Jets general manager Joe Douglas had quite a bit of work to do in his first offseason with the franchise.
The offensive line had holes everywhere, quarterback Sam Darnold needed more weapons, cornerback was a major concern and New York’s pass-rushing options were slim. After a fairly aggressive free agency period to address needs, Douglas pieced together an impressive inaugural draft class to significantly strengthen the roster as the Jets hope to build on their hot finish.
New York's 2020 draft picks:
- No. 11: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
- No. 59: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
- No. 68: Ashtyn Davis, S, Cal
- No. 79: Jabari Zuniga, EDGE, Florida
- No. 120: Lamical Perine, RB, Florida
- No. 125: James Morgan, QB, FIU
- No. 129: Cameron Clark, OL, Charlotte
- No. 158: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
- No. 191: Braden Mann, P, Texas A&M
Best Pick: Mekhi Becton
Douglas signed several free agent offensive linemen to help solve New York’s issues up front and was wise to continue investing in protection for Darnold via the draft. Darnold was sacked on 7% of his dropbacks, and his ball security issues didn’t go away as a sophomore; it’s a problem that dates back to college.
Darnold needs a strong line to develop and reach his ceiling. Becton is a rare talent in terms of size, power and mobility. He can blast open holes in the run game and he’s a lot for pass rushers to get around. Credit to Douglas for understanding the depth of the wide receiver class and waiting until Day 2 to add a weapon while prioritizing the offensive line with the eleventh-overall pick.
Biggest Surprise: Bryce Hall Sliding
Hall was perceived by some to be the first cornerback drafted in 2019, but he opted to return to Virginia for his senior season. Unfortunately, his season ended prematurely after suffering a serious left ankle injury in October. In an unusual draft cycle, where the normal medical checks were unavailable for teams, that injury absolutely played into his slide down the board.
Hall is a long, rangy corner with terrific ball skills, zone awareness and football character. He is a converted wide receiver and is still developing as a defensive back, but his transition has been promising. Hall deserved to be picked much higher, and the Jets landed a steal at No. 158.
Day 3 Sleeper: Cameron Clark
Clark was my favorite sleeper offensive linemen entering the draft. He was a 35-game starter in college and Charlotte’s offensive MVP in 2017 as well as a team captain in 2018 and 2019. He is highly regarded for his leadership and football character, something that appeared to be a notable theme in nearly all of Douglas’ selections.
Despite coming from Conference USA, Clark proved he belongs after dominating Clemson defensive linemen when he got the chance to play the Tigers in 2019. He is a mauler in the run game with heavy hands and a powerful core. Clark has some technique items to clean up in pass protection, but everything is correctable in terms of his hand and footwork. He profiles as an eventual impact starter.
X-Factor: Ashtyn Davis
This selection caught some by surprise, given the stellar safety tandem of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye that is already in place. Perhaps there is some foresight to be mindful of in this selection given both Maye and Adams are due for new contracts in the very near future but it’s exciting to think about the schematic options this new trio of safeties provide.
Davis is a rangy centerfielder that thrives in single-high safety defenses where his range and ball skills shine. This could allow Adams and Maye to defend split zones and have more opportunities to secure coverage spacing underneath Davis. The arrival of Davis enables Maye and Davis’ versatility to be fully taken advantage of.
The Jets assembled arguably the best draft class in the NFL. Every pick was a plus value at positions of need with prospects I like. Douglas collected an impressive haul of talented players to help set the course of the team moving forward. In an AFC East that no longer includes Tom Brady, New York did well to position itself to compete as the 2020 class develops.