Recently, the New York Jets have had a history of selecting the wrong players with their second-round draft picks. The last draft where a Jets second-rounder actually made a real impact on the team was in 2007, when they drafted David Harris. The team recently released Harris, meaning no Jets second-round pick currently on the team has made an impact. Of course, that can change in 2017 with two second-rounders, who have yet to see any action for Gang Green.
A New York Jets Second-Round Pick ‘Maye’ Finally Shine in 2017
The History of the Jets Second-Rounders
Since their pick of Harris in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft, the Jets did not own a pick in that round in 2008, 2009, and 2011. However, they did not take much advantage of their picks in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 as they selected Vlad Ducasse, Stephen Hill, Geno Smith, Jace Amaro, and Devin Smith, respectively. Let’s take a brief look at each one’s tenure with the team.
The Jets selected Ducasse out of Massachusetts 61st overall in 2010. After drafting the 6’5″ guard, the Jets released nine-time Pro Bowl left guard Alan Faneca who was with the Jets for two seasons.
Ducasse was with the Jets for four seasons and did not establish himself as a force on the offensive line. He played in 50 games over the four seasons and only started in four games.
The Jets traded their fifth and seventh round picks to the Seattle Seahawks in the 2012 NFL Draft to move up four spots and draft Hill 43rd overall. Hill, a wide receiver out of Georgia Tech, was handed the starting receiver spot opposite Santonio Holmes in his rookie campaign.
Hill underwhelmed in his two seasons, as he only had 45 receptions for 594 yards and four touchdowns in 23 games (19 starts). Both his seasons were plagued by knee injuries on top of poor quarterback play.
The Jets took Smith 39th overall out of West Virginia in the 2013 NFL Draft. After a poor campaign in 2012 by Mark Sanchez, the Jets knew he wasn’t the answer going forward.
While the goal wasn’t necessarily to push Smith into immediate NFL action, it became the only option. Sanchez suffered an injury in the third week of the preseason against the New York Giants after Rex Ryan left him in the game late in an effort to win the meaningless matchup.
Smith started all 16 games for the Jets in 2013 and put up subpar numbers. Still, he managed to win eight games for the Jets and won the starting job for 2014. In 2014, he put up better numbers, but led the Jets to a 4-12 record; their worst record since 2007. Late in the season, Michael Vick took over due to Smith’s poor performance. Smith did end 2014 on a good note however, posting a perfect passer rating in the final game of the season.
Smith was not the starting quarterback for the Jets in 2015 after getting punched in the jaw by IK Enemkpali on August 11. Ryan Fitzpatrick started and did well in his absence and became the starter for the entire season. Geno Smith appeared in one game after Fitzpatrick injured his thumb, but that was all.
Fitzpatrick was the starter in 2016 as well, but Smith saw some action after Fitzpatrick struggled. He only appeared in two games (one start) before tearing his ACL and missing the rest of the season.
In his four seasons with the Jets, Smith completed 501 of his 866 passes (57.9 completion percentage) for 5,962 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 36 interceptions in 33 games (30 starts).
The Jets drafted Amaro out of Texas Tech 49th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. With few solid options at tight end during Amaro’s tenure, he had a great opportunity to stand out. He showed some promise in his first season as he caught 38 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games and four starts.
Amaro could not take the next step in 2015, however. He missed the whole season after finding out he had a torn labrum from an injury he sustained in the first preseason game.
Amaro never had another shot to prove himself with the Jets as the team waived him on September 3, 2016.
The Jets drafted Devin Smith 37th overall out of Ohio State in the 2015 NFL Draft. Like most of these other Jets second-round picks, Smith struggled with injuries. In 2015, he caught nine passes for 115 yards and a touchdown in 10 games (four starts). He was limited to 10 games in 2015 due to an ACL tear.
In 2016, he only played in four games (no starts). Smith spent the first nine weeks on the PUP list due to his knee injury.
On April 29, 2017, Smith tore his same ACL again and will miss the 2017 season. He is currently still dealing with that injury, and his future in the NFL looks bleak.
Will 2017 Be Different For a Jet Second-Rounder?
As mentioned at the top of this article, the Jets currently have two players they drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft who have yet to play a game. These players are Christian Hackenberg and Marcus Maye. Will either establish themselves in 2017?
Some fans already consider Hackenberg to be a bust. He hasn’t thrown a pass in an NFL game, but even in practice, some spectators claim that he looks awful. One report at the end of the 2016 season claimed an anonymous Jets coach said that Hackenberg “couldn’t hit an ocean.”
There is no guarantee that Hackenberg will be a starting quarterback in 2017. He is not even guaranteed to get a start at all in 2017 with competition from Bryce Petty and Josh McCown. Going forward, it’s very possible that the Jets future quarterback may not even be on this team. Between a quarterback-rich 2018 NFL Draft class and the possibility of Kirk Cousins being a free agent in 2018, the Jets have options for 2018 and beyond.
Hackenberg can silence his critics by claiming the starter role in preseason and taking off from there. However, there is doubt surrounding his abilities, inexperience, and the young team around him. It would be difficult to expect for 2017 to be the year Hackenberg shines.
Maye, the safety taken 39th overall out of the University of Florida, is a different story compared to Hackenberg. He has the starting job ready for the taking. The Jets got rid of Marcus Gilchrist and traded Calvin Pryor which opened two spots at the safety position. Those two spots are expected to be taken by 2017 first-round pick Jamal Adams as well as Maye.
When you look at the Jets’ former second-round picks, you can see a trend. Most of their unsuccess came from injuries and no supporting cast. The receivers (Hill, Amaro, and Smith) didn’t have great quarterbacks and the quarterback (Smith) didn’t have great receivers. Ducasse was the anomaly.
For Maye, he will have one of the most talented draft prospects playing right next to him. Also two things many analysts have mentioned about Maye is that he is NFL-ready and versatile.
“Athletic, interchangeable safety with the movement skill, versatility, and football smarts to emerge readily as an NFL starter,” NFL Media analyst Nolan Nawrocki said about Maye. “Consistently shows up in all phases of the game, and though he needs to finish better, could immediately upgrade many NFL secondaries.”
Of course, while he may become a star, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it must occur this year. However, Maye does have the talent for that to occur and is currently set up pretty well to break the Jets’ second-round curse in 2017.
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