With Mike Maccagnan’s youth movement in full flow through the New York Jets depth chart, it’s evident the safety position is the core.
On Monday, the owner of the New York Jets, Woody Johnson spoke about trying something he as an owner has resisted to embrace by former general managers, a rebuild. After 17 years, on the surface it appears he will allow Mike Maccagnan to do just that.
Maccagnan has trimmed the squad of high priced talent, underachievers and two franchise all-timers in one fell swoop. What is left is a roster full of question marks and youth with varying ceilings of potential.
While Maccagnan opted for volume over quality in the free agent market, he made no bones about using the same philosophy during the 2017 NFL Draft — a strategy that was met with mostly positive reviews by draft prognosticators.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper gave the Jets collection of draft picks a B+. Surprising, since the Jets were unable to fill the voids left on the offensive line and at cornerback. Of course, outstanding LSU safety Jamal Adams accounts for much of the praise, failing right into Maccagnan’s lap at six.
Walterfootball.com also sang the praises of Maccagnan, giving the roster architect an A for his efforts. The Jets are a team of need, and the analysts who believe in taking the best available player thought Magic Mike did just that.
As glowing as the analysis from the national draft stars may be, the perception that longtime Jets fans may have is that Maccagnan stacked positions rather than rolling the dice on “high risk, high reward” players.
If you didn’t think that Maccagnan was going to jump at the opportunity to draft LSU’s Jamal Adams when he fell to the six selection, then you haven’t been paying attention. Mac regularly spoke glowingly about Adam’s talents on the field and his leadership skills off the field.
Adams has the type of aura that will one day have him mentioned in the same breath as Brian Dawkins and Ed Reed. A jack of all trades from the strong safety position, Adams can sit in the box, play man coverage and be the type of hitter that can change a game. This may be Mac’s easiest draft choice of all-time.
Maccagnan wasted no time in selecting Florida safety, Marcus Maye in the second round of the draft. This was surprising due to what occurred in the first round with Adams. But also very telling, as both Calvin Pryor’s inability to be effective and Marcus Gilchrist’s ability to stay healthy have hampered the Jets secondary.
What also made this pick a bit of a shock was based on who was still on the board at the time of the pick. Three names that stuck out, who would have filled a need for Gang Green included: Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, Florida cornerback Quincy Wilson and Notre Dame quarterback Deshone Kizer.
While many agree with Mac’s assessment to pass on Kizer may be correct, the Jets not exploring an early round talent at the position is telling of what they think they have in Christian Hackenberg. If Pat Mahomes may have fallen to the Jets in the second round, maybe we see a different choice here.
Running back is another position the Jets could have addressed with their second position. Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon, both considered first round talents were available when New York selected. Though both have well publicized off the field issues, talent alone would have helped an aging position on the team.
Maye’s college teammate Quincy Wilson would have also filled a need with the pick. Wilson’s coverage skills are far better than that of his teammate, and coupled with Buster Skrine, would have created a formidable pair in the secondary for Todd Bowles.
Mike Maccagnan’s First Three Picks for the Jets:
- Jamal Adams, LSU, Safety
- Marcus Maye, Florida, Safety
- ArDarius Stewart, Alabama, Wide Receiver
The Mix Take’s First Three Picks for the Jets:
- Jamal Adams, LSU, Safety
- Dalvin Cook, FSU, Running Back
- Pat Elflein, Ohio State, Center
The Jets started Friday night with two third round picks, but Maccagnan didn’t hesitate to trade both of them prior to the end of the night. The Jets passed on the chance to draft Ohio State center Pat Elflein with selection 70, the Minnesota Vikings did not.
The Vikings traded up for the player who could have played heir apparent to Nick Mangold. The Jets received an additional fifth round pick along with drafting Stewart. How this deal works out will be determined over the two standouts careers.
One player whom Maccagnan was able to acquire in the fifth round was National Champion tight end, Jordan Leggett. The Clemson Tiger who has been knocked for his motor has all the ability in the world as a pass catching threat, will need to find the motivation to become a star on a team that has failed to properly utilize the tight end position.
Leggett showed flashes of brilliance in the Tiger’s championship season during the school’s biggest games, against Florida State and Alabama. If he and Hackenberg can build the same chemistry that was apparent with DeShaun Watson, Maccagnan will have nailed this late round pick.
The Jets strolled into Philadelphia needing to fill as many positions as possible. What Maccagnan and his scouting crew did was stacked the safety postion, grabbed two very capable wide receivers and rolled the dice on high potential late round talents.
The question, as it always is with Jets general managers is, will he be here long enough to see the cohesion and growth of his newly acquired warriors?