AFC East Draft Grades – New York Jets (Part 3 of 4)

By Ryan Whitfield

Twitter: @RyanWhitfieldNE

New York Jets – Grade – B+

While the 2017 New York Jets finished just 5-11, it’s fair to say that as a whole, the Jets overachieved. Many had the Jet’s pegged for 2-3 wins, and not only did they win 5, 4 of their losses were by less than a possession. To put it in to context, 2 of those losses came against the Patriots and the Rams, both playoff teams. As strange as it may sound, the Jets came into this draft without a ton of holes. A young, confident and feisty defense, mixed with an offense that could be productive in 2018, with the right supplemental players. The return of Quincy Enunwa, the addition of Terrelle Pryor (albeit coming off a down year), the potential of Robby Anderson continuing to develop (legal issues pending), and a backfield with Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell, gives them a good cast of playmakers. The play here for the Jet’s was to have a calm, almost understated draft, as long as they got their guy in Round 1. By all accounts they did just that, and the Jets are building a young nucleus to carry them the next 5 years and beyond. The late round value additions will help develop their defense further, and the Jets ended up with a really good couple of days in Texas.

Round 1 Pick # 3 – Sam Darnold – QB USC

USC Stats
Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass
Year G Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A TD Int Rate
*2016 13 246 366 67.2 3086 8.4 31 9 161.1
*2017 14 303 480 63.1 4143 8.6 26 13 148.1
Career 549 846 64.9 7229 8.5 57 22 153.7

In a big QB class, The Jet’s Identified and got their guy. The Jet’s gave up their first round, two second round, and 2019’s second round picks to move up and get Darnold. The man they got finished college with a 64.9% completion percentage and racked up 7,229 yards. With 57 passing Touchdowns and another 7 on the ground, Darnold should be a slam dunk. However, the much noted concern is the 22 interceptions and 13 fumbles lost, combining for 35 Turnovers in 2016 & 2017. It’s no secret that Darnold must protect the ball better. The competition with Bridgewater and McCown should help create that urgency, and push Darnold to be smart with the football. The best scenario for the Jet’s in 2018 and beyond, is that all 3 compete and play well this summer, and that the 20 year old combats his way through and commandeers the starting role from the two hungry veterans.

Grade – A

Round 3 Pick # 72 – Nathan Shepherd – DT Fort Hays State

Shepherd’s NFL draft profile (https://www.nfl.com/prospects/nathan-shepherd?id=32462018-0002-5598-92f8-36ce2fecd601) had him projected in the second round. The Jet’s were able to get him in the third, thats value. He his raw, but he’s strong and physical. In his senior year he earned All-American honors, and put together 38 TOT, 12.5 TFL and 4 sacks. On a defense that parted ways with both Sheldon Richardson and Mo Wilkerson, the Jet’s have restocked and can move forward with Leonard Williams and Nathan Shepherd.

Grade – A

Round 4 Pick # 107 – Chris Herndon – TE Miami

In his 3 seasons in Miami, Herndon continued to develop as a pass catcher, culminating in 40-477-4 Senior year. All of which were career highs. Herndon was projected on his NFL.com draft profile as a 4-5 round pick and that’s where he went. He had an MCL injury last November, which didn’t help his draft stock. But, with Sefarian Jenkins now departed, Herndon is a project worth investing in.

Grade – B-

Round 6 Pick # 179 – Parry Nickerson – CB Tulane

In 2017, Nickerson had 8 Passes Defensed and 6 Interceptions. His NFL.com Draft Profile had him projected in the 4-6 round, which make’s this another pick with great value. At 5’10 182 lbs., he is a smaller corner.  With that said, he play’s physical and can play man to man with strong press coverage skills. In his 4 season’s in Tulane he averaged 45 TOT a year, so safe to say he gets involved in the run game as well.

Pick – A-

Round 6 Pick # 180 – Folorunso Fatukasi – DL Connecticut

Folorunso is a versatile player who can play inside or out. As a 4 year player at UConn he 170 TOT, 21 TFL and 14 sacks. On NFL.com they had him projected in the 4th round, another unbelievable get. The Jets targeted a versatile depth piece on their DL, which can enable them to build a rotation of guys to get after the QB. In back to back picks in the 6th Round, the Jets added two 4th Round talents to create depth across their defense.

Grade – A-

Round 6 Pick # 204 – Trenton Cannon – RB Virginia State

Trenton was a guy many had slated as an UDFA, but the Jets took the gamble in the 6th Round. Not only did Trenton run a 4.40 40 yard, his 10 yard split was 1.49. At 5’11 185 and that flashing speed, he’ll primarily be a change of pace type back. Given his prospects, he’ll have to pop in special teams to earn a role or make an impact for New York.

Grade – C

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