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New York Jets 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is just over a month away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into the NFL Draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. You will find it here. Draftmas will continue with the New York Jets 2018 NFL Draft profile. 

summary

Projected to be the team most likely to go 0-16 by many pundits, the New York Jets surprised many last season by going 5-11. Despite this record, the Jets proved to be competitive in many games throughout the season, losing six of their 11 games by eight points or less. Last season was the result of general manager Mike Maccagnan tearing down an aging, hostile roster from 2016 and attempting to infuse the locker room with younger players.

The Jets entered free agency this season with the most cap room in the NFL ($89.879 million to be exact). In Maccagnan’s first season as general manager back in 2015, he landed aging, big name talents such as Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. While this strategy worked back then, the Jets fell apart amid large expectations in 2016. This offseason, Maccagnan focused on bringing in value, rather than big-name talent.

New York Jets 2018 NFL Draft profile
Josh McCown’s leadership will be vital to the development of New York’s future rookie quarterback. (Photo by Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports)

It was the same old story for the Jets on offense in 2017. If the Jets want to take their offense to the next level in the next couple of seasons, they must find their quarterback of the future. Josh McCown led the offense by playing his best season of his career. McCown had a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio and won the team’s Curtis Martin MVP Award (the first quarterback to win this award since Chad Pennington in 2002). McCown’s value went further than his play as his leadership helped guide young players and transform the culture of the locker room.

After missing out on Kirk Cousins despite offering him $30 million a year, Maccagnan re-signed McCown on a one-year, $10 million deal. Maccagnan remained proactive, as he signed former Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater on a one-year, $6 million contract. This is a low-risk, high-reward deal for the Jets as Bridgewater flashed promise before going down with a grotesque knee injury that sidelined him for two years.

The Jets brought in former Browns running back Isaiah Crowell to replace the now retired Matt Forte. Crowell, who is only 25 years old, will complete the Jets’ backfield that includes Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire.

At wide receiver, the Jets need to tread carefully with breakout star Robby Anderson. Anderson developed a powerful rapport with McCown last season as an explosive big-play threat, but he has been arrested twice in eight months. If Anderson does not clean up his act up, he may force the Jets to part ways with him in the upcoming future. Quincy Enunwa, Jermaine Kearse and newly-signed Terrelle Pryor round out New York’s wide receiver corps.

After receiving subpar play from center Wesley Johnson, Maccagnan signed former Washington center Spencer Long to a four-year, $28 million contract. The Jets are betting big that Long’s extensive injury history is behind him. Outside of Long, the Jets will stick with their current talent on the offensive line.

On defense, the Jets experienced numerous ups and downs throughout the year. However, the play of rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye should bring optimism and hope to even the most downtrodden Jet fans.

New York Jets 2018 NFL Draft profile
Trumaine Johnson is a major upgrade for New York’s secondary. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The Jets addressed their holes at cornerback, re-signing Morris Claiborne to a one-year, $7 million deal and snagging the top corner on the market in Trumaine Johnson with a five-year, $72 million deal. Johnson and Claiborne, if healthy, have the potential to form one of the top cornerback duos in the NFL next season. The Jets brought free agent E.J. Gaines in for a visit, but he ended up signing with Cleveland. Time will tell whether or not Buster Skrine will be sticking around.

Demario Davis enjoyed a breakout season at middle linebacker this past season, but his age and previous inconsistency resulted in Maccagnan allowing him to walk. Instead, the Jets signed 26-year-old Avery Williamson to a three-year, $22.5 million contract. This is a great value signing for the Jets, but there are questions about Williamson’s coverage abilities.

Aside from cutting much-maligned Muhammad Wilkerson, the Jets have been quiet on the defensive end front. Fans should be excited to see a healthy Leonard Williams in his fourth season as a pro.

Picks and Needs

The Jets changed the entire complexion of the 2018 NFL Draft by trading with the Colts for the third overall pick. In exchange for Colts’ pick, the Jets gave up the sixth pick, both 2018 second-round picks (37th and 49th) and their 2019 second-round pick. After this transaction, the Jets have six total picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.

First round (1 pick): 3

Second round (0)

Third round (1): 72

Fourth round (1): 107

Fifth round (1): 157

Sixth round (1): 179

Seventh round (1): 235

Offensive needs:

Quarterback – Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater were nice free agent signings, but if the Jets want to finally return to the status of contender, they need to find their next Joe Namath.

Running back – Yes, the Jets signed Isaiah Crowell to a three-year deal, but the way the contract is structured allows the Jets to part ways with him after one season if it does not work out. Bilal Powell is 29 years old and Elijah McGuire is still developing. It would not hurt the Jets to invest in a future running back.

Offensive guard – The Jets are locked into Brian Winters at right guard for the time being, but could seek out a replacement for James Carpenter in the draft.

Defensive needs:

Defensive line – After trading Sheldon Richardson and cutting Muhammad Wilkerson, the Jets’ once most talented position is now a big need. There are serious question marks after Leonard Williams and Steve McLendon.

Edge rusher – This is a position that has plagued the Jets for decades. The Jets struggle to gain pressure on the opposing quarterback without blitzing. It is imperative that they address this.

Cornerback – The Jets did a nice job at addressing their need at outside cornerback by signing Trumaine Johnson and bringing back Morris Claiborne, but Buster Skrine’s deal is coming to a close and the Jets ought to look for his replacement.

Targets

The picks in this section are the players the Jets could realistically select with their respective picks.

First round:

Pick No. 3: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

New York Jets 2018 NFL Draft profile
Josh Rosen could be the Jets’ target at No. 3. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

By trading with the Colts to obtain the third overall pick in the draft, Maccagnan announced to the league that the Jets are all in on finding their quarterback of the future with this pick. This trade changes the complexion of the draft in the sense that this trade may force Cleveland to select a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick.

However, it is very possible that Maccagnan has fallen in love with the arm of Josh Rosen. Rosen is probably the most NFL ready quarterback in the draft this season, and that could be an appealing factor for the Jets. Rosen’s physicality fits the NFL quarterback mold (6-foot-4, 226 pounds), and his arm strength and accuracy will help him make all the necessary throws.

While Rosen may be the top pure passer in the draft, teams are concerned about his outspoken personality and injury history. Teams have expressed doubts about Rosen’s leadership abilities and love of the game. Rosen also suffered two concussions this past season and underwent surgery to repair a soft tissue injury in his right shoulder. Naturally, teams are concerned about his durability as the game’s physicality increases in the NFL.

Third round:

Pick No. 72: Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh

O’Neill stands at 6-foot-6 and around 300 pounds. He is a versatile athlete who once played wide receiver and tight end. However, he transitioned to offensive line after gaining a lot of muscle weight. O’Neill would be a smart investment for a Jets team that saw its offensive line struggle at times throughout last season. By bringing in a long-term project, it provides the Jets with insurance once Kelvin Beachum’s contract ends.

Conclusion

The Jets have announced to the world that this year’s draft is quarterback or bust. If Maccagnan finds the next Joe Namath, fans will anoint him as a saint. If he misses, it may cost him his job.

Enjoy the days of Draftmas here at The Game Haus! Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the Denver Broncos 2018 NFL Draft profile.

 

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