Here we are again with our Draft Rewind Series where I’ll be breaking down the Jets draft classes from 2012-2016 to help pass the time until training camp begins. Today, we take a look back at the 2015 NFL Draft. Here is the 2016 Draft Review and 2017 Review, ICYMI.
Round 1 (6): Defensive Lineman Leonard WIlliams, USC
The Jets were dreadful during Rex Ryan’s final season with the team and it looked as though they would put themselves in position to potentially land one of the top quarterback prospects, Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota. In classic Jets fashion, they won two out of their final three games, ending up with the sixth pick. However, the Jets found themselves quite a gem when Leo Williams fell into their laps at number six. Many questioned the pick (including myself), as the Jets were already loaded at the defensive line position with Mo WIlkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Damon Harrison. Williams quickly put any doubt to rest as he has earned himself a spot alongside the best defensive lineman in the league. Kudos to Maccagnan for sticking to his board and drafting the best player available. Some talent evaluators even thought he was the best player in the entire draft and he only just recently turned 23 years old if you can believe that.
Round 2 (49): Wide Receiver Devin Smith, Ohio State
I really thought the Jets nailed it again with this pick. Just what their offense needed with Decker and Marshall already in place, a deep threat to take the top off the defense. Smith was expected to contribute right away, but was injured in training camp and missed significant time. He was a one trick pony at Ohio State, but he was very good at that one trick. In the 2014 season he averaged 28.2 (!!!) yards per catch, to go along with 12 touchdowns. His limited route tree was exposed in the NFL, though. Smith looked extremely raw as a route runner when he finally got healthy, and caught only one touchdown for the Jets in 2015. He tore his ACL in Week 14 missing the rest of the season and began the 2016 season on the PUP list. He was active for the last four games but managed just one reception for 20 yards. Things took a turn for the worse this spring when the Jets announced Smith re-tore his ACL and will be out for the entire season. Who knows what this means for his career, but it’s been a disappointing start for the former Ohio State speedster.
Round 3 (82): Outside Linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville
Mauldin had a promising start to his career, racking up four sacks as a situational pass rusher his rookie season. He was expected to take a big leap in 2016 and lock down a starting spot at outside linebacker, but he showed he is still an unreliable run defender unable to set the edge. He played in 11 games, starting only three and finishing with just two and a half sacks. His only solo sack came against the Bengals in week one. Did I mention he was recently arrested for a misdemeanor assault charge? Yeah, it’s been downhill for Mauldin since his rookie year. The Jets missed their chance to snag three solid players in this round. The Eagles drafted Jordan Hicks two spots later and he finished the 2016 season with 85 tackles, one sack, and five interceptions. The Cardinals took stud running back David Johnson at pick 86, and the versatile Ty Montgomery was drafted by the Packers at pick 94.
Round 4 (103): Quarterback Bryce Petty, Baylor
The Jets actually traded up one spot to take Petty here. You have to allow quarterbacks the time to develop properly, which I believe makes it impossible to make a full evaluation on just four starts from Petty. Granted, he was pretty horrific last season, but keep in mind he came from on offense at Baylor that did not ask him to huddle, call plays, or complete full field reads. That’s a steep learning curve. Head Coach Todd Bowles insists there is still no front runner for the starting quarterback spot this season. Who knows how much Petty has improved considering he came into this offseason recovering from surgery on his non-throwing shoulder. Regardless, if Petty can develop into a competent backup by the time his first contract is up, this will go down as a decent pick.
Round 5 (152): Guard Jarvis Harrison, Texas A&M
Here’s the initial scouting report on Harrison coming out of college. NFL.com projected him to be a third or fourth round pick, so I guess this could be seen as a steal for the Jets originally. Digging a little further into the report you see there were major concerns about his love for football and his ability to manage his weight. Like I’ve said before, you’re looking for talented projects to work with in the later rounds of the draft, so I can understand this pick from that perspective. At the same time this was a waste of a pick, as Harrison was cut prior to the 2016 season. It might behoove Maccagnan to start investing premium picks into offensive lineman.
Round 7 (223): Defensive Tackle Deon Simon, Northwestern State-Louisiana
The Jets are still searching for a way to replace Damon “Snacks” Harrison, who left the team in free agency to join the New York Giants. They hope Simon can be part of that plan. Again, in round seven the Jets were looking for potential, not an immediate starter. Simon is an imposing figure at 6’4”, 321 pounds. He played decent down the stretch last year, tallying at least two tackles in each of the last six games to go along with one and a half sacks. The Jets are loaded at defensive line, but having a two-down run stuffer that requires consistent double teams will free up Wilkerson, Richardson, and Williams to take advantage of one-on-one matchups. The Jets did miss out on Trevor Siemian in this round, who was drafted by the Broncos at pick 250.
Next up in our Draft Rewind Series is the 2014 draft, a.k.a. “The Idzik 12.” Just hearing that name is enough to make most Jets fans queasy.