2017 NFL Draft: New York Jets Would Be Wise to Trade Back
The New York Jets should move back from number six in the draft and recreate history.
In 2006, the New York Jets used their first-round pick to set their team up for the next decade. They were looking to protect their quarterback’s blind side. With the fourth overall pick of the draft, the Jets targeted a 6-5, 295-pound tackle from the University of Virginia. He went on to be a three-time Pro Bowler and start 160-straight games at left tackle before his retirement last season.
For anyone that still doesn’t know who I am talking about, his name is D’Brickashaw Ferguson. He was a consistent rock on the left side of the Jets offensive line for a decade.
With his abrupt retirement prior to the 2016 season, general manager Mike Maccagnan acquired Ryan Clady from the Denver Broncos. but he was injured in Week 3 and ended up on injured reserve after the ninth game of the season.
Now, as reported by Rich Cimini of ESPN, Clady has been released, although he may return on a reduced salary. Even if he does come back, the Jets highest graded tackle was Ben Ijalana with an overall grade of 47.6, 60th in the league (per Pro Football Focus).
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The Jets allowed 35 sacks with an adjusted sack rate of 6.2 percent, good for 20th in the league (per Football Outsiders). The rushing offense dropped to 12th in the league when it had been third just two seasons prior. The offensive line just isn’t good enough anymore. It’s time to rebuild it. It’s time for the Jets to recreate history and draft their next left tackle. They need to find the next guy to anchor the line for a decade.
Now I understand the argument for the best player available. Mike Maccagnan certainly made that plan work when he drafted Leonard Williams in 2015. But in this case, it isn’t the right move in this particular scenario.
I’ve said it many times before, but it deserves repeating: An offense lives or dies on the back of the offensive line. When the line is good, it cures a lot of problems. If the line is playing poorly, every element of the offense that is bad gets worse. The left tackle, protecting the blind side, is the anchor of that group. When the Jets went to the AFC Championship Game in 2009 and 2010, Ferguson just happened to be playing some of the best ball of his career, evidenced by back-to-back Pro Bowl apperances. That is not entirely a coincidence.
So how do the Jets handle the pick? If they are looking at No. 6, there are simply no tackles graded that highly. Daniel Jeremiah ranks his best offensive tackle at number 14. Only one of the recent mock drafts posted on NFL.com have a tackle going earlier than 12. What does that mean? It means it’s time to trade back.
That will help in two ways. The first will be that it gives them a tackle at the appropriate value position. If they choose one too high, then they will overpay based on the salary structure, and every dollar helps. Secondly, it will help in the long run as the Jets have several other holes to fill. The sixth pick could yield them multiple picks in a trade down scenario. That will allow Maccagnan to rebuild quicker. That will make all Jets fans happy.
Move back, Maccagnan, and set the team up for a long time.