The New York Jets had six selections in the 2019 NFL Draft, including taking Quinnen Williams at No. 3 overall. The class has not excelled to date, and several players are no longer on the active roster. Following up on a previous article, we check in on how the draft class and undrafted free agents are faring in the NFL.
Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama (Age 22)
The Jets passed up on one of the best draft prospects in linebacker Josh Allen at the top of the draft to select Williams. The defensive tackle stands at 6-foot-3 and 303 pounds, but ran a 4.83 40-yard dash, making him one of the more explosive pass rushers in the game. In 2019, Williams did not live up to all the hype, only recording two-and-a-half sacks with the first not coming until Week 9 of the season. He had one pass deflection and a fumble recovery during his rookie season. Through his 13 games in 2019, Williams compiled 15 solo tackles and 13 assists. In 2020, Williams has improved statistically and visually, already tallying two sacks. The No. 3 pick also has 13 solo and 11 assisted tackles through his six games, adding one forced fumble, a pass deflection, and four stuffs at the line. The improvements in his game are noticeable and a great sign going forward.
Jachai Polite, LB, Florida (Age 22)
The Jets did not have a second-round pick in 2019, so their next pick after Williams was Polite in the third. He signed with the Jets but was promptly cut just before the September cutdowns, never having played in a game for the team. Polite latched on with the Seattle Seahawks practice squad for close to a month before being cut again. A few days later he signed on with the Rams practice squad and finally made his debut in Week 5 of the 2020 season. In his debut, Polite recorded three solo tackles and a sack of Alex Smith. The Rams may have struck gold with their practice squad pickup.
Chuma Edoga, OT, USC (Age 23)
The second of the Jets’ two third-round picks was a solid piece for the Jets in a horrendous 2019 for the offensive line. Edoga started eight total games in 2019 at both tackle spots. In week 12, he was ruled out for the season with a knee injury. He began 2020 as a backup but has been pushed back into a more frequent role with the injuries to Alex Lewis and Mekhi Becton. Edoga has proven to be serviceable but raw; he can still be exploited at times.
Trevon Wesco, TE, West Virginia (Age 25)
Wesco was the team’s fourth-round pick, and they already had Chris Herndon and Ryan Griffin on the roster at tight end. He is a decent blocker but this pick was a partial waste. In 2019 he was only targeted once despite playing in all 16 games. He had one catch for two yards. Thus far in 2020, he has played in all six games and has one target that he did not bring in. This is little more than a depth piece.
Blake Cashman, LB, Minnesota (Age 24)
Cashman was probably the best value pick for the Jets in 2019, considering they got him in the fifth round. He came in injured which is why he slid to the fifth. It was expected that he would not be able to contribute at the NFL level but he played in seven games last season, recording a half sack, 27 solo tackles, and 13 assists. This year, Cashman has played in two games and recorded one solo and one assisted tackle. Time will tell if Cashman can be a legitimate contributor.
Blessuan Austin, CB, Rutgers (Age 24)
Austin was drafted by a team that I am sure he was familiar with, as Rutgers plays mere miles from MetLife stadium. A sixth-rounder, Austin may have been the most productive player outside of Williams from 2019 class. In his first season, Austin played in seven games due to injury, but produced 25 tackles (19 solo, six assists), as well as a forcing a fumble. The cornerback has played in five out of six games in 2020, accounting for 16 solo tackles, five assists, and one stuff at the point of attack. He may have a future on the Jets as a nice backup.
Undrafted Free Agents:
Jeff Smith, WR, Boston College (Age 23)
Smith is one of two 2019 undrafted free agents to remain for the 2020 season. A nice depth practice squad receiver for the Jets in 2019, due to injuries to others, he has taken on a larger role this year. He played in one game in 2019 getting targeted twice, catching one pass for 12 yards. In 2020, he has played in three games only due to injury, getting targeted 24 times with 11 receptions and 112 yards. Smith has a future as a backup receiver for the team.
Kyle Phillips, DE, Tennessee (Age 23)
The Jets signed Phillips and he immediately took on a larger role once injuries plagued their defensive line. Last season Phillips appeared in 15 games and recorded 1.5 sacks, 21 solo tackles, and 18 assisted tackles, adding a pass deflection and eight stuffs. So far in 2020, he has played in all six games and has 11 total tackles. Phillips has more than held his own for someone who went undrafted and looks to be a nice depth piece in New York.
Not all draft picks work out as planned but to have a class where your undrafted free agents are more interesting than the bulk of your picks is a bit worrisome.
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