As free agency enters its second week, the 2017 NFL Draft is now only six weeks away. Jets GM Mike Maccagnan, who has stated that all options are open at the QB position, could be faced with a scenario where all the top signal callers are available when the Jets are scheduled to pick at No. 6 overall. ESPN’s Todd McShay doesn’t see the value early in the draft at quarterback in a class that includes both Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky.
“I think both are really — in my opinion — truly late first, early second-round grades,” McShay said during a conference call with the media. “It won’t surprise me if one or both of them go in the Top 10. But I think as we get closer, people are starting to realize there’s more value at other positions if you’re talking about the first five or six picks of this draft specifically on the defensive side of the ball.”
Watson is a charismatic athlete with excellent intangibles, but McShay says he must improve his long-ball accuracy as well as seeing the entire field. Trubisky is coming off an outstanding season at North Carolina, but the sample size is small.
“Seeing the entire field is one thing he has to improve upon and then the 13 starts is just scary,” McShay said of Trubisky. “There is not a lot to go on in terms of guys who have had sustained success in the NFL with so few starts and such limited game experience. It’s going to be interesting to see how he is utilized and if the team that drafts him is able to sit him for a year.”
Patrick Mahomes has a cannon for an arm and passed for 93 TDs in his three seasons at Texas Tech. Last season, Mahomes threw for more than 5,000 yards with 41 TDs and 10 INTs. On tape, McShay sees a cross between Brett Favre and Johnny Manziel.
“He is a big-time developmental prospect and I mean big time in both the positive and the negative,” McShay said of Mahomes. “I think his upside is maybe as great as any quarterback in this class, but his learning curve could be as great as any quarterback in this class. He’s coming from a system that has not translated well to the NFL — no quarterback from that Air Raid-style offense has ever sustained success in the league.”
While there is much debate about the quarterbacks, two offensive players whose stock seem to be on the rise are Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey and Alabama TE O.J. Howard.
“I think from a character standpoint, the maturity that he went through, the ability to stretch the field vertically, the ability to create after the catch and then the improvement he’s undergone as a run blocker and even in pass protection at times, I think O.J. Howard is one of the most complete prospects,” McShay said. “He also had a great week at the Senior Bowl, kind of confirmed what we knew, and then a great showing at the NFL Combine. He has nailed the process. He was great in both the National Championship games and I think he has a chance to be a really big difference maker at the next level at the tight end position.”
Over the past two seasons, the 6’6”, 251-pound Howard hauled in 83 receptions for 1,197 yards and five touchdowns. The 6’0”, 197-pound McCaffrey is as versatile as they come and he led the nation last year with 211.6 yards per game
“Christian McCaffrey will continue to rise as we get closer to the draft. He put up explosive numbers at the Combine that you were hoping to see based off of the tape and I thought they were even better than what the projections were and his character is off the charts,” McShay said.