The Jets did it again. They made a typical ‘Jets move.’ And it wasn’t by virtue of taking another defensive back in the first round. It was by operating without a plan.
Comparing the options available at the 6th overall pick and value that each player offered, it is easy to argue that New York did, indeed, pay less for more. A player who was rated higher than the sixth overall pick ‘fell’ to the sixth pick and was, thus, taken at a discount. If we simply isolate the purchase, the Jets made the right move.
Unfortunately for New York, nothing is isolated in sports. Especially in football.
With Jamal Adams’ talent, alone, arguably warranting a top-five pick without hesitation, why were five other players selected ahead of him? And only one was a quarterback, after we had heard for weeks that teams would be willing to trade into the top-five to leapfrog the Jets if they wanted Trubisky or Watson. As always, the answer comes down to supply-and-demand.
The 2017 NFL Draft was essentially oversupplied with talent in the defensive backfield. Adams was one of eight safeties or cornerbacks taken in the first round. By comparison, six defensive lineman, five linebackers, three quarterbacks, three tight ends, three wide receivers – more on them in a moment – two running backs, and two offensive lineman were selected to round out the first 32 picks of the draft.
What’s even more indicting for the depth of the defensive back talent pool is that, according to ESPN, five of the “top-ten next available players” to start the second round are defensive backs. Of course, they won’t all get drafted in this area – by the time this is read, the results will likely already be in – but the fact remains that the supply is virtually unlimited.
Easily one of the worst teams in football, the Jets have countless holes. Defensive back was one – maybe three – of them. But that hole could have been filled later while only slightly compromising talent. Instead, New York will almost certainly have to pass on defensive backs in the coming rounds that would have also provided value. And why is said value going to be available? Because other teams recognized the supply of certain positions and the scarcity associated with them.
Like wide receivers.
Using the same ESPN “next-best available” chart, only three wide receivers appear second-round worthy. If this comes to fruition, fewer wide receivers will have been taken in the first two rounds combined than defensive backs in the first 25 picks overall. This is why all three first round wide receivers were off-the-board by the tenth overall pick. It is why Tennessee – which would have loved to trade out of its position for another massive haul – found it more important to secure the first receiver in the draft. Simply put, there aren’t many, so get one early.
Instead, the Jets saw an outstanding item on the shelf for exactly the price they wanted. They bought it without looking at the rest of the store. Certainly, New York is happy with the purchase, but buyer’s remorse should set in as soon as the team looks at the finished shopping cart.
Looking beyond the hypothetical set of ‘what-ifs,’ the real mistake the Jets’ front office made was not looking beyond 2017. In fairness, how could they? ‘Beyond 2017’ most likely also means ‘beyond us.’
I am usually the last person to pile on the popular opinion, but it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which the Jets are playoff-bound in ’17. Maybe they compete for a winning record. Maybe. But that’s purely optimism. Blind, at that.
The Jets will be bad. Probably terrible. Since this upcoming losing season is so unavoidable – the writing has been on the wall for a long time, and the decline cannot be stopped now – New York could not justify bringing in another coach to suffer out-of-the-gate. Todd Bowles – not someone with an actual future in the franchise – will be the sacrificial lamb. He will go down with the ship. He is the captain, after all.
Selecting Jamal Adams was clearly influenced by defensive-minded Bowles. So was Darron Lee in 2016. And Leonard Williams in ’15. It was defensive guru Rex Ryan who drafted Calvin Pryor before that. And Dee Milliner before that. And Quinton Coples before that. And Muhammad Wilkerson before that. And Kyle Wilson before that.
Count them. The Jets have now used their first draft pick on a defensive player eight consecutive times. Not surprisingly, New York has failed to crack the top-ten in offensive points or years in each of these seasons, landing in the bottom-five in points scored four-of-the-last-five years – as a related side note, it’s now an offensive league. But the defense should be good, right? Only once in the last six seasons did the Jets have a scoring defense better than 19th.
Not only are the Jets failing to put the pieces together, but they insist on trying to jam the same pieces into holes that simply don’t fit. What will happen next? They’ll lose, Bowles will be gone, and Adams – playing a position in which scheme is critical to learn – will be forced to change directions one year into his career. In essence, he will be a mercenary. Like Revis. An individual talent on a team lacking success.
As usual, the Jets operated with the motive of ‘not losing’ instead of ‘winning.’ They took the player who could not necessarily be criticized because of his skill set and value, but also won’t start solving problems.
Jamal Adams might be on his way to greatness.
The Jets are not.