The New York Jets look to rebound from a bad season with an infusion of youth in the 2017 NFL Draft, could this be how it plays out for them?
After winning 10 games in 2015, the New York Jets completely fell apart last year and managed to win just five games. Now they have to hope that the 2017 NFL draft brings them some good fortune as they try to fix a roster full of holes.
Defensively, they have a lot to correct on the back end. After cutting cornerback Darrelle Revis, their need in the secondary has grown even more with Buster Skrine being their top guy at the spot. They could also use some help at safety as well.
Offensively, they need a younger running back after seeing free agent pickup Matt Forte struggle with health as the season wore on. They also need to find someone to replace the recently released Brandon Marshall at wide receiver. Another couple veterans they moved on from include left tackle Ryan Clady and center Nick Mangold.
As big as all those holes are, none are as glaring as the quarterback position. The Jets were a mess in this area in 2016 and things look to be even more bleak in 2017 at the moment. Currently only Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg are on the roster, so this definitely needs to be addressed.
Can the Jets solve all these needs in one draft? Probably not all—but they sure can try. That’s exactly what this seven round mock draft will aim to accomplish.
Jan 9, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) celebrates after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Round 1, Pick 6: DeShuan Watson, QB — Clemson
With the Cleveland Browns apparently intent on drafting Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, there won’t be a quarterback going first overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. Behind them, the San Francisco 49ers just signed Brian Hoyer to be their starter and may not go for a quarterback at No. 2 after all. Neither will the Chicago Bears at No. 3 after dedicating roughly $15 million a year to Mike Glennon.
The next two picks belong to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans, who have Blake Bortles and Marcus Mariota, respectively. That means the top quarterback in the draft could very well slip to the Jets—absent a trade of course.
So the Jets could luck into snatching up DeShaun Watson from Clemson to finally fix their woes at the spot. Watson led the Tigers to the title game his final two seasons and won it last year. It was the first National Championship in 30 years for Clemson and Watson had a lot to do with that win.
While he played well enough to be a Heisman finalist for his past two seasons, he really stepped it up in the biggest games. Watson was brilliant in their comeback win over powerhouse Alabama and is easily a Day 1 starter for the Jets.
Mar 6, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Connecticut Huskies defensive back Obi Melifonwu does a workout drill during the 2017 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Round 2, Pick 39: Obi Melifonwu, S — Connecticut
One of the NFL Scouting Combine stars in Indianapolis this season was Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu. He measured in at 6-4 and 220 pounds, which immediately turns heads for his position. He then showed he isn’t just a large safety, but also is incredibly athletic.
Melifonwu ran the 40-yard dash in an impressive 4.40 seconds and added a 141.0 inch broad jump and a 44.0 inch vertical jump. His numbers and fluidity in the drills showed that while he has the size to be an enforcer at the position, he also has the range to cover sideline-to-sideline as a centerfield type of safety.
While he did raise his stock quite a bit, Melifonwu still doesn’t crack the first round. He does, however, find himself near the top of round two here as the New York Jets happily snatch him up. In four years at UConn, the rangy-safety had 349 tackles, 11 sacks, 16 pass defenses and eight interceptions. He had four of those picks during his senior season and give the Jets a second starter in as many picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. He was a combine star, but that doesn’t mean that’s all he is. Melifonwu will be a stud in the NFL.
December 31, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Clemson Tigers cornerback Cordrea Tankersley (25) sacks Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) in the the 2016 CFP semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The 2017 NFL Draft is stacked with players in the secondary and pass rushers. For a team like the New York Jets, this is great news because they need corners and safeties. With their second-round pick, they grabbed a starting safety in Obi Melifonwu. With their first in a pair of third-round picks, they try and upgrade the corner position and thankfully there will still be some potential starters to choose from.
In this mock, they return to the school they got their first-round pick from and select Clemson cornerback Cordrea Tankersley. He spent two seasons as a backup player, but excelled when given the opportunity to start in 2015. He recorded 48 tackles, five interceptions and one touchdown as a junior that year. He followed it up with another 52 tackles, four picks and 11 pass deflections as a senior.
His talent says he is worth more than a third-round pick, but thanks to so many other good corners being available, the Jets luck out here. Standing 6-1 and weighing in at 199-pounds is impressive for Tankersley who can match up with any receivers in the league. He won’t replace Revis outright, but it’s not like this was the same Revis Jets fans used to root for, he had definitely lost a step—or maybe even two.
Oct 22, 2016; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Skyler Howard (3) and West Virginia Mountaineers offensive lineman Tyler Orlosky (65) celebrate after the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
Round 3, Pick 107: Tyler Orlosky, C — West Virginia
With their third round compensatory pick the New York Jets try and get themselves some help along the offensive line. After letting veteran Nick Mangold go in the offseason they grab West Virginia’s Tyler Orlosky to compete for the open spot.
Orlosky isn’t considered to be a top pick thanks to some of his size limitations, which is how he is available late in Round 3. However, according to NFL.com’s Draft writer Lance Zierlein, he does have the ability to be a starter in the NFL one day:
Has the natural power to face off and compete against NFL nose guards, but lack of length and leverage could put a cap on where teams are willing to draft him. Functional in space. Lack of lateral quickness isn’t a big enough weakness to prevent him from making a living as an NFL starter. Though limited, he has average starter’s potential.
Of course, average is the key word in Zierlein’s scouting report. The fact is, though, in the late third round—especially as a comp pick—an average starter would be a win, especially on a team full of below-average starters.
Oct 21, 2016; Berkeley, CA, USA; Oregon Ducks tight end Pharaoh Brown (85) scores a touchdown between California Golden Bears cornerback Josh Drayden (20) and defensive back Cameron Walker (3) during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Round 5, Pick 150: Pharaoh Brown, TE — Oregon
A skill player on offense, finally. After grabbing a quarterback, two secondary players and an offensive lineman, the New York Jets grab Oregon tight end Pharaoh Brown with their fifth round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The 6-6 Brown weighed in at 255 pounds and put up an impressive 24 reps in the bench press drill. For some perspective, that’s the same number of reps put up by the 300-pound center Tyler Orlosky, who they grabbed with the last pick in this mock.
After facing the stunning possibility of amputation in a Salt Lake City hospital, he now ambles without crutches. He rides a stationary bike and jogs — gingerly — on an underwater treadmill. That he’s doing any of these things at all could be cause for celebration considering that he left the Rice-Eccles Stadium field on Nov. 8 in the back of an ambulance and, unbeknownst to him, bleeding internally.
His troubled past is hopefully behind him and despite limited athletic ability due to the injury Brown still has a lot of upside. In 2016 he caught 33 passes for 426 yards and five scores. He gives Watson a large, strong target over the middle of the field.
Jan 21, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; West Team defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr (99) tackles East Team running back De’Veon Smith (2) during the second half of the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field. West Team defeated the East Team 10-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Round 6, Pick 191: Deatrich Wise, Jr., DE — Arkansas
As mentioned earlier, the 2017 NFL Draft is loaded with talent at pass rusher and secondary. The Jets were more desperate for secondary help than any edge rushers. For that reason they have already grabbed cornerback Cordrea Tankersley and safety Obi Melifonwu. Now as the draft winds down, they decide it won’t hurt to add some potential pass rushing talent.
With pick No. 191, they choose Arkansas defensive end Deatrich Wise, Jr. The 6-5, 274-pound Wise would fit nicely in the Jets 3-4 defense thanks to his length. He wasn’t a full-time starter until his senior season, but he wasn’t as effective in that role as he was the previous year as a rotational defensive end.
In 2015 Wise recorded eight sacks for the Razorbacks and had 31 tackles, 10.5 for a loss. The following season as a redshirt senior he recorded just 3.5 sacks along with 49 tackles, 5.5 of which went for a loss.
The Jets are pretty strong up front, so it isn’t like they will be heavily dependent on Wise to step up and be a contributor right away. He does have some traits that the team can work with though as they try to develop him for the future.
Oct 17, 2015; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks linebacker Skai Moore (10) during the second half between Vanderbilt and South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium. Final score South Carolina 19 – Vanderbilt 10. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Round 7, Pick 224: Skai Moore, OLB — South Carolina
With their final pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New York Jets again go for a depth piece for their defensive front seven. This time they grab South Carolina outside linebacker Skai Moore. He would have to move inside for the Jets scheme and at just 220 pounds, there will be questions about him holding up at the next level. That size is the key concern for CBS Sports draft expert Rob Rang:
Moore lacks ideal bulk for linebacker, but still has time to add muscle. He has the athleticism, instincts and ballskills to catch the attention of scouts, though without greater mass he may be forced to attempt the difficult transition to safety at the next level.
Moore missed his entire 2016 season due to injury, but was impressive in the first three seasons before that. The Gamecocks playmaker had 110 tackles in 2015, 93 the season before and 55 as a rotational player his freshman season. He also wound up with 11 interceptions in his three seasons.
Of course, the Jets could bring him in and decide to try him out as a hybrid safety as well as an inside linebacker. One thing that’s for sure is Moore made big plays against elite talent in the SEC and is worth taking a late flier on.