The Jets will be looking for a new quarterback, and that is obvious in the wake of their trade to No. 3 overall (go here for my NFL Trade Grades.) Their preference could be Josh Allen, as Charlie Campbell pointed out in his Senior Bowl Rumor Mill. Allen, however, has gotten into trouble with some offensive tweets and could slip a bit.
Recent reports have linked the Jets to Mayfield, but that was assuming Darnold was going to be off the board. Darnold is available in this scenario, and Mayfield is not, making Darnold the easy choice.
*** OTHER 2018 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Baker Mayfield, QB - If this whole Browns-Mayfield thing is a hoax, the Jets will take Broadway Baker.
2. Josh Rosen, QB - Rosen sounds like an outside possibility, but having him in Manhattan seems like major trouble.
Pick change; previously Baker Mayfield, QB
Rd. 3, Pk. 8
Austin Corbett, OT/C, Nevada
The Jets used their initial pick on a quarterback, so their next selection will have to be spent on a supporting member, whether that's a tight end, receiver or offensive lineman.
Rd. 4, Pk. 7
Tim Settle, DT/NT, Virginia Tech
The Jets could use a long-term solution at nose tackle, as Steve McLendon won't be around much longer.
Rd. 5, Pk. 20
R.J. McIntosh, DT/3-4DE, Miami
The Jets lost Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson the past couple of offseasons, so they'll be looking for help at five-technique.
Rd. 6, Pk. 5
Trey Johnson, CB, Villanova
The Jets spent multiple early picks last year on safeties. They could do the same thing with their corners this April.
Rd. 7, Pk. 17
Vyncint Smith, WR, Limestone
The Jets need as many offensive threats as possible for their rookie quarterback.
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.
Based off talking with sources with the Jets, two years ago, I had New York taking Christian Hackenberg and, last year based of talking to those sources, I had the Jets passing on a quarterback. They are being very tight-lipped, as one could expect. I thought that Josh Allen was their preferred guy after speaking with Jets staff at the all-star games. But a lot changes during the pre-draft process. With Allen off the board, I've heard the Jets have the quarterbacks rated Sam Darold and then Baker Mayfield. The team would be happy with either one. I think Mayfield's love of football and drive to be great is giving him an edge over Josh Rosen. <br> <br>
Team sources told me that Mayfield did well in his interviews at the combine and that they liked how he threw the ball in his field work there. His teammates raved about him as well. Mayfield (6-0, 216) is a gritty gunslinger who has an "it factor" to his game. He doesn't have elite arm strength, but his arm is good enough to make the throws required in the NFL. One of Mayfield's most impressive strengths as a passer is being able to locate the ball well and throw receivers open. He is very good with his timing and trajectory on passes to hit receivers on the run and set them up for lots of yards after the catch. Mayfield is very skilled to loft in touch passes downfield and throws a very catchable ball. He has excellent mobility to dodge sacks, escape pressure and extend plays with his feet, plus he throws well on the run.<br> <br>
Sources say Mayfield can have issues reading defenses, and his field vision needs to improve. He can struggle to throw the ball in tight windows when being forced to operate out of the pocket. One big area of focus 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 and will need a lot of development there for the NFL. An NFC general manager said they have concerns about how Mayfield will perform when teams force him to stay in the pocket. They also have concerns that Mayfield beat up on a lot of weak Big XII defenses and feel there is the chance that he gets exposed against NFL defenses. Evaluators who had seen Mayfield in person had estimated him to be around 5-foot-11 or 6-foot, but he measured out at the combine as 6-foot-1. While there have been some successful short quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, they are the exceptions to the norm for quarterbacks who are below 6-foot-2. <br> <br>
Mayfield completed 71 percent of his passes in 2017 for 4,627 yards with 43 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also had five rushing touchdowns and one receiving. 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.
Based off of talking with sources with the Jets, two years ago, I had New York taking Christian Hackenberg and, last year based of talking to those sources, I had the Jets passing on a quarterback. They are being very tight-lipped, as one could expect, on their feelings about the quarterbacks, but my gut, right now, tells me that Josh Allen is their preferred guy. However, I think the Jets would be comfortable taking Josh Rosen. Mike Maccagnan is a smart talent evaluator and team builder, so he won't horribly reach for a quarterback who isn't worthy of a top-five pick. Maccagnan likes big, strong-armed quarterbacks, and Rosen certainly fits that criteria with a legit top-of-the-draft skill set as a pocket passer. <br> <br>
WalterFootball.com was first to report that Rosen would enter the 2018 NFL Draft, and he made his public announcement in the first week of January. In 2017, Rosen completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,717 yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The junior was up-and-down over the season with highs and lows, including at least one concussion. He had 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 into 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 his powerful arm. Rosen's tight spiral helps him to get his passes through tight windows and beat good coverage. The 6-foot-4, 226-pounder has serious arm talent with field vision and pocket presence. Rosen has well-documented concerns with his intangibles. Team sources told me Rosen made efforts to be a better teammate over the last year and half and showed progress there. Some general managers have told me about their concerns about Rosen being a partier, so he will need to ease some doubts during his pre-draft interviews and visits. There also are durability concerns with Rosen, who missed seven contests over the past two seasons and was knocked out of a few games as well.<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 in six games before suffering a season-ending injury.
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.
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.
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.
Show/Hide Other Mocks with Lamar Jackson Going to Jets
Rd. 1, Pk. 3
Sam Darnold, QB
Wow, the Jets had Sam Darnold fall into their laps. They traded up to No. 3, but they could've panicked. When the Broncos were rumored to move up to No. 2, they could have pulled the trigger, but they did not. They were patient, and they selected someone whom many believe is the best quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft.
This has to be an "A" grade. The Jets finally found their quarterback of the future, but hopefully Darnold is much better than the previous USC signal-caller New York selected.
Rd. 3, Pk. 8
Nathan Shepherd, DT
Nathan Shepherd was dominant in his Division II school, routinely taking on multiple blockers and generating interior pressure. We'll see if that translates to the NFL, but he has the athletic ability to succeed. This is a high-upside pick, though I wish the Jets used this selection to help new quarterback Sam Darnold.
Rd. 4, Pk. 7
Chris Herndon, TE
This is a pretty logical selection. Chris Herndon is a solid athlete coming off a knee issue, so the range makes sense for him. The Jets had to give Sam Darnold more weapons, and they just lost Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Rd. 6, Pk. 5
Parry Nickerson, CB
Parry Nickerson has size limitations, but he was extremely productive at Tulane. He has excellent ball skills and could develop into a decent slot cornerback. Nickerson could've been taken a round earlier than this, so I like this pick.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Folorunso Fatukasi, DT/3-4DE
Foey Fatukasi tested very well and has some upside. He has a quick interior pass rush, so he could have been chosen a bit earlier than this. Once again, the Jets made a quality selection in the sixth round.
Rd. 6, Pk. 30
Trenton Cannon, RB
Trenton Cannon was seen as a late-round sleeper. He's an elusive running back, but a small one, as he weighs 190 pounds. The Jets will be hoping to use him as some sort of gadget weapon, and that could have its benefits.