New York Jets 2018 NFL Draft Review

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New York Jets 2018 NFL Draft

The 2018 NFL Draft has come to a close. Fans of the New York Jets saw their team select USC quarterback Sam Darnold third overall. This marks the third time in the last four drafts that a prospect has fallen to the Jets who many expected to be long gone. Yet, Darnold is only one of a number of rookies who will be joining the Jets as the NFL season draws closer. To acquire these players, the Jets made the following trades:

Sent first-round pick (sixth overall), two 2018 second-round picks (37th and 49th), and a 2019 second round pick to Indianapolis Colts for their 2018 first-round pick (third overall).

Sent fifth-round pick (157th) to Minnesota; received Vikings sixth-round pick (167th) and seventh-round pick (225th).

Sent fifth-round pick (167th) and seventh-round pick (225th) to Minnesota; received two Vikings sixth-round selections numbered 180 and 204.

The Jets also traded their seventh-round selection, number 235 overall, to the Colts for defensive lineman Henry Anderson. Anderson played in nine games for the Colts in 2017 and recorded two sacks. He is a low risk acquisition that could pay off big with the departure of Muhammad Wilkerson.

Despite moving around the board quite a bit in the later rounds, the Jets settled on selections of six new players in the 2018 draft.

  • First round, third overall: Sam Darnold, quarterback, USC
  • Third round, 72nd overall: Nathan Shepherd, defensive lineman, Fort Hays State
  • Fourth round, 107th overall: Chris Herndon, tight end, Miami
  • Sixth round, 179th overall: Parry Nickerson, cornerback, Tulane
  • Sixth round, 180th overall: Foley Fatukasi, defensive lineman, Connecticut
  • Sixth round, 204th overall: Trenton Cannon, running back, Virginia State

Jets 2018 draft grade: 8.1/10

New York Jets 2018 NFL Draft Review

The Best Player: Sam Darnold

Entering the 2018 season, hope was something many Jets fans lacked. The roster, seemingly devoid of talent, performed as many had expected in the first two weeks. Abandoning any expectations of a winning season, many fans hopped aboard the Suck for Sam campaign. As the season progressed however, it became increasingly unlikely that the Jets would be in a position to select the USC signal caller. Even after trading up from six to three, the notion that Darnold would be available for the Jets to select did not seem realistic. Darnold seemed set to become a member of the Cleveland Browns.

Yet on Thursday night, it was Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield who heard his name called first overall, not Darnold. Despite teams attempting to jump in front of the Jets for the sought after Darnold, he fell to three and the Jets did not hesitate to select him; and rightfully so. Darnold looks the part of an NFL quarterback standing 6’3″ and weighing 221 pounds. He has an impressive ability to extend plays with his legs and displays exquisite touch on his passes. Darnold is a leader who possesses an NFL caliber arm. If he can cut down on the turnovers, the Jets may have finally ended their nearly 50-year search for Joe Namath‘s successor.

The Head-Scratcher: Foley Fatukasi

UConn’s Foley Fatukasi is a run-stuffing force who belongs in an NFL training camp. The Jets spent a late pick on him and defensive line was a need for the team heading into the draft. However, there were more pressing needs on a roster that is one of the youngest in the NFL. The Jets had already spent a third-round pick on Fort Hays State’s Nathan Shepherd and already have a run-stuffing nose tackle in Steve Mcclendon. The Jets neglected needs at edge rusher and on the offensive line to select Fatukasi who was a very good value for the sixth round. Prioritizing value over need and fit is a safe approach, but the Jets could’ve gambled with one of two back to back picks in the sixth round.

The Surprise: Chris Herndon

Miami’s Chris Herndon is a versatile tight end who will be a viable weapon for Sam Darnold. He has good ability after the catch and is a top tier pass blocker. Looking at the Jets roster, however, this pick is somewhat of a surprise. The Jets selected Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett in the fifth round of last year’s draft and are still waiting to see what he will do. They also signed Clive Walford from the Oakland Raiders during the offseason. Given these facts, many fans believed tight end to be set heading into the draft. Still, Herndon provides value in the fourth round and given the fact that Leggett and Walford are both question marks, he may fit a need as well. Herndon has an opportunity to immediately compete for the starting job and may surprise fans with not only his selection but his performance.

The Steal: Parry Nickerson

Some may know the name Parry Nickerson from his blazing 4.32 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine. Tulane fans will certainly know him for his playmaking ability. Nickerson is undersized at 5’11” and 182 pounds. However, what he lacks in size, he makes up for with big-play ability. Nickerson’s 40 time translates to the gridiron as he demonstrates excellent closing speed. He makes aggressive plays on the ball and is sticky in man coverage. He will struggle with size in the NFL, but he can immediately compete for the slot corner spot with the Jets. A position that has seen its fair share of inconsistent play with Buster Skrine.

Most Likely To Turn Heads in Training Camp: Trenton Cannon

The smallest name of the Jets draft crop may also be the biggest playmaker. Division II running back Trenton Cannon is a pint-sized playmaker who runs like the wind. He is able to neutralize angles that defenders may have on him with his blazing speed. While Cannon will likely never have a well-rounded enough game to start at running back in the NFL, he can immediately contribute as a kick returner. The Jets have been searching for an effective return man for years now, and Cannon is a player who can blow the top off a coverage team with his speed. He has good vision, so expect him to have a real shot to be back deep when the season kicks off.

The Rest

Nathan Shepherd of Fort Hays State may not have received a superlative, but make no mistake about it, he has a real chance to make an impact with the Jets. Shepherd is a mountain of a man standing 6’4″ and 315 pounds. He possesses top-level movement skills for a guy his size and sacrifices no strength. There are questions about his pro-readiness which is a real concern given the fact that he is 24 years old. Still, his athleticism is hard to ignore and if he can sharpen his technique, he will be a menace of a defensive end.

Bottom Line

The Jets got their quarterback, likely the one they viewed as the best in the class. Anything on top of that is simply icing on the cake. Still, they consistently found excellent value with all of their picks and never reached for a player. Every one of their selections has the potential to be an impact player. Some needs, such as offensive line and edge rusher, went unaddressed, which takes a bit away from the overall success of this draft. Still, this class of rookies is above average for the Jets. An 8.1 out of 10 should accurately reflect how effective this class can become with the extra .1 for possibly ending the curse of the Jets quarterbacks. Only time will tell what kind of difference the 2018 Jets draft class will make.

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