By Glenn Naughton
No, it wasn’t the potential franchise quarterback many had hoped for in Paxton Lynch, but the Jets selection of Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee showed Jets fans that Todd Bowles meant business when he said following last season that Gang Green had to get younger and faster.
Perhaps it was the image(s) of Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor running all over the field against a hapless Jets defense as their season went down the drain in week 17, or maybe the countless times running backs seemingly ran free to get open down the field against a slow line backing corps that prompted the Jets front office to pass on Lynch in order to secure the speedy Lee.
After running a 4.47 at the combine in Indianapolis, Lee put himself in the conversation to be a mid-first round pick to a team such as the Atlanta Falcons, but very few prognosticators had him slated to go to the Jets. So much for that.
After running a tight ship that led to very few leaks or rumors in recent weeks, the Jets kept a lid on their intentions as speculation mounted that they would opt for the rocket-armed Lynch, who would later go to Denver when John Elway traded up just six picks after Lee was chosen. Instead, for the tenth time in their last 11 first round choices, the Jets went with defense.
Lee is a versatile defender who played both inside and outside for Ohio State where he racked up 146 tackles, 27 of which were for a loss, and 11 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions.
His marquee performance came against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2014 Sugar Bowl, a contest that saw him take home defensive MVP honors when he tallied 7 tackles, 3 for a loss, and 2 sacks.
Some have expressed concern over Lee’s size at 6′ 1”, 235 lbs, but clearly Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles were not among those doubters, allowing his on-field production and elite speed dictate a choice that drives home the point that Bowles made, many weeks ago. Younger, and faster.