Grading draft classes in the immediate days following the event is an unfair exercise. Every team loves what they were able to accomplish and there's optimism in all 32 franchises.
It will take a few years before grading even makes sense given the unknowns of how prospects will pan out. But if you’ve spent the last year evaluating the players, grading drafts relative to the way you perceived prospects is completely fair.
Jets general manager Joe Douglas put together in his first draft with the team, and when examining the 2020 classes, I'm left blown away by what he was able to accomplish relative to my personal draft board.
Below are each of the New York’s 2020 picks and where I had them ranked on my board, the individual rankings relative to my board are noted in parentheses:
- No. 11: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville (16th overall)
- No. 59: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor (32nd)
- No. 68: Ashtyn Davis, S, Cal (42nd)
- No. 79: Jabari Zuniga, EDGE, Florida (97th)
- No. 120: La’Mical Perine, RB, Florida (125th)
- No. 125: James Morgan, QB, FIU (135th)
- No. 129: Cameron Clark, OL, Charlotte (142nd)
- No. 158: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia (58th)
- No. 191: Braden Mann, P, Texas A&M (P1)
Douglas and I are on the same page when it comes to the valuation of the players he selected in Mims, Davis and Hall.
With needs along the offensive line, wide receiver, cornerback, edge rusher and overall depth, Douglas was wise to prioritize the offensive line first and draft Becton with his top pick. The depth of the class at other positions aligned nicely with the Jets’ needs; so, landing one of the premium talents at offensive tackle was the correct way to go with pick No. 11.
Becton is a rare blend of size, mobility and power with the upside to dominate. His ability to open rushing lanes and skill set in pass protection makes him New York’s most important offensive catalysts for quarterback Sam Darnold and running back Le’Veon Bell performing well.
The Jets landed Mims at No. 59. He was the 13th wide receiver to come off the board. Mims is the most gifted receiver in the class from a physical traits standpoint and hauled in 182 receptions for 2,901 yards and 28 touchdowns across his last three seasons at Baylor. He has the size, speed, agility, ball skills and physicality to win at every level of the field.
Mims' ability to win on the outside should improve the Jets’ offensive spacing in the passing game and open up opportunities for Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman to play in their optimal roles. Mims is an elite blocker and that will help New York create more offense as a unit.
The Jets have a top safety tandem in Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, but that doesn’t mean the Davis selection was ill-advised. Maye and Adams are versatile defenders and the arrival of Davis enables that to be accentuated. He is a true centerfielder that thrives in deep zones and has exceptional ball skills. Playing Davis over top of Maye and Adams opens up a world of possibilities for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who typically likes to keep a safety deep off the ball.
Davis is tailor-made for that role and it’s important to keep in mind that both Maye and Adams are playing under expiring contracts.
New York was in need of more depth and upside at edge rusher and that’s exactly what it received with Zuniga. While he’s a bit raw, Zuniga offers an intriguing blend of burst, power and urgency. His senior season didn’t go as planned due to an ankle injury but he has the type of makeup that is perfect for the Jets’ defensive scheme, serving as an attack-style rusher from multiple alignments.
The Jets' options behind Bell were underwhelming entering the draft but the selection of Perine changes that. He is a do-it-all back that can run inside or outside, catch the football and pass protect. Perine led Florida in rushing in each of the last three seasons and is the perfect backup to Bell.
Morgan was my favorite Day 3 quarterback and has some exciting physical tools. With David Fales set to backup Darnold, investing in competition for him was a smart move by Douglas at No. 125.
There’s a good chance that when reflecting back on the Jets’ class in four years, the player who is the biggest steal is Clark. He was a college left tackle and has a bright future at left guard. Clark is a nasty run blocker that dominated Clemson’s defensive linemen when Charlotte faced the Tigers in 2019. He has heavy hands, a powerful core, strong legs and a desire to put his opponents on the ground.
Clark's technique has to improve in pass protection but the pairing of him and Becton on the left side of the offensive line is exciting to consider as the two develop.
Hall deserved to be a much higher pick but an ankle injury shortened his senior season and destroyed his draft stock. Hall was a First Team All-ACC selection as a junior in 2018 and led the nation with 21 passes defended. After high school wide receiver, Hall blossomed into a top tier corner who delivers an exciting package of size, physicality, athleticism and elite ball skills.
Mann was a terrific selection for someone who greatly values the punting game and how much flipping field position and pinning teams deep matters. He was a consistent college punter that controlled the ball well with plenty of distance on his punts, often out-kicking his coverage because his leg is so strong. Mann can handle kickoff duties and logged 10 solo tackles over the last two years. Talking specialist isn’t appealing for many, but he makes the Jets a better football team.
With Tom Brady no longer in the AFC East, parity within the division for the first time in 20 years. The Jets’ 2020 draft class positions them well from a talent standpoint on how needs were addressed to compete.