The 2016 NFL Draft has come and gone, so how did the Jets fare? In truth we won't know for at least two to three years, and assigning grades just hours after a player has been selected and has yet to even take a single practice snap is folly, but folly we all love to read anyway.
We thought we would take a little different approach and list the players the Jets got through the 2016 NFL Draft process and how soon they might contribute to the team on the field come the regular season...
DAY ONE STARTERS
WILB Darron Lee (Ohio State), Pick No. 20
Lee is the second step in Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan's multiyear overhaul of the team's aging linebacking corps. In general, Todd Bowles has deferred to veterans on the roster with a few exceptions and Bowles said during the draft press conference that Lee will be behind Erin Henderson but start in third down packages immediately.
I expect the Jets' first-round pick will catch and surpass Henderson at some point in training camp. Lee more naturally slots into the weak inside linebacker role than Henderson does and brings more playmaking ability to it. Unless Lee can't absorb the playbook, the rookie should quickly start and will bring sideline to sideline range in backside pursuit, blazing fast interior blitz speed and technically sound coverage skills from his days as a safety in college and high school. Lee is a perfect embodiment of Bowles' de-emphasized pass rush from the edge in favor of his heavily interior blitz scheme -- a fact driven home further by this next player.
SOLB Jordan Jenkins (Georgia), Pick No. 83
Take a bow, Calvin Pace. It has been an incredible run for a player who started with the team in 2008 as a free agent from Arizona and has been an integral part of this defense for every year since then. While Pace was never a sack machine, his textbook sealing the edge to take away the fulcrum point of any opponents' running game was vital to the long-term success of this defense.
Jenkins will be expected to take the torch from Pace and should be a player in the Courtney Upshaw style. Jenkins was the less heralded Georgia linebacker in this draft to Leonard Floyd, but was the more productive college player. With a wide open spot at the position, I fully expect Jenkins to assume the starter's role in camp. Expect Jenkins to be utilized attacking upfield against the edge of the offense and have limited success against the pass, but to be a stout player against the run.
P Lachlan Edwards (Sam Houston), Pick No. 235
I know Edwards won't be a "starting 22" player, but I think we can all agree that Ryan "Shankapotomus" Quigley did enough damage to both sides of the ball with his errant punts that I am treating the Jets drafting a punter as a deadly serious matter. It is no coincidence that Edwards was drafted in a year where the NFL moved their touchback to the 25 yard line. While Edwards' 42.5 YPP average in college is fine, it is his hangtime which supposedly sets him apart. With a new rule, smart teams will be looking to hang punts (and kickoffs) in the air just shy of the goal line to get their coverage under it. In case Edwards doesn't work out, they've also brought in Tom Hackett (Utah), the punter with the best average punt distance in 2015 as a free agent.
OT Ryan Clady (Denver Broncos), Pre Draft Trade
Since he was acquired along with the selection that became Charone Peak for a fifth rounder I think it is fair to include Clady in the group. Clady will take over the left tackle position given up by the retiring D'Brickashaw Ferguson. He has struggled to stay healthy but should be an arbitrage version of Ferguson assuming he can hold up for a full season.
CB/S Juston Burris (NC State), Pick No. 118
If you like hard-nosed cornerbacks who are solid in man coverage, relish run support and have some ball skills then Burris is just that sort of prospect. While he needs to work on his technique to see time on the field in the NFL, Burris held opponents to a 34 percent completion rate as a senior and allowed just one touchdown in 44 targets.
I expect Burris will see work as a core special-teamer initially. Depending on how training camp and the preseason games go, he might work into the cornerback rotation early. Longer term, I could easily see Burris becoming a much bigger part of the defense as a safety/corner hybrid in Bowles' multiple scheme. Coverage safeties in the NFL become harder and harder to acquire through the draft, so to me Burris is just the sort of prospect who loves physical play and has enough functional strength and coverage skills to be a fantastic free safety in the NFL if given time to adjust.
DOWN THE ROAD … MAYBE
QB Christian Hackenberg (Penn State), Pick No. 51
I am not going to get into Hackenberg here. Just expect there's more to come from me and you should really be reading Bent's BGA on this anyway.
OL Brandon Shell (South Carolina), Pick No. 158
While he has the size, frame, length and history as a starter in college in the SEC, Shell doesn't have the quick gliding feet to play at the left tackle position. He also hasn't demonstrated the ability to generate enough power and leverage through his dipping and bending to best play at guard. In the end, Shell might be best suited as a right tackle only, which is never good for a player, especially if that player might only be a backup. To me, Shell looks like a hold-the-fort type who will have a hard time getting a starting spot as a right tackle and might be upgraded on even if/when he does.
WR Charone Peake (Clemson), Pick No. 241
You might have noticed that Chan Gailey has a thing for wide receivers who are over six feet tall, are physical downfield run blockers and can streak downfield just as easily as run technical routes in the short game. Could Charone Peake be the developmental receiver the Jets have needed for years?
While some analysts think Peake generally plays smaller than big, he has put some crushing blocks, nastiness and impressive paws on film. He also impressed scouts with his technically sound route-running at the Senior Bowl.
Our old friend Matt Miller even found himself warring with his biases of recent Clemson receivers yet still walking away impressed with what he saw from Peake.
Peake struggled to stay healthy, was almost never used as a special-teamer in college and was miscast in a deep speed role at Clemson. If the Jets were to allow Peake to utilize his strengths, he might wind up being quite the steal.
Peake might never become a workhorse NFL receiver, but I give big credit to the Jets for looking in the right places. There is no Combine test which can indicate success but if there were, Peake would be the singular best prospect in 2016 on that logic. Throw in some of the impressive things he's done on tape and if he can stay healthy and be used in the right role, there's real potential that outweighs where the Jets drafted him.