New York Jets

Grading the 2019 Jets Draft Class, 1 Year Later

After 1 season, the Jets 2019 Draft Class is looking like one of the worst in recent franchise memory. From preseason flameouts to downright-awful rookie seasons, this class has its fair share of potential busts. Although they are far from fully developed, we can still look back one year later and grade the selections based on their performances thus far. 

Round 1, Pick 3

Quinnen Williams, DE, Alabama, 22 Y/O*

C

Quinnen Williams was regarded as one of the most talented players in the 2019 Draft, and critics approved of the Jets selecting him at 3. But after a pedestrian rookie season marred by injury and mediocre play, many are ready to write off the 22 year old DE. Williams played in 13 games, posting 2.5 sacks, 4 TFLs and 28 tackles; very average numbers. Considering the defensive talent drafted shortly after Williams (Josh Allen at #7, 10.5 sacks and a pro bowl as a rookie), the pick looks even worse. Williams has too much natural ability to ever become a true “bust”, but his rookie year showed that he wasn’t as NFL ready as pundits thought. His arrest for criminal possession of a gun at an airport this March doesn’t exactly help, either. The Jets didn’t have much EDGE or defensive line talent last season around Quinnen; the argument can be made that the opposing offense could focus on limiting him without worrying about any other real threats on the d-line. Nevertheless, Williams must perform significantly better this season, or he is at risk of being slapped with the “bust” label (albeit prematurely).

Round 3, Pick 68

Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida, 22 Y/O*

F

Jachai Polite was drafted by the Jets; Jachai Polite never played a down for the Jets. That basically tells the whole story. Polite was viewed as a potential first round pick before an awful pre-draft process that brought serious character concerns to light. The Jets took a chance on the young pass rusher, and it simply didn’t pay off. Only a few months after the Draft, the Jets cut Polite after he reportedly accrued over $100,000 in fines, was late to several meetings, and showed a general lack of responsibility. He bounced around a few practice squads last season, and is currently under a reserve/future contract with the LA Rams. Polite will go down as one of the worst picks in Jets franchise history.

Round 3, Pick 92

Chuma Edoga, OT, USC, 23 Y/O*

D+

The Jets traded up one spot to draft Sam Darnold’s former teammate, Chuma Edoga. Edoga added much-needed tackle depth to the roster, and was regarded as one of the best agile run blockers in the class, a perfect fit for Adam Gase’s zone run-heavy offense. After He struggled mightily as a rookie, allowing 6 sacks in 8 games and playing to an atrocious 48.9 PFF grade. With rookie Mekhi Becton locked in as a starting OT this season, Edoga will compete with George Fant for the other spot, and considering the large contract Fant received, he will likely win the job. Edoga does have the flexibility to move inside, so he could transition to guard at some point. If he has another terrible season, the former USC Trojan could be cut in 2021.

Round 4, Pick 121

Trevon Wesco, TE/FB, West Virginia, 25 Y/O*

D+

In one the most puzzling moves of the Jets’ Draft, the Jets selected Wesco in the 4th round only 1 season after spending another 4th round pick on a TE, Chris Herndon. Wesco is not a receiving threat, and was drafted almost purely for his blocking. The Jets had holes at many more important spots, but chose to go with a FB/TE hybrid who runs a 4.89 40 and had 26 catches as a senior at West Virginia. Unsurprisingly, Wesco was a non-factor as a rookie: 2 catches for 47 yards in limited action. He was decent as a run-blocker, but struggled in pass protection; a full-time switch to FB makes sense for him. Even if he does become a solid fullback, drafting a FB in the 4th round in the 21st century is never a good move.

Round 5, Pick 157

Blake Cashman, ILB, Minnesota, 24 Y/O*

B-

Blake Cashman is similar to the Jets’ recent 3rd round pick, Ashtyn Davis: they were both older prospects with elite speed at their respective positions, who were considered relatively raw Day 1 players. After CJ Mosley and Avery Williamson both suffered injuries early in the season, Cashman stepped into a starting role, and performed well. He racked up 40 tackles, 0.5 sacks,  3 TFLs and 3 QB hits in 7 games (5 starts). Although his counting stats were solid, the advanced stats were not: a 49.2 PFF grade is not ideal. Cashman needs to work on the cerebral aspects of being a linebacker; his instincts and football IQ are one of his biggest weaknesess. He tore his labrum and fractured his shoulder in Week 8, ending his rookie season prematurely. At worst, he offers value as a gunner on special teams, a somewhat underrated role in the modern NFL. Even with a rocky rookie season, Cashman showed enough potential to warrant his 5th round draft spot.

Round 6, Pick 196

Blessuan Austin, CB, Rutgers, 24 Y/O*

A-

After missing most of his junior and senior campaigns due to injury, Blessuan Austin fell all the way to the 6th round, where the Jets scooped him up. Coming off of an ACL tear and running a 4.65 at his pro day, Austin’s stock was at an all time low on Draft night. Despite his lack of top-flight athleticism, Austin is a physical corner with ideal size who possesses enough agility and acceleration to play CB. After not suiting up until Week 10, he ended up starting 6 games as a rookie. Although he didn’t record an interception, Austin was rock-solid in coverage, and earned the highest PFF grade among Jets rookies at 71.4. He will enter 2020 training camp as a candidate for a starting CB spot, a rare sight for a 6th round pick entering his sophomore year. With his small sample size, it remains to be seen if Austin’s impressive play was a flash in the pan, but so far, he’s been the best value pick of the Draft class.

Although many of these players struggled as a rookie, the class as a whole still has potential; if Quinnen Williams can develop into a Pro-bowl caliber player, and Austin proves himself as a solid starter, this Draft won’t seem nearly as bad. However, the middle of the class had too many wasted picks for this class to ever be considered above average. Let’s hope that by this time next year, I am writing a very different article about Mekhi Becton, Denzel Mims and the rest of the 2020 Jets picks.

*ages are based on 2020 Week 1 ages

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