New York Jets Sam Darnold
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The New York Jets 2018 draft class is showing tremendous potential early on. Could this be the one that gets this team over the top?

It may be falling victim to “prisoner of the moment” here, but it sure seems like the New York Jets are seeing immediate dividends off of their investment back in late April.

The latest stellar draft-class example came from the Green and White Scrimmage at Rutgers University. This is the annual matchup that pits Jets vs. other Jets in a game-like atmosphere. The team got to practice situational football in a variety of ways.

It’s not just Sam Darnold that is doing well for the Jets, it’s the entire draft class. When you look at the recent drafts for the green and white, it’s hard to find a year in which they’ve enjoyed multiple successes. It just hasn’t happened within the last decade, so let’s truly see if this can be a different draft class for the Jets.

Let’s move in chronological order here:

Sam Darnold (first round)

  • Despite missing a few days of training camp, Darnold has apparently picked up the Jets playbook incredibly quickly and displayed a ton of positive signs in the scrimmage. Probably the biggest plus is something he did at the collegiate level and that’s keeping plays alive. Rookie quarterbacks usually don’t show this kind of poise, several insiders I trust suggest that Darnold will be the Week 1 starter vs. the Detroit Lions on the road on Monday Night Football.

Nathan Shepherd (third round)

  • One side of the Jets defensive line is locked in with Leonard Williams starting, but who will be the other end in the 3-4 scheme? If playing time is any indicator, Nathan Shepherd appears to be the front-runner Not often do third round picks get the majority of first-team reps, but he has been that impressive on and off camera. He’s an older rookie and has a ton of battle scars from life, but that’s what makes this such an amazing story.

Chris Herndon (fourth round)

  • Chris is coming off of an injury from college and most recently a DUI incident since being drafted by the green and white. ‘The same old Jets’ rhetoric began to leak out, but then I checked with my sources down in Miami and they reconfirmed that Chris never had any issues and that this was a blip on the radar. With his head screwed on straight and focusing on football, Herndon continues to show he’s the best tight end on the roster. If Jordan Leggett doesn’t get on the field soon, he could lose his spot on the team.

New York Jets

Parry Nickerson (sixth round)

  • While he probably won’t be a starter this year (Buster Skrine), he appears to be a steal coming out of Tulane. When you look back at the college tape as well as his production, it’s impossible to miss him. He’s been competing in camp and making a ton of plays. A feisty cornerback who can create turnovers? Sign me up.

Folorunso Fatukasi (sixth round)

  • Of all the Jets’ draft picks, Foley is probably the weakest thus far. Everyone else looks like they’ll have immediate impacts on this team. Well, they can’t all be hits, right? It’s still early on, but Fatukasi is hoping to just be in the rotation on the defensive line this season.

Trenton Cannon (sixth round)

  • They say speed kills and that’s the case for Trenton Cannon. Special teams coordinator Brant Boyer loved Cannon’s ability on special teams, but I don’t think he was expecting this kind of pop back in April. Trenton really stuck out at the green and white scrimmage and with Eli McGuire out for the foreseeable future, perhaps Cannon can be that change of pace back for the Jets?

When was the last time the Jets hit on ‘nearly’ every draft pick they made? Twenty-seventeen is looking promising. Two-thousand-seven can certainly make a case with two future Ring of Honor members (David Harris and Darrelle Revis) (throw in Chansi Stuckey who lasted a few years). And maybe 2006, but there were several misses in that draft as well.

Regardless, the point is simple: the Jets could be on the verge of that “special draft.” Every good team has one to get them to a great level. Perhaps the Jets have finally found that class. With the preseason starting next week, that’ll be the first true test and then eventually the regular season to test the true mettle of this class.

New York Jets

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