After hitting a home run in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft with LSU safety Jamal Adams falling to the sixth overall pick, the New York Jets continued to revamp their secondary with the selection of safety Marcus Maye at pick #39.
Maye is an intelligent player with the skill set and range to develop into a ball-hawking safety opposite Adams. In addition, Pro Football Focus describes Maye as “one of the best run-stopping safeties in the SEC.” Maye’s versatility should only help head coach Todd Bowles to disguise coverages and blitz packages more efficiently with two interchangeable safeties at his disposal.
Even with the selection of Adams on day one, the Jets still believed safety was enough of a need where they could stick to their “best player available” philosophy. The Jets secondary struggled through much of the 2016 season, especially when it came to containing big plays over the top, as safeties Marcus Gilchrist and Calvin Pryor struggled to remain on the same page.
With the selection of Maye, the writing is on the wall for Gilchrist, who is still recovering from patellar tendon surgery that ended his season and would save the Jets $4.625M in cap space. As for Pryor, the former first-round pick who Rex Ryan once compared to Jack Tatum, remains on the trade block but could return in a reduced role.
Opinion on the Selection
The Jets absolutely needed help in the secondary, but after drafting Adams in the first round, cornerback should have been the pick at #39. Florida cornerback Quincy Wilson would have been a perfect fit for Todd Bowles blitz-heavy scheme that leaves cornerbacks on an island. Wilson made all the sense in the world for Gang Green.
The Jets lack difference makers on both sides of the ball, so a case could have been made for running back Dalvin Cook as well. Cook would have been an instant upgrade for the Jets backfield and someone who would surely have helped the team’s young quarterbacks, but off-field concerns and durability issues likely scared the Jets off.
One thing remains clear; Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles must feel very confident in the tandem of Adams and Maye to produce immediate results, as they are sure to be under the microscope in a critical rebuilding season for the franchise.