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The end of an era — a review of Mike Maccagnan’s performance as Jets GM — ThoughtExploit

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Now the the Mike Maccagnan’s term as Jet general manager has ended, let’s take a look back at how he did as the Jet’s GM.

NFL Draft

The true measure of a good or bad GM is how they use the draft and how well those draft picks perform for the team. Let’s look at the draft picks made by Maccagnan over the years:

2015 Draft

Round 1 — Leonard Williams, DT, USC

At the time of the pick, Leonard was considered to be the best player in the draft and a great value at the 6th overall pick. Williams has been a key contributor for the Jets are rates as an excellent pick.

Round 2 — Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State

Devin had a snake bit Jets career that never got off the ground due to leg injuries. Unfortunately injuries happen in the NFL and leg injuries are lethal to a player like Smith, whose greatest attribute was his deep speed. The injuries robbed Smith of that elite speed and the Jets parted ways. Smith was not a reach but rather a victim of injuries and it is hard to hold this pick against Maccagnan.

Round 3 — Lorenzo Mauldin, OLB, Louisville

Lorenzo was a high-effort edge rusher from Louisville who unfortunately just didn’t have the suddenness or burst off the edge to make an impact. He only played two years with the Jets (2015, 2016) and only amassed 6.5 sacks total in those two seasons. Mauldin’s lack of ability to cover limited his playing time and there wasn’t enough pass rush production to make up for this deficiency.

Round 4 — Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor

Maccagnan’s first draft attempt at getting a future QB was Bryce Petty. Bryce was a big, strong-armed QB with mobility that was a project due to the system he played in at Baylor. Baylor’s system doesn’t have the QB call plays or make adjustments at the line and always works from the shotgun. Petty’s play displayed his lack of diagnostic capability and processing against complex NFL defensive systems. Like Maudlin, Petty only got playing time for two seasons (2016, 2017) before being released. For his Jets career, Petty had QBRs of 16.1 and 27.5 with 4 TDs and 10 interceptions in his Jets career.

Round 5 — Jarvis Harrison, OT, Texas A&M

It is hard to call 5th round draft picks busts but given that he never played in a regular season game to my knowledge (no stats), it is safe to say the pick didn’t work out.

Round 7, Deon Simon, NT, NW State

The 7th round is where you take chances on guys with traits you like and Deon falls into this category. 6’4″, 330lb. men don’t just fall from the sky and it was a chance with little risk that didn’t really work out. Deon played in 16 games in 2016 23 solo tackles and 1.5 sacks. Deon remained on the team in 2017 but was cut in September of 2018. Deon is currently on a Reserve/Future contract with the Packers.

2015 Draft overall analysis

To me, the draft grade has fuzzy. At first look, only Williams made any impact and is still with the team. I don’t hold Maccagnan accountable for Devin Smith’s injury woes but the other picks were wash-outs. It is important to note that Maccagnan also acquired Brandon Marshall, Ryan Fitzpatrick, DeVier Posey and Zac Stacy. Marshall was excellent at times in his Jets tenure as was Fitzpatrick. Posey, who Maccagnan was familiar with from his prior role with the Texans, never made an impact and Stacy provide a brief workmanlike effort during his short stay with the Jets. The bottom line is that the amount of contribution for this class was limited to Williams, Marshall and Fitzpatrick and only Williams is still with the team. Mediocre at best class.

2016 Draft

Round 1 -Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State

Maccagnan didn’t shy away from Ohio State guys after Devin Smith when he drafted Darron Lee with the 20th overall pick of the draft. Darron, to me, is a very tricky grade. In my opinion, he has been miscast in a 3–4 system when he really should be a WLB in a 4–3 system. His speed is impressive but the production and consistency have not been there. His rookie year was uneven at best. Last season he had his moments but to date has not been as productive as you would like a first round pick to be. Lee was on the verge of being released but the GM changeout Lee may get a new lease on life.

Round 2 -Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State

Easily the worst decision Maccagnan made in his time with the Jets. A QB who regressed each year of college, had major accuracy issues and had no p0cket feel does not warrant a 2nd round pick. Maccagnan fell in love with his measurables. Picked multiple rounds before he should have been and at his stage of development, Christian never had a chance. He didn’t play in a regular season game with the Jets, even with garbage games at the end of the season where all was already lost. Maccagnan’s worst pick by far, this was Maccagnan’s second attempt to draft a future QB. This pick marred this draft and led to many fans turning on Maccagnan.

Round 3 — Jordan Jenkins, OLB, Georgia

Jordan was a good pick for the Jets. He has been a consistent if not elite starter for the Jets with his motor, intelligence and tenacity. While he lacks suddenness and elite get-off, he makes up for it with effort and determination. A solid value pick.

Round 4 — Juston Burris, CB, NC State

A CB with solid size and speed, had some good moments early in his Jets career but was later passed on the depth chart despite the lack of CB depth. Another mid-round pick that didn’t work out.

Round 5 — Brandon Shell, OT, South Carolina

A good value pick by Maccagnan, Shell played in the SEC with good size and great bloodlines (nephew of Hall of Famer Art Shell). Shell has developed in solid starting RT for the Jets.

Round 7 — Lachlan Edwards, P, Sam Houston St

A pretty good value for the Jets given he is still the Jets punter. His last two years were solid after an uneven rookie year.

Round 7 — Charone Peake, WR, Clemson

Charone’s contributions to the Jets have been more on the special teams. While his first year saw some production, the last two have been special teams only. It will be a hard road for Charone to make the team this year and his fate likely lies on how hard STC Brant Boyer pushes for him. The acquisition of Josh Bellamy really hurts his chances.

UDFA — Robby Anderson, WR, Temple

Perhaps Maccagnan’s biggest coup (outside of Sam Darnold), Anderson has emerged as one of the best deep threats in the league. While there is work to do on short and intermediate routes, Robby is a key player for the Jets. The chemistry Robby developed with Sam Darnold late last year cannot be overstated and I look for him to have a big year this season.

2016 Draft Overall Analysis

This was a helter skelter class for the Jets. Their biggest hit was an undrafted free agent pickup and there biggest miss was a second round QB who never played a game for the team and is out of the league. Lee could still emerge as a good player but probably needs to be in a 4–3 to maximize his skillset. Jenkins and Shell represent solid value and production for where they were pick. A hard draft to grade so I would give it a C+ with room to become a B if Anderson continues to develop and Lee takes a step forward with the Jets.

2017 Draft

Round 1 — Jamal Adams, S, LSU

The leader of the team, Adams was a phenomenal pick for the Jets, a cornerstone player with greatness written all over him. A foundational piece for the Jets, this was an exceptional pick by Maccagnan.

Round 2 — Marcus Maye, S, Florida

The jury is still out due to injury. Has certainly flashed when on the field but injuries have limited him. The sky is the limit due to his ballhawking ability and athleticism but needs to stay healthy. The Jets backend of the secondary should be set for years if Maye can stay healthy.

Round 3 — ArDarius Stewart, WR, Alabama Round 4- Chad Hansen, WR Cal

This is where the draft went sideways on Maccagnan. Stewart and Hansen both made no impact in their time with the Jets and their stays were short-lived. The 3rd and 4th rounds are where good GMs make their money and Maccagnan missed pretty badly here.

Round 5 — Dylan Donahue, OLB, West Georgia

A pet project of former LB coach Kevin Greene, Dylan had short arms which limited his ability to disengage from blocks. He also lacked burst off the edge and had personal issues which hampered his time with the Jets. Dylan lasted one season with the Jets.

Round 6 — Elijah McGuire, RB, Louisiana

Great value pick for Maccagnan, Elijah has been a good contributor when he has been on the field. A highly productive RB in college, Elijah showed good vision and hard running with some ability in the receiving game. LeVeon Bell will get the majority of reps but it is reasonable to believe that Elijah could be the primary backup.

Round 6 — Jeremy Clark, CB, Michigan

Clark was injured coming into the draft and his rookie season was essentially a redshirt season. Will have a hard road to make the team.

Round 7 — Derrick Jones, CB, Ole Miss

Jones has flashed in preseason at times but has not made an impact in limited opportunities the last two seasons. Will have a hard fight to make the roster under a new regime.

2017 Draft Overall Analysis

This draft yielded one emerging superstar, an excellent starting player with upside and a backup RB with some potential to be a solid 3rd down/change of pace back. Rounds 3 and 4 really dampen the grade on this draft as Stewart and Hansen were big misses. Donahue’s personal problems contributed to his limited time with the team and the last two picks were projects that may or may not pay off.

2018 Draft

Round 1 — Sam Darnold, QB, USC

May go down as the final grade of Maccagnan’s tenure, Sam showed flashes that point toward the QB search finally being over for the Jets.

Extremely calm in demeanor and creative on the move, Darnold started off bumpy but closed the season brilliantly. The face of the team, Mike left his successor with the most important piece a team needs to be successful.

Round 3 — Nathan Sheppard, DT, Fort Hays State

A great off the field story, Nathan is a big man at 6’4″ and 315 pounds that moves very well for a man his size. An older prospect coming from a smaller school, Sheppard had a relatively quiet rookie season. The drafting of Quinnen Williams will make playing time difficult to get but there are traits to work with and Sheppard could emerge as a solid rotational DE.

Round 4 — Chris Herndon, TE, Miami

Herndon had a stellar rookie campaign for the Jets. Herndon has solid size and good athleticism and showed a strong ability to make plays in the receiving game. Tight end, much like quarterback, has long been an achilles heel for the Jets but it seems like the Jets finally have their man.

Round 6 Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane

Nickerson has good speed, quickness and strong ball skills. He had an up and down rookie season but that is expected of rookie corners. Has the potential to be the Jets slot corner this season.

Round 6 — Folorunso Fatukasi, DL, UConn

Essentially invisible during his rookie season. Will have a very hard time making the roster. Might be destined for the practice squad.

Round 6 — Trenton Cannon, RB/PR, Virginia State

Small-school player whose two biggest attributes are speed and return ability. Had some issues with fumbles in rookie season and was removed from return duties. Flashed a little late in the season as a RB and out of the backfield threat but faces an uphill battle to make the roster.

2018 — Draft Overall Analysis

It’s early but whenever you get your franchise QB in the draft, you get a good grade. Sam Darnold is the face of the franchise and has a chance to be great. Chris Herndon was a nice surprise in terms of his impact and rapport with Darnold and projects as a long term starter at TE. Nickerson could emerge as the slot corner. Sheppard will have difficulty finding playing time due mostly to the depth chart and Cannon really needs to shine in camp to make the team.


In looking at Maccagnan’s draft record, it is clear there are a couple of trends:

  • mostly found great value in 1st round (Darnold, Williams, Adams)
  • 2nd round generally a disaster (Marcus Maye excluded)
  • 3rd round hit or miss
  • middle rounds sporadic
  • late rounds little of value

As I stated in the beginning, good GMs make their bones in the middle rounds. While Maccagnan has found some gold (Herndon, Shell), generally he has failed to consistently find talent int he middle rounds. Hackenberg really weighs his grade down but is somewhat redeemed with the Darnold pick. Maccagnan did get some veteran contributors in draft day trades (Marshall, Fitzpatrick, Kearse) so that complicates the grading a little (although none of those players are still with the team).

I did not review the 2019 draft as the players haven’t played a down so it does not factor into the current grade

Overall a C+ would be the grade I would give. This grade could become a B/B+ if Darnold develops into a franchise QB and Quinnen Williams becomes an elite lineman. Jachai Polite will also potentially factor into the equation if he develops into the edge pass rusher the Jets so desperately need.

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