Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan took the best player available when he made his No. 6 overall draft pick selection in the Jets war room Thursday night.
It isn’t what Jets fans thought. It wasn’t drafting a quarterback or trading up to draft a quarterback. It wasn’t about drafting a need on offense such as wide receiver, tight end, running back or even an offensive line.
What the Jets did was draft All-America LSU safety Jamal Adams. It isn’t going to inspire jets fans to get tickets to Jets games or get them excited, but what it will do is make the Jets a hard-hitting defensive team again. It was a smart choice more than a sexy choice, and for that, the Jets should be commended for that.
Granted, the Bears helped them out by trading up to draft North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky as their No. 2 overall pick last night. It would have been interesting what Maccagnan would do if Trubisky landed at the time the Jets made their draft selection. Remember the North Carolina quarterback was the Jets general manager’s lust few months ago after vowing him and his staff in a workout.
That point is irrelevant today. The important thing is the Jets did not make a rash decision of trading up to get Trubisky or drafting Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes, even if it was tempting to do so. It’s obvious the Jets need a quarterback to change their fortunes around, but they don’t have the supporting cast for a quarterback to develop and be successful. Plus, this wasn’t Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning or Philip Rivers or Ben Roethlisberger we were talking about with this year’s quarterback draft class.
The Jets played it smart by focusing on improving the defense. It was terrible last season. This team didn’t hit or tackle anyone. There was no reason to fear the Jets secondary if anyone was a quarterback or wide receiver. There was no personality or that mean streak in that unit, so it made sense to get a game-changer in Adams.
Here’s another thing: The Jets needed someone who has leadership qualities such as leading by example and being vocal on the field. They needed someone who wanted to be a Jet. Adams provides all that as long as the Jets culture doesn’t take the life out of him.
The LSU safety said all the right things as one would expect. He was his charismatic self, which is something that will come in handy when it comes to playing in New York.
The Jets were fortunate Adams landed on where they selected. It was surprising he landed at No. 6 considering scouts had him as a top 3 pick in their mock draft. The Bears clearly screwed up the cart by trading up, which no one saw coming. That set the wheels in motion for the Jets to pounce on this opportunity.
Now, they have two players to build around on defense in Leonard Williams and Adams. They may not be franchise players, but they are core players to build around. The next franchise player is likely next year when the Jets have an opportunity to draft USC quarterback Sam Darnold or UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen.
While the Jets wait to draft a quarterback next year, they must address positions on offense, so that either Darnold or Rosen can do well. A good place to start would be drafting Florida State running back Dalvin Cook if he is available when the Jets make their second-round draft pick Friday.
Drafting Adams was the easy part. The hard part begins in finding the right players in the second and third rounds. The Jets haven’t gotten it right in recent years, which is why they have hit rock bottom as a franchise. Second-round players such as Vlad Ducasse, Stephen Hill, Geno Smith, Jace Amaro, Devin Smith and Christian Hackenberg have not panned out.
For Gang Green to have a good draft, Maccagnan and his staff need to do well in the second and third rounds. That’s where they will earn their money and maintain their job security. Teams such as the Steelers, Patriots and Packers have got it right in the late rounds over the years, and that’s why they are perennially in the playoffs. That’s the model the Jets have to follow.
The Jets can relish on this good fortune before they get to the hard part. It’s been too long since things went the Jets’ way. The Bears helped the Jets out, and Adams was able to slide down to where the Jets got him.
It is better to be lucky than good.
Now, the Jets have to hope they get more good fortune the rest of the weekend.