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Revisiting the NY Jets 2018 NFL Draft Class...

(Image credit Rich Barnes/USA Today Sports)

Written by: Nicholas Mullick

Week 6 of the NFL season is getting close. The New York Jets for Week 6 will be on a bye which is fair after they played a game in London, England losing to the Atlanta Falcons 27-20. So I decided during the Jets bye week why not look into the latest draft classes the New York Jets made during the Mike Maccagnan years (2015-2019). For today let's take a look at the 2018 NFL Draft.

Now before we get into the draft grades, if I label a grade for a player as HACKENBURG that means it is a failing grade and the prospect is a complete bust in the league. I decided to pay homage to Christian Hackenberg who in my opinion is the worst draft selection that was ever made in recent history for the New York Jets. There have been plenty of poor selections made by this organization in history including Blair Thomas, Johnny “Lam’’ Jones, Ken O’Brian, Roger Vick, Vernon Gholston, Dee Milliner, and Calvin Pryor. But in my lifetime Christian Hackenberg is one of the worst selections that this organization ever selected as Hackenburg never played a down in the league and was completely healthy.

Now that is settled let's look into the 2018 NFL Draft class and see how they have done.

QB Sam Darnold (Round 1- 3rd Overall) - Grade C-

This grade is not all on Sam Darnold. It is not his fault that the Jets refused to help Darnold at all throughout his tenure with the team. They waited way too long to build an offensive line for him, failed to surround him with talented receivers, let go of Robby Anderson for a reason that I still don't understand to this day, and hiring an incompetent head coach in Adam Gase. It got so bad that he was seeing ghosts when playing for the Jets which was the moment that Darnold was ruined by the organization. Darnold during his time showed flashes making many amazing plays. But there were moments where he would make awful throws all game. Darnold had durability concerns and was even out many games due to contracting mononucleosis.

By the way, the Picks traded to the Colts to get Sam Darnold turned to OL Quenton Nelson, TE Dallas Goedert, OL Braden Smith, and CB Rock Ya-Sin. One word Ouch. Especially as 3 out of the 4 players have had a tremendous impact on the teams they were drafted to. Now, look how much better he is with a competent coach, an o-line, and the talent surrounding him in Carolina. I hope he continues his momentum as he was one of my favorite players in college football.

DT Nathan Shepherd (Round 3 - 72nd Overall) - Grade C-

This pick was a questionable one for me when his name was announced. He is okay but he went 2 rounds way too early. I think the Jets screwed him up right away by trying to make him a pass rusher. Looking back at his film in college and as a pro. Shepherd absolutely is more of a fit as a defensive tackle. He has made more impactful tackles when lined up as a defensive tackle and has more impact stopping the run. I noticed how much better he was during the second half of the 2020 season as he made 2.5 sacks in three straight games when he made the move to DT. That is why when Saleh came in he immediately was permanently placed as a defensive tackle. A big problem is that he has had a tremendous habit of committing penalties that have cost the New York Jets many games. I was going to give an average grade but I will have to go below average grade for the Shepherd pick.

TE Chris Herndon (Round 4 - 107th Overall) - Grade D

I really wanted to label Herndon as a HACKENBURG draft grade but he did have that one year where he showed a ton of flashes during his rookie season. He was hyped by everyone having a breakout season but was suspended for the first four games of the season violating the league's substance-abuse policy and was later placed on IR due to suffering a constant Hamstring injury. The hype continued in the third season where he revealed being a liability to this offense. He looked like he did not want to play football as he was a poor route runner, looked lost all game, lacked awareness, was poor as a blocker, fumbled or dropped the football every game, and etc. He heavily regressed to the point where Ryan Griffin took over as the starter. Many even considered that the Jets should cut Herndon as he is more of a liability than a benefit.

I do want to thank the Minnesota Vikings for giving a fourth-round pick to the Jets in the Chris Herndon trade. I looked up his stats for this season and oh boy. He so far has had 0 catches, 0 yards, only 2 total targets, leads the team in penalties, and here's the big one as he only played 15% of offensive snaps in total this season. It is not looking good for the Vikings with the Herndon trade.

CB Parry Nickerson (Round 6 - 179th Overall) - Grade HACKENBURG

I had hoped Parry Nickerson was going to be solid depth for the Jets secondary. I was completely wrong as Nickerson was absolutely terrible the moment he was drafted by the Jets and he was awful in coverage. He was a solid tackler but lacked the awareness needed for a player in the secondary. When the Jets got rid of Todd Bowles I knew his time with the Jets would not last long. Nickerson was not going to fit the new coaching staff’s defense. Even in training camp and preseason, he was terrible. The Jets decided to trade him to the Seahawks for a 7th round draft choice which didn't even transfer as he lasted 2 months with the Seahawks and was released. This is an easy HACKENBURG grade.

DT Folorunso Fatukasi (Round 6 - 180th Overall) - Grade A-

If you were to tell me years ago that Fatukasi would be the best pick in this entire draft class I would have thought that you were crazy. Fatukasi has easily been the best selection that the Jets have taken in this draft class as he has had a tremendous impact in stopping the run on many games with the team. I always called him the hidden gem of the New York Jets current defensive line as not many talk about how good he is. Now he is not the best pass rusher but he has the ability to get to the quarterback but needs to be consistent. Fatukasi is absolutely the draft steal in this class and I hope the Jets sign him to a contract extension in the future as he has been a good player when stopping the run.

RB Trenton Cannon (Round 6 - 204th Overall) - Grade D+

Trenton Cannon is an example of a one-game wonder. Cannon had one game against the Minnesota Vikings on October 10th, 2018 where he looked like a solid pass-catching player. He had 4 catches and 69 receiving yards. I remembered years ago he was projected as a boom player in fantasy PPR. After that game, he would do absolutely nothing excluding a rushing TD against the Buffalo Bills. He was terrible as a blocker as well and spent the rest of his career mainly on special teams. The only reason why I didn't grade this selection as a HACKENBURG, is that at least Cannon was solid on special teams for the Jets.


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