Last night was an exciting and intrigued-filled first-round — and not just because of the gasmask situation — because the picks were so hard to predict. This tends to happen in a draft that's not top heavy, what also tends to happen in a non-top heavy draft is there is more value to be found in the middle rounds.
Most scouts in the league would tell you this year's draft class only had around 15 players with true first-round grades, which inevitably means teams had to settle for drafting players with second-round grades in the bottom half of the first. But while this year's class lacked a wealth of first-round grades it's stinkin rich in second and third-round grades. Not only can the Jets get a quality second-round grade in the second, they can problem get another one in the third and likely a solid third-round grade in the fourth tomorrow.
Maccagnan continues to prove that he lives by the best player available philosophy so there is no position except kicker, punter and long-snapper that can be ruled out. Below I'll list a bunch of players at certain positions who teams have second and third round grades on, because these grades are so close certain teams will view players slightly differently which only adds to the intrigue. After I list all the players I will then give a list of what I think will be the top 10 players the Jets could choose from.
DT - Chris Jones, A'Shawn Robinson (Alabama), Jarran Reed (Alabama), Andrew Billings (Baylor), Austin Johnson (Penn State), Hassan Ridgeway (Texas), Javon Hargrave (South Carolina State), Maliek Collins (Nebraska), Jihad Ward (Illinois), Sheldon Day (Notre Dame)
WR - Tyler Boyd (Pittsburgh), Michael Thomas (Ohio State), Braxton Miller (Ohio State), Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma), Pharoh Cooper (South Carolina), Rashard Higgins (Colorado State), Kolby Listenbee (TCU), Leonte Carroo (Rutgers)
I haven't even hit publish yet and I can already feel many of you hitting me with the heavy eye roll and screamin 'not defensive line again' and 'the Jets don't need another safety.' But while those might not be the Jets biggest needs players at those positions could absolutely be the highest rated player on board when the Jets pick, especially defensive tackle because this class is loaded. But it's also so loaded that the Jets could wait until the fourth and get a really good player.
I don't think the Jets go quarterback in the second or third, I don't expect Cook to be there for the Jets in the second and Hackenberg could be gone or still available but I don't think the Jets would take him in the second, maybe the third. Jones and Prescott could be fourth-round options but even that seems like a stretch considering who else will likely be available.
Top 11 second-round options
Noah Spence (DE/OLB) - The Jets got their coverage linebacker in Lee last night, now all the defense needs is a dynamic pass rusher to be complete. In my opinion Spence is the best edge rusher in this draft and even though I expect him to be gone by the time the Jets pick if he's somehow available the Jets should absolutely take him.
Kamalei Correa (DE/OLB) - See Spence except I think Spence is a better prospect.
Cody Whitehair (Guard) - The Jets need an offensive tackle to upgrade over Breno Giacomini but with the top four, actually five, tackles all going last night there are no cant miss prospects left to take. If the Jets like Spriggs then they should take him but I like Whitehair and the next two choices more than Spriggs. Take a guard and have him replace Brian Winters from day one and the Jets offense will be better for it.
Christian Westerman (Guard) - See Whitehair, just a notch below but Westerman does have the added bonus of being able to slide inside and play center when Nick Mangold's time is done or if he gets hurt.
Nick Martin (Center/Guard) - Martin was a center at Notre Dame and will make a damn good center in the NFL but he can also step in at guard to start and be the center in waiting to replace Mangold. The Jets need a guard now but they also have to start planning for life without Mangold and they could kill those two birds with one pick of Westerman or Martin.
Jason Spriggs (Tackle) - Spriggs is a talented player with a high ceiling but he's raw and has a good chance of being a bust. Still the Jets are hoping Ryan Clady can stay healthy and replace D'Brickashaw Ferguson but even if that goes great they need an upgrade over Giacomini as well.
Hunter Henry (TE) - The Jets offense managed without a tight end really well last year but think about how much better they could be with one. Sure, they will get Jace Amaro back but they can't expect him to be productive and even if he is then they could all of a sudden have two quality receiving tight ends. Another win-win.
Jerell Adams (TE) - See Henry
Vonn Bell (S) - Again, I know safety isn't a huge need but another good one could certainly help and Bell is a damn good one.
Jonathan Bullard (DE) - The Jets like Bullard, he's not a pure pass rusher but he is a really good football player and I wouldn't be surprised if he's their pick.
Su'a Cravens (OLB/S) - I snuck an 11th option in here because I feel in love with Cravens game. He probably won't still be available and I'd have him higher on this list if they didn't take Lee yesterday but Cravens is an excellent monster back OLB/S hybrid. If the Jets added him and Lee to their roster opposing quarterbacks would not be happy.
Top 10 third-round options
Any of the remaining defensive tackles. I like almost all of them a lot. Chris Jones or Jarran Reed are probably my favorite. But again they could wait until the fourth and likely get one of the guys I listed.
Alex Lewis (OT)
Shon Coleman (OT)
Connor McGovern (OT)
Any of the available receivers - That list has a lot of potential, Braxton Miller is the most intriguing to me. Definite boom-or-bust potential but that boom is enticing.
Cyrus Jones (CB) - I don't think CB is as big as a need as others but Jones is a quality corner but also an electric return man and we know the Jets need one of those.
Shilique Calhoun (DE)!- He is good enough to go in the second but I feel confident the Jets would have better options there, but if he's still around in the third he might be too good to pass up.
Carl Nassib (DE) - Similar to Calhoun
Justin Simmons (S) - Yeah, yeah he's a safety. I told you, I get it. But this kid is a playmaker.
Wildcard: C.J. Prosise - I don't think the Jets go running back in the second or third but Prosise would be a great pick if they could get him in the fourth. He'd be great in third as well but there's likely to be a lot of good players at other positions still available. Prosise was a receiver who converted to running back and got his chance to sign at Notre Dame thanks to injuries and he took advantage of that chance. He's got great vision, excellent stop-start ability and change of direction and is dangerous in the passing game. Yes, the Jets backfield is crowded but stock-piling talent like that is always smart.
Chris Nimbley is the Editor-in-Chief of JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)