It is difficult to watch the Jets on Sundays, so let’s look at how to start fixing them with a way too early seven-round mock draft.
It is never ideal to think about next season’s NFL Draft before November but as the losses mount for the New York Jets this may just bring a little optimism to a miserable season. For purposes of this draft, we will assume the Jets get the first overall pick and Adam Gase is fired. New York currently has nine picks in next year’s draft. Let’s dive in and try to do a better job than the two previous general managers have.
Round 1, Pick #1, New quarterback
Gase has completely broken Sam Darnold, with a new head coach in place the Jets can not pass on the talent of Clemson QB, Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence, a 6-foot-6 junior has all the talent in the world. He is considered a can’t miss prospect along the lines of Andrew Luck.
Lawrence can make all the throws and already shows the ability to go through his progressions. He is a good runner and is nimble in the pocket. He keeps his eyes downfield when flushed out of the pocket keeping plays alive. The Clemson signal-caller has the ability to fit the ball into tight windows. Lawrence has played in two National Championship games, winning one, so he is not afraid of the spotlight.
Round 1, Pick #27, Jets address the offensive line
With a pick acquired from Seattle in the Jamal Adams trade, the Jets select massive offensive guard Trey Smith from Tennessee. Smith at 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds, is a dominant run blocker. As a pass blocker, he is both quick and athletic. He has the size and strength to excel in the NFL. Smith dealt with blood clots in his lungs back in 2018, hopefully, that is behind him. Jets can not make the same mistakes they did with Darnold, so using a premium to get Lawrence some protection makes a ton of sense.
Round 2, Pick #33, New York drafts the son of a Pro Bowler
The Jets have one of the weaker secondaries in the NFL, so grabbing a cornerback early should be a priority. Jaycee Horn, son of former NFL wide receiver Joe Horn, from South Carolina, will upgrade the defensive backfield immediately. Horn is an excellent athlete, with good size at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, has the ability to break up passes. He excels in press coverage but struggles with elite speed. Horn recently has a three-interception game against Auburn.
Round 3, Pick #65, Jets add a wide receiver
The Jets have two picks in the third round, so it is time to start adding pieces for their new quarterback. Wide receiver Tylan Wallace fits the bill. The Oklahoma State product projects as a slot receiver in the NFL. At 6-foot and 185 pounds, Wallace has excellent hands and is an extremely good YAC runner. Current slot receiver Jamison Crowder may not be with the Jets next season if New York decides to move him for picks. The Jets could also cut Crowder to add $10.5 million in cap space and only $1 in dead money according to Over the Cap.
Round 3, Pick #90, Jets find a pass rusher
New York has been looking for an edge rusher seemingly forever, Penn State product, Shaka Toney ends that search. Toney was unblockable in the Nittany Lions’ season opener. He had seven tackles and two sacks against the Indiana Hoosiers. Toney at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, is extremely athletic and has an explosive first step. If the senior continues his strong play in 2020 he may move up draft boards as the 2021 draft draws near.
Round 4, Pick #102, Jets double-dip at wide receiver
In round four the Jets get more help for Lawrence. After selecting a smaller slot receiver earlier, the Jets pick Clemson Justyn Ross. Ross had surgery in June for a congenital neck issue and will miss the 2020 season. While there is a good chance the Clemson receiver returns to school, but here we will assume he enters the draft and slips due to injury issues. If Ross was to enter the draft and fall to this point, the Jets will be getting a steal but one that comes with risk. Ross is 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds. He had the size and speed to be an elite receiver in the NFL.
Round 5, Pick #141, New York adds a pass-catching tight end
With the first of back-to-back fifth-round picks the Jets select Georgia tight end Tre’ McKitty. Heading into the 2020 season tight end was thought to be a strength of the Jets. Chris Herndon has been a major disappointment for Gang Green. McKitty who transferred from Florida State is an athletic move tight end that plays like a big receiver. He has shown to be a willing blocker in the running game. McKitty will be a match-up problem at the next level if the new coach uses him correctly to maximize his skill set, something Gase has not done with Herndon.
Round 5, Pick #142, Jets draft a versatile linebacker
New York has had some injuries to the linebacker position the past two seasons so adding to the position group is necessary. Florida State linebacker Amari Gainer is a chess piece for the Seminoles. He has lined up at rush linebacker, safety, and off-ball linebacker. At 6-foot-5 and 227 pounds, Gainer is a rangy athlete that has the speed to cover running backs coming out of the backfield. Gainer needs to add some mass and strength to play around the line of scrimmage in the NFL.
Round 6, Pick #189, New York picks USC safety
USC safety Talanoa Hufanga rounds out the Jets 2021 draft class. Hufanga is very good against the run and is a sure tackler, something the Jets desperately need as they lead the NFL in missed tackles. He has solid size at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds and has shown the ability to cover tight ends at the college level. Hufanga will be able to contribute immediately on special teams, a unit that has quietly been pretty bad for New York in 2020.
Obviously we are a long way from the 2021 NFL Draft so many of these players could move up or down the draft board as the college football season rolls on. As it is becoming more and more difficult to watch the Jets on Sundays, these are a least a few guys to watch on during Saturday’s college games who could potentially help turn around the Jets fortunes going forward.