
Matt Forte isn’t getting any younger, and Bilal Powell is more-so limited to that 3rd down role. Enter Elijah Hood. Hood is a big, powerful tailback who fits the mold of that old-school, ground-n-pound type offensive scheme the Jets seem to be wanting to transition towards. Leonard Fournette is a popular pick at #6, but the Jets get good value in Hood in the 5th round.
Round 6 (Pick 191): Dan Skipper, OT, Arkansas
This is a position the Jets may want to address much earlier in the draft, but after addressing defense in their first 4 picks, it becomes an afterthought. With a huge hole at right tackle, the Jets turn to Dan Skipper in the 6th round in hopes that he can compete for the starting job. Skipper is a towering presence at 6’10”/309 and possesses the prototypical length you want on the right side. Worked in a physical, pro-style Arkansas running attack which translates well to the Jets’ scheme.
Round 7 (Pick 224): Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Georgia
The Jets are in dire need of a slot receiver. While Quincy Enunwa and even Robby Anderson showed flashes last year as rookies, they’re much better fit on the outside. Eric Decker is getting up there in age which means the Jets could use another young presence in that WR corps. Isaiah McKenzie is well worth a flyer in the 7th round. He has the 4.42 speed and quickness to work out of the slot, although demands a lot of polish on his routes. Still, McKenzie has the ability of hitting those splash plays and if worse comes to worse, you utilize him as a returner.