Grading the Draft - New York Jets

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Chris Tripodi

Draft Analyst Writer

The Jets made a bold trade in mid-March in an early stunner, sending three second-round picks to the Colts to jump from the No. 6 pick to No. 3 -- one spot per second-rounder -- in search of a franchise quarterback. They just may have found their man.

Round 1 (No. 3 overall): Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Round 3 (No. 72): Nathan Shepherd, DT, Fort Hays State

Round 4 (No. 107): Christopher Herndon, TE, Miami

Round 6 (No. 179): Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane

Round 6 (No. 180): Folorunso Fatukasi, DT, UConn

Round 6 (No. 204): Trenton Cannon, RB, Virginia State

UDFA: Dmitri Flowers, FB, Oklahoma; Austin Golson, OC, Auburn; Reginald Hall, S, Jacksonville State; Lord Hyeamang, DT, Columbia; Dakoda Shepley, OL, University of British Columbia; Mychealon Thomas, DL, Texas Tech

Although Sam Darnold was the third-ranked quarterback on our board, not much separated him from Josh Rosen and Josh Allen. He has the talent to warrant a high draft pick and the poise to thrive both in crunch time and in the media hotbed that is New York. The main question with Darnold is ball security -- he has a bit of a fumbling problem and takes unnecessary risks at times, which leads to interceptions. Just a redshirt sophomore, he could benefit from at least a few weeks sitting behind veteran quarterback and future coach Josh McCown. He’d be the youngest quarterback to ever start an NFL game if he winds up under center in Week 1.

An impressive start at the Senior Bowl proved Nathan Shepherd could play with FBS opponents, and the Jets were one of three teams to send a defensive line coach to his March pro day. He has the athletic ability to develop into a starter on the interior line if he takes to NFL coaching.

A torn MCL in Miami’s final regular-season game kept Christopher Herndon from working out during the predraft process, but Herndon is a good athlete who flashed ability as both as a receiver and a blocker with the Hurricanes. Once he's fully recovered from his injury, he could contribute to a barren tight end depth chart in New York.

Parry Nickerson was a fourth-round prospect on our board and lacks great size (5-foot-10.5, 182), but he comes with elite speed (4.32) and excellent ball skills and could develop into a solid sub-package corner. Folorunso Fatukasi doesn’t play to his size but has the athleticism to contribute as a rotational lineman. Trenton Cannon was one of our small-school gems entering the draft. He should contribute early as a returner and is extremely dangerous in space.

The Jets didn’t make a ton of free-agent moves after the draft, but Dmitri Flowers has the receiving and blocking ability to make it as a west coast fullback while Reginald Hall has the size and cover skills to end up as a postdraft steal.

Analysis: Like any draft haul that starts with a quarterback, the Jets’ eventual grade will hinge on the development of Sam Darnold, and the hefty cost to acquire him won’t matter if he hits. The Jets moved down the board to add some intriguing Day 3 fliers after taking calculated risks with their second and third picks, and there’s a definite boom-bust feel to this draft class. Grade: B-