FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets, who began Saturday without picks in either the fifth or sixth round, traded into the fifth round to select South Carolina tackle Brandon Shell. It was fairly costly; they dealt a 2017 fourth-round pick to the Washington Redskins to take Shell with the 158th pick.
My take: For a general manager who says he wants to build through the draft, Mike Maccagnan trades away a lot of draft picks. Most of the time, it's for veteran players. He must have a strong conviction about Shell, who started 47 games in the ultra-competitive SEC. The Jets gave up more for Shell than they did last year for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who cost them a sixth-round choice in this year's draft. Consider that for a moment. This has a "reach" feel to it. Evidently, they didn't want to come out of this draft without an offensive lineman. They made the trade less than an hour after coach Todd Bowles told reporters he was "very comfortable" with his offensive line depth.
Future investment: Maccagnan, explaining the decision to surrender a future pick, offered two reasons. He said they liked Shell so much they almost drafted him in the fourth round. "We really liked the player," he said. "We thought the player has a lot of ability and potential." He felt comfortable giving up the pick because he expects to have receive a fourth-round compensatory pick in 2017, softening the blow.
Late-round gem? Shell, projected by most scouting services as a late-round pick, was the 14th offensive tackle to come off the board. He definitely looks the part -- 6-foot-5, 324 pounds and his arm length is a shade under 35 inches. In other words, he has the ideal numbers. Shell played left tackle as a senior, but he says he feels more comfortable at right tackle, where he played his first three years. Most scouts believe he's better suited to right tackle. Maccagnan wouldn't specify a position, but he hinted it could be right tackle. Shell's broad jump (112 inches) and 10-yard split were excellent, showing he has top-level athleticism. The knock on him is that he doesn't always play up to those levels. Shell, who has a history of shoulder injuries, underwent labrum surgery last spring. He suffered a quadriceps injury while running the 40 at the combine. Shell probably won't overtake incumbent right tackle Breno Giacomini in 2016, but he could compete for the job in 2017.
Famous uncle: Shell is the great nephew of Hall of Famer Art Shell, the former Raiders great. He said his uncle was helpful throughout the pre-draft process, offering advice of how to handle the scouting combine, pro day, etc.