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Jets reset 2015: New GM invigorates roster

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With help by teams selecting ahead of him, first-year general manager Mike Maacagnan had an easy time keeping his promise to take the best player available when the New York Jets made their first draft pick at No. 6 overall — USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams.

Not only was he the best available athlete at No. 6, he was widely rated as the best player in the entire draft. Williams was available as a result of two quarterbacks and a couple of surprise picks ahead of him. After Tampa Bay opened the lottery by taking Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, as expected, the Tennessee Titans, picking second, grabbled Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Jacksonville Jaguars took Florida pass rusher Dante Fowler and the Washington Redskins, picking fifth, filled a need with offensive lineman Brandon Scherff from Iowa.

In his first draft, Maccagnan’s first quote sounded like the obligatory response heard dozens of times every year. This one just happens to be true.

“He was the best player on our board and we’re kind of surprised he actually fell to us,” Maccagnan said. “It was too good of a value to pass on at that point in time.”

After Williams, Maacagnan added much needed wide receiver Devin Smith, who will team with veteran acquisition Brandon Smith to give the Jets their best pass-catching tandem in years.

Maccagnan became animated in the fourth round, trading a seventh-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars to move up one spot to get Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, who joins a derby that includes beleaguered incumbent Geno Smith and well-traveled veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Petty should take time to ripen in the NFL after playing in the same wide open attack at Baylor that he watched Robert Griffin III run. In fact, Petty was even more efficient than RG3 in some aspects, but the trade that brought Petty into the NFL wasn’t quite as flamboyant as the one the Washington Redskins used to move to No. 2 overall in 2012, where they took Griffin.

Maccagnan said he traded a pick to move ahead a single spot because he believed someone – reportedly the Cleveland Browns – would have traded up to the Jaguars’ spot and grabbed Petty.

“We also had teams trying to come up for our pick and we went through the needs and put two and two together, basically,” Maccagnan said following the draft. “If we had waited and another team jumped us and took him – I figured every team in the league was looking at us and saying we were going to look for a quarterback. So we (were) just preemptive.

Of the 256 players drafted this year, none may have been as relieved as Petty. “I’m so dang excited,” Petty said Saturday. “That was the longest 48 hours I’ve ever had in my life. So to get that call, honestly, it was unbelievable.

Petty said the wait didn’t impact his confidence and that he’s looking forward to proving he should have been selected earlier.

“You have people that question you and that was their decision,” Petty said. “So my job now is to prove to the other 31 teams what they’re missing on.”

The trade was the second of three during the draft by the Jets, who sent their third-round pick to the Houston Texans – Maccagnan’s former employer – on Friday in exchange for the Texans’ third-, fifth- and seventh-round picks as well as wide receiver DeVier Posey. On Saturday, the Jets traded another seventh-round pick to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for running back Zac Stacy, who rushed for 973 yards as a rookie in 2013.

Maccagnan obviously wants to put his personal stamp on the Jets. Immediately after the draft he fired director of pro personnel Brendan Prophett and five scouts. Maccagnan previously fired college scouting director Terry Bradway and director of college scouting Jeff Bauer.

The whirlwind of trades by Maccagnan, as well as accumulating a number of players in various ways, is in stark contrast to the behavior of his predecessor, John Idzik. Last year, Idzik had 12 draft picks and kept them all, and only hinted to the media that he considered trading one in the second day.

Of the 12 players Idzik picked, five never played a down for the Jets. In addition, wide receiver Jalen Saunders was cut after four games and wide receiver Quincy Enunwa was only active for the season finale.

The Jets will get their first look at the newly drafted players during this weekend’s rookie minicamp. Here is an early look at the 2015 version of the Jets:

2014 RECORD: 4-12, 4th in AFC East

COACH: Todd Bowles

1st season as Jets/NFL head coach

2015 CAMP SCHEDULE

Rookie minicamp: May 8-10

OTA dates: May 19-21, May 26-28, June 2-5

Mandatory Minicamp: June 9-11

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART

(Rookies in capitals)

Offense:

WR: B. Marshall, J. Kerley, D. SMITH, C. Owusu, W. Powell

LT: D. Ferguson, C. Hilliard, B. Ijalana, B. Qvale

LG: W. Colon, B. Winters, J. Brewer

C: N. Mangold, D. Freeman, W. Johnson

RG: J. Carpenter, D. Dozier, J. HARRISON

RT: B. Giacomini, O. Aboushi, S. Hooey

TE: J. Cumberland, J. Amaro, Z. Sudfeld, K. Davis, C. Pantale

WR: E. Decker, T. Graham, D. Posey, Q. Enunwa, S. Hakim, S. Evans

QB: G. Smith, R. Fitzpatrick, M. Simms, B. PETTY

FB: T. Bohanon

RB: C. Ivory, S. Ridley, Z. Stacy, B. Powell, D. Richardson

Defense:

LDE: M. Wilkerson, L. WILLIAMS, K. Vickerson, R. Talley

NT: D. Harrison, D. SIMON

RDT: S. Richardson, T. Barnes, S. Bowen, L. Douzable

ROLB: Q. Coples, J. Babin, I. Enemkpali

RILB: D. Davis, J. Mays, J. Lattimore, E. Henderson

LILB: D. Harris, M. Harvey, C. Young

LOLB: C. Pace, T. Reilly, L. MAULDIN

LCB: D. Revis, D. Milliner, D. Walls, C. Brown

SS: M. Gilchrist, J. Jarrett

FS: C. Pryor, A. Allen, R. Miles

RCB: A. Cromartie, M. Williams, D. Mcdougle, K. Lewis, D. Phillips

N-CB: B. Skrine

Special Teams:

P: R. Quigley, J. Schum

PK: N. Folk, A. Furney

LS: T. Purdum

H: R. Quigley

PR: J. Kerley, W. Powell

KR: T. Carrie, L. Murray, A. DEBOSE

GRADING THE DRAFT — B

Per Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

Considering that the defensive line was already the Jets’ strong suit, the addition of Leonard Williams was a head-scratcher for some. Questioning the strategy of landing arguably the draft’s best player at No. 6 overall, however, is silly. New general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles addressed greater areas of concern with their next three picks, adding a speed threat in Devin Smith and an edge rusher in Lorenzo Mauldin. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty is a project and will not challenge Geno Smith for the starting spot in 2015, but 2016 could be a different story.

SCOUTING ALL DRAFT PICKS

–Round 1/6 – Leonard Williams, DE, 6-5, 302, USC

The Jets didn’t think they’d get Williams, who has as much upside as any player in the draft. But they’ll find room for him after he surprisingly slid to sixth. Williams earned comparisons to J.J. Watt – whom Maccagnan drafted in Houston – for his huge frame and athleticism. And at only 20 years old, Williams – who racked up 21 sacks in three years at USC – has room to grow into a monster. His arrival may spell the end for dissatisfied contract year defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, or it could result in the next generation of the Sack Exchange.

–Round 2/37 – Devin Smith, WR, 6-0, 196, Ohio State

Remember when the Jets had an awful receiving corps? A unit that was upgraded with the arrival of veteran receiver Brandon Marshall via a March trade got a legit deep threat in Smith, who also offers a track record and upside that 2013 second-round pick Stephen Hill never had. Smith averaged a touchdown catch every four receptions at Ohio State, where he finished fifth all-time with 2,503 yards. His deep speed and agility – he was a champion sprinter in high school and an All-Big 10 performer in the high jump – should play in the NFL and potentially give the Jets a homegrown No. 1 receiver they’ve lacked this entire century.

–Round 3/82 – Lorenzo Mauldin, LB, 6-4, 259, Louisville

With Calvin Pace and Jason Babin both entering their age-35 seasons and fourth-year player Quinton Coples thus far unimpressive, the Jets needed to upgrade their pass rush. Mauldin won’t likely be a superstar, but he racked up 20.5 sacks in three years at Louisville despite playing through shoulder and hamstring injuries. His character is also unquestioned: Mauldin emerged as an NFL player despite living in 16 foster homes as a child.

–Round 4/103 – Bryce Petty, QB, 6-3, 230, Baylor

The next candidate to audition for the role of the next Joe Namath? Or is he the next Geno Smith? Like Smith, Petty put up huge numbers in college (Petty threw for 8,195 yards and 62 touchdowns) and displayed impressive mobility (21 rushing touchdowns), but like Smith, he operated almost entirely out of the spread and has a bad habit of locking in on his top target. Unlike with Smith, who was rushed into starting as a rookie, the Jets are expected to proceed slowly with Petty. With only Smith and journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick ahead of him, Petty is the odds-on favorite to be starting no later than the opening week of 2016.

–Round 5/152 – Jarvis Harrison, G, 6-4, 330, Texas A&M

Started 37 games in college, but comes with questions about his maturity after losing his starting job as a senior and arriving late to his Pro Day. Could be a practice-squad candidate initially for the Jets, who need to groom guards with Willie Colon aging and neither Brian Winters nor Dakota Dozier having been drafted by the current regime.

–Round 7/223 – Deon Simon, NT, 6-3, 321, Northwestern State (La.)

Chronic knee injuries (he blew out a knee as a high-school senior and played just seven games last season due to knee woes) may curtail Simon’s upside, but there’s no questioning his strength after he benched 225 pounds 35 straight times at the Senior Bowl. He’s another practice-squad candidate who could emerge as a backup.

NOTABLE VETERANS ACQUIRED:

–DE Stephen Bowen: FA Redskins; $960,000/1 yr, $60,000 SB.

–OL James Brewer: UFA Giants; terms unknown.

–CB Curtis Brown: FA; $660,000/1 yr.

–G James Carpenter: UFA Seahawks; terms unknown.

–CB Antonio Cromartie: UFA Cardinals; $32M/4yrs.

–TE Kellen Davis: UFA Lions; $950,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB.

–QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (trade Texans).

–S Marcus Gilchrist: UFA Chargers; $22M/4 yrs, $8.5M guaranteed/$2.5M SB.

–LB Erin Henderson: FA; $745,000/1 yr.

–T Corey Hilliard: UFA Lions; terms unknown.

–LB Jamari Lattimore: UFA Packers; $825,000/1 yr, $60,000 SB.

–WR Brandon Marshall (trade Bears).

–LB Joe Mays: FA Chiefs; $950,000/1 yr, $60,000 SB.

–DeVier Posey (trade Texans).

–CB Darrelle Revis: UFA Patriots; $70.121M/5 yrs, $39M guaranteed.

–RB Stevan Ridley: UFA Patriots; $1.25M/1 yr, $80,000 SB.

–CB Buster Skrine: UFA Browns; $25M/4 yrs, $3M SB/$13M guaranteed.

–RB Zac Stacy (trade Rams).

–DE Kevin Vickerson: UFA Chiefs; $1M/1 yr, $60,000 SB.

NOTABLE PLAYERS LOST:

–CB Phillip Adams: UFA Falcons; $745,000/1 yr.

–LB Nick Bellore: UFA 49ers; $1.69M/2 yrs, $30,000 SB/$80,000 WO.

–DT Kenrick Ellis: UFA Giants; $1.5M/1 yr, $300,000 SB/$500,000 guaranteed.

–WR Percy Harvin (released).

–CB Kyle Wilson: UFA Saints; $825,000/1 yr, $80,000 SB.

PRESEASON PEEK — Mark that calendar

All times Eastern

Aug. 13: at Detroit (Thu.), 7:30

Aug. 21: ATLANTA (Fri.), 7:30

Aug. 29: at N.Y. Giants (Sat.), 7:00

Sept. 3: PHILADELPHIA (Thu.), 7:00


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