Jets GM Mike Maccagnan won't rule out the possibility of the team carrying four quarterbacks this season.
The Jets currently have Geno Smith and Bryce Petty under contract and recently drafted Christian Hackenberg.
Meanwhile, the team remains open to re-signing free agent Ryan Fitzpatrick.
"In a perfect world, I think if it's in the best interest of the team at the end of training camp that we carry four quarterbacks, then we carry four quarterbacks," Maccagnan said on WFAN radio, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN. "It's not unprecedented in the NFL. It's been done before. To me, it's a position where you have to take some time to really invest, grow, and develop players."
The Jets could conceivably keep four QBs on their roster for the 2016 season but it would be a waste of roster space. The Jets are playing coy with their quarterbacks because maybe they think they can get a little something for one of them in a trade should they bring Ryan Fitzpatrick back via free agency.
The truth is someone is going to give; Geno Smith could be their starter or he could be on the street. The Jets could also be willing to part ways with Bryce Petty now that they've drafted a quote-unquote more expense and more recent version of Petty in Hackenberg.
Tags: Bryce Petty , Geno Smith , Ryan Fitzpatrick
This year I will once again be breaking down each of the Jets draft picks (and most of the undrafted free agent signings) in detail. Yesterday, we took a two-part look at quarterback Christian Hackenberg, but now we move on to look at the Jets' third round pick, linebacker Jordan Jenkins from Georgia. I've been watching game footage to try and assess what he brings to the table.
The 21-year old Jenkins is listed at 6'3" and 259 pounds and was a regular starter at outside linebacker for four years at Georgia. He recorded 204 tackles, 19 sacks, five passes defensed, six forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries over the course of his career. During those four seasons, Georgia went 40-13, as Jenkins played in 52 games. After almost entering the NFL draft in 2015, he returned for his senior season and was drafted by the Jets in the third round.
Note: Some stats from this article are exclusively provided by Pro Football Focus.
Who is Jordan Jenkins?
Jenkins made an immediate impact as a freshman, starting six games at outside linebacker and recording 31 tackles and five sacks. Over the next two seasons, he would start every game, recording 45 tackles (including 12 for loss, which was 5th-best in the SEC) and five sacks in 2013 and a career-high 70 tackles and five sacks in 2014. He had lost weight entering the 2014 season and took on a slightly different role.
In his senior year, Jenkins' production was down slightly (58 tackles and four sacks), but that's because he was hampered by a groin/hip injury that caused him to miss one game and be limited in several others. He had played over 200 more snaps in 2014.
Jenkins attended the senior bowl but pulled his hamstring at the scouting combine and couldn't complete a full workout. He did complete the disciplines he missed at his pro day though. Most sources have had him listed as a third-rounder or thereabouts throughout most of the draft process so he was selected about where expected by the Jets.
Let's move on to look at some of my own analysis from watching Jenkins' film. Here are my observations, divided into categories.
Like most of the Jets' picks this year, Jenkins has good length (34¼" arms) and he has solid size for a 3-4 outside linebacker role at the NFL level. He was apparently playing at about 270 in 2013, before losing weight and being closer to 250 over the past two years.
He's not an elite level athlete, as he ran a 4.80 40-yard dash at the combine and then couldn't improve upon that at his pro day. His agility numbers were also poor. He did post good explosiveness numbers at the combine, though. He then improved upon those numbers at his pro day, which saw him post a 38" vertical.
Jenkins is regarded as a player with good functional strength but his 16 bench press reps at the combine was a disappointing number. He improved upon that slightly with 19 at his pro day, but that's still unexpectedly low and perhaps something he will need to continue to work at.
Jenkins was mostly employed as a stand-up outside linebacker over his first two seasons before moving into the "Jack linebacker" role in 2014. Confusingly, in the Bulldogs' defense, that's a hybrid DE/OLB role rather than the ILB role Bart Scott had with the Jets when he played a position with the same name under Rex Ryan.
Jenkins' role actually varied from week-to-week. Against Georgia Tech, a triple-option offense, he played outside linebacker on 41 of his 43 snaps and only had his hand in the dirt twice. Against Florida, he played just 16 snaps because he was limited by injury, but 10 of these saw him with his hand in the dirt. Against Alabama, they made an adjustment in the second half and employed him regularly as an off-line linebacker playing about four yards deep. He also saw a lot of pass rush reps where he would line up in the B gap (between guard and tackle) and rush the interior.
There were rare occasions where he would match up with a receiver in the slot, but he usually only dropped into coverage a few times per game.
Jenkins did a solid job in the running game at Georgia with his run stop productivity matched only by Joey Bosa from the top prospects in this year's edge defender class.
The book on Jenkins is that he's a good edge setter in the running game. That's interesting because that strong-side edge setter role is something the Jets seemed to have ear-marked for Lorenzo Mauldin in the long run. I wonder if last season, where Mauldin showed better than expected speed-rushing ability off the edge but perhaps underwhelmed in other areas, changed their thinking here. If they were to end up as the two starters at outside linebacker, there's a good chance that they would complement each other well and be somewhat interchangeable to boot.
When setting the edge, Jenkins uses his length well and extends his arms in textbook fashion. He does that well here, penetrating into the backfield so there's no chance for the runner to bounce the run outside and shedding the block to bottle up the runner in the hole.
Some of that explosiveness Jenkins displayed during his pre-draft workouts is also evident as Jenkins has the ability to shoot a gap and make plays in the backfield.
He explodes into the backfield to blow up this play, after initially overpowering the left tackle at the point of attack:
As you can see, he is capable of displaying good strength and has an ability to get penetration and shed blocks. He doesn't always hold up at the point of attack though, with leverage issues leading to him being driven off the line at times, especially when double-teamed. As a general rule, Jenkins was dominant when matched up against a tight end (including some NFL-level prospects) but less so against bigger linemen.
Here are two plays that provide an example of that contrast. On the first play, he easily sheds the block from Georgia Tech's A-Back on the left side and blows the run up in the backfield. However, on the second play, he ends up being driven off the line and sealed to the inside by a bigger lineman.
Jenkins displays a good ability to get downhill, bottling up runs and pursuing in space over short distances. His balance seems to be good when moving laterally, but he does end up on the ground sometimes when fighting at the point of attack.
This play is a good example of him moving well laterally, avoiding traffic and pursuing a pitch play to make a stop on the outside:
Jenkins displays a good ability to wrap up ball carriers and take them to the ground, although I'd be wary of the fact he could have been flagged a few times for driving a player into the turf if he did the same at the NFL level, especially if it was a quarterback. He can hit hard too, which has contributed to his six forced fumbles over the course of his career.
In terms of missed tackles, Jenkins' numbers are good as he only had 11 missed tackles over the past two seasons. From what I saw, nearly all of those were in the backfield as he tried to make a big play and a few of them led to the play being blown up by someone else anyway.
I didn't see a lot from Jenkins in open space, because he did most of his work in the trenches, although he made one or two plays.
Jenkins is used to handling a big workload and remaining productive. He regularly seemed to make big plays late in close games.
Jenkins played over 80% of the snaps five times last season and nine times in 2014. He even played 100% of the snaps in two games, including the Alabama game last year. That was the game mentioned above where he was employed as an off-line linebacker in the second half. I don't know if that was partly due to fatigue or because he'd been having a rough time of it at the point of attack against Alabama's big offensive line, but he still made a couple of big plays and graded out positively. It was immediately after that game that he started having the groin/hip issues though.
Jenkins was never among the SEC sack leaders, but showed good consistency as a pass rusher with five sacks in each of his first three seasons and four in his injury-limited senior campaign. He doesn't strike me as a player who will put up big pass rush numbers in the NFL, but can certainly contribute in that area. If he's going to take on a Calvin Pace style role with this team then he would have other responsibilities in terms of coverage and pocket integrity, but as the same time should get opportunities to amass production cleaning up.
In 2015, Jenkins only had three games where he rushed the passer more than 20 times and his production in these games was excellent (three sacks, three hits, 12 pressures). However, in the other nine games, he only had one sack, two hits and nine pressures. Maybe this is a sign that he needs a bigger workload to get himself going.
Another issue is that he didn't face many NFL-level prospects and didn't produce much on those few occasions where he did. Those three games mentioned above were all against teams with bad offensive lines and while he played more on the right side, he had significantly higher production going against right tackles than left tackles.
Jenkins also had better production when coming out of a three point stance and his best productivity came while bull rushing rather than coming off the edge. As already noted, he rushed on the interior quite a lot, which means he was double teamed a lot when compared to other edge rushing prospects, which obviously factors into his productivity.
Here's a play where he shows a quick get-off and drives the right tackle back into the quarterback to flush him from the pocket:
That doesn't mean he was incapable of rushing on the outside, although he did tend to take advantage of some bad tackles (and some tight ends). When he gets a rush off the edge he does it more with dip and leverage techniques than a natural lean. He excels at using a rip move, which is relevant because defensive line coach Pepper Johnson favors that technique over the swim move.
This is an excellent job by Jenkins who swats the left tackle to the floor, gets upfield leverage to overpower the back around the outside and then displays burst to bear down on the quarterback and set up a game clinching interception (which his teammate promptly drops).
Much like Mauldin before him, Jenkins did not drop into coverage much at all in college. He typically did this just a few times per game. Even when he did drop, most of his assignments would be a soft jam at the line and then dropping into a shallow zone. I did see him take a few deeper drops but that was rare.
He did make a few plays in coverage, typically rushing initially and then breaking off to make a tackle after a short pass into the flat. While he had five passes defensed in his career, only one of these was over the past two seasons and some of them were probably batted passes at the line.
Jenkins was targeted just once in coverage over the past two years and that saw him back-pedalling a few steps into a short zone against a tight end. The fact that the quarterback threw a quick pass to his man as he dropped in behind him seemed to take him by surprise as his hips were turned out towards the sideline so he struggled to recover and chase him down. The dump-off pass went for 23 yards. While this is the smallest of samples, it's obvious Jenkins will need some technical refinement before he can be relied upon to handle the coverage responsibilities of the strong-side position he's expected to occupy.
Jenkins is regarded as having good instincts and I didn't see much evidence of misreads, overpursuit or mental errors from him.
One of the most important jobs for an edge setter is not to give up outside contain and Jenkins does well to limit that most of the time, but there were a few instances where the runner got to the outside. One of those saw him failing to anticipate a bounce outside and getting sealed to the inside to set up a 65-yard run. Another example is in that double-gif above where he didn't anticipate the pulling lineman making a reach block to again seal him to the inside on a counter.
On the play below, Jenkins initially misreads the play-fake and takes out the wrong player, but he displays the kind of ability to recover you perhaps wouldn't expect from his underwhelming pro day agility numbers and still makes the play when the quarterback is forced back inside.
His instincts in coverage perhaps need work, but that's hopefully something that will come naturally with experience.
Jenkins didn't contribute much on special teams in college because he was a defensive starter, but I would expect him to be expected to contribute there as a young player with the Jets. His lack of straight line speed and open field agility might limit him there but he could do well in blocking or rushing roles with his physicality.
Since he played such a versatile role in college, I wouldn't expect it to be a major transition for Jenkins to feel comfortable in most of Todd Bowles' packages. I could see him being a "starter" in the base defense but perhaps not getting all the reps in sub-packages and pass rushing situations initially.
Jenkins is a fiery player who seems to give good effort and gets fired up when the defense makes a big play. After the 2013 season, Jenkins admitted that he didn't work hard enough and vowed to be more aggressive. Over the past two seasons, he has impressed with his "professional attitude".
Jenkins committed just one penalty over the past two seasons and that was when he jumped offside (although it did negate an interception).
Jenkins missed just the one game in his entire college career with that groin/hip injury last season. This did limit him though, as he played just 50 total defensive snaps in the four games between week five and week 11.
With Calvin Pace departing, the Jets need someone who sets the edge well and Jenkins did an excellent job of this in college. While I think that's initially the role they hoped Mauldin would step into, I think it makes sense for them to target another edge setter type to pair him with rather than targeting a pure pass rusher. Who knows, though? Maybe Jenkins will follow in Mauldin's footsteps and show the most initial promise as a pass rusher after all.
I don't anticipate Jenkins being the kind of player who threatens to be a double-digit sack monster every year, but hopefully he's good enough in that area that his contributions will still be valuable. While it's evident most of his production as a pass rusher came against sub-NFL talent, his abilities in that area display plenty of promise.
This is a pick which fills an obvious need and, while Jenkins is not a flashy player that will jump out at you on film, he's potentially someone with a low floor that can hopefully contribute right off the bat and has the potential to develop into a key contributor.
Up next: A look at the Jets' fourth round pick, defensive back Juston Burris from North Carolina State. Can he challenge for a spot in the defensive backfield rotation?
The New York Jets 'strongly considered' trading their first round pick to the Dallas Cowboys, Jets GM Mike Maccagnan admitted to Mike Francesa on Tuesday on WFAN radio.
The Cowboys reached out to a number of teams drafting in the teens and 20s, including the Jets, in hopes of moving back into the first round to select QB Paxton Lynch. The offer was Dallas' second and third round picks (Nos. 34 and 67), according to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, but the Cowboys found no takers.
"The deal was a deal we strongly considered," Maccagnan said on Tuesday. "And probably came fairly close to it. But at the end of the day, we liked the player at [No.] 20, and felt good about taking him and going forward."
The Jets used the pick to select linebacker Darron Lee from Ohio State.
"It was a situation where, maybe if there's different players available and Lee wasn't available, maybe it would have been a trade we would have considered [even] more strongly," said Maccagnan. "Everybody uses trade charts, so you try to figure out what's fair. At the end of the day, we felt it would be better in our interests to hold onto the pick and take the player."
New York Jets GM Mike Maccagnan appeared on ESPN Radio on Monday and gave his thoughts about Christian Hackenberg, Laremy Tunsil and Dee Milliner. Here's what he said:
- Maccagnan did not rule out the possibility of Hackenberg, New York's second-round pick, playing in 2016, though added that he hopes the team can re-sign quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
- Hackenberg's maturity will be a factor in determining his playing time early on.
- Maccagnan said he is "excited" to see what Geno Smith can do and is looking forward to seeing Bryce Petty's progression.
- Maccagnan said Tunsil, a top-ranked offensive lineman who fell to the No. 13 spot after a video surfaced of him smoking a bong out of a gas mask prior to the draft, was a good kid. The Jets considered trading up for Tunsil on Thursday.
- Though the Jets will not pick up Milliner's fifth-year option, Maccagnan said Milliner is a "wild card" in a good way. Should Milliner play well in 2016, the Jets could look to negotiate a contract after the season.
Tags: Bryce Petty , Dee Milliner , Geno Smith , Ryan Fitzpatrick
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.
Tags: Brian Bassett
The Jets made a number of deals with undrafted players after the NFL Draft ended Saturday. This list will be updated as more signings are confirmed (comments by Bent of TheJetsBlog.com):
Doug Middleton, S, Appalachian State: Heavy hitter who has played both safety positions and also some cornerback.
Claude Pelon, DT, Southern Cal: 310-pound tackle who came on strong at the end of last year and did 33 bench press reps at his pro day.
Tom Hackett, P, Utah: Two-time Ray Guy award winner who can compete with 7th round pick Lac Edwards.
Jason VanderLaan, QB/TE, Ferris State: Athletic small school QB who the Jets are apparently going to convert to tight end.
Quenton Bundrage, WR, Iowa State: Regarded as a potential draft pick a year ago but had just 41 catches in ISU's run-first offense coming off a 2014 knee injury.
Jalin Marshall, WR/KR, Ohio State: Electric receiver and punt returner who slid after his workout numbers weren't as good as expected.
Tarow Barney, DT, Penn State: Another athletic 300-pounder who did 31 bench press reps at his pro day.
Robby Anderson, WR, Temple: Regarded as a possible mid-round pick after posting superb pro day numbers coming off a near-1,000 yard season.
Kyle Friend, C/G, Temple: Starting center the last few years but also saw some time at guard and did 41 bench press reps at his pro day.
Lawrence Thomas, DL, Michigan State: could play inside and out and shows promise against the run.
Ross Martin, K, Duke, and Daniel Sobolewski, K, Albright: Pro Football Focus called Martin the most accurate kicker available in the draft and both could provide competition for Nick Folk.
Romar Morris, RB, North Carolina: Didn't play much last year, but ran a 4.36 40-yard dash at his pro day.
Dahon Taylor, OL, Virgina Union: Taylor is an athletic small-school prospect with good size from nearby Florence, NJ.
Helva Matungulu, DL, Western Carolina: Matungulu grew up in Kenya and was another small-school prospect whose stock was said to be rising prior to the draft.
The Jets also have reportedly offered a tryout to Terron Beckham, the cousin of Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Terron Beckham, projected as a running back, did not play in college, but has become an internet phenom with his workouts. At a pro day workout he ran a 4.47 40-yard dash, did a 44-inch vertical jump, an 11-foot broad jump and 36 reps on the bench.
In part one of our look at the Jets' second round pick, quarterback Christian Hackenberg. I set the scene by reviewing his career so far and critiquing a must-watch analytics video from YouTube. In this part, I move on to look at some of my own analysis from watching Hackenberg's film.
While the analysis is based on multiple games, all gifs are from the Michigan State game which - perhaps more than any other - had a healthy mix of good and bad moments despite being a 55-16 blowout loss (and Hackenberg's worst-graded game of the year) in the end.
The game was initially tight with Penn State about to make it a one-possession game late in the second quarter, but then the Spartans returned a fumble by one of the receivers for a long touchdown. Hackenberg led a touchdown drive to cut the lead to 10 just before halftime, but the third quarter saw two time-consuming touchdown drives on either side of a three-and-out to make it 34-10 and effectively put the game out of reach.
Here are my observations, divided into categories...
Hackenberg has pretty good athletic numbers and good size, but one concern would be his small hand size. He has the same size hands as Jared Goff, who -- even though he would ultimately get selected first -- reportedly had some teams losing interest in him due to that fact.
As everyone now knows due to the ongoing deflategate discussions, an ability to grip the ball more easily helps you in two main areas. One is ball security in terms of fumbles and the other is in terms of how tightly you can throw a spiral, especially when pressured.
To address those specific issues, it's interesting to note that despite getting sacked over 100 times in three years Hackenberg's fumble stats are not that bad. He fumbled 17 times, losing 10 of those. Even more encouraging, that got better last season as he had a career-low three fumbles.
Less encouraging, though, would be this play:
With regard to the other issue, it's worth noting that Hackenberg can throw a tight spiral, especially on deep balls and when his feet are set. However, in the Kollman video discussed in Part 1, there's one play where he praises Hackenberg for making an accurate back shoulder throw under pressure. But it's a fluttering duck that could hang up enough on a cold December game in New Jersey for most NFL defensive backs to be able to make a play on it.
Displaying arm strength on deep balls is another area where Hackenberg has done well at times but hasn't seen much success overall. A high proportion of his completions last season were close to the line of scrimmage when compared with other prospects. In addition, a lot of the downfield completions he made were of the jump-ball variety rather than throwing deep to a receiver who gets behind the defense.
There are some nice examples on film of him setting his feet and throwing a pinpoint deep ball, but he also had a lot of underthrows due to pressure. Penn State's documented issues on the offensive line were perhaps a factor in his lack of downfield passing success, though.
Naturally, arm strength isn't just about the deep ball. In fact, even guys like Chad Pennington could loft a 50-yard bomb over the top. Can he fit a pass into a tight window or complete a long out, though? As you'd expect, this again tends to come down to footwork from Hackenberg. When he gets it right, he's capable of throwing a rope, but when pressured, his technique can get sloppy and his passes can flutter.
Here's the best example of that you could hope to see. Just to emphasize how off-balance he was when he threw that wobbler, Hackenberg stumbled over and fell on his backside after releasing the throw, although you can't see it from this angle.
Here's a successful throw zipped into a tight window, but it does beg the question whether Hackenberg saw the defensive back lurking and about to jump the route. One man's "accurately zipped tight window throw" is another man's "interceptable pass." So was this a reckless throw or an example of how Hackenberg has the arm talent to exploit even the smallest amount of separation? Did that throw have enough zip on in to prevent an elite NFL-level defensive back from making a play on the ball, I wonder?
As noted above, Hackenberg's accuracy numbers are poor and cannot be explained away by attributing them to drops and the like.
Once again, there are plenty of examples on film of Hackenberg throwing a perfectly timed pass right on the money, but there's more where his throw is off-line and once again this usually worsens when he's under pressure.
In the MSU game, Hackenberg's red zone accuracy was very disappointing as the team really struggled to finish off drives. Penn State ran 15 plays inside Michigan State's 10 yard line but they only got in the end zone twice as Hackenberg was 3-for-9 and one of the touchdowns came when a defensive back slipped over and left a receiver open in the end zone. However, the other touchdown did display accuracy as his throw was in the perfect position where only the receiver could get it.
Seeing his completion percentage drop in each season (from 59 percent as a freshman to 53 percent last year) is a concern, as is the fact that he completed less than half of his passes in about 30 percent of his games at Penn State. Not being able to reach the 60 percent completion threshold in any of his three seasons is disappointing, but even worse is the fact that he only completed more than 60 percent of his passes in one game last season.
Here's the most difficult variable to assess in terms of Hackenberg's pro potential: A Hackenberg apologist would say that he didn't stand a chance because of Penn State's notoriously terrible offensive line, which meant he was constantly under pressure. However, his doubters might point to the fact that he was part of the problem because he was responsible -- perhaps moreso than other collegiate quarterbacks -- for setting the protection. Also, he habitually made poor decisions, rushed his throw or exhibited sloppy footwork when the pressure came.
How bad was the offensive line, anyway? They've had a couple of NFL-level prospects in front of him. John Urschel, a fifth-round pick, left after Hackenberg's freshman year and Donovan Smith, a second-round pick, was there throughout his first two seasons.
They also had Garry Gilliam, who has since started 17 games in the NFL, on the team in Hackenberg's freshman year, but he only played one game on the offensive line as he was converting from tight end.
The 2015 group was assuredly bad, though, with several less experienced players forced to step up. Angelo Mangiro was their only 2015 draft prospect and he was rated outside the top 600 by CBS and still hasn't been picked up. Also, as Jets fans know all too well, even if you have a couple of great linemen, the old adage that you're only as strong as your weakest link is often true. And it's obvious that Penn State's line had some individuals who were overmatched throughout Hackenberg's career.
With the offensive line regressing over the course of his career, it's worth noting that Hackenberg was only sacked 21 times in his freshman season and he admitted on Gruden's QB camp that 10 or 11 of these were because he held the ball for too long. He will smartly throw the ball away at times, though.
Here's a play where Hackenberg displays the kind of indecisiveness that made Mark Sanchez so frustrating to watch. Obviously the blocking on this play is really poor but Hackenberg has to eat the ball because he waits a beat too long. If you watch the play, you can see he had a good chance to throw the quick slant for a first down to the receiver looking for the ball in the right slot. He also could've thrown to the receiver running a drag route from the left side who also might have had a chance to get to the marker.
Here's a play where Hackenberg makes a mistake more reminiscent of Geno Smith than Sanchez. Again, the blocking up front is awful, but if he takes the sack immediately that would set up a third-and-10. If he anticipated slightly better he might have been able to step up and get closer to the line of scrimmage before going down or maybe even throw the ball away. However, through trying to extend the play by going backwards, he leaves the team in a drive-killing third-and-18 situation.
As a bonus, No. 8 on Michigan State who drives back the right tackle and completes the sack is one of Saturday's undrafted free agent pickups, Lawrence Thomas.
If the Jets can protect Hackenberg well, perhaps with an added expectation that pro level players will do a more reliable job of responding to him setting the protection, this could mean he's in a better position to succeed than he ever was in college. However, until he gets that chance, you can never be too sure if the damage done at Penn State will prove permanent, meaning he'll always be a player who lacks poise because he's so used to being rattled by pressure and not able to trust his protection.
As noted above, Hackenberg is unique in terms of modern quarterback draftees in that his footwork when under center is well developed. However, he sometimes displays lazy and sloppy footwork out of the shotgun and there are good examples of this in the video discussed earlier. He also displays poor footwork when under pressure at times, as most quarterbacks do.
However, here's a good example of him going through his progressions to throw a strike for a fourth down conversion, as he slides across laterally to avoid pressure and open up a passing lane, then plants and delivers with good technique.
In addition to footwork issues, Hackenberg has a bit of a wind-up in his delivery, which I'm sure the Jets would like to see him sharpen up.
Are these issues fixable, though? That's the $64 million dollar question, but the Jets wouldn't have picked him where they did if they didn't think the answer was yes.
This is a major area of concern for Hackenberg. Again, you can potentially make excuses for him by questioning the system or the play-calling, but it's difficult to excuse him forcing a throw, failing to see an open receiver or not anticipating a defender jumping a route. And he did all three of these things too often at Penn State.
Still, there's some scope for encouragement that he made progress in that area. Hackenberg only threw five interceptions in his final season - a career low - including just two in the first 11 games. That included an impressive streak of 203 passes without an interception.
The Michigan State game was actually the only game all season where he had more than one interception. The first, as you can see, was simply a case of "taking a shot" after getting in range on an early drive. The announcers even said that head coach James Franklin had told them this was something he intended to do in that game.
So, what's on the face of it a poor decision and a poorly-placed throw is perhaps also an example of the maddening coaching some people have used to excuse some of Hackenberg's issues -- especially in light of the fact that so much of the downfield success they did have was on successful jump-ball plays similar to this one.
This should have been a second one, as he bails out of a throw under pressure and lofts an ill-advised pass into double-coverage. That's an awful decision, especially since he had a receiver wide open in the flat. Could this be a further reaction to the fact his coach was encouraging him to "take a shot?"
His second interception of the game was a pick-six. There was a touch of misfortune about how the ball deflected off a lineman's helmet for his linemate to run it in but it was a poor job of lofting the ball to the back over the top. This was clearly the right play call, though, and Hackenberg obviously tried to force this to the back because he saw the potential for a big play.
Hackenberg's career rushing stats (208 carries for minus-242 yards) of course don't tell the full story because college rushing numbers include sacks, so just under half of those "carries" were actually sacks. And accounting for the yardage on those would obviously mean he did make some positive yardage over the course of his career.
He has good athleticism and can make some first downs with his legs, but isn't someone you'd look to run the read-option or many other designed quarterback runs with.
Hackenberg had six rushing touchdowns and one touchdown reception on a gadget play in his college career, though, and here's a nice example of what he can do.
Mobility isn't just about scrambling for yardage, and Hackenberg does display some ability to move around in the pocket. Still, he was sacked over 100 times and took far too many hits, so he needs to do a better job of protecting himself in spite of his willingness to stand in there and make a throw under duress.
Another interesting variable is that Hackenberg was viewed as so promising in O'Brien's complicated pro-style offense, but then his progress stalled once O'Brien left and the system changed. It's evident the Jets specifically targeted Hackenberg to play in their system. So there's reason to believe it will be closer to the kind of system in which he can thrive than the one he's been stuck in for the last two years.
Hackenberg had the most success with short, quick passing and operated in a system which relied on him to make pre-snap reads. These attributes could serve him well in Chan Gailey's system. Those short passes are also a factor in his poor grades because PFF tends not to give quarterbacks much credit for completing easy passes or big plays where the receiver does most of the work.
Hackenberg played in every game in his three years at Penn State. The only time he was knocked out of a game was in his very last appearance, where he suffered a shoulder injury in the bowl game loss to Georgia. It speaks to his durability and toughness that he was able to stay out there despite the punishment he was exposed to, but he needs to learn to protect himself better because that's not something you can expect to last forever.
It's evident Hackenberg is intelligent, although as I've alluded to above, there's still some seasoning required before his ability to read a defense and make adjustments at the line will be at an NFL level.
He was initially praised for his calm demeanor in college, especially considering how that contrasted with O'Brien's fiery personality. However, over the past few years, his mounting frustration was evident in his body language. He was also criticized over his handling of pre-draft interviews, where the suggestion was that he made too many excuses and threw other people under the bus rather than taking responsibility for his own struggles.
While I've heard mixed testimonies on his character, it's definitely going to be a challenge for him to deal with any criticism from the media and the fanbase, as well as trying to gain confidence and respect from his teammates as he seeks to develop into a leader.
Hackenberg's disappointing college career cannot be understated, but there are some areas where he shows valid promise.
It's very interesting to contrast him with Bryce Petty, whose college performance was much more efficient and successful than Hackenberg, but showed less evidence of certain pro attributes that Hackenberg already shows signs of. Despite all the areas where he needs to improve, could Hackenberg be closer to his ceiling and to being NFL-ready than Petty, even though Petty has had a 12-month head-start?
The sloppy footwork, mis-reads and inaccurate passing can be maddening to watch at times, but again call into question the coaching of Franklin and his staff following O'Brien's departure from Penn State. Were corrections not being made that should have been? How well Hackenberg respond to pro-level coaches who place more of an insistence on him cleaning up these issues remains to be seen.
On the whole, while Hackenberg needs to improve in a lot of areas, there are some reasons to hold out hope that he could be refined into a good player at the NFL level. I was encouraged to hear that the team intends for him to sit for at least a year, so he can focus on mitigating his weaknesses behind the scenes without enduring on-field struggles that would damage his confidence and that of the fanbase and his teammates in him.
In the short term, Jets fans should hope that the team can get some good play from the quarterback position over the next year or so, in order for Hackenberg to closely study a level of play that it will be worthwhile to aspire to.
This could be a crucial pick that determines the legacy and long-term future of the current regime, for better or for worse. Hopefully, their faith in Hackenberg in the face of widespread criticism is well-placed.
Up next: A look at the Jets' third round pick, edge defender Jarvis Jenkins from Georgia. What kind of potential does he have and how does he fit into the Jets' defense?
This year I will once again be breaking down each of the Jets draft picks (and most of the undrafted free agent signings) in detail. We began Sunday with first round pick Darron Lee. Now we move on to look at the Jets' second round pick, quarterback Christian Hackenberg from Penn State. I've been watching game footage to try and assess what he brings to the table.
The 21-year old Hackenberg is listed at 6'4" and 226 pounds and was one of the top high school recruits in the nation before enrolling at Penn State. He was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2013 and a three-year starter. During his time at Penn State, Hackenberg won 20 of 38 starts and completed 56 percent of his passes for over 8,000 yards with 48 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. Following an uneven college career, he's a polarizing player in the scouting community with opinions ranging from thos who rate him as a first round talent to those giving him an undraftable grade.
Note: Some stats from this article are exclusively provided by Pro Football Focus.
Who is Christian Hackenberg?
When recruited to Penn State, Hackenberg was widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best quarterback prospects in the nation. He got off to a good start as a freshman under Bill O'Brien and completed 59 percent of his passes for almost 3,000 yards with 20 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. Penn State went 7-5 but didn't lose two in a row all year and ended the season with a win over Wisconsin as he threw for 339 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.
Despite O'Brien bolting for the NFL, 2014 began with promise as Penn State started off 4-0. However, after losing badly to Northwestern, the team suffered three tough losses in a row -- one in double overtime and the other two by a combined six points. Ending up 7-6, they once again ended the season on a high. Hackenberg threw a touchdown pass in overtime to cap a bowl game win over Boston College where he threw for four touchdowns and no interceptions again, this time racking up a career-best 371 yards. His overall performance in 2014 had regressed, though, with 15 interceptions and only 12 touchdown passes along with a drop in completion percentage.
2015 began with a rough performance against Temple, where Hackenberg was sacked 10 times and completed just 11 passes for 103 yards on 36 dropbacks. However, the Nittany Lions bounced back to win five straight games and seven of their next eight. That included a run of six games where Hackenberg threw 12 touchdown passes and no interceptions. But the season ended in frustrating fashion as Penn State lost their last four and this time Hackenberg had a disappointing bowl game, completing just eight passes against Georgia before going down with a shoulder injury with his team down 3-0 in the second quarter.
Having decided to enter the NFL early, Hackenberg did well enough at the scouting combine and his pro day to entice the Jets into selecting him with the 51st pick of the draft. As recently as a year ago, he had been considered a possible number one pick, but his stock dropped to the point where many sources had him as a mid-to-late round pick and others saw him as undraftable.
Critiquing an optimistic scout's take
While his statistics and testimonials about his performance don't necessarily paint a rosy picture about Hackenberg's abilities, there are some sources with a more optimistic outlook. Plenty of Jets fans have picked up on this video from Brett Kollman, which - despite its length (25 minutes) - is a must-watch for any die-hard Jets fan.
Before I nitpick the content of this video, I want to be clear that it's terrific, containing excellent analysis. And I commend Kollman for going out on a limb in his projection for Hackenberg, which is something I rarely do. However Hackenberg's career pans out, Kollman is already correct in his conclusion that Hackenberg had shown enough in college to get selected higher than expected (although he was incorrect about there being no chance that O'Brien would pass on him).
But there are a few areas where Kollman expresses optimism that still give me some cause for concern. Let's run through those...
One of the first things the video gets into detail on is a fascinating cat-and-mouse battle at the line of scrimmage, where he demonstrates how Hackenberg reads the defense and changes the play accordingly. The analysis quite rightly shows how Hackenberg uses a hard count to identify the defensive set and then audibles to a more suitable play, which is something most quarterbacks at the college level wouldn't be expected to do. In fact, many NFL quarterbacks wouldn't even be expected to do this.
On the first example, when Hackenberg changes the play, the defense adjusts and the play ends in a sack as the protection fails to hold up. Kollman suggests the play might still have worked if Hackenberg had zipped the ball into the flat, but that would have been a risky throw that could have been a pick-six if not perfectly placed under pressure. So Hackenberg probably made the right decision.
My issue here with Hackenberg's play modification is that while he makes the correct initial change, he then fails to react to Temple's response. While it's true that it was the protection that let him down, the analysis fails to note that the tight end was left completely uncovered down the seam and looking for the ball the whole time as a hot read.
Hackenberg changing the play ultimately didn't work because the Temple defense adjusted, but that caused enough confusion that it opened up an opportunity for a big play anyway. Unfortunately, Hackenberg didn't anticipate this possibility because he was too focused on the primary option in the flat -- one that Temple has already adjusted to, with Hackenberg not being alert enough to make a counter adjustment. Still, if the protection holds up, maybe he has a chance to exploit the confusion in the defense.
Ultimately, what Hackenberg is doing here is extremely advanced for the collegiate level, but the option he ended up with was the wrong one. This perhaps suggests that the coaching staff was putting too much on his plate by having the expectation that he could make a counter adjustment if the defense adjusted after he has identified the initial defensive set. Alternatively, his training was incomplete and they never coached him up to the point where he could be expected to do more than identify a primary set and adjust the playcall accordingly.
Kollman praises the opponent - Temple - for their "pro-style defense" and notes that because they adjust to Hackenberg changing the play, that factors into the play ultimately failing. He later goes on to show an example of where Hackenberg makes an effective adjustment with a less-advanced defense remaining in their initial set and the offensive play working like a charm as a result.
That's great, and excellent evidence of Hackenberg's ability to make a pre-snap read and an appropriate adjustment to the playcall. But the flipside is that in the NFL, all defenses are "pro-style defenses" so here he is merely exploiting a college level defense that isn't advanced enough to adjust to him changing the play. He won't get a chance to do that at the pro level, so as advanced as his ability to exploit college defenses is, that won't help him at the next level.
Still, while I'm underplaying this, the analysis is correct in stating that Hackenberg is further along in his abilities to make pre-snap reads than most collegiate prospects. The Temple example shows how he still has a long way to go in that area to be able to have success at the NFL level, but he's certainly much further along on that scale than the likes of Geno Smith and Bryce Petty would have been when drafted. That's important for the Jets because they currently run an Erhardt-Perkins system whereby the primary routes are usually determined by pre-snap reads.
Moving on to some of the other points made in this video, it's certainly interesting and unique to see that Hackenberg's footwork operating from under center is good, while his footwork out of the shotgun or pistol is habitually lazy and sloppy. It's usually the other way around for draft prospects, although the fact that the game in general is moving towards more and more shotgun-based sets perhaps means that this anomaly is a cause for concern.
However, one could expect that coaching the correct footwork from the shotgun would be easier to teach for someone who had mastered the mechanics of dropping back from under center as opposed to the other way around.
Finally, Kollman makes the viable point that the box score doesn't tell the whole story, noting the numerous drops, passes where Hackenberg was hit as he threw and smart decisions to deliberately get rid of the ball -- all of which perhaps make his statistics look worse than they are without context.
However, it's worth noting that even when you take all of these things into account, Hackenberg's numbers are still comparatively bad. PFF's accuracy percentage stat, which filters out all of the above, still has Hackenberg dead last in this category out of this year's class.
While statistics might not tell the full story, PFF's grades take an objective view of every single snap and they don't support the case that Hackenberg played better than his base statistics would indicate. If anything, they would suggest his box score numbers make his performance look even better than it was. In fact, in 2014, he was even worse - the worst quarterback in the nation -- according to their grades. And his much-praised promising second year was not all it was cracked up to be, either.
While some people write off PFF's analysis as coming from three British guys in a London basement, they've actually developed into a multi-million dollar enterprise with approximately 100 staff members, at least one stateside location, and members of their analyst team who have coached in the NFL and worked in the NFL scouting community. So their analysis should not be taken too lightly.
However, what I would say is that a player like Hackenberg grading out so badly in a college system doesn't necessarily mean he can't succeed at the pro level in a system that suits him -- especially when he's shown base ability in some of the areas where he needs to improve.
The Kollman video is extremely enlightening and instructive in this regard, but at the same time only serves to highlight some of the areas where Hackenberg still has a lot of improvements to make.
In part two, I'll be carrying out my own analysis based on Hackenberg's game footage and delving deeper into his footwork, technique, decision making and skill-set.
The Jets will not be picking up CB Dee Milliner's fifth-year option, reports Dom Cosentino of NJAM.
Milliner will cost $4.02 million against the cap in 2016 and will be eligible for free agency after the season.
He has dealt with injuries to his achilles tendon and wrist during his first three seasons with the Jets, and played in just five games this past season after being limited to three games in 2014.
Milliner's fifth-year option was guaranteed for injury only. If he would've suffered an injury heading in to year five of a potential contract, the Jets would not have had the option of cutting him.
Milliner was selected ninth overall by the Jets in the 2013 NFL Draft.
The confounding part of this is that a player who has shown such promise has been so disregarded by this coaching staff. I get that fifth-year options come at a serious cost to salary cap space and Milliner was a first round pick of a former regime. But the willful, almost brazen disinterest to involve him in the defense has been painful to watch. In that time, Marcus Williams looks to have permanently passed Milliner on the depth chart. I expect Williams will move into some sort of platoon role with Buster Skrine for the slot/boundary positions alongside Darrelle Revis with Antonio Cromartie no longer with the team.
Another confusing part for me is the great tape Milliner put together at the end of his rookie season. In fact, that run was some of the best cornerback play I've ever seen from a Jets defender beyond a fellow named Revis. For Milliner, his inability to stay healthy has made it hard for him to push his case. It could be that Milliner had not sufficiently recovered in 2015 from his Achilles injury or it could be some other reason that Todd Bowles -- a head coach who loves cornerbacks -- can't truck with Milliner.
What isn't confusing about this whole affair is that fifth-year options are guaranteed for injury only. This explains why the Jets loosed Quinton Coples mid-season; it was an effort to avoid having to pay him his option money should something happen. The same situation also just played out with the Redskins, where they effectively shelved Robert Griffin III so that they could control the situation with him after the season ended and avoid massive cap debt due to injury.
Either way, the Jets will let Milliner play out his string and make a decision on his future after that. Maybe Milliner will be injury-free and be allowed the chance he needs in 2016, but I don't expect to see much of him since the team seems this disinterested in his future.
Tags: Dee Milliner
The New York Jets have picked up the 2017 option for defensive end Sheldon Richardson, according to the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta.
Richardson will earn $8.06 million in 2017.
Richardson will earn $1.78 million in 2016, according to Spotrac. He signed a four-year, $10.05 million deal with the Jets after he was drafted.
The 25-year-old Richardson recorded five sacks and two forced fumbles in 11 games for the Jets last year. Paired with rookie Leonard Williams and veteran Muhammad Wilkerson, whom the Jets franchise tagged this offseason, the three linemen combined for 20 sacks last year.
Richardson served a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, and could face more discipline by the league stemming from a road race last July.
He has 16 1/2 sacks and four forced fumbles through 43 career games with New York.
Based on how disruptive a force Richardson has been while on the field, this makes total sense. Now the Jets have contract control of him through 2017 with the option to franchise him through 2018 if they so choose.
Pairing Richardson with Leonard Williams and a revamped linebackers corps could make a very interesting front seven for the Jets in 2016. Even better, the group will get the chance to mesh together over the next three (or more) seasons.
In light of questions surrounding Muhammad Wilkerson's long-term status with the team, the Jets would like to make Richardson an integral part of their defense moving forward. Of course as Richardson has proven, his ability to steer clear of the law and substance-related suspensions could submarine his future with this team and the league. I look forward to watching Sheldon Richardson be the bowling ball of butcher knives for this Jets defense for seasons to come.
This year I will once again be breaking down each of the Jets draft picks (and some of the undrafted free agent signings) in detail. Today, we begin with first-round pick Darron Lee, a linebacker from Ohio State. I've been watching game footage to try and assess what he brings to the table.
Lee, 21, is listed at 6-foot-1, 232 pounds and the Jets selected him with the 20th overall pick. He was a two-year starter at weakside linebacker for the Buckeyes. In 28 starts, he recorded 146 tackles, 11 sacks, five passes defensed, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and three touchdowns.
Lee entered the draft after his redshirt sophomore season and solidified his status as a first round pick with a solid performance at the combine, including a 4.47 time in the 40-yard dash.
Note: Some stats from this article are exclusively provided by Pro Football Focus.
Who is Darron Lee?
Lee was a high school quarterback who also played running back, wide receiver and safety and returned kicks. He also competed in track and field in high school.
A lifelong Ohio State fan, Lee was initially recruited as a safety but was injured just two games into his freshman year, causing him to miss the remainder of the 2013 season. He bulked up and studied film while he was out and became the starter at weakside linebacker over the next two years.
He made an instant impact in his first game as a starter in 2014 with a huge hit on Navy's Keenan Reynolds and a 66-yard fumble return for a touchdown. He added another touchdown on a fumble return against Michigan. Lee finished that season with 80 tackles, 6.5 sacks, three passes defensed, a forced fumble and two interceptions. He was the defensive MVP in the College Football Playoff semifinal win over Alabama and the Buckeyes went on to win the national title over Oregon the following week
In 2015, Ohio State had another good year, going 12-1, but missed out on the playoffs when they lost 17-14 to Michigan State. They beat Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl as Lee finished with 66 tackles, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, two passes defensed and an interception, which he returned for a crucial touchdown against Northern Illinois.
After an outstanding display at the combine, Lee had been widely regarded as a mid-to-late first round prospect before being selected by the Jets with the 20th pick, although some experts had dropped him into day two.
Here are my observations from watching footage from Lee's OSU career, divided into categories:
While listed as an outside linebacker, Lee had a versatile role that sometimes required him to line up between the tackles and, at other times, to drop to the outside so he was opposite a receiver in the slot. Per PFF, he played almost 200 snaps in the slot in 2015.
As an example, I charted one game in which Lee played 31 snaps in the slot, 11 inside the tackle box and 31 outside the tackle box (he was at line of scrimmage five times when outside the box).
The Jets have already said that Lee will be an inside linebacker, ultimately replacing Demario Davis as the "Mo" linebacker. As with Davis, this will require Lee to drop to the outside and match up with a back or receiver if they go into the slot, which he has experience doing. Initially, I would expect Erin Henderson to play on running downs and in base packages while Lee competes for time as a nickel linebacker with Bruce Carter.
Whereas in the past it was customary to pair a 250-pound "thumper" with the mike linebacker in a 3-4 system, there's a growing trend for putting a more athletic player there so that they can match up more readily in coverage. Safeties such as Deone Bucannon have been employed in this role over the past few seasons. Obviously this requires defenses to do what they can to keep that player from having to take on blocks or negotiate traffic.
Lee's combine numbers were excellent. As you can see, he did well in speed, explosiveness and agility drills with elite numbers for broad jump, 40-yard dash and 10-yard split. Also, despite being undersized, he has good length.
The 10-yard split in particular is outstanding. Over the past two seasons only one running back has been quicker over the first 10 yards (Keith Marshall). A specific example of that on film was when Will Fuller (who runs a 4.32 40-yard dash) broke away for a long touchdown following a missed assignment by Lee's teammate. Lee diagnosed it and initially closed the gap on Fuller before he accelerated up to full speed and pulled away again. You can see that play here.
Lee's bench press is less impressive, but that's a side effect of his lack of size. He will need to continue to work on his functional strength to have success at the NFL level.
Lee was actually under 200 pounds when he arrived at OSU and reportedly bulked up from 218 in 2014 to 232 in 2015. You can tell the difference in terms of him getting swallowed up by blockers more often in 2014, especially early in the season.
On video, you can see his range in pursuit and his explosiveness as he closes or recovers to the ball carrier. His lack of functional strength is also apparent when a blocker gets into him, but he can display an almost running back-like combination of balance, agility and elusiveness to avoid blockers in space.
Here is where a player can maximize their abilities. No matter how athletic you are, if you misdiagnose a play or are slow to make a read, then you'll arrive later to the ball than a slower player who made a more decisive read. This was arguably what prevented Davis from fulfilling his early promise as a Jet.
So, how does Lee fare in this crucial area? Well, it's a mixed bag. There will be times where he sees the play immediately and exploits his quickness to make a play, but there are other plays where he will hesitate or take false steps. He's so athletic that he can usually recover almost immediately, but at the NFL level where the top quarterbacks will exploit a half-yard of separation, that might not fly. Here's a play where he diagnoses quickly and explodes to the ball:
I will say Lee seems to be very disciplined and when he displays apparent hesitation, it's often because he's ensuring he doesn't vacate a gap prematurely. On some snaps, you'll see him almost tap-dancing on the spot with no apparent objective, but that's perhaps borne out of a desire not to be caught completely out of position, so he'll stay on his toes and be more reactive than proactive.
That might make him a good fit for the Jets system where the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson are adjusting from the reactive nature of the two-gapping assignments in Rex Ryan's system to more attacking one-gap assignments up front.
That would then presumably mean that the linebackers behind them are required to be more reactive rather than attacking downhill as much as they would have under Ryan.
Lee seems to have good vision when keeping plays in front of him although, at times, he will be blindsided by a block he doesn't anticipate as his head is up looking for the ball carrier. Here's an example of that:
As noted, Lee has excellent range and closing speed and also possesses an ability to avoid blockers in space. He also generally takes good angles in pursuit when the play is flowing away from him.
Where he sometimes gets caught out is if a play breaks down and a runner reverses their field. He overran some plays in the open field in situations like that. Here's a rare example of him over-pursuing into the backfield and leaving a gap behind him, although the safety (Vonn Bell) was also at fault at the second level.
Lee's production in the running game was not as high as most of the top linebackers in this year's class, but much of that is a symptom of playing outside the box so often.
Myles Jack, who played a similar role at UCLA, has a similarly low level of run defense production over the past two seasons.
Missed tackles have been an issue for Lee, but not a major one. While he missed 25 tackles over the last two seasons, the footage seems to show that many didn't lead to much in the way of additional yardage as it was often merely a matter of the ball carrier slipping away from Lee's tackle in traffic but still going down almost immediately.
He usually did a solid job of wrapping up and bringing down a ball carrier in space and showed an ability to hit hard in the hole and force some fumbles. He does well here to prevent the back from slipping out of his tackle:
Lee has been pretty productive as a pass rusher and wasn't just employed as a blitzer or amassing pressures by keying the quarterback and reacting underneath to clean up. He also lined up and rushed off the edge, at times. Much of his production comes from being untouched or just too fast for those in pass protections, but he does swim under or spin off a block from time-to-time which you perhaps don't see that often from a non-edge defender.
With his lack of size and strength, Lee can be neutralized pretty easily if the blocker manages to stay in front of him, but his short-area quickness is so good that he has a knack for diverting his path and taking a different route to find a clean path to the quarterback. Here's an example of him finding his way through two blockers for a pressure:
With his comparative lack of size and strength, Lee wasn't much of a factor in these situations, although his quickness was useful in terms of shooting gaps to plug a lane. A few times he was in position to make the stop but the running back's momentum got him to the first down marker anyway.
In some circles, the book on Lee is he is "allergic to contact". That calls to mind a vision of Kerry Rhodes ducking out of a tackle or taking an overly conservative route to the football. However, this might be overblown. Yes, Lee is most effective when he's unblocked and can make a beeline for the ball (example below).
And, yes, his natural instinct in space is often to avoid a blocker by going around him rather than taking on the block and shedding it in time to make the stop. Part of that is perhaps a lack of faith in his own abilities to stack and shed, but also it's a sign that he's doing what works for him. If you have the athleticism to elude a blocker and still get back to the ball carrier before he breaks through to the second level, then you're going to do that most of the time.
However, that's something that won't work as often in the NFL, as he faces stronger and more athletic blockers as well as elite backs that can plant their foot and take a defender out of the play if they modify their pursuit angles.
That's not to say that Lee never takes on a block, but this is certainly something he needs to get better at. You'd like to see him maintain a solid base, extend the arms and come off a block to make a play but he doesn't always do this and perhaps over-relies on
This athletic ability to enable him to try and maintain his balance when getting off a block with improper technique. This hurts him at times, even at the college level, because if he is off-balance when he comes off a block, then this can be where he might miss a tackle or get his pursuit angle wrong to give up contain.
As perhaps to be expected, Lee will do a much better job of this when matched up with a wide receiver instead of a lineman. Hopefully that shows he has some of the basic techniques down and will continue to make improvements as he builds up his functional strength.
For those that doubt his physicality, here's a nice highlight from the 2014 national title game.
There's also a school of thought that Lee is overrated in coverage, perhaps partly due to PFF having him just 74th in their coverage rankings for linebackers.
However, while PFF has a tendency to throw out headline-making numbers like that, they don't necessarily tell the full story, because even they would admit that doesn't mean that the 73 players ahead of him are better in coverage, just that they did their job (which may have been much easier) more efficiently.
Lee's coverage numbers are a product of him being used in coverage a lot more often than most linebackers as he was targeted more than anyone at his position in 2014 and only seven players in this class were targeted more often in 2015. PFF acknowledges he was asked to do a lot in their defense and that he "flashed coverage ability" when lined up as a slot linebacker/safety hybrid.
While he would take some deeper drops, the majority of Lee's coverage assignments at OSU tended to see him picking up a receiver on an initial route and then passing him off to zone coverage behind him and reverting to a backfield key.
What this means is that there were sometimes completions made in that no-man's-land where you can't always tell if he was at fault for vacating his coverage too soon or the key safety behind him was at fault for not coming up to take over soon enough.
Lee also was targeted on a lot of wide-receiver screens, which again is more of a test of his instincts in space and tackling ability than actual coverage skills. Here he makes a decisive read to deal with one well and blow it up.
Naturally, his closing speed and quick first step are assets in coverage. Footwork and technique-wise he could probably do with a bit of seasoning, but coming under Todd Bowles' tutelage is probably a good place for him in that regard.
In terms of ball skills, Lee doesn't get too many chances to make a play on the ball because he's usually playing off. He had just one interception in 2015 and one pass defensed. The interception was a spectacular play against Northern Illinois where he jumped the route on a wide receiver screen. You can see that play here. The pass defensed actually came as he closed quickly on a short pass for an immediate hit to jar the ball loose. Here's a rare play from last year where he did make a play on the ball, although it was a completion:
Lee's overall coverage numbers were good considering he was targeted - or the nearest defender in zone coverage - so often.
Let's look at a couple of big plays that he did give up. On this first one, it's more a failure in terms of his open-field tackling than his coverage skills. This is a situation he usually handles well, but on this occasion Lee hesitates and leaves room for the receiver to tightrope the sideline and turn what should have been a 10-yard gain into a 20-yarder.
Finally, here's a 37-yard gain over the top. Lee gets beaten here but it had to be a perfect pass and was still a tough catch. Also, it's worth noting that not only was this the only completion over 30 yards that Lee gave up in his career and that he expressed visible displeasure at the safety after the play, perhaps suggesting the safety was late getting over.
Lee didn't contribute much on special teams in college, presumably because he was such an integral player on defense. The only thing of note he did on special teams last season was to almost block a punt, but he missed the ball and ended up roughing the kicker. I'd imagine Lee would be expected to do more with the Jets and his skill-set should lend itself well to such a role.
As alluded to above, one concern for Lee would be that he'd be converting from a 4-3 weakside outside linebacker role into a 3-4 weakside inside linebacker role. Playing inside more will put the onus on him to remain disciplined in terms of gap integrity. The fact he played in such a versatile role at Ohio State should serve him well and I think the bigger adjustment for him would be facing NFL competition rather than anything specific he'll be asked to do.
Lee missed most of his freshman season with an injury and was eventually red-shirted. I can't seem to find details of the injury anywhere.
The past two seasons, Lee has played in every game. However, he was carted off with a knee injury after being leg-whipped in the Western Michigan game last year and was playing with a brace on his leg over the next month or so which may have limited him. He was also knocked out of another game by a blind-side block on a return, although he only missed a few plays.
Lee is regarded as a hard-working player who gives good effort and is viewed as a leader. However, he's also pretty cocky and extremely demonstrative on the field, displaying frustration at both himself and his teammates when things go wrong on defense.
There were times when Lee seemed to be jogging at the end of a play when it went away from him, so he didn't always go 100 percent until the whistle. Maybe that's a conditioning issue or maybe it's an effort thing, but I would not expect that to last very long at the pro level. He also seemed to show some signs of fatigue late in games.
If you were familiar with Ohio State's defense, Lee probably isn't the first player who would jump off the screen at you. However, he's also not a player who will jump out at you for the wrong reasons. If Lee can be a solid player that doesn't make major mistakes, he'll be a solid addition to the team.
Maybe Lee has the potential to be more than that, though. His athletic upside is evident and I will happily defer to Bowles and his staff when it comes to whether or not he will fit into the Jets' system.
Perhaps more than any prospect in recent memory, I'm eager to see Lee in the Jets' system, as it's not easy to project how his performance with the Buckeyes defense will translate to a slightly different role within the Jets' more versatile system. It will be exciting to see how the team makes use of his athletic gifts and how well he is able to handle whatever responsibilities they throw at him.
Up next: A look at the Jets' polarizing second round pick, quarterback Christian Hackenberg. While he may have a long way to go, are there signs that he could get there quicker than some are fearing?
Free agent quarterback Brian Hoyer has agreed to a deal with the Bears, according to multiple media reports.
If the deal goes through, the Jets will have one fewer option at quarterback as they try to hammer out a contract deal with Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Hoyer played 11 regular season games for the Houston Texans last season after taking over from Ryan Mallett, throwing for 2,060 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Hoyer was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New England Patriots out of Michigan State in 2009. He spent three years as Tom Brady's backup before spending the next few seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns and the Texans.
Hoyer is expected to back up Jay Cutler.
The Jets picked Clemson wide receiver Charone Peake with the No. 241 overall pick in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Peake, a 6-foot-2, 209-pound receiver, battled injuries in 2013 and 2014, but had his best year in college in 2015, grabbing 50 catches for 716 yards. He also caught five touchdowns en route to Clemson's run to the National Championship Game.
NFL.com's draft profile speaks highly of Peake, saying he "possesses outstanding combination of size, length and deep speed."
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Peake has nice size and did well in 2015 after becoming a full time starter for the first time, posting 50 catches. Peake, who suffered an ACL injury in 2013, has shown some ability to get deep since returning from the injury. Four of his five touchdowns last season came on passes thrown more than 20 yards downfield, according to Pro Football Focus.
Peake ran a 4.45-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and a 4.38-second at his pro day, but the rest of his athletic numbers were pretty average. He has good hands but is more of an outside receiver than a slot guy and perhaps needs a bit of work in terms of his route running. Rated as a 3rd-to-4th round pick by CBS, this closes out the Jets draft with the kind of value pick that perhaps makes some of the earlier reaches a little easier to stomach.
For all the shade I've thrown in the past few days let me make it up by saying I LOOOOOOOOOVE this draft pick for the Jets.
Peake was not hyper productive in the college ranks but he might have a chance to be a better pro player than he was in college. Why do I say this? Partially it is because Clemson asked him to run deep, clear out routes where he was not as effective, but in the short and intermediate range, Peake shone. Peake also did a great job at the NFL Combine passing all the most important tests for wide receivers, according Kevin Cole's regression tree, which you can read about here.
People will lazily compare Peake to Martavis Bryant or Sammy Watkins, but the truth is that Peake didn't dominate and produce at the college ranks, so that's one of the main reasons why he's a seventh rounder. Peake has a lot of upside based on his size, speed and his ability to run crisp routes, but he will need to barge his way into the picture to stick on this roster and carve out a role.
The Jets selected Sam Houston State punter Lachlan Edwards with the No. 235 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Edwards is the first of two picks the Jets will have in the seventh round of the draft.
On 41 attempts last season, Edwards averaged 41.5 yards per punt. His longest punt of the year went 62 yards. In 2014 he was an First Team All-Southland Confernce punter.
In 2014 he was sixth in the nation with an average punt of 44.4 yards.
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The Jets definitely needed a punter because they don't have one on the roster and fans have been calling for them to draft one for years. Most sources listed two-time Ray Guy award winner Tom Hackett as the top punter, but I suspect teams were scared off by the fact that Hackett primarily uses a rugby-style technique.
Edwards, despite also being an Australian, is actually not a rugby-style punter. Edwards is big (6-foot-5) and had pretty good numbers in college, but was only the third punter selected with Hackett still on the board. Hopefully the Jets have found someone who can occupy a spot they've found so problematic to fill and be effective.
Since the Jets had no punter on the roster I'm not surprised that they would use a pick to take one. Having said that, it doesn't do a lot to change the general ickiness I feel about this draft overall for the Jets.
The Jets had to address the awful inconsistency that was Ryan Quigley last year. The Jets were bad in terms of net yards and in their coverage efficiency was among the league's worst. I hope that Edwards meets the requirements of whatever the new special teams coach needs to best gain field position over their opponents this season and beyond.
The Jets traded up into the fifth round and selected South Carolina offensive tackle Brandon Shell with the No. 158 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
New York sent its 2017 fourth-round draft pick to the Washington Redskins in order to draft Shell.
Starting from the 2012 season, Shell made 47 consecutive starts, playing both right and left offensive tackle.
The 6-foot-6, 328-pound Shell is third on the all-time list for starts at South Carolina.
According to NFL.com's draft profile, Shell, the great nephew of Art Shell, brings plenty of talent to the offensive line.
"He simply looks like an NFL tackle with a pro build and long limbs," the profile said. "He may be best at right tackle, a spot which he held down for three years, but he did flash athleticism to pass protect on the left side when he took over the blind side spot as a senior."
General manager Mike Maccagnan said the Jets considered taking Shell in the fourth round when they selected CB Juston Burris.
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Shell was another player with a late-round projection that showed some promise in a major conference. He played right tackle in 2014 and then stayed in school and moved to left tackle in his senior year. I'd expect him to be a right tackle at the NFL level.
He has size, length and pretty good athletic numbers. In 2015, Shell had excellent pass protection numbers, although this might be because they gave him more help on the left side. He also didn't quite have the same impact as a run blocker as he had in the previous season.
It's interesting that the Jets gave up a future pick to acquire Shell, and this suggests they were particularly high on him. However, the Jets have added a raft of linemen in the mid-rounds over the past several years and none of them have really panned out. Perhaps Shell will be the one to buck that trend.
Another year, another third-day offensive line prospect that probably would be best suited as a guard.
Shell has the size and frame and is known for his quickness and burst but will struggle against much more athletic and agile edge rushers in the NFL. Shell is the nephew of former Raiders coach Art Shell and is known as a good kid, smart with football intelligence. But he might struggle transitioning to the pros as a tackle as a rookie. Expect the team to try him there but I wonder if he might be better served moving inside.
Despite rumors of the Jets looking to add a quarterback through a trade, general manager Mike Maccagnan said the team is looking to bring back free agent Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Maccagnan said the Jets are not actively seeking another veteran quarterback.
"I would say simply to dispel anything, we're not at this point in time in any discussions with any teams for any other quarterbacks," Maccagnan said, according to ESPN NY's Rich Cimini. "I can put that to bed at this point in time."
The Jets were rumored to be interested in trading for Rams quarterback Nick Foles, reports Jordan Schultz of the Huffington Post.
Maccagnan, however, said New York's goal has always been to re-sign Fitzpatrick.
"Our focus, from the pro standpoint, is to get Ryan [Fitzpatrick] back in the fold," Maccagnan said, according to NJ.com's Darryl Slater. "Nothing has changed from that standpoint. We've been very public about that."
With the Jets' selection of Penn State's Christian Hackenberg in the second round, the team now has three quarterbacks on the roster, as Hackenberg joins Geno Smith and Bryce Petty.
Since the Jets have taken Hackenberg, have Petty and Smith already on the roster and are supposed to want to bring back Fitzpatrick, any interest in Foles seems unlikely.
If the Jets want to let their younger QBs duke it out for some of those spots that's fine, but if they were or are interested in Foles I can't imagine it means Fitzpatrick would also be back. There is no way this team can afford four active roster spots at the quarterback position come September.
Tags: Ryan Fitzpatrick
The Jets selected N.C. State cornerback Juston Burris with the No. 118 overall pick in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-1, 207-pound corner recorded 38 tackles, one interception and forced one fumble during his final season at N.C. State.
Considered a physical corner, he had 121 tackles and three interceptions during his college career.
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Burris is a nice prospect, although he was seen as a late round pick in most places. He brings good size and physicality and would play on the boundary rather than in the slot. He seems to have some good technical ability, but as with most physical players, he takes chances in terms of being flagged for holding.
With the versatility Todd Bowles seems to like in his defensive backs, it's worth noting that Burris's athletic profile might also enable him to develop into someone who can take reps at the safety position. He could also be an asset on special teams. As with all the Jets' picks this year, I'll be breaking him down in more detail over the next few days.
This is where the best teams in the league separate themselves from the teams that can't stay consistently excellent. These are the picks that might be a slow burn on the roster, but could provide long-term help to their team down the road.
Burris has man and zone coverage skills and has some hawkish tendencies as a defensive back, but I do wonder if he might struggle with his functional agility and long speed based on how he tested at the NFL Combine. At the pro level, he might struggle to keep up with very sudden and speedy receivers. If he is asked to work against slower possession types, Burris might be better served lining up across from them.
It could be that the Jets think that with some time and coaching Burris could become a contributing cornerback, but I wonder if Burris wouldn't make a great extra safety in big nickel or big dime sets.
The New York Jets head into the third day of the NFL draft with three more picks and plenty of needs to fill.
After going with Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee as the team's first-round selection with the 20th overall pick Thursday night, the Jets surprised some by drafting Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the second round Friday night.
It appeared New York might try to add a pass rusher at that spot, which they did in the third round with Georgia's Jordan Jenkins. But with Ryan Fitzpatrick still a free agent and in a contract stalemate, the Jets took Hackenberg, who set the school marks for career passing yards, completions and touchdowns.
On Day 3, New York is likely to look to add depth on the offensive line, at cornerback and perhaps at tight end.
© 2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
The Jets selected Georgia OLB Jordan Jenkins with the No. 83 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Jenkins recorded four sacks and 58 total tackles during his senior season at Georgia. For his college career, Jenkins tallied 204 tackles, 39 tackles for a loss and 19 sacks. He also won Georgia's Most Improved Player of the Year award during the 2014 season.
Jenkins is the second linebacker the Jets have taken in this year's draft, as they selected Ohio State's Darron Lee in the first round.
Jenkins has good length can generate some excellent power as an edge-setting strong side outside linebacker. Jenkins might not be a top pass rusher, but his physical style and smarts make him a likely early contributor and potential starter for this team this year. Jenkins is regarded as something of a hybrid - he moved around the Georgia defense and played in two and three-point stances for Georgia and will settle in as an outside linebacker in the Jets' scheme.
Jenkins has some good burst at using his heavy hands to extend and beat up blockers with his limbs. He is best attacking the pocket, but at linebacker, his change of direction skills and awareness will be challenged in space.
Whatever madness took the Jets in the second round seems to have left them with this pick. This to me proves that the Jets under Todd Bowles (and back with Rex Ryan too) are less concerned with pressuring the quarterback around the edge than they are at locking down receivers and pressuring up the middle.
By drafting two linebackers in the first three picks the Jets have used the draft to re-work the middle of their defense but it means that they will still have some work to do when it comes to overhauling their offensive line, developmental defensive backs and wide receivers in the rounds to come.
Could this pick mean that the Jets won't be bringing back Calvin Pace? Quite possibly. The Jets have needed to get some younger blood at linebacker, specifically at their edge setters on defense.
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Jenkins fills an obvious need at outside linebacker and was a projected third-round pick in most places so seems to be reasonable value. He is only 21 years old and his arms are over 34 inches long, so he has the youth and length that the current Jets regime obviously see as desirable traits.
While Jenkins is not a great athlete, he teased some explosiveness at the combine and usually holds up well at the point of attack. He lacks experience of dropping into coverage and his pass rushing production was good but not elite. However, he's a consistent player who should have a good chance to contribute from day one.
The Jets selected Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg with the No. 51 overall pick the 2016 NFL Draft.
Hackenberg threw for 2,525 yards and 16 touchdowns during his final season with Penn State. During his three-year college career, the 6-foot-4 quarterback threw for 8,457 yards and 48 touchdowns.
He completed 53.5 percent of his passes or higher during his time at Penn State.
GM Mike Maccagnan said the Jets are thrilled about Hackenberg's "potential and upside."
Maccagnan added that the drafting of a quarterback does not alter the team's attempt to re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick.
"It doesn't change anything with our approach to Ryan," Maccagnan said. "Our goal is to facilitate a deal with [Fitzpatrick]."
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport said the Jets will not rush Hackenberg into a starting spot.
"Jets plan to sit Christian Hackenberg, let him grow," Rapoport said. "They've believed in the player for awhile. Expect a Ryan Fitzpatrick deal to be [one year]."
I cannot express how much I hate this pick. There were so many players that the Jets could've taken who would have been day-one starters compared to whatever Hackenberg turns into. The Jets might as well have drafted Paxton Lynch yesterday if they were going to waste away their second-round pick in this fashion. Now the Jets have two "toolsy" underachieving quarterbacks eating up roster spots with valuable middle-round picks in consecutive seasons.
With players like Le'Raven Clark, Cody Whitehair and Mackensie Alexander still on the board, the Jets must like Hackenberg about as much as I hate the pick. Yes, Hackenberg was on a track to be a top pick when he played under Bill O'Brien and he will be moving back to an offensive mind that will be playing chess in Chan Gailey compared to the checkers that James Franklin wanted Hackenberg to play. But still, Hackenberg has accuracy issues and he'll need time to adjust to the NFL game.
As for what the Jets do from here at QB? I still expect the Jets will bring back Ryan Fitzpatrick for a year. The coaching staff might want to give Bryce Petty more time but I was not enthused by what I saw last summer at camp in him. Geno Smith might be moved, but who would take him? And hey, he's still the best QB the team currently has under contract.
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It's hard to get excited over a player who won't contribute anything this season, while so many other players who might have made the current Jets team better were still available. The Jets have already indicated their intention to let Hackenberg sit and give him time to potentially develop into a starter, which I guess is smart. However, anyone who watched his film from Penn State will know that he has a long way to go and a lot of improvements to make before he even begins to look like an NFL prospect so it might take longer than that. That's if it happens at all.
Some sections of the scouting community were really down on Hackenberg, with Pro Football Focus famously giving him an undrafted grade, and also, crucially, dispelling the myth that he had played a lot better as a freshman before Bill O'Brien left and the scheme changed.
Hackenberg has a nice combination of size, athletic ability and arm talent, and, by all accounts, is a film junkie and passionate about the game. However, his decision making, pocket presence and accuracy were awful his whole career and he rubbed a few people the wrong way with his attitude as well. Some will suggest that he didn't stand a chance due to Penn State's poor offensive line and lack of skilled playmakers, but that doesn't mean he's suddenly going to develop poise, accuracy and decision making abilities overnight if put into a better situation.
One positive thing is that he wasn't as bad in 2015 as he had been in 2014, but it was a low bar and I doubt anybody would describe his performance as good.
I suppose the hope is that, for as much work as the analysts put into their assessment of players, there's no reason to believe that they know better than the Jets' professional network of scouts and coaches. I assume Hackenberg managed to convince the Jets when he visited the team that he was worthy of selection at this spot. We perhaps won't find out if he has a real chance to prove the doubters wrong for a few more years.
After the Jets' pick of Darron Lee Thursday night, I found a mixed reaction from fans. They were either 1) blindsided by taking an interior linebacker in the first round, 2) willing to give the pick some room to breathe or 3) hopping mad the Jets didn't take a quarterback.
I am going to leave the quarterback thing aside for the most part, but I will say a few things. It is clear the Jets front office, coaching staff and scouting departments didn't have enough critical mass of consensus to believe that Paxton Lynch was worth a first round grade and I don't disagree with their assessment.
I am a big proponent of heuristics, which in this case means if the whole of the Jets organization isn't sold on bringing in Lynch with the 20th pick, what reason should I have to think that I know better? I know for a fact that I do not know better.
To be clear, I have no problem going all-in on a first round quarterback if he's the right player, but to burn a first round pick on a player who has clear talent gaps, legitimate concerns about his decision-making, some painful windup mechanics and then some choice comments about his defense on top of all that? In Denver, John Elway has earned himself lots of leeway and he has a fully developed offense and defense he can put around Lynch in the next 18 months. But from what I've watched, I still don't think Lynch will pan out -- even in an optimal situation with the Broncos.
But enough about that, here's what is on my brain concerning Darron Lee...
Linebacker done changed - Mike Tanier wrote that "Lee is the kind of linebacker who can play every down in the modern NFL" and he's exactly right. For head coach Todd Bowles, weakside interior linebackers in a defense that can run nickel or dime packages as base is going to be a three-down player. 15 years ago Lee would be considered a tweener, but he stepped in early as a linebacker at Ohio State after converting from safety and he's never looked back. Lee can do all the things the Jets need someone to do well in the heart of their defense. He can play some light coverage, will be a force in Bowles' interior blitz-heavy scheme and with his speed he will be a beast in backside pursuit -- an area of severe pain for the Jets for almost 10 years.
Oh the devaluation! - Gone are the days of massive 250 pound thumpers who could smash the run for three downs. Because of this, there's been a lot of half-baked analysis over the last five years about the devaluation of running backs and linebackers. That is partially true, but what isn't discussed is the value of "foundational" three-down linebackers or running backs has increased. Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley have just proven than at running back.
What most observers haven't caught up to yet is -- as mentioned above - the role and requirements of linebackers have changed and the distinctions between defensive backs and off-ball linebackers have been blurred. What I can see is as the pass to run ratio continues to accelerate, players like Lee will become more valuable.
Double A Gap Goodness - For anyone who watched the 2015 Jets, it was abundantly clear that Bowles loves him some Double-A gap blitzes. Why is the Double A successful? Because it is the straightest line to the quarterback. Double A's also pair perfectly with a coach who believes his defense starts with boundary cornerbacks who can play man coverage, thereby allowing the other nine players to mix and match at will. Some may be concerned that Lee has too much straight line speed, but that seems to pair perfectly with the defensive line he'll get to work with in New York.
It Can't All Be Roses, Though … Right? -- This is all to say that Lee is not without concerns. While Bowles said Lee's weight at 232 is fine, I bet Lee could benefit from a full offseason strength program to dial in his weight and speed to match what the Jets will require of him. Also, Bowles made it known that he believes Lee has technique to work on, and he's right. Footwork and leverage are areas where Lee must improve. Lee also has made analysts question whether or not he has that "dog" mentality that scouts love to see from linebackers. Part of that might be that he's still young and a relatively recent conversion from safety, but expect there to be lots of talk about Lee's intensity in the coming months until we see him on the field.
As best I can tell, Lee doesn't shy away from contact, but does seem to lean a little too much on his athleticism. Can he be more football player than athlete in the NFL? That's the big question I have. The best breakdowns of Lee I can find come from Matt Waldman and Jene Bramel on Rookie Scouting Portfolio. This is the definitive critique of Lee's game; Waldman and Bramel take an excellent and exhaustive look at Lee's game as he transitions to the NFL.
Corey Griffin and Brian Bassett offer up a draft day special edition of TheJetsBlog Podcast. The guys discuss Jets first round pick LB Darron Lee, and where he fits in on the Jets defense. They chat with Matt Waldman of Rookie Scouting Porfolio, who breaks down the lightning-fast Lee. Plus, NJ.com's Dom Consentino hops on the phone to give his take on Lee, and what GM Mike Maccagnan will do on days two and three of the draft.
Jets GM Mike Maccagnan spoke about the team's first-round draft pick, LB Darron Lee out of Ohio State.
The New York Jets considered trading up in Thursday's NFL Draft to select former Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil after a video of him smoking from a gas mask emerged from his Twitter account prior to the draft, causing him to slide down, according to the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta.
Once considered the No. 1 draft prospect, Tunsil fell to No. 13, where the Miami Dolphins picked him, when a 30-second video was posted on Tunsil's account at 7:47 p.m. ET. He said he was hacked, though admitted the video was of him and was two years old.
"Man, it was a mistake," Tunsil said. "It happened years ago. Somebody hacked my Twitter account, and that's how it got on there."
Tunsil also said his Instagram account, which posted screenshotted messages asking an Ole Miss staffer for money to help pay rent and his mother's bills, was hacked. He admitted during his press conference that he took money from coaches at Ole Miss.
"I don't know why they hacked my account," Tunsil said. "I didn't do nothing to nobody. I'm harmless."
The Jets sought trading up during the draft, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and Tunsil was a likely target despite the video, but the asking price was too steep, according to Mehta.
New York instead selected former Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee with the No. 20 pick.
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Many people seem to be lauding Mike Tannenbaum for taking one of the draft's most talented players with the 13th pick, and in terms of on-field talent, this seems reasonable. However, Tunsil will face significant scrutiny once he enters the league following the bizarre escalation of events leading up to the draft and continuing after he was selected.
I would not have had a problem with the Jets taking Tunsil with the 20th pick, even though there's some risk attached that Tunsil will continue to face off-field distractions that might affect his on-field development. Such a talented player, in an area where the Jets anticipate a long-term vacancy would have been difficult to resist there. Nevertheless, I'm not convinced that surrendering further picks to secure him would have been a sensible use of available resources.
The Jets were actually first reported to have been trying to move up after Tunsil had already gone off the board, so it's possible they only had cursory interest in Tunsil and made much more substantial efforts to move up for someone else a few picks later on.
Tags: Miami Dolphins
Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said he doesn't envision Muhammad Wilkerson being traded and is still optimistic the team can reach an agreement with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Maccagnan noted how difficult it is to trade a player who has gotten the franchise tag and suggested that such a deal would have occured before the draft.
Maccagnan said he was unaware of the reports that circulated earlier Thursday that Fitzpatrick was willing to sit out of the season if the Jets didn't change their offer. Reports later in the day said Fitzpatrick was not willing to miss the season.
Maccagnan made it clear that if the Jets were going to move Wilkerson they would have had to get his tender signed first. Since that hasn't happened ... do not expect the Jets to move Wilkerson in-flight of the NFL Draft.
Now, should Wilkerson sign his tender before the draft starts up tomorrow night, or again on Saturday then maybe the team might be able to move him. But since that hasn't happened, I think it is time to stop chasing this story and assume that the next big event with Wilkerson will be when he determines to signs his tender and show up to the Jets facility for training camp so that he can get his season to count toward his pending free agency next year.
Maccagnan said to the press that nothing has changed in the Fitzpatrick situation and that he was actually unaware of the Ryan Fitzpatrick story that crept up on Thursday, something which I believe and don't think he has any reason to lie about. Fitzpatrick is a free agent and worrying about him on draft day is not something that was going to help in sussing out potential trades to move up or back.
If the Jets were worried about their quarterback situation they have every chance to address it head on with the 20th pick. At that point after potentially slotting at the eighth pick, if Lynch was ranked in the Jets top 20 he would have been a screaming value to the team at that pick ... but it was clear they rated Lee over him. In due time, Fitz will be back with the Jets and they will meaningfully address the position either later in this draft or next year.
Tags: Muhammad Wilkerson , Ryan Fitzpatrick
The Jets selected linebacker Darron Lee out of Ohio State University with the No. 20 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Jets coach Todd Bowles said Lee will start off behind Erin Henderson at Demario Davis' old spot. GM Mike Maccagnan emphasized that Lee will be an inside linebacker to start.
"He makes us a lot faster," Bowles said, who is not concerned about Lee being too light at 232 pounds. "We were looking for a versatile player. . .He doesn't have to be a 240, 250 pounds. That's not what we were looking for
Bowles added that Lee's speed and athleticism is important in the league now, with more spread offenses and declining use of fullbacks.
Lee, after two season with the Buckeyes, tallied 89 total solo tackles.
He had 11 sacks, three interceptions, five passes defended, two fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.
"Quick to diagnose and flow to the ball. Has unusual ability to find the most efficient routes to the ball. Has athleticism and flexibility to contort his body and succeed through difficult tackle angles," according to NFL.com.
NFL.com continued: "Smallish linebacker. Play strength doesn't come close to matching puffed up listed weight. Balance issues at point of attack could plague him over his NFL career."
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Lee was not a player that was closely linked to the Jets much during the pre-draft process. At only 232 pounds, he was perhaps considered a better fit for a conventional 4-3 system, but with the recent trend of hybrid safeties playing inside linebacker, perhaps that's a direction the Jets plan to go in. With the flexible nature of Todd Bowles' system, I'm sure they'll find a way to make the most of his talents.
Prior to the offseason the Jets expressed a desire to get younger and faster and this is a definite step in that direction. Lee ran a 4.47 40-yard dash at the scouting combine and can go sideline-to-sideline if you keep him clean. He's a player with good character that the Jets obviously were high on, as they kept their interest in him quiet while several other potential names leaked out.
On the whole, I'm glad the Jets didn't surrender more picks to trade up and that they selected someone who will hopefully make contributions from day one.
This was not a pick that I expected the Jets to make, but that doesn't mean it's a bad pick. Lee will be called undersized, but in a defense that runs nickel as their base, a player like Darron Lee who can play three downs flowing to the ball sideline to sideline on running plays or working in short coverage will be invaluable. The Jets have needed new blood at off-the-line-of-scrimmage linebacker and according to Todd Bowles Lee will play the "Mo" linebacker role (AKA the Weak Inside Linebacker) for the team. The old days of inside linebackers needing to play at 250 pounds is a thing of the past, especially as the NFL orients more and more of the offense around the run. The Jets were looking for a young three down player and Lee will fit that requirment for them from day one.
Some will decry using early picks on off the LOS inside linebackers, but I would refute that point. This argument is the extreme, but is Luke Kuechly valuable to his team? What isn't as valuable is a linebacker who must be replaced on passing plays because he is a thumper ... that's why the linebacker position has been devalued.
Athletically, Lee was one of the most gifted players in this draft class. After running a scorching 40 time, Lee tested out as the most athletically freakish linebacker in this class via his pSPARQ score of 140 -- good for the 92nd percentile in NFL athleticism. This means that Lee is a smooth and fluid runner with freak athleticism who after he masters the playbook will be turned loose in a defense which has elite players both ahead and behind him.
GM Mike Maccagnan also mentioned Lee's age repeatedly during the press conference. This was very interesting to me because Maccagnan also made note of age for first round picks and how Leonard Williams was of a similar age last year. While it might not seem like a big deal, it really is. Age is a undervalued attribute to date in the NFL scouting community. A player who is playing elite football at a younger age is more likely to see that production continue when he makes the jump to the pros. Also, it also lets the Jets consider their second contract with a talented former first rounder when they are still very young ... likely just 25 or 26 years of age.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick would "rather not play football" than return to the Jets at their current contract offer, according to Adam Schefter.
Update - 5 p.m.: This report has been refuted by Brian Costello on Twitter. "Fitz wants to play," Costello wrote.
The Jets have reportedly offered between $7-8 million to Fitzpatrick. The team reportedly also prefers an incentive-driven contract offer, but Fitzpatrick is resisting such an offer, according to Brian Costello.
The Jets and Fitzpatrick have been far apart in contract negotitations all offseason. Fitzpatrick is reportedly seeking something comparable to what other NFL starters have gotten this offseason, while the Jets offer has been much lower.
The Jets have a plan for Fitzpatrick, according to Dom Cosentino of NJ.com. This plan includes placing a value on his worth, given his age (33), his career arc, and whatever their long-term plan is at quarterback.
I can't tell if this is this is the last hurrah for Fitzpatrick's agent, Jimmy Sexton, in a cash grab move for his client or if Fitzpatrick really feels that way. Either way, it is meant to elicit a response from the Jets front office and if Fitzpatrick is truly content to hang up his cleats it would feel like a very odd and unsatisfying conclusion to this whole sordid affair. I get that Fitzpatrick might feel undervalued but if no single other NFL team is willing to match or better the Jets offer than Fitzpatrick does truly need to consider whether he wants to play for love of money or for love of the game. No judegment from me, but right now it seems like the former rather than the latter.
As for the Jets? I don't think this will do anything to slide their draft board around. Good GMs use their draft board like lazy home chefs use their RONCO chicken rotisserie roasters ... JUST SET IT AND FORGET IT! Maybe this puts the Jets back in play for Brian Hoyer after the draft concludes or maybe this puts the Jets into the trade market for a player like Nick Foles, Mike Glennon or Sam Bradford.
Let's just hope that Fitzpatrick is willing to come back for his love of the game.
Tags: Ryan Fitzpatrick
In the last two years I have had some fun with Excel pivot tables to create graphical representations of the draft class. I used the same method as last year to display how the 2016 NFL Draft projects. To come up with the list, I used the CBS Sports top 1000 prospect list and filtered it down to just the top players who would account for the first seven rounds. Then I added another 44 for priority free agents. This gives a look at how many players at a given position might be drafted in any given round.
First off, let me be clear that no draft board is set up this way. But since we have no way to know how the Jets are setting up their board, all we can do is try to take some of the guesswork out of how it might look.
This year, the Jets have the "fortune" of drafting late in each of the rounds that they currently hold draft picks. It is common sense, but this means that New York could be looking at the scraps from their round or any sliders from previous rounds for a positional perspective.
Here are the results with a color coded "heat map" to demonstrate higher/lower frequencies of players in a given round. After the jump I've added some conclusions and how it pertains to the New York Jets come April 28-30 based on their current slotted picks.
The NFL Draft world is losing its mind -- And Jets fans are reaping the benefits!!! Thanks to a wealth of defensive line talent, two quarterbacks (maybe three when Paxton Lynch goes in the top 20) will go right at the top who had borderline first round grades just a few months ago. That recipe makes for a delicious stew of players who might tumble to the Jets at the 20th pick. Maybe … just maybe … the Jets won't actually draft another defensive lineman with a first round draft pick? The Jets then might be able to easily zag in the first round while the rest of the world zigs? It also might press players down into the teens that the Jets covet yet they might more easily be able to trade up to get.
Chasing the Tackle -- Looking at the offensive lineman positions, if we assume that Laremy Tunsil, Ronnie Stanley and Jack Conklin are all gone before the Jets pick, you can see they would be getting the last of the tackles with a first round grade in Taylor Decker. If Decker is still on the board when the Jets pick they are going to have to consider whether scraping the barrel on first round tackles outweighs getting a better talent at another spot. As always, it comes back to how the Jets have set up their board. If the Jets want to address the spot in the second round, Germain Ifedi and Le'Raven Clark could be options. I like Joe Dahl in the third round and then Joe Haeg and Joe Thuney as third or even potential fourth rounders with decent upside.
Hard to ignore receiver -- I wish the Jets would have been more involved in the wide receiver class of 2014 since it has proven to be so damn talented, but that's water under the bridge now. If Mike Maccagnan goes strictly by how his board sets up, how other teams draft and a longer and lower talent tier at receiver this all might push the Jets into drafting a receiver in the first three rounds.
The Jets' receivers are set at the first three spots, but Brandon Marshall looks likely to finish his career with the Jets in a few years time, Eric Decker is talented but best as a strong second or "1B" and Devin Smith has yet to stay on the field long enough to prove his worth. Depending on the Jets' board, Laquan Treadwell, Josh Doctson and Corey Coleman could all be staring the Jets in the face with the 20th pick. The second and fourth rounds seem more fungible for the Jets but should Leonte Carroo or Pharoh Cooper be on the board during the Jets' third round selection it would be hard to ignore the value they could bring long term.
Patience for pursuit - 14 players are designated as either defensive ends or outside linebackers in the first two rounds, according to CBS. If I was the Jets, unless someone like Leonard Floyd fell into my lap at the 20th pick, I would be patient and see who slips into the second round. Could Bronson Kafusi make it to their pick? Would Su'a Cravens be a good fit? Could the Jets hold off on pulling the trigger until the third round, even if it involves trading up, to grab Kyler Fackrell?
Skinny on the interior - Thanks to the scheme change in the college system, this is yet again a tough class to find interior linebacker help. The best shot to not chase talent looks to be in the fourth round. The Jets have enough stopgap options with the return of Erin Henderson and Jamari Lattimore as a developmental player, but if the team wants to find a player who can soak up snaps this year on the interior, the fourth round might be the best place to not miss out on value elsewhere in other rounds.
Running back value on days two and three - With Matt Forte, Bilal Powell and Khiry Robinson in place, the Jets have a formidable group of running backs to shoulder the load this year. But there are some compelling players who might be available in the middle of the draft that could still bring value to this team if given the chance. Alex Collins or CJ Prosise could be options in the third round. There's also Jonathan Williams, Jordan Howard or even specialists like Daniel Lasco or Tyler Ervin who could be value plays in the fourth and maybe even fifth rounds.
Just round the corner - Since the Jets have Darrelle Revis, Buster Skrine, Marcus Williams and Dee Milliner (not so much), they don't have a burning need at the cornerback position. But this is a tremendously deep class of athletic and playmaking cornerbacks. I think the Jets would be wise to take one of the later-round guys they can groom into a contributor given time and coaching.
So who are some players who might fit the bill for the Jets? Notre Dame's Keivarae Russell is a player I have my eye on. The Jets might not want to invest early in him, but Virginia Tech's Kendall Fuller has the pedigree and might wind up being the best of the Fuller family. Rashard Robinson has some concerns off the field but could be a talented player with some player development support as a fourth rounder.
Maybe the Jets are interested in a safety/corner hybrid like Jalen Mills, and Sean Davis would also be an interesting option who could play from a variety of sets for Todd Bowles defense.
Tags: Brian Bassett
If quarterback Paxton Lynch is still on the board when the Jets make their pick at No. 20, they may pass, according to Gary Myers.
For the last three weeks, the conventional logic pointed to the Browns using their pick at number eight to take Paxton Lynch. This crystallized even more once the Eagles moved into the second spot. Could the Browns really be in love with Connor Cook or Christian Hackenberg? Could they avoid a first round QB altogether? Maybe, but that seems unlikely for the Browns, even a new analytics based Browns team. For me, if Lynch slides past the Browns, the free fall begins. This fact is underscored by Daniel Jeremiah who has Lynch out of the first in his most recent mock draft.
Are the Jets interested in Lynch? I honestly don't think he's smart or decisive enough to run a Chan Gailey offense but that's just my opinion. I wouldn't draft him at twenty and I sure as hell wouldn't draft him at seven. Myers seems to think the Jets are not interested, but consider that all this new haze around Lynch means that he is now the pivot point for the first round. Everyone has an agenda regarding Paxton Lynch because he's the most fungible player.
Some teams want him drafted ahead of him so that another player they truly covet falls further down. Teams late in the first could also be signalling that they aren't interested simply because they are praying that he falls to them at a fantastic value. In short, we really won't know anything until the draft starts playing out and the real proof point will be what happens at the eighth pick and then when the Jets are on the clock.
Corey Griffin and Brian Bassett are gearing up for the 2016 NFL Draft, and Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net joins the show to talk about all the options on the table for the Jets.
With the 2016 NFL Draft just hours away, here's a recap of the draft prospects who have been profiled by Bent over the last few weeks...
- Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
- Sheldon Rankins, DL, Louisville
- Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
- Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
- Joe Schobert, OLB, Wisconsin
- Rashard Higgins, WR, Colorado State
- Bronson Kaufusi, DE, BYU
- Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas
- Victor Ochi, DL, Stony Brook
- Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
- Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
- Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss
- Connor Cook, QB, MIchigan State
- Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
- Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
- Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
It's time for the 11th Annual TJB draft picks projection contest on TheJetsBlog!
The rules are simple - pick 10 players you think the Jets might draft and you score one point for each one that the Jets select. Trades are irrelevant as you do not need to allocate a round to where a certain guy is selected (undrafted free agent signings do not count). You are allowed 10 selections, even though the Jets currently only have six picks. Obviously they could end up with more or less than six due to trades (and could even, in theory, end up with more than 10).
You can only enter the contest once and we cannot accept any new entries or edits to existing entries once the first pick of the draft has been announced. We also ask that you be specific when mentioning players with commons names such as Jones or Williams.
Let's see if anyone can dethrone the current champion, The Faceless Man. The all-time record is four (although that came in a year where we gave everyone two extra picks because the Jets had 12).
The winner gets our eternal respect (until next year), bragging rights and perhaps a beer or two if any of us ever meet you.
This year's tie breaker question is which number pick in the draft do you expect Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones to be selected with? Please include your guess with the picks projection.
Post your entries here in the comments or email them to Bent (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Good luck, everyone!
The New York Jets might select a wide receiver in the first round, according to Ian Rapoport.
The team could pick Josh Doctson or Will Fuller, Rapoport said.
New York has the No. 20 overall pick in the draft.
This might be pre-draft smokescreen, but GM Mike Maccagnan seems to adhere pretty strictly to a "best player available" mentality when it comes to the draft. The worry among Jets fans at the timing of D'Brickashaw Ferguson's retirement and the quick acquisition of Ryan Clady filled the team's biggest hole as they headed into the draft. While offensive line, edge rusher and interior linebacker help would be major upigrades for the Jets, wide receiver, like cornerback, is a position on which the team needs to consider their longer-term options.
Yes, the Jets have Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker and just drafted Devin Smith in the second round a year ago, but the team isn't without the need. Brandon Marshall had a career year in 2015 and is north of 30 years old. Eric Decker's contract with the Jets runs through 2018, but could the Jets want to get out of it before then?
The wide receiver class is not as insanely deep and talented as the 2014 class, nor is considered as strong at the top of the 2015 class's Amari Cooper or DeVante Parker. Having said that, many think that Treadwell's physical receiving style is tailor made for the NFL and some have even used DeAndre Hopkins as a comparison. Josh Doctson might an older prospect, but he still has the potential to be a good player and he backed up his film with some solid testing at the NFL Combine.
Winston Hill, a durable All-Pro offensive tackle who played 15 seasons and helped protect Joe Namath on the way to the New York Jets' Super Bowl victory in 1969, has died. He was 74.
The team announced Tuesday night that Hill, a member of the Jets' inaugural Ring of Honor class in 2010, died in his adopted hometown of Denver.
Hill made a franchise-record eight All-Star teams, the first five at left tackle and the last three on the right side. He also holds the team mark for offensive linemen with 195 consecutive games played, keeping his streak going despite breaking a leg in the 1965 preseason. Hill also was selected in 1970 for the AFL's all-time second team.
Jets owner Woody Johnson called Hill "one of the Jets' all-time greats" in a statement provided by the team.
"I was very sad to hear of the passing of Winston Hill," Johnson said. "He was our most decorated player with a franchise-record eight all-star game appearances. And as accomplished as he was on the field, he was an even better person whose profound impact on his teammates and those who came in contact with him left an impression for a lifetime.
"He was the type of man who, if you were his friend, you thought you were his best friend." >> Read more
Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press
With the NFL draft just two days away, many experts are finalizing their predictions on who will end up where. As of today, many of these analysts are predicting with the 20th overall pick, the New York Jets will select QB Paxton Lynch of Memphis.
The Jets currently have a gaping hole at the quarterback position, as last year's starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick remains unsigned.
Lynch had a great season for Memphis in 2015, throwing for career-highs in yards (3,776), touchdowns (28), and a career-low in interceptions (four). His completion percentage of 66.8 percent was also a career-high. Lynch was brought in for a visit with the Jets earlier this month.
Experts such as Bucky Brooks and Charles Davis of NFL.com, along with Dane Brugler and Will Bronson of CBSSports.com, have predicted the Jets will take the Memphis quarterback with their first round pick.
Although Lynch is being projected by many to be Jets' first round selection, there are numerous NFL analysts that believe the Jets will go with a defensive player with their first round pick. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com believes the Jets will pick Clemson DE Kevin Dodd, while Charles Casserly projects Ohio State CB Eli Apple to the Jets in the first round. Meanwhile at CBSSports.com, Rob Rang thinks the Jets will select LB Leonard Floyd of Georgia, while Pete Prisco thinks New York will take DE Noah Spence of Eastern Kentucky.
Two of the Jets' biggest stars of 2015 remain unsigned in Fitzpatrick and DE Muhammad Wilkerson. While no one knows the future of these two players, the question of whether or not they will return to the Jets in 2016 might get answered Thursday night, when GM Mike Maccagnan will have the opportunity to draft a replacement for either player.
Will they draft Paxton Lynch? Will they help the defensive side of the ball by taking a defensive end or a linebacker? Will they select a player no one is expecting? Only time will tell. But with numerous areas of uncertainty still surrounding the Jets, a little bit of clarity would definitely be welcomed by all parties involved.
Tags: Muhammad Wilkerson , Ryan Fitzpatrick
Tags: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
In the run-up to the draft, we've been spotlighting some random individuals who may or may not be potential selections for the Jets. We wrap up the series today with Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple.
Weight: 199 lbs
Interesting Statistics: 33 tackles, seven passes defended and one interception in 2015. Fourth in the Big Ten in passes defended (10) and seventh in interceptions (three) in 2014.
Strengths: Explosive; Good size and speed; Stays with his man well in man-to-man coverage; Contributes in run support
Weaknesses: Better in man-to-man coverage than zone; Has a tendency to grab at times; Will occasionally miss tackles; Doesn't always look back for the ball
Notable Measurables: Ran a 4.40 40-yard dash at the combine but didn't complete a full workout due to cramps. Ran a good short shuttle (4.08) at his pro day, but his three cone drill was below average (7.00).
Jets' Interest Level: The Jets were one of eight NFL teams that Apple met with and Todd McShay mocked him to the Jets at No. 20 in March.
As we move towards the draft, we're going to be spotlighting some random individuals who may or may not be potential selections for the Jets.
Position: Defensive Tackle
Interesting Statistics: Career high 58 tackles in 2015. 5th in ACC with eight sacks and 14 tackles for loss in 2014.
Strengths: Explosive; Good against the run and as a pass rusher; Can handle two-gapping assignments; Strong at the point of attack
Weaknesses: Lacks ideal height and length; Production slipped down stretch in 2015; Coming off a knee injury in January
Notable Measurables: Ran a 5.03 40-yard dash at the combine. Other measurables were excellent, including a 34.5" vertical and a 118" broad jump.
Jets' Interest Level: There have been no specific reports of Jets' interest in Rankins and no high profile experts linking him to the Jets.
Next up: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Tom Brady's four-game suspension was restored by the U.S. Appeals court on Monday, according to multiple reports.
Monday's ruling reversed an earlier judge's decision from last September, when Brady's suspension was overturned.
While restoring the suspension on Monday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "properly exercised his discretion under a collective bargaining agreement" while imposing the initial suspension, according to Reuters.
The Jets face the Patriots this season in Week 12 and Week 16.
This is an interesting development and seems like an unlikely (and yet not surprising, because of course) turn in this whole saga. This looked finished last summer, but it seems nothing shy of a Supreme Court ruling in this case will be the final say. So this might not be the end...again.
Regarding what this means for the Jets specifically? Since the Jets and Patriots don't face off until Week 12, this wouldn't make a difference in any actual matchups. So any "advantage" the Jets season might gain by seeing Brady suspended would have to be indirect. For instance: if Brady's suspension leads to more losses while the Patriots muddle through without their quarterback.
But here's an interesting although unlikely thought: Could the Patriots woo Ryan Fitzpatrick to come play for them as Brady's backup? It's possible but seems extremely improbable. I don't think Fitzpatrick would lower his monetary requests and New England seemed ready to go to the brink in 2015 with Jimmy Garappolo when Brady was under the shadow of suspension last season.
The NFL Draft, taking place in just three days, was previewed on the Jets Nation Podcast...