Rare Maccagnan Draft Anomaly Now Vital Cog in Jets Defense

Foley Fatukasi

Getty The New York Jets defense sacks quarterback Devlin Hodges on December 22, 2019.

The Mike Maccagnan era will go down as yet another crash and burn failure in a long list of New York Jets general managers that have set this franchise back.

How does the expression go again though? Even a blind squirrel finds a nut. In terms of drafting, Maccagnan was the blind squirrel, but he did hit on one underappreciated sixth-round pick in 2018, and that player is now essential to this Jets defense.

Maccagnan Draft History

For those that would prefer not to relive this, I suggest skipping to the next section of the article, but at least take some solace in the fact that the Jets are in a better place now.

Joe Douglas’ draft picks have actually stayed on the roster and made some sort of impact in most cases. Now the product on the field must improve next.

It’s important to remember how the Jets ended up at Adam Gase and a two-win 2020 season though, and that is not on Douglas. The drafts leading up to his takeover handicapped this roster so severely that it took an entire overhaul to fix it. When your lawn is full of weeds you cannot just plant new grass on top, you have to dig out the roots and start from scratch.

Below are all the weeds that Maccagnan drafted during his tenure as Jets GM.

  • Round 1, pick 6: DE Leonard Williams, traded to New York Giants by Douglas for picks that turned into Ashtyn Davis (S) and Michael Carter II (CB).
  • Round 2, pick 37: WR Devin Smith, injuries ended tenure with the Jets after 2016. Signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 2019 but has not played since.
  • Round 3, pick 82: EDGE Lorenzo Mauldin, no NFL games played since 2016.
  • Round 4, pick 103: QB Bryce Petty, no NFL games played since 2017.
  • Round 5, pick 152: G Jarvis Harrison, zero career snaps.
  • Round 7, pick 223: DT Deon Simon, no NFL games played since 2016.
  • Round 1, pick 20: LB Darron Lee, traded to Kansas City Chiefs by Douglas for the pick that turned into Braden Mann (P).
  • Round 2, pick 51: QB Christian Hackenberg, zero career snaps, later benched in AAF.
  • Round 3, pick 83: OLB Jordan Jenkins, decent five years with Jets, signed with Houston Texans during 2021 offseason.
  • Round 4, pick 118: CB Juston Burris, spent two and a half seasons with the Jets before a stretch with the Cleveland Browns. Carolina Panthers’ safety in 2020.
  • Round 5, pick 158: OT Brandon Shell, no effort to re-sign after four seasons with Jets, signed with Seattle Seahawks in 2020.
  • Round 7, pick 235: P Lac Edwards, no NFL games played since 2019.
  • Round 7, pick 241: WR Charone Peake, played mostly special teams with Jets, no NFL games played since 2018.
  • Round 1, pick 6: S Jamal Adams, traded to Seattle Seahawks by Douglas for picks that helped draft Alijah Vera-Tucker (G) plus a future 2022 first-round pick.
  • Round 2, pick 39: S Marcus Maye, the first draft pick that is still on the Jets and one of Maccagnan’s best during his tenure.
  • Round 3, pick 79: WR ArDarius Stewart, six catches with Jets as a rookie, no NFL games played since.
  • Round 4, pick 141: WR Chad Hansen, released by Jets in 2018, latched on with Houston Texans in 2020 after bouncing around waivers for years, current free agent.
  • Round 5, pick 150: TE Jordan Leggett, no NFL games played since 2018.
  • Round 5, pick 181: LB Dylan Donahue, no NFL games played since 2017.
  • Round 6, pick 188: RB Elijah McGuire, no NFL games played since 2018, currently on the Chiefs roster.
  • Round 6, pick 197: DB Jeremy Clark, minor special teams role with Jets, released in 2019.
  • Round 6, pick 204: CB Derrick Jones, no NFL games played since 2018.
  • Round 1, pick 3: QB Sam Darnold, traded to Panthers by Douglas for a sixth-round pick that helped trade up to get Jason Pinnock (CB) plus future 2022 second- and fourth-round picks.
  • Round 3, pick 72: DT Nathan Shepherd, currently with Jets but no guarantee to make 2021 roster.
  • Round 4, pick 107: TE Chris Herndon, coming off two let-down seasons after a promising rookie campaign.
  • Round 6, pick 178: CB Parry Nickerson, traded to Seahawks by Douglas for a conditional 2021 seventh-round pick that was traded again.
  • Round 6, pick 180: Mystery sleeper.
  • Round 6, pick 204: RB Trenton Cannon, now with the Panthers after being waived by the Jets in 2020.
  • Round 1, pick 3: DT Quinnen Williams, looks to be a successful pick at No. 3 overall.
  • Round 3, pick 68: EDGE Jachai Polite, fined and released by Jets in training camp.
  • Round 3, pick 92: OT Chuma Edoga, swing tackle that is currently still with the Jets.
  • Round 4, pick 121: TE/FB Trevon Wesco, still with the Jets as a blocking tight end/fullback.
  • Round 5, pick 157: Blake Cashman, injuries have limited first two seasons but could start at WILL linebacker in 2021.
  • Round 6, pick 196: Blessuan Austin, 51.1 grade on Pro Football Focus at starter in 2020.

Douglas took over shortly after the 2019 draft, which means out of five full NFL drafts at the helm, Maccagnan only has nine current Jets left on the roster and five out of those nine are from his most recent draft in 2019.

Honoring the Anomaly

Whether due to dumb luck or rare scouting prowess, Maccagnan drafted one sleeper in 2018, defensive tackle Folorunso “Foley” Fatukasi.

The University of Connecticut prospect basically red-shirted his rookie campaign but contributed as a rotational piece in 2019 as a run-stuffer. Fatukasi played his role with tremendous efficiency when on the field, receiving an 81.6 grade on PFF for his 27 combined tackles (seven for a loss), one sack and three quarterback hits.

After the Steve McLendon departure, Fatukasi really cemented himself as a consistent nose tackle alongside Williams. He had 42 total tackles (six for a loss) this time around, with two sacks, one fumble forced/recovered and five quarterback hits. Foley’s third season in the NFL earned him an 80.1 grade from PFF, but his run-defense grades were even better.

Aaron Donald and Cameron Heyward? That’s a pretty exclusive club for Fatukasi to find himself in. Yet the Jets run-stuffer consistently flies under the radar.

Competition in 2021

You can never have enough big-men in the trenches, so when the Jets signed defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins most people loved the move. For Fatukasi, it was not much of a reward for his rock-solid contribution.

As a Maccagnan draft pick, the nose tackle will have to remain vigilant in proving himself to this new regime. It’s unclear how Rankins and Fatukasi will split the snaps this season, but you’d expect that Foley is in there more often on the early rushing downs.

Rankins is the better career pass-rusher anyway, with a personal best of eight sacks in 2018.

Robert Saleh has a history of rotating bodies in and out on the defensive line, and the two actually make a pretty nice tandem. Expect Fatukasi to be very much in the mix in 2021.

Do YOU feel Foley Fatukasi is underappreciated? Let us know on Facebook @HeavyOnJets, or Twitter @obermuller_nyj and @BoyGreen25.

READ NEXT: Jets Linebacker Jarrad Davis Inspires ‘George Fant’ Vibes

Read More