Alabama tight end O.J. Howard streaks toward the end zone during the 2017 National Championship Game against Clemson. (Getty Images)
Alabama tight end O.J. Howard could be the Jets' first-round pick on Thursday night. (Photo: Getty Images)

It’s easy for fans to get carried away with the NFL draft and maybe put a little too much stock into the incoming class of prospective stars.

 

But for the New York Jets, it’s difficult to downplay the importance of their selections this year in Philadelphia as they look to rebuild a franchise that looks lost.

 

Gang Green has a prime opportunity to snap up some solid talent this year as we take a look at how Metro thinks their draft will pan out:

 

Round 1 (No. 6) — O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

 

If there is ever a lesson on how valuable a tight end can be to an offense, the Jets just need to look across the division at Rob Gronkowski and the New England Patriots. I’m not saying O.J. Howard is the next Gronk, but he is an athletic receiver that can also block well for the run game. That’s hard to find, which is why the Jets could move away from North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

Round 2 (No. 39) — Takkarist McKinley, DE/LB, UCLA

A versatile pass rusher coming off the edge could be a big help to Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams. McKinley is versatile enough to do so on the line or at linebacker. He would also be an important acquisition if the Jets trade Sheldon Richardson on draft night.

Round 3 (No. 70) — Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami (FL)

It’s not Mitchell Trubisky or Deshaun Watson, but Kaaya has exhibited a strong arm and solid footwork when given adequate time. He’ll be a work in progress, but if the Jets can improve his composure under pressure, they might have something here.

Round 3 (No. 107) — Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State

I’m not over-exaggerating when I say Johnson would be a massive presence on the Jets offensive line. At 6-foot-7, 311 pounds, the Seminole product has a surprising amount of athleticism that makes him solid on the block while moving.

Round 5 (No. 150) — Fish Smithson, S, Kansas

The Jets secondary was a middle-of-the-road unit in terms of passing yards allowed, but giving up 30 touchdowns through the air is far too many. Smithson eclipsed the 90-tackle mark in each of his last two years at Kansas and recorded a combined six interceptions.

Round 6 (No. 191) — Dwayne Thomas, CB, LSU

Thomas could also help bolster New York’s secondary as a corner who has shown the ability to line up in the slot or on the outside. Last season he posted 42 tackles, an interception, a sack and seven pass breakups.

Round 7 (No. 224) — Damore’ea Stringfellow, WR, Ole Miss

With Brandon Marshall gone, the Jets need to bring on some support for Eric Decker. Stringfellow was Ole Miss’ No. 2 man in the passing game behind Evan Engram, recording 46 catches for 716 yards and six touchdowns. That average of 15.6 yards per catch could be a nice number to bring to the Jets offense.