By MICHAEL FAIRLIE //
On Day 3 of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Jets continued their trend of filling areas of need on the roster, while adding competition to the mix. They brought in a potential shutdown corner and starting right tackle of the future, as well as a possible day one starting punter and a developmental wide receiver with high upside on the final day of the annual selection meeting.
Here is a look at the new additions made to the New York Jets roster:
Round 4 Pick 118: Juston Burris – CB – NC State
The departure of Antonio Cromartie at the right cornerback position has opened the door for competition at the spot in 2016. Although Marcus Williams is the favorite to land the role in nickel and dime situations, when Buster Skrine will likely move into the slot, nothing is set in stone at this point in time.
At the very least, the team needed to bring in youth and depth at the position, creating competition for the constantly wounded Dee Milliner, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, as the primary backup on the outside.
By choosing the 6’0 212-pound Burris, the Jets added a solidly built CB with a wealth of experience in press and off man coverage, which is something that Todd Bowles covets in his cornerbacks.
In his three years as a starter for the Wolfpack, Juston regularly demonstrated the physicality to throw receivers off course in press coverage and has an uncanny ability to shadow them throughout their routes. He also has what appears to be an effortless backpedal as well as the instincts and fluidity to jump routes and break up passes. In addition, Burris has excellent speed for a large corner, running a 4.50 40-yard dash at NC State’s pro day.
Allowing only a 34.1 percent completion rate against and just one touchdown on 44 targets in his senior year as well as 18 passes defensed in his three years as a starter, Burris is furnished with the tools to eventually develop into a shutdown corner on the NFL level. He is also fearless against the run, displaying the willingness to take on blockers and accounting for zero missed tackles in 2015.
On the downside, Burris has a tendency to latch onto receivers at times, drawing pass interference and holding penalties, which is not uncommon with a highly physical corner. He can also be overly aggressive on occasion, trying for the interception as opposed to sticking with his man. Against the run, Juston can benefit from being a bit less anxious to make the big hit, which sometimes leaves him out of position.
Given that the Jets already have Revis, Williams and Skrine, Burris will have ample time to get up to speed and work on his technique with the coaching staff, while contributing on special teams and in sub packages. With his combination of size, speed and strength, along with his toughness, Burris could certainly become a solid contributor to the Jets’ defense for years to come.
Round 5 Pick 158: Brandon Shell – OT – South Carolina
So the cries by Jets Nation for the Jets to get an offensive lineman were finally heard. The Jets moved up into the 5th round by sacrificing a 2017 fifth-round pick and snagged a behemoth to potentially man the right side of their offensive line in the near future.
With the wildly inconsistent play of Breno Giacomini over his past two seasons with the Jets, it is logical for the team to be searching for an upgrade at the RT position. At the very least, the team needed to bring in some competition for him.
While the Jets are said to be optimistic about Brent Qvale, and he is certainly not out of the question to compete for the role, it does not hurt that they brought in another potential replacement for the underwhelming Giacomini.
On top of that, the Jets replaced the retired D’Brickashaw Ferguson with the highly talented, yet oft-injured Ryan Clady, so Qvale might be needed as their first line of defense at the LT spot.
Brandon Shell, the great nephew of Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Shell, is a massive man with incredible strength throughout his body. He is a powerful run blocker with just enough quickness to reach the second level, who forcefully overwhelms defenders in order to free up his running back to break big plays.
Shell is also effective in pass protection, employing a great deal of patience and utilizing his length to fend off defenders on the edge. He displays proficiency at using his arms to impede speed rushers and his pure strength to stonewall bull rushers.
However, Brandon needs to work on his pre-snap anticipation of edge rushers in order to avoid taking false start penalties. He is also in need of a lot of work with his basic technique on the next level, specifically with the speed in which he gets into his stance when defending inside stunts.
If given the proper guidance by the Jets coaching staff, Shell can become a solid starting right tackle in the league. As a matter of fact, given the team’s current uncertain situation at right tackle, if Brandon can pick things up quickly, there is a chance he could have a shot at the starting job in 2016.
Round 7 Pick 235: Lac Edwards – P – Sam Houston State
What’s more exciting than the selection of a punter? Well, a whole hell of a lot, but given that the Jets did not even have one on the roster until today, it’s a good thing that they took one.
After enduring three years of the maddening Ryan Quigley, often gifting the opponent with excellent field position, the Jets knew that it was time to move on as they let the unpredictable punter walk in the offseason.
If the Jets can get any of the success they received from their last Australian punter, Ben Graham, fans will be quite happy with team’s new punter.
After coming over to the states from Australia in 2013, a year in which he shared punting duties at Sam Houston State, Edwards earned first-team All-Southland Conference honors and FCS All-American notice in 2014. In his first year as the starting punter, Edwards had a 44.1 average with 28 punts inside the 20 and only five touchbacks.
During his 2015 season, Edwards earned second-team All-Southland notice with a 41.5-yard average and 31 punts inside the 20. He never had a punt blocked in his tenure at Sam Houston State and consistently displayed impressive hang time on his kicks. Hopefully the Jets found themselves a punter that can help them win the field position game for the first time in years. Time will tell.
Round 7 Pick 241: Charone Peake – WR – Clemson
To finish off their 2016 draft, the Jets picked up a wide receiver with an incredibly high ceiling for a seventh round pick.
Never reaching his lofty potential coming out of high school due to being behind superstar receivers, such as DeAndre Hopkins, Martavis Bryant and Sammy Watkins, as well as dealing with two knee surgeries early on in his college career, Peake was there for the taking in the final round of the draft.
After posting underwhelming numbers in his first few years at Clemson, Peake finally flashed some of his abilities as a senior in 2015, posting 50 catches for 716 yards and 5 TD’s. With blazing speed for a 6’2, 210-pound WR, Charone ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at his pro day and a 4.45 40 at the scouting combine.
Displaying a rare mixture of size, strength and speed, Peake, who was originally projected as a third-round pick, has the ability to take the top off of a defense, gaining separation on deep balls when he hits his second gear. He can also be an asset as a blocker in the run game and is known as a high character guy.
However, Charone needs to work on his concentration as he has had his share of problems with the dropsies and sometimes has a tendency to slow down looking for the ball instead of maintaining top speed on his routes. He also needs to work on his ability to beat press coverage.
The good news is that he gets to learn from the likes of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. The Jets also have Devin Smith, Quincy Enunwa and Kenbrell Thompkins on the roster, so there is no need to rush Peake into action. I could certainly see him on the practice squad this year as he refines his game, but he definitely has the tools and attitude to contribute down the road.
Out of the four picks that the Jets made today, I have to say that I am most excited about the potential of Juston Burris and Brandon Shell making an impact in 2016. Shell might have a better chance to crack the starting lineup sooner, due to the fact that the level of competition at right tackle is far less imposing than it is at cornerback at the present time, but both look to be solid contributors in the near future.
Lac Edwards is also likely to have an immediate impact on the team by default, as he is currently the only punter on the roster and almost anyone would be an upgrade over Ryan Quigley.
As I said before, I do not expect Charone Peake to make too much noise in his rookie year, but he is an incredibly interesting future piece to the puzzle and you never know what can happen between now and the start of the 2016 season.
Overall, I am quite impressed with what Maccagnan was able to get in the draft, especially given the picks he had to work with. They massively improved the linebacker position, brought in a promising quarterback, added a physical and talented corner, and possibly brought an end to the mediocre reign of Breno Giacomini at right tackle. And yeah, they might actually have a competent punter for the first time in years.
I am not a school teacher, so I am not going to give the Jets a grade on their draft, but I will say that I believe that Mike Maccagnan deserves a few gold stars or smiley face stickers for the work he has done in the past few days.