“You’re on the Clock”: To Trade or Not to Trade (2019 NFL Draft Part 3 of 6)
The “You’re on the Clock” segments are draft analysis series that are put together by HTN contributor Matthew Watson to provide you with some preparation and intrigue before the big night. In this series, Matt provides his thoughts on the top 5 draft slots in the 2019 NFL draft, including depth chart analysis, prospect reviews and team strategies. The series begins on April 15th with the Arizona Cardinals and the #1 draft selection and finishes on April 25th with a summary and final thoughts. Feel free to leave your own comments on the post with your own thoughts about each pick!
Third Pick: New York Jets
All the signs point to: Trading the Pick or EDGE Josh Allen
Matt’s Maneuvers to consider: A strong offseason allows the Jets to confidently take Allen
2018 Season Recap
The New York Jets had an interesting year in 2018. They finally drafted a franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold, well, according to the Jets brass anyways (for the rest of us the jury is still out). They started off the season with an impressive win in Detroit racking up 48 points. And then… well, it kind of all fell apart. You could blame part of the poor season on their schedule. They had to face Jacksonville, Minnesota, Chicago, Green Bay, Tennessee and of course the Patriots twice during a difficult middle stretch of the season. You could blame part of it on the coaching staff and the inconsistencies that resulted in Todd Bowles’ firing after a fourth season. However, I think the major problems were the lack of talent in the skill positions surrounding Sam as well as terrible defensive play.
The only legitimate threat catching the football was Robby Anderson, and no other receiver topped 500 yards either than TE Chris Herndon who was a pleasant surprise after being picked in the 4th round. The running game amounted to a mashup of Isaiah Crowell, Elijah McGuire and Bilal Powell, all of whom were injured for extended stretches of the season. Without high-impact playmakers, you can see how it was a struggle for Darnold to put his talents to good use over the course of the season.
Then we have the defense. The 25th ranked unit in the NFL, the Jets defense had some excellent pieces in lineman Leonard Williams, cornerback Trumaine Johnson and pro bowl safety Jamal Adams, but not a whole lot of depth or talent elsewhere. Free safety Marcus Maye was also lost for the last 6 weeks with an injury which hurt the Jets 26th ranked secondary.
The Jets had a lot of cap space to play with and they did not disappoint. Of course the most exciting signing was Le’Veon Bell. Bell gives the Jets something they did not have last season, which is a versatile bell-cow running back. He is a dual-threat in both the running and the passing game and will allow Elijah McGuire to settle back into a complementary role. He also has the capacity to carry the ball over 20 times per game and will provide Darnold with a regular backfield partner who can take some of the pressure off of the young quarterback. In addition to Bell, the Jets picked up Jamison Crowder to give Sam Darnold another weapon in the passing game, and Kelechi Osemele to beef up the offensive line.
The Jets wisely chose to shore up their patchy defense by signing CB Brian Poole and LB C.J. Mosley. Brian Poole will partner with Trumaine Johnson in the secondary while C.J. Mosely will join Avery Williamson to make a dynamic linebacking duo. After these signings the only major defensive liability remaining is pass rusher, where the Jets do not have any standouts at outside linebacker.
Speaking of standouts at outside linebacker, with Nick Bosa probably going to the 49ers at #2 overall, the next best edge rusher would be the ferocious Josh Allen. When reviewing game tape, it is evident just how much of a physical nightmare Josh is for opposing offensive linemen. Standing 6’5’’ and weighing 262 lbs at the combine, Allen is intimidating even before the ball is snapped. However, as soon as it is, he completely dominates any tackle, tight-end or other blocker who attempts to get in his way. He is so quick and so powerful that he simply overpowers the opposition and tracks down the quarterback. Even when the quarterback evades other pass rushers or scrambles out of the pocket, Josh has the determination and the motor to not give up on the play and finish the job.
The Jets have expressed a wish to trade down in the first round and get additional draft picks. While additional draft picks are always nice to have while rebuilding, I don’t agree with this direction. The Jets did such a great job in free agency addressing their pressing needs at the skill positions and defense that they don’t necessary need a lot of additional picks to stay competitive this year. They do need depth in several positions, but that can be filled through the middle rounds of the draft.
Given that the Jets had an outstanding free agency period and that Josh Allen is the only pure stand-up pass rusher ranked this high in the draft, I see no reason to stay put and draft him at No. 3 overall.
The only scenario where I would feel comfortable with the Jets trading down is if they knew they could find another pass-rusher they liked with their first pick and still gain additional assets. The only potential targets in that scenario I see on my draft board are Montez Sweat and Brian Burns. If the New York brass believes either of these could become a star outside rusher, then they should go right ahead. However, I don’t believe that either of them can match the physical traits and sheer dominance of Allen. Note to the NY Jets: trust in your core players and star acquisitions, draft Josh Allen and prepare yourselves for a rebound season in the Big Apple.