The 2019 NFL Draft has come and gone for the New York Jets. While many expected Gang Green to trade down from the third overall selection, the team opted to stay put and make a selection. Headlined by the addition of a star defensive tackle, the Jets added six new talents to their 2019 roster. Their selections were as follows:
- First Round, 3rd overall: Quinnen Williams, defensive tackle, Alabama
- Third Round, 68th overall: Jachai Polite, edge defender, Florida
- Third Round, 92nd overall: Chuma Edoga, offensive tackle, USC
- Fourth Round, 121st overall: Trevon Wesco, tight end, West Virginia
- Fifth Round, 157th overall: Blake Cashman, linebacker, Minnesota
- Sixth Round, 196th overall: Blessuan Austin, cornerback, Rutgers
New York Jets 2019 NFL Draft Grade: 8/10
New York Jets 2019 NFL Draft Review
The Best Player: Quinnen Williams
No surprise with this selection as Williams was regarded by many as the top overall player in this class. Reports were swirling before the draft that general manager Mike Maccagnan would look to trade out of the pick, but after being unable to find a suitable offer, the team received an excellent consolation prize in Williams.
Measuring 6’3″ and 303 pounds at the Combine, Williams is an imposing force that can play all over the defensive line. While he will likely fit best as a one or three-technique, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will have fun deploying him from all angles in his scheme. Expect Williams to have an immediate impact for Gang Green using his talents to also free up rushing lanes for players like Leonard Williams.
The Head Scratcher: Not Addressing Center
While many fans would agree the Jets have had an impressive off-season, the one gripe most will share is the fact that the team has not addressed their obvious need at center. After the failed Spencer Long experiment, the Jets are left with only Jonotthan Harrison expected to start at center. Harrison has been rather underwhelming and would not be a long term answer for the Jets.
Early in the off-season, it seemed as though the Jets would be able to land one of the two big free agent centers. Matt Paradis and Mitch Morse both managed to hit the open market, but the Jets’ pursuit of Le’Veon Bell seemed to stifle the odds of the team landing one of them. Still, many fans were hoping the team would address the need in the draft.
Lacking a second round pick, the Jets were doomed from the get-go in their pursuit of a center. The perceived plug-and-play starters, Garrett Bradbury and Erik McCoy, were both long gone when the Jets were on the clock in round three. While fans may have wanted to see the team take a late flyer on players like Michael Jordan from Ohio State or Lamont Gaillard from Georgia, the Jets instead opted to stay with the best player available approach. While this approach is often the best way to go, it is hard to ignore the many blown opportunities this off-season to land an impact center.
The Surprise: Trevon Wesco
One position many did not expect the Jets to address was tight end. The emergence of Chris Herndon as a weapon for Sam Darnold had seemingly solved the long-running issue at the position. Still, the Jets opted to select tight end Trevon Wesco in the fourth round. While a bit surprising, the move could prove sneakily effective for the Jets’ offense.
Wesco is an imposing 6’3″, 267-pound tight end who certainly does not lack strength. Expect him to fill the Eric Tomlinson role for the Jets and serve as more of a blocker than a receiver. While this is great news for the likes of Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell, it is also not the end of Wesco’s upside. While he has not been much of a receiver in the past, there are many who feel he has untapped potential in that regard. Wesco could end up being part of a great one-two punch at tight end for the Jets that lasts quite some time.
The Steal: Jachai Polite
Again, this was not a difficult selection. Polite was a player who, early in the process, was being discussed as a first-round pick. His stock sank around the time of the Combine, as he tested poorly and interviewed even worse. The culmination of these issues causes Polite to slip into the third round, where the Jets will gladly take the risk for the possible upside.
Polite was a force in 2018, racking up 11 sacks and a nation-leading six forced fumbles. The Florida product is a prototypical fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker, where he projects to slot in for Gang Green. The Jets have not had a legitimate pass rushing threat since most fans can remember, and the possibility that they may have been able to land one in the third round of the NFL draft should be a comforting thought for Jets fans.
Most Likely to Turn Heads During Camp: Blake Cashman
Blake Cashman from Minnesota was a pick that surprised many Jets fans. Linebacker is certainly not a need for the team after the free agent addition of C.J. Mosley. Still, the Jets selected one in the fifth round of the draft. Why do you ask? Because Cashman is a good football player. Highly touted by Pro Football Focus, among other outlets, Cashman certainly fits the bill of best player available.
Cashman recorded over 100 tackles in 2018 for Minnesota and also turned some heads with his 4.5 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. His athleticism should have some fans sold immediately come training camp. While it may not be an immediate need for the Jets, there is undeniable uncertainty surrounding the future of the position for the team. Darron Lee‘s tenure with the team can come to an end any day and there is not a lot of depth behind him. Expect Cashman to make some immediate impacts on special teams, and eventually see some playing time in sub packages for the Jets.
With only six selection in this year’s draft, there are not a lot of other selections to discuss in this class. Third round pick Chuma Edoga is an intriguing prospect. While a bit undersized, he has been undeniably effective as a tackle for USC. He has a familiarity with Darnold, something the team obviously valued enough to select Edoga in the third round. He’s raw, but he could be an answer at one of the Jets tackle spots when Kelvin Beachum or Brandon Shell leaves the team.
Rutgers Cornerback Blessuan Austin was the only other selection the team made in this year’s draft and he is certainly a wild card. Austin has only appeared in five games over the past two years due to injuries, but he has the size and athleticism teams covet in starting corners. With a huge need at cornerback, Austin has a chance to see some playing time early in his Jets career, and prove he has fully overcome his injuries.
Time will tell whether or not the Jets 2019 NFL Draft Class will be a success or a bust. Yet there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the discipline the team showed this year, and the upside of many prospects they selected.