PHILADELPHIA — Jamal Adams is the kind of in-your-face, outspoken defensive player — an “alpha dog,” as Todd Bowles likes to call him — that every team would love to have. His confidence is there for all to see, backed up by the kind of playmaking at LSU that made him one of the draft’s top prospects and enticed the Jets to use the sixth overall pick to get him.
When he visited with the Jets, they told him they’d like nothing more than to see him in a green-and-white jersey, but they didn’t think there was much of a chance he’d be there. When he wasn’t taken among the first five players, the Jets wasted no time.
The Jets got themselves a playmaking safety, just like the Giants’ dynamic Landon Collins. But Adams, the son of former Giants running back George Adams, wasn’t about to declare himself the best safety in New York. A few minutes after expressing confidence in his own abilities — and also claiming to be the best dressed of all the prospects with a custom-fit plaid suit — he was asked if he or Collins would be the best in New York.
“Only time will tell,” Adams said.
The Jets came into the draft with so many needs — quarterback, cornerback, running back, tight end, safety. You name it, they need it. But they opted not to take Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes, the top quarterbacks still left on the board, and it remains to be seen whether they’ll regret not taking a shot at either player.
But chances are they won’t regret taking Adams, whose hard-hitting style and ability to cover a great deal of space will add a much-needed infusion of talent to a secondary that collapsed last season. If he can do for the Jets what Collins did for the Giants last season, when he emerged into a Defensive Player of the Year-caliber force, then the Jets at least will have one building block in place for a massive roster construction project.
At least it’s a start.
The Jets are still light years away from being a playoff contender, and even if they come away with four starters from this draft, they might still be picking high next year. But Adams is the kind of player who can be counted on for the next several years, and at least one major area of need is taken care of.
Adams has football in his blood, although his father, a first-round pick of the Giants in 1985, met with limited results in an injury-shortened career. Even so, Adams will use the lessons his father has imparted over the years.
“He always said, ‘Stay true to yourself and never change. Stay positive. Just keep your head down and always be grinding.’ He played for the Giants and now I’m a Jet. He’s not afraid to tell Giants fans he’s a part of the Jets’ family. I’m pretty sure he’s bleeding green and white. We had a house in Hackensack (New Jersey), my mom is from Yonkers. Pops played up there, and now I’m playing there. It’s an amazing feeling.”
It won’t be an instantaneous transition for Adams, who will endure the kind of learning curve all rookies face. But Bowles, himself a former NFL safety, at least has chance to work with a player in his own image. That may mean the end of former first-round safety Calvin Pryor’s run with the Jets, although it’s too soon to know if they will phase him out immediately. But Pryor was from John Idzik’s ill-fated tenure as the Jets’ general manager, so there is no loyalty to Pryor, a big hitter who often was exposed in pass coverage.
That likely won’t be the case with Adams once he becomes acclimated to the NFL game.
It still doesn’t fix the Jets’ quarterback problem, which will have to wait for another day and perhaps another draft. In the meantime, at least the Jets have the answer to one of their countless needs.
The Jets have picked a defensive player in the first round in every draft since 2009, when they selected Mark Sanchez:
Year Pick Player School
2017 6 Jamal Adams S LSU
201620Darron LeeLBOhio State
20156 Leonard WilliamsDTUSC
20139 Dee MillinerCBAlabama
201216Quinton CoplesDENorth Carolina
201130Muhammad Wilkerson DLTemple
201029Kyle WilsonCBBoise State