Tuesday 24 October 2017 / 10:26 PM

Draft grades: Jets, Titans boost, 49ers baffle

You’ve got to be a special kind of football fan to read draft grade articles. Let’s face it, us media types are all just blowing smoke out our arses hoping to be able to say “I told you so” in three years’ time when we accurately predicted the next 6th-round wonder.

But post-draft analysis is a tradition. It’s a rite of passage which cannot be glazed over. It’s a must that we send metaphorical high-fives to the GM’s that nailed it and send those who didn’t on a walk of shame.

So let’s dig in.

 

I apologize in advance if your favorite team doesn’t get a mention.

 

Jets defense set to return to former greatness

The J-E-T-S still have one giant question mark standing under center but Gang Green could be back in effect as New York’s defense is looking scary with a capital Leonard Williams.

The Jets already boasted one of the league’s nastiest defensive lines with Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, but the addition of Williams will strike fear into the hearts of AFC East quarterbacks. Leonard’s coming to get you Tom Brady.

 

A video posted by New York Jets (@nyjets) on

Let’s not forget that while he’s costing the club an arm and a leg salary cap-wise, Revis Island has returned. This defense could just be good enough to pull a mediocre offense into the playoffs.

Second-round pick WR Devin Smith out of Ohio State is a playmaker and money on the deep ball – if only they had someone to throw it to him.

Titans pulling pure smokescreen on Mettenberger praise

Mr. Selfie, Zach Mettenberger, is being touted by many as the top loser in this year’s draft. But let’s be honest here, the QB job in Tennessee was hardly his to lose even before the Titans nabbed Marcus Mariota with the second overall pick in the 2015 draft.

We’ve seen plenty of late-round quarterbacks show flashes of brilliance over the years never to shine again (here’s looking at you Matt Flynn), so Zach ought to be plenty stoked to bide his time and get more reps in as a back-up.

If you’re even remotely close to being a starter-quality NFL quarterback you’ll make your millions before the sun sets into the horizon. Even ‘Clipboard Jesus’ Charlie Whitehurst cashed about $4 million worth of paychecks last season.

So let’s stop shedding tears over Mettenberger’s demotion and talk about how much better this team will be immediately with Mariota as their signal caller.

All first-round QB’s are tabbed as “potential franchise quarterbacks” but Mariota’s just got something about him that makes me think Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt has got himself a winner here. Why else would the club tell Chip Kelly he’d have to bet the house to get him?

And so continues the demise of the mighty 49ers

With everything San Francisco lost on the defensive side of the ball they really could have gone with a safer pick in the first round than Oregon DE Arik Armstead.

Sure, General Manager Trent Baalke may very well get the last laugh as Armstead is an incredible athlete with enormous upside but looking at his production in college it’s hard to see him graded as a top-20 pick.

And what’s with using a 5th-round pick to draft a punter when you’ve already got an All-Pro punter on the roster in Andy Lee?

Lee could wind up a salary cap casualty here but I’m still giving the Niners a solid D on a draft class with zero players offering guaranteed year one impact.

 

Speaking of goofy draft picks, Hawks are at it again

It’s hard to argue against a Head Coach/General Manager combo that’s hot off the heels of playing in back-to-back Super Bowls. But we’ve still got to wonder if Seattle’s non-sequitur draft strategy will eventually backfire.

In the 2nd round they used their first pick (#63) to select DE Frank Clark out of Michigan, a player who had been kicked off the squad in relation to a domestic violence arrest.

John and Pete assured Seahawks fans they did their due diligence and determined Clark was a good kid who did nothing wrong. Sounds fishy, but we’ll see how it plays out.

Every one of their picks was a reach except for WR Tyler Lockett out of Kansas State. They doled out several picks to move up 20-something positions and get another playmaker for Russell Wilson. Lockett is undersized but will contribute immediately, particularly in the return game.

All up the Hawks look to be better in 2015 than they were last season, which is scary. Even with an iffy overall draft class, the additions of Jimmy Graham (acquired in a trade that sent this year’s 1st-round pick to the Saints) as a red-zone beast and a speedy Lockett on the outside will make this team tough to beat on both sides of the ball.

If there’s any question mark at all it’s the O-line. Luckily Wilson is the league’s #1 playmaking quarterback on the run.

 

Gus Bradley and the Jags ready to make waves

Dante Fowler was top pass rusher in the 2015 class. Period. And now he plays for Gus Bradley, the original mastermind behind the Seattle defense.

He’ll make an immediate impact as pass rush help is exactly what Jacksonville needed. T.J.

Yeldon gives the team a bruising back to give the ball to and GM David Caldwell then found a few late-round gems in Louisville safety James Sample, Florida State wide receiver Rashad Greene, and Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Bennett.

In theory, all the pieces are in place for Jacksonville to make a move out of the AFC South cellar. Except for the fact that every other team in the division has improved as well.

But this is the NFL. If you want to win you’ve got to beat good teams. 

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Michael Airhart

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