The 2016 campaign was a complete embarrassment and disaster for the New York Jets. From handing journeymen quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick $12 million who in response, threw 14 interceptions in 17 games to Muhammad Wilkerson becoming a complete non factor, the entire operation was nothing short of pathetic.
With so many issues on an aging roster, immediate questions surfaced on whether general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles have the fortitude to steer the ship in the right direction. We can go on for days highlighting all the missteps of Bowles and Maccagnan, however let’s focus on the best way for this team to improve.
The 2017 National Football League draft is expected to be filled with great talent and the Jets cannot miss on the opportunity to find a cornerstone piece of the franchise with the No. 6 overall pick. There will undoubtedly be top level value when the Jets are on the clock, the question is who will be available and who will they ultimately select?
There are three prospects the Jets should be zeroing in on during draft workouts and interviews leading up to the draft.
Leonard Fournette – RB LSU
The last time the NY Jets were a good team on a consistent basis, they had a strong run game spearheaded by Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin. Since Martin’s retirement in 2007, the Jets have had success at the position but it’s often been short term solutions that don’t offer much production after a year or two. Fournette is a special talent. He is looked at by many in the same mold as Adrian Peterson and is grading by scouts higher than both Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott did on many draft boards. In his Sophomore year at LSU Fournette ran for 1953 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns.
Listed at 6’1, 235 pounds, Fournette is a bulldozer who has a rare combination of strength and speed that will all but certainly lead to years of high level production no matter where he ends up. Look, the Jets don’t have an answer at quarterback, the smartest thing to do is get a back that can handle the ball 20 to 30 times a game and minimize the chances your QB has to throw and make mistakes. Fournette has that ability. The Jets would be wise to draft him.
Pro Comparison: Adrian Peterson
Myles Garrett – DE/OLB Texas A&M
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Garrett falling to No. 6 would need prayers and then some extra luck. Garrett along with Fournette are the two highest rated players in the 2017 class. Since John Abraham departed the Jets in 2006, the franchise has lacked a true pass rusher. Garrett at 6’5, 269 pounds, has all the potential and ability to be one of the premier pass rushers and defensive players in the NFL.
There are serious doubts the Jets however end up selecting Garrett. At the moment, it appears highly unlikely Garrett falls to New York as pass rushers rated that high are often locks to go within the top 3 picks. Never say never though, in 2014 the Jets stole Leonard Williams with the No. 6 pick after being rated the best player in the entire draft. Fans of the green and white should continue keeping their fingers crossed on Garrett.
Pro comparison: Khalil Mack
Deshaun Watson – QB Clemson University
(Matthew Emmons / USA TODAY Sports)
No team outside of the Cleveland Browns have had a longer stretch of uncertainty at the quarterback position than the New York Jets. From Mark Sanchez to Bryce Petty, the level of ineptitude at the most important position in the game has been truly unbelievable for Gang Green. The Jets went into the season with four quarterbacks on the active roster and five months later, they still are uncertain as ever about the position.
Drafting Deshaun Watson would finally give Maccagonon and Bowles their leader to either swim or sink with. The Gainesville, GA. native Watson has proven to be a winner at Clemson and a prolific playmaker at his best, however there have been great concerns about his comfort level in the pocket and his alarming 17 interceptions this season. Although he was turnover prone, his ability to stretch the field and take care of the ball in big games (0 turnovers in national championship) should help his chances of being an early selection in the 2017 draft. If the Jets sincerely feel Watson can be their guy, they’d be playing with fire if they didn’t find a way to draft him.
Pro comparison: Marcus Mariota