When Mike Maccagnan selected LSU safety Jamal Adams on Thursday night, he selected a special defender for his New York Jets.

In one dramatic fell swoop, Mike Maccagnan either reaffirmed faith or turned doubters into semi-believers.

He chose the right kid.

At least, from all indications and gathered evidence presented to us, he did right by his New York Jets with his Jamal Adams selection in the six-hole of the 2017 NFL Draft.

In a replica circa 2015 (Leonard Williams), the first NFL draft for the new regime of Maccagnan and Todd Bowles, the Jets graciously accepted the gift that was, arguably, the most talented defensive player in the pool. The Chicago Bears aggressively pursued Mitchell Trubisky and traded up to the No. 2 spot to snag him. The San Francisco 49ers took Solomon Thomas at three.

What drastically changed things was when the Jacksonville Jaguars snagged Leonard Fournette and the Tennessee Titans took WR Corey Davis at five. This left a plethora of talent for the Jets in both of the top safeties, O.J. Howard, Deshaun Watson, Marshon Lattimore and much more.

New York opted for Adams, the do-it-all safety that every elite NFL defense needs these days in such a high-powered hybrid offensive attack league.

The beauty about Adams is that he can literally do everything. This guy isn’t Calvin Pryor. While, at 6-foot and 214 pounds, he does favor the strong safety spot, he’s nothing like the hard-hitting Pryor.

Unlike Pryor, the man can fly around the field. He’s a sniff in the box type guy who can make the rough and tumble tackle or submarine a ball-carrier while protecting the edge. His 209 total tackles and 18 for loss in 36 games played over three seasons is evidence of just that.

Eighth-Man in the Box Along the Edge:

What Adams does best results from his keen nose for the ball. It’s a football trait that simply cannot be taught. A guy either has it or he doesn’t.

Adams has it. He has “it” so well that it’s going to translate to the next level flawlessly.

Watch this film when Adams is the low-level safety protecting the edge. He’s literally a heat-seeking missile:

While he plays on the edge, in terms of edge responsibility, he never allows himself to get caught too far inside when representing that eighth man down low. 

Playing Centerfield:

He’s not Earl Thomas. This much is certain. The Seattle Seahawks all-world safety represents one of the greatest centerfielders in NFL history. His prowess relating to the middle-third is what allows Seattle to get away with playing a Cover 3 on every down. It’s what allows the 10 other defenders to flourish. This is how much ground he covers while playing the middle-third.

While Adams isn’t Thomas in this regard, he can still play it. What this selection means is Calvin Pryor (who couldn’t dream of playing the middle-third), isn’t safe as a starter anymore.

Even when facing future NFL quarterbacks like Dak Prescott, Adams sniffs that ball downfield:

He’ll Get Dirty on Special Teams and Hit When Necessary:

Not only is he by far the best submarine tackler in the draft, he can lay the wood when necessary, all while maintaining perfect form (head across the body):

The Man can Cover via Zone or Man-to-Man:

Here’s Adams’s nose for the ball brilliantly on display as he breaks his backpedal at the perfect time to cover his flat. (Pass, ball, Oskie.)

With a very well-run 40-yard-time for a safety (4.56), he’s plenty quick enough to cover tight-ends and running backs in man coverage. He could even come up in a tight spot against a slot receiver when necessary when a 6-man rush is on.

His Awareness and Nose for the Ball is Off the Charts:

While he is a do-everything safety, what allows that tag to hold true is his defensive mind. It’s that intangible of having a nose for the ball that cannot be taught. It’s having that third sense to dissect a play before it even unfolds.

The following example is off the charts in terms of a nose for the ball and defensive responsibility. A throwback in the college game is a dangerous play for a defense.

Interior and Goal Line Run Support:

Edge play is his best attribute, but he still can mix it up along the interior, including goal line situations.

Final Thoughts:

In the NFL, Jamal Adams is not going to be a feared hitter, and that’s OK. What Adams does do well is everything, literally.

He’s a picture-perfect tackler who can play anywhere on the field. His mind is that of an intelligent QB, always knowing where the ball is and where all 21 players are at any given time.

He’s the quintessential matchup nightmare for QBs and offensive coordinators — the equivalent to a pass-catching, vertical-threat tight end on offense. Working with Darron Lee will be something that could turn out special over time for the Jets defensive unit.

Thanks to the nature of the NFL these days, the sentiment that it’s a matchup league featuring coaching and strategy at its highest, having players who are versatile and could play every down, every situation is critical. Adams is that every down defensive leader New York sorely needed.

What the New York Jets accomplished during Round 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft is capture the quarterback and leader of their defense for a decade to come.


Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (Sold in 2020). SEO: XL Media. Email: robby.sabo[at]jetsxfactor.com