Is it too early to know how an NFL Draft class is going to fare in the NFL? The answer to the age old question is unequivocally yes, but that shouldn’t stop us from offering our predictions, which is all this article is. If your favorite team is in this article, I don’t hate them; I just hate what they did this weekend.
Remember the previous statement in the trying times, because next year I could do a 180 and love your team’s draft (looking at you, Colts fans). So bear with the criticism, shove it down my throat if I’m wrong and let’s have some fun in the meantime.
1. New York Jets
Heading into the draft, I had identified offensive linemen, tight end, cornerback, edge pass rusher and safety all as significant needs for New York, with quarterback and running back deserving to be acknowledged as well. So Jamal Adams was a completely fine pick in the first round as an impact safety who will be a leader in that defense right away.
But why in the world would you make your next pick a safety as well, as the team quickly pulled the trigger on Marcus Maye with the 37th overall pick. Even setting aside the fact that I had Maye as an early third round player who would be at his best around the line of scrimmage, from a team-building perspective it makes no sense to construct around the safety position with needs at cornerback, offensive tackle, edge rusher and quarterback, all vastly more important positions.
Todd Bowles over-valuing defensive backs and failing to build his defense on rushing the passer will eventually be his undoing as head coach in New York.
On the other hand, wide receiver was one of the few loaded positions on the roster, with Eric Decker and Quincy Enunwa returning to the starting lineup, and Robby Anderson asserting himself as an impressive deep threat this past season.
Ardarius Stewart in the 3rd round? Ok. Chad Hansen in the 4th round? It’s officially pull your hair out time, Jets fans. Two sixth round fliers on cornerbacks and a fifth round selection of Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett (who has effort and work ethic concerns that are abundantly clear on tape) helped put the nail in the coffin of a bizarre Jets draft class.
The offensive line was completely ignored and the quarterback position remains a battle between Josh McCown and Christian Hackenberg. Start thinking about the #1 overall pick for 2018, Jets fans, because your team is likely going to be picking there and it’s gonna be with a new head coach.
2. Detroit Lions
Jarrad Davis and Jalen Tabor had early 3rd round grades on my board and while the former at least has upside and football character to get excited about, the latter worked out remarkably poorly and has coach-ability and off-field concerns that should have easily kept him out of the top 70 picks.
With Chidobe Awuzie and Obi Melifonwu both still on the board, this pick became even more troubling and although I think both will start in Detroit, the results won’t be as favorable as they could have been with better prospects.
Kenny Golladay in the third was at least two rounds early, Josh Reynolds was a better wide receiver in the same mold that was still on the board. In the fourth round Detroit took a linebacker with significant health concerns in Jalen Reeves-Maybin and a #2 tight end in Michael Roberts.
Both decent picks but not enough to offset the weight of the Lions’ earlier transgressions. Again the team feels comfortable relying on the oft-injured duo of Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah in the backfield, with the steady but unspectacular safety net of Zach Zenner. It’s a capable group that hasn’t been able to stay healthy, and Matt Stafford will again have to shoulder a big load in Detroit this season without the threat of a top-notch rushing attack. Story of his career; this draft class missed the mark.