With the 2017 NFL Draft now in the books, here are five takeaways on general manager Mike Maccagnan’s approach to his third draft with Gang Green.
1. Changing the Culture
It seems clear that in the wake of a season filled with locker room turmoil and questionable effort on the field, Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles attempted to rectify this by identifying high character players that love football and play with an edge.
Jamal Adams was a fantastic start, as someone who figures to be a cornerstone player that will lead by example and help to establish an identity on defense. Adams plays with a chip on his shoulder and is sure to make an immediate impact.
The New York Jets selections in rounds two through four with safety Marcus Maye, and wide receivers ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen also fit this mold, though less NFL ready.
2. Best Player Available Remains the Philosophy
Maccagnan had no problem doubling down in rounds one and two at safety, then again at wide receiver in rounds three and four, demonstrating that the team will continue to stick with their board and select the best player available.
“You build a board that’s value-based,” Maccagnan said. “If we’re going to build this through the draft with young players, then if a player who’s highly rated stands apart from other players on the board, you take the best player available.”
The Jets did not attempt to reach for a QB or OL in a weak class, and with clear needs elsewhere, the Jets felt comfortable sticking with their best player available philosophy early in the draft, while addressing needs later on. Time will tell if this was the right strategy.
3. Trader Mike
Maccagnan stated he was interested in acquiring additional draft picks, and he was not messing around, executing on five trades that brought the Jets from seven picks to nine, while also adding the Dallas Cowboys 5th round pick in 2018. While some Jets fans were unhappy with the value New York received in several of the deals, Maccagnan saw value in having additional selections later in this draft.
Maccagnan also acknowledged to the media, that sometimes if a targeted player comes off the board a few selections before the Jets are slated to pick, it makes sense to move back and select from the next pool of players, while also acquiring an additional selection.
Although several talented players came off the board after the Jets traded down, one has to wonder where these players were rated on the Jets board. Either Maccagnan saw similar value later in this deep draft class, or was simply not in love with any one player when it came time to pick, opening the door for a few deals. While I had hoped for greater compensation, Maccagnan appears to have landed the players he hoped for, while securing additional pieces in the process, so it is hard to complain with his thought process here.
4. Did the Jets Properly Allocate Draft Resources?
Aside from safety, the Jets came into the draft with holes to fill at tight end, running back, edge, and cornerback.
Jake Butt was a tight end many analysts seemed to love, and was there for the taking on several occasions. Ultimately, the Jets felt that tight end Jordan Leggett provided greater value later in round five.
The Jets also had the opportunity to select Dalvin Cook in round two, an immediate three-down back with big play potential, but off-field concerns made the selection risky. Instead, the Jets waited until round six to go running back, selecting Elijah McGuire, a versatile back out of UL-Lafayette.
With a need for speed coming off the edge to get after the quarterback, it was surprising to see the Jets only select one pass rusher, waiting until round five to select Dylan Donahue. Similarly, in a draft filled with cornerbacks, Maccagnan chose to wait until round six before selecting a pair of big-bodied corners with back to back picks in Jeremy Clark and Derrick Jones.
No doubt these players will be under a microscope, as will some of the names that the Jets passed on while moving back in the draft.
5. What Does it Mean Going Forward?
Two things remain clear following this draft;
1) Mike Maccagnan is here to stay, as he did not appear to be drafting like a general manager worried about his job status. We are in this for the long haul as the Jets attempt to rebuild the proper way.
2) Part of that rebuild will involve a commitment to the long-term development of Christian Hackenberg at quarterback. Opportunities were there for Maccagnan to pull the trigger on another quarterback, but he chose to stay away. It is safe to say that this appears to be Hack’s team going forward.