Since their 10-6 second place finish In the AFC East in 2015, the Jets have scuffled to 15-34, including 4-12 last season. They were 23rd in scoring in 2018 at 20.8 points per game and 29th in fewest points allowed per game at 27.6. With bolstering the defense a priority for the Jets, let’s examine their top six picks in the NFL Draft.
Round 1 (3rd) Quinnen Williams (DT) Alabama
Williams played in every game as a freshman, recording 20 tackles, including 6.5 for loss of yardage. He earned AP first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC honors the following season after making 70 tackles, including seven sacks. He was a finalist for the Outland Trophy, Bednarik Award and Bronko Nagurski Award.
Williams had a nation best 52 quarterback pressures last season and is extremely versatile, able to play anywhere on the defensive line. The Jets have significant talent along the front, which will enable Williams to be in a rotation, with hopes of all being fresh late in games when the pass rush will be paramount.
Round 3 (68th) Jachai Polite (OLB) Florida
As a freshman, Polite made modest contributions in 12 games. He played in seven games as a sophomore recording 22 tackles before a shoulder injury shut him down the rest of the season. Although starting less than half of the 13 games in 2018, Polite made 11 sacks and 45 tackles, to go along with six forced fumbles. His efforts earned him second-team All-SEC honors.
Polite displays quickness with enough ability to be a solid edge pass rusher, projecting to be an outside linebacker at the NFL level. There have been questions about Polite’s maturity and attitude, known as a selfish player who did not perform well at the combine. However, the Jets are looking for his talent to override those issues.
Round 3 (92nd) Chuma Edoga (OT) USC
Edoga played in 13 games as a freshman in 2015 but only nine games in 2016, seeing time at both left and right tackle. He missed two games as a junior due to an ankle injury, but suited up and starterd all 12 games last year, earning second-team All-Pac-12 honors.
Edoga, who played with Sam Darnold at USC, has plenty of girth, but is considering a bit undersized at 6’ 3”. Although he was very good at the Senior Bowl, Edoga was up and down with his performances at USC. In addition, Edoga must be more mature, having had two separate incidents in college, one resulting in a suspension and one in an ejection. However, his pass blocking skills are supreme.
Round 4 (121st) Trevon Wesco (TE) West Virginia
Wesco played at Lackawanna College as a freshman and was a redshirt the next year with an injury. An excellent blocking tight end at West Virginia, Wesco was used sparingly in the passing game until his senior season. Last year, Wesco was name first-team All-Big 12 catching 26 for 366 and a touchdown.
Ranked as the top blocking tight end coming out of the draft, Wesco displays huge size, strength and physicality for a tight end. While some may argue that a mainly blocking tight end shouldn’t be picked this high, the Jets believe Wesco can develop into a suitable pass catching alternative at the position.
Round 5 (157th) Blake Cashman (ILB) Minnesota
As a freshman, Cashman made four tackles in 13 games as a member of the special teams. Seeing more time the following season, Cashman made 45 tackles including 7.5 for loss of yardage. As a junior in 2017, Cashman again played in a back up role, recording 30 tackles. Starting his senior season, Cashman surpassed the 100 tackle mark, earning third-team All-Big Ten honors.
Cashman displays a lot of grit and determination as a walk-on in college. At 6’ 1” and 235 pounds, he’s not overly big for a linebacker and has average speed. However, he has a knack for the ball and could be a solid special teams member or perhaps a reserve at linebacker.
Round 6 (196th) Blessuan Austin (CB) Rutgers
As sophomore, Austin had 41 tackles, a sack and an interception. After recording 12 tackles and an interception in his first four games as a junior, Austin tore his ACL, costing him the rest of the season. Unfortunately, the injury bug hit Austin his senior year as well, sustaining another knee injury in the opener, costing him the season.
This is a risky pick for the Jets due to medical concerns. However, Austin is quite athletic and physical. The Jets need depth at cornerback and Austin could provide that or contribute on the special teams. At the very least, Austin should be a practice squad member.