The Jets will be looking for a new quarterback this offseason. Perhaps they'll attempt to obtain Kirk Cousins - they certainly have the money to do so - but they could also target one of the quarterbacks in this class. Their preference could be Baker Mayfield.
I feel as though this will be a very polarizing pick. There are some ardent fans of Mayfield who will believe that I have the Oklahoma quarterback in the correct spot. There are others who dislike Mayfield as a prospect. We've spoken to team sources that have him as a second- or third-round player.
However, team sources pegged Deshaun Watson as a second- or third-round prospect last year as well, and he went No. 12 overall. If a quarterback is considered a Round 2-3 player, he will likely be chosen in the opening frame, and Mayfield, like Watson, could win teams over with his leadership ability and upside. He certainly has his flaws, like his mechanics and anticipation, but a team desperate for a franchise quarterback - i.e. the Jets - could pull the trigger much earlier than some expect.
Rd. 2, Pk. 5
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
The Jets need a new starting running back. Bilal Powell is a nice weapon, but New York has to find someone who can carry a full workload.
Rd. 2, Pk. 17
Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
The Jets spent their first two picks in last year's draft on safeties. They need to focus on the other position in the secondary this time, as they have a major weakness at cornerback.
Rd. 3, Pk. 8
Tyquan Lewis, DE/3-4OLB, Ohio State
The Jets have gotten a lot out of Kony Ealy, who has been tremendous for them despite the Patriots cutting him during the preseason. However, Ealy is an impending free agent and may command a high price tag. If heads elsewhere, the Jets will need another new edge rusher.
Rd. 4, Pk. 7
James Daniels, C, Iowa
The Jets had one of the worst starting centers in the NFL this past season in Wesley Johnson. An upgrade is desperately needed.
This pick could easily be traded away. Last Wednesday, I was the first to report that the Jets have talked with the Browns about trading down. I'm not sure a deal will get done, but it won't happen until the Jets are on the clock because the Browns have to be sure they are getting their target - North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky. If the Jets are stuck at No. 6, they could take the best player available, and that would be Hooker in this scenario. He has injury concerns, but he would be a huge upgrade for their pass coverage.
In late September, weeks before other draft media were aware of Hooker, WalterFootball.com reported that Hooker was receiving high first-round grades from teams. He was one of the breakout stars of the 2016 season. Multiple team sources have said they see Hooker as a top-10 pick. Ohio State lost both Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell to the NFL, but the redshirt sophomore Hooker was an upgrade for the Buckeyes.
In 2016, Hooker totaled 74 tackles with 5.5 for a loss, .5 sacks, four passes broken up and seven interceptions. Three of those picks were returned for touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 206-pounder has excellent size to go along with great speed and instincts. Hooker is tremendous as the deep center fielder with rare skills as a pass-coverage free safety who has drawn comparisons to Ed Reed. He also has the size and strength to come downhill and fill in the ground game. Hooker could be a dynamic safety in the NFL. He is the real deal.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
David Njoku, TE, Miami
The Jets will be able to land a great tight end value early in Round 2. Here's one of those potential steals.
The 6-foot-4, 246-pound Njoku is a freak athlete who has size, physicality and excellent speed. The junior recorded 43 receptions for 698 yards with eight touchdowns in 2016 despite Miami not using him as much as it should have. Sources have said that the coaching staff loved tight end Chris Herndon as a worker and teammate, so they tried to reward him by splitting targets his direction. The underachieving play of Brad Kaaya also hurt Njoku's production with the quarterback's propensity to watch the pass rush and take sacks.
According to team contacts, Njoku was torn on whether to enter the 2017 NFL Draft. The main reason he would have returned to Miami was to help his younger brother make the transition as he joins the program in 2017. However after the last regular-season game, Njoku posed for a photo with the senior class and took grass from the field as a keepsake. That suggested the junior was leaning toward entering the 2017 NFL Draft before his actual declaration.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA
The Jets could use a cornerback upgrade, and Moreau could easily be drafted higher.
Moreau (6-0, 202) was one of the stars of the East-West Shrine throughout the week as he impressed teams with his size, physicality, and coverage skills. Moreau is a tough corner who is capable of running the route to prevent separation. As a senior, he totaled 31 tackles with two interceptions and 10 passes broken up.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
Given the age and injury history of Matt Forte, the Jets could use another running back.
Perine (5-11, 233) averaged 5.4 yards per carry in 2016 for 1,060 yards with 12 touchdowns. He had 10 receptions for 106 yards as well. Perine is a physical, tough runner who was banged up in his final season and also split the workload with Joe Mixon. In 2015, Perine averaged 6.0 yards per carry in 2015 for 1,349 yards with 16 touchdowns.
Prior to the 2017 NFL Draft, sources with the Jets told me they didn't like the available quarterback prospects. They also said that Christian Hackenberg was developing well and worked really hard behind the scenes during his rookie year. However, if Hackenberg doesn't show some promise on the field in 2017, the Jets could be targeting a quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft. If Hackenberg does show signs that he's the long-term starter, New York could consider an edge rusher, more offensive weapons, or cornerback help. Considering the season is basically half over, it looks like Hackenberg probably won't end up playing enough to steer the Jets away from a quarterback. <br> <br>
In 2017, the redshirt sophomore has completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,558 yards with 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. A general manager, who has scouted Darnold in person this year, told me that he likes the "it factor" that Darnold displays. That general manager thinks there's nothing wrong with Darnold's throwing motion or arm strength, and that Darnold has some similarities to Philip Rivers. Other scouts feel that Darnold is a good prospect with the ability to be a plus starter, but they don't think he's elite, and on tape, they say he is not better than Mitch Trubisky or Deshan Watson were before the 2017 NFL Draft. <br> <br>
This fall, Darnold has had issues with interceptions and decision-making. He also has admitted to having issues with confidence. Darnold is an accurate passer without an elite skill set, but he has developed good anticipation, feel, and timing. Darnold is a rhythm thrower who would fit best in a West Coast system to maximize his ability to throw accurately in the short to intermediate part of the field. Sources are telling me that they're hearing Darnold wants to return to USC next year rather than enter the 2018 NFL Draft, but he is getting a lot of pressure to enter the draft. <br> <br>
Darnold was very impressive as a redshirt freshman in 2016 and impressed evaluators even though he wasn't being graded yet. Along with a quality skill set, teams like his intangibles and moxie. Darnold completed 67 percent of his passes in 2016 for 3,086 yards with 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The 6-4, 225-pounder led USC on a nine-game winning streak to end the season.
Mike Maccagnan is a smart talent evaluator and team builder, so he will see that Lamar Jackson is being undervalued. One general manager of a team that has been very good at evaluating quarterbacks, and already has a franchise signal-caller, told me that Jackson is being undervalued, like Deshaun Watson was a year ago.
In 2017, Jackson has completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,489 yards with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. He is averaging 6.9 yards per carry on the ground on his way to 1,443 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. Some team sources think that Jackson is worthy of being a top-10 pick and will rise in the leadup to the draft, similar to Pat Mahomes. One general manager told me they think Jackson could be deserving up going high in the first round because he's a taller and better version of Michael Vick. <br> <br>
Jackson has a great athletic skill set, including a powerful arm that can make all throws the NFL requires and some rare passes. While his tremendous running ability gets a lot of attention, Jackson is better passing from the pocket than he is given credit for. Jackson will take some shots and deliver good passes in the face of the rush. He also handles Bobby Petrino's scheme well. Jackson can be inconsistent with his accuracy, and he needs to add weight to his frame for the NFL. He also needs to develop maturity in his leadership skills as he can be of one of the guys too much. <br> <br>
Jackson (6-3, 205) set college football on fire in 2016 while winning the Heisman Trophy. He was a massive point-producer for the Cardinals. Jackson completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,543 yards with 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the year. He also ran for 21 touchdowns and 1,571 yards while averaging six yards per carry.
The Jets missed out on the first-round quarterbacks. Here's a consolation prize who has some potential to be a rich-man's Jeff Garcia. <br> <br>
The 6-foot-2, 214-pound Mayfield is undersized for the NFL with just average arm strength. He can also have issues reading defenses. One big area for improvement for Mayfield is his footwork as he gets happy feet in the pocket. One college scouting director told me that Mayfield's feet are terrible. In speaking with one NFL general manager, they said they liked Mayfield and had a fourth-round grade on him. Their team always grades quarterbacks hard, and they like how Mayfield has played this year. He could end up being a second-day pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. <br> <br>
Mayfield has completed 71 percent of his passes so far this season for 3,816 yards with 34 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also has five rushing touchdowns. In 2016, Mayfield completed 71 percent of his passes for 3,965 yards with 40 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He picked up six rushing touchdowns as well.
Prior to the 2017 NFL Draft, sources with the Jets told me they didn't like the available quarterback prospects. They also said that Christian Hackenberg was developing well and worked really hard behind the scenes during his rookie year. However, if Hackenberg doesn't show some promise on the field in 2017, the Jets could be targeting a quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft. If Hackenberg does show signs that he's the long-term starter, New York could consider an edge rusher, more offensive weapons, or cornerback help. Considering the season is more than half over, it looks like Hackenberg probably won't end up playing enough to steer the Jets away from a quarterback. <br> <br>
At this point, Allen is a skill set, but not a quarterback. He really struggled this season in games against Iowa, Oregon and Hawaii. Allen has displayed his big skill set with size, toughness, athleticism, and a strong arm. There are plays where he looks like a young Ben Roethlisberger, but then there are other plays where he shows bad decision-making and inaccuracy. Allen is a definite work in progress who will need some developmental time. Thus far this season, Allen has completed 55 percent of his passes for 1,588 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. He has three rushing touchdowns as well. <br> <br>
Allen's completion percentage and interception total from 2016 provide evidence for the developmental assessment, too. He completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,203 yards with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last year.<br> <br>
Allen (6-5, 222) became a discussed prospect late in the 2016 season, but he wisely decided to return to Wyoming. He has a special skill set, and some draft analysts were projecting him high in the first round, but one general manager told WalterFootball.com that he had Allen as a third-day prospect and thought Allen should improve before going pro. Other team sources that did advance work for National Scouting for the 2018 prospects really liked Allen and compared him to Ben Roethlisberger, so don't be surprised if he is a polarizing prospect. Still, Allen has a great skill set with tons of upside.
Prior to the 2017 NFL Draft, sources with the Jets told me they didn't like the 2017 quarterback prospects. They also said that Christian Hackenberg was developing well and worked really hard behind the scenes during his rookie year. However, if Hackenberg doesn't show some promise on the field in 2017, the Jets could be targeting a quarterback in next year's draft class. If Hackenberg does show signs that he's the long-term starter, New York could consider an edge rusher like Arden Key, a franchise left tackle like Trey Adams, or maybe a feature back like Saquon Barkley. <br> <br>
In 2017, Rosen has completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,763 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. He had a mixed game against Memphis with a painful pick-six in the second half that was huge for the Tigers pulling off the upset. Rosen put together a legendary performance in UCLA's 2017 season opener versus Texas A&M, leading one of the greatest comeback wins in college football history turning a 44-10 third quarter deficit to a 45-44 win. <br> <br>
Of the top quarterback prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft, Rosen has the best mechanics and is the most natural pocket passer. He throws a tremendous ball and can really spin it with a powerful arm. Rosen's tight spiral helps him to get his passes through tight windows and beat good coverage. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder has serious arm talent with field vision and pocket presence. Scouts who have done advance work on the 2018 prospects have told me that Rosen has questionable intangibles with how he gets along with his teammates and his leadership skills for the NFL. <br> <br>
Rosen had an impressive debut as a freshman in 2015, completing 60 percent of his passes for 3,670 yards with 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. As a sophomore, he completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,915 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions across six games before suffering a season-ending injury.