It was, by all accounts, an absolute dream first draft for New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan and by proxy, his first-year head coach Todd Bowles.
Both men charged with turning around this franchise’s fortunes after four decades in the NFL’s wilderness have started off in a whiz-bang sort of way. Maccagnan, with his strong background in player personnel and scouting, plus Bowles, who has a reputation for strong talent evaluation, hit home run after home run in this past weekend’s draft. It was a draft that was set for success by a free agency period where the Jets addressed every single one of their glaring needs with talent and proven commodities.
Oh, and they still have money to spare under the salary cap.
A look at how the Jets’ first draft under Maccagnan and Bowles panned out:
Round 1: Leonard Williams – DE (USC): If the Jets did nothing else but take this edge rusher than the whole three days in Chicago would have still been an undoubted success. Williams was widely regarded as the best player in the draft, a player who fell to the Jets at the sixth overall pick. Williams is raw, is just 20-years-old but his upside is tremendous. Given that Bowles is blitz-happy, pass rushers will be at a premium. Good move from the Jets to get such a talented player and be willing to take the best player on their board without moving up. There are some concerns about his shoulder and how he disappears for stretches of a game, but he’s as good of a draft pick as the Jets have had since, well …Darrelle Revis.
Round 2: Devin Smith – WR – (Ohio State): His route-running needs work and his hands kept him from being a first rounder, but Smith is a deep threat and is good value in the second round. He’ll stretch the field for the Jets, which will open things up underneath for Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. He’s also got some wheels and will add to special teams as a gunner. Nice pick.
Round 3: Lorenzo Mauldin – LB (Louisville): He’s not the biggest edge rusher out there but Mauldin hits hard and plays hard, not surprising given his history and difficult childhood. Definitely a solid mid-round selection with good upside. Good at finding the ball and won’t get lost in traffic. Tremendous effort player.
Round 4: Bryce Petty – QB (Baylor): The roar at the team’s facility when the Jets made this pick was deafening as Petty will be the latest quarterback anointed as the team’s answer under center. He has a quick release and is accurate in short-to-intermediate throws but does struggle with the deep ball placement. Hasn’t played much under center, will need a redshirt year before he can be ready to compete. Has a good skillset though. Even if he doesn’t pan out to be a starter he could be a really nice backup.
Round 5: Jarvis Harrison – OG (Texas A&M): The dreaded ‘work ethic’ question is an issue here but Harrison has tremendous upside. He was a very good value pick in the fifth round as he has potential to be a starter. Harrison will need time to develop.
Round 7: Deon Simon – NT (Northwestern State): Some see him with potential at the 3-technique in the Jets scheme. He’s going to be raw and struggled at times to get off the line due to a lack of explosiveness. Could be someone to tuck away on the practice squad and develop. Will need to get stronger and bigger to plug gaps.