The New York Jets have been quite the story over the last calendar year. They nearly went winless in 2020, getting oh so close to the ultimate draft prize of Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. Though they didn’t find themselves in the driver's seat of the 2021 NFL Draft when it was all said and done, their two total wins still forced massive changes to the staff—and a good hard look at their culture and core.
Former head coach Adam Gase is now gone, and to replace him is one of the most coveted head coaching candidates over the last few cycles in Robert Saleh. Saleh brought with him from San Francisco passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur to be the Jets’ new offensive coordinator. On top of all that, the Jets have traded away their former No. 3 overall pick, Sam Darnold, to the Carolina Panthers.
It will be a new-look Jets team in many ways in 2021—chances are, any Jets fans you talk to will tell you that’s a good thing. Here’s what a seven-round draft haul could look like for a team with a lot of draft capital to start the weekend.
Round 1 (No. 2 overall): Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
Though the Jets won’t be adding Trevor Lawrence to their depth chart, they will have the chance to select any other quarterback in this class, as they have the second overall pick. In the early parts of the offseason, this pick was a date between Zach Wilson and Justin Fields, but now it seems like it’s almost as much of a lock as No. 1 is with Lawrence that Wilson will be their guy.
Round 1 (No. 23 overall): Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
The Jets have ignored throwing premium resources into the edge-rushing position for far too long. They did a nice job of finalizing the deal for one of the top pass rushers in the free agent class by signing former Cincinnati Bengal Carl Lawson, but they could still stand to use one of their top 50 picks in this draft on an edge rusher of their choosing. Ojulari brings a lot of versatility to the edge position as a stand-up or hand-down rusher. He and Lawson can play the Bosa-Ford roles that Saleh deployed in San Francisco.
Round 2 (No. 34 overall): Brady Christensen, OT, BYU
If you watched Wilson’s film and thought to yourself, “there’s no way it will be like this in the NFL, look how good that offensive line is in front of him” then why not go out and get the best offensive lineman from BYU?
Pipeline aside, the Jets need upgrades at right tackle and along their interior. Christensen played left tackle for the Cougars, but I have faith he can make the switch to right tackle with Mekhi Becton holding it down on the other side.
Round 3 (No. 66 overall): Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse
Cornerback is probably the most glaring need for the Jets right now when you look at their starting lineup. They have Bryce Hall, who was one of the most touted cornerback prospects at Virginia before his injury, and he had a fine season last year. But they really don’t have a main CB2 on the outside opposite Hall—or even a potential CB1 better than Hall.
If they can grab the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Melifonwu in the third round, that would be a steal for them. Other options here could be Asante Samuel Jr. and Paulson Adebo.
Round 3 (No. 86 overall): Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State
There are some who have the Jets going running back much earlier than this, even as early as pick No. 23 in the first round. I have done a few simulations of draft hauls where I try to see what happens if they do that, and I just don’t love it as much as I love them waiting for either their third- or fourth-round pick to grab one.
Sermon really came into his own at Ohio State as the season progressed, all the way up to him basically being the best player on the team for their final three games.
Round 4 (No. 107 overall): Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina
The Jets have a handful of receivers that could round out their room for 2021 and beyond. Corey Davis, Denzel Mims, Jamison Crowder, Keelan Cole just to name a few. But Crowder might not be around for long, and if they have the chance to get another good athlete in their receiver room right now to potentially slide into a more prominent position down the road, that could be ideal.
Smith didn’t have a ton of production at South Carolina, but that was much more due to a non-ideal quarterback situation for his tenure there.
Round 5 (No. 146 overall): Tony Fields, S/LB, WVU
Fields is a hybrid safety/linebacker type who could be an interesting defensive piece for Saleh. He’s played middle linebacker before, so it’s not like he’s a safety convert who can only play in space. His best role might come as a WILL linebacker. Regardless of where he might call home, he’s a jolt of speed at the linebacker level.
Round 5 (No. 154 overall): David Moore, IOL, Grambling
Moore’s tape is a blast to watch; he dominates his opponent for Grambling week in and week out. Along with an offensive tackle need, the Jets need to make sure they have a strong interior.
Round 6 (No. 186 overall): Nick Eubanks, TE, Michigan
Though the Jets might like to upgrade at tight end sooner than this with a more coveted talent, they have too many needs in the trenches and in the secondary for me to feel good about taking one of the top tight ends in the late first round or early parts of day two. I instead expect them to bring in a day three tight end to compete for a roster spot. Maybe they hit the jackpot with a solid contributor.
Eubanks is an athletic tight end who at least shows good potential to win in the passing game versus linebackers.
Round 6 (No. 226 overall): Landon Young, OT, Kentucky
I tend to make offensive line picks late for a lot of teams because I think it’s so important to use later resources to shore up the depth of the line. I typically look at offensive tackles because I feel as though they are the ones who could present some versatility inside and out. Young is probably a tackle only, but his 6-foot-7 frame is alluring enough to bring him into camp.