On Second Thought, They Don’t
On the surface of it, it looks like the New York Jets need to trade up to get their man, Marshon Lattimore, on the NFL Draft Board. The Jets seem to be targeting Lattimore, but the Tennessee Titans seem to want Lattimore just a little more. Yes, this is all based on mock drafts, but two minds are better than one and a hundred are better than five.
I will explain why the Jets don’t need to draft up.
There are Plenty of Defensive Backs in the Draft
No one doubts the talents of Marshon Lattimore, but the 2017 NFL draft holds plenty of first round defensive backs and probably three that belong in the top five picks. Jamal Adams appeared to belong in the top five. And, his pro day seems to cement that claim.
So let’s say Jamal Adams goes three to the Chicago Bears. And, of course, Myles Garrett goes first to the Cleveland Browns.
The NFL Draft Board has Solomon Thomas as a pretty solid pick for the Niners with the second pick. And, the mock drafts say Leonard Fournette going to the Jags with the fourth pick.
That brings us to pick number five and the Tennessee Titans. It looks like the Tennessee Titans will have the opportunity to take Lattimore with the fifth pick. That seems how the first five picks will play out.
That leaves the Jets without Lattimore.
But, just one hiccup puts Lattimore in the Jets lap. Niners could take Trubisky, or another quarterback at two. Bears could take Jonathan Allen.
And then there is Malik Hooker.
Malik Hooker is a top five draft choice without a team. Twenty-three percent of the mock drafts have him in the top five picks. If the Jets get Malik Hooker, they’ve done well for themselves.
Granted, safety isn’t a top priority for the Jets, but cornerback isn’t their top need either. Remember, always draft the best player available, or trade down.
Do the Jets Really need a Defensive Back
Well, yes, they do. The jets need a cornerback. But there are other pressing issues the Jets could attack with pick number six. According to CBS the Jets need a quarterback, outside linebacker, center, right tackle, cornerback, and nose tackle.
Don’t draft a quarterback in 2017 when the best class of quarterbacks since 1983 could come in 2018. If you want to try to find a Russell Wilson, or Dak Prescott in the fourth round or later, fine, but don’t blow the sixth pick, when you can get Malik Hooker, for Mitch Trubisky.
Taking Mitch Trubisky at six instead of Malik Hooker would be a panic move. Geno Smith was a more tested college quarterback than Trubisky. Smith started three years in college Trubisky one.
This is a big test for the Jets to see which way they go with the sixth pick with Hooker and Trubisky available.
Hooker will Take Some Time
Here you have to play percentages. How likely is it that Hooker solidifies the Jets defensive backfield for 10 years and makes five pro bowls. And, how likely is it that Trubisky solidifies the Jets offense for 10 years and makes five pro bowls. I’d go with Hooker.
Again, don’t get wrapped up in the immediate needs. We’re talking 10 years here, not just 2017. Josh McCown is not an embarrassment. And Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg are legitimate prospects.
Hooker played basketball in high school and could have played D1 basketball. He has natural raw talent and should develop into something sensational. So even though there may be a wait time on Hooker, the payoff is more likely than a quarterback.
Drafting a quarterback is fickle, especially one that the scouts aren’t sure about. Don’t get me wrong, scouts can miss, ie. Wilson and Prescott, but they get paid for a reason and they don’t see Trubisky as a number six pick.
Always Pick the Best Player Available
I’ve written about taking the best player available before.
To be a good team, you have to act like a good team. And good teams draft the best player available.
The classic case of drafting the best player available was in 2005 when the Green Bay Packers picked Aaron Rodgers who fell off the face of a cliff in the draft when he was picked number one overall by the San Francisco 49ers.
In hindsight, any team would’ve traded a number one pick for the career Rodgers has put together.
But the Green Bay Packers had a Hall of Fame Quarterback with a few years left, but instead of drafting an immediate need, they took a player that could provide a decade, or more, of stability.
Hooker could do the same even if he doesn’t start year one. Rodgers didn’t start year one.
Teams that Trade Up Usually Panic
There are two trades that come to mind immediately when I think of teams trading up. One the New Orleans Saints giving their entire draft for Ricky Williams. And, the Washington Redskins trading the house for RGIII. Although neither team benefitted greatly.
Teams trading up usually do so in a panic because they have a major hole. Good teams take care of the hole during free agency and then are free to draft the best player available.
Exceptions to the Rule
Of course there are always exceptions. One, a high drafting team, coming off a 1-15 season, needs to fill multiple holes and doesn’t like what they see at the top of the draft. 2017 doesn’t fall into this scenario because the Cleveland Browns definitely want Myles Garrett.
The Browns are playing their pick well and not giving it up to the New England Patriots for Jimmy Garoppolo.
Two, there is a big drop off in talent. For example, if the Los Angeles Chargers wanted a defensive back with pick number seven there seems to be a big drop off from Malik Hooker to Marlon Humphrey. Hooker is a top ten player, Humphrey is a pick in the 20s.
Three, there is a special player a particular team wants. Say your team plays in a conference with a couple 6-5 wide receivers and the last first round quality 6-3 cornerback is just out of reach. Going up a few slots to get that cornerback would be justified. I don’t see Marshon Lattimore as that player that the Jets should pass on Hooker and trade up to get Lattimore.
Best answer for the Jets
The Jets are not beyond repair. They need a couple pieces and if things work out the way CBS sees them, the Jets could do well.
As I stated before, the Jets have plenty of needs, To fill these needs in the draft there has to be multiple picks. CBS sees the Jets getting those picks by trading out of their number six pick for the 25th pick and some picks not detailed by CBS.
In the end the Jets pick Deshaun Watson at 25. I’m not sure this is the answer. But it is better than drafting Watson at six.