During the 2020 season, there might not have been a bigger roller coaster of a team than the New York Jets. Starting with their head coach, Adam Gase, this was a team seemingly built to lose from top to bottom. But there seemed to be a mutual understanding between fans and the organization. No matter how many losses piled up it would all be worth it at the end when the Jets drafted Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. However, it won’t be the Jets selecting first overall come April. Two meaningless victories in Weeks 15 and 16 put them one spot behind Jacksonville, sealing their fate as the second team to make a pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Now, the team which finished last in the NFL in points scored and total yards has to make a potential franchise-changing decision. Without Lawrence as an option, do you hold onto the former third overall pick Sam Darnold or do you hit the reset button once again? Ultimately this is the question at the heart of the Jets offseason as we continue our 2021 NFL Draft breakdown.
Similar to most teams picking in the top five of any NFL Draft, the Jets are a team with a lot of needs. We already mentioned the quarterback position, which will set the tone for the Jets draft. In addition, the Jets need help at offensive line, wide receiver, and multiple positions throughout the defense. The good news for the Jets is along with their draft capital they have the second most available cap space heading into 2021.
Looking at the offensive line, the Jets hit on rookie tackle Mekhi Bectonin 2020 but the good news ends there. Per PFF’s end-of-season rankings, the Jets had the 29th overall offensive line. The struggles along the line resulted in frequent and quick quarterback pressures along with poor yards before contact for the running back. At wide receiver, the Jets drafted Baylor’s Denzel Mims and signed free agent Breshad Perriman in 2020. Mims showed some flashes but still only finished with 23 catches for 357 yards in just nine games. Meanwhile, Perriman will return to free agency. The injury-riddled Jamison Crowder is still under contract for one more year, but struggles to stay on the field. Defensively the Jets gave up the 26th most points in the league and particularly struggled against the pass as they gave up the 28th most passing yards in the NFL. Many of these positions are likely to be addressed in free agency but for now, let’s focus on the candidates the Jets will likely target in the draft.
1.02 – Zach Wilson, Quarterback BYU
No matter how you slice it, the second overall pick will be the most controversial pick the Jets make. On one hand, are you giving up on Darnold too soon and are the options available at quarterback even an upgrade? While we can’t give you the answers to these questions we can try to read the tea leaves.
The Jets brought in a new head coach Robert Saleh and most of the time a new, hand-picked QB follows. In addition, the Jets staff recently announced they will be taking calls for Darnold if there is a league interest. If the Jets move on from Darnold, which quarterback prospect do they go with: Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, or a dark horse like Trey Lance? Wilson seems to be a more prototypical NFL passer than Fields and isn’t as raw as Trey Lance. They need a quarterback who can step up and be effective immediately. Wilson fits the bill.
1.23 – Rashod Bateman, Wide Receiver Minnesota
Some people still haven’t come around on Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman, but he has all the measurables you could want and absolutely belongs in the conversation of best rookie receiver. If Bateman is still on the board at this point then the Jets are getting an absolute steal. Granted, this is a big ‘if’ as the draft stock for Bateman is increasing. But he is still viewed as a second round talent by some so there is a chance – especially with how deep the receiver class is this year – he could fall to 23. In the scenario Bateman is unavailable then we wouldn’t mind seeing the Jets draft someone like Michigan offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield to fortify the offensive line and protect whoever their future quarterback is.
It All Comes Back to Sam Darnold
Despite the fact the Jets are in a good position cap-wise and have draft ammunition it all comes down to quarterback. Fair or not, the Jets have to either fully commit to Darnold or rip the band aid off pronto. Once that happens then things will start to come into place on their own.
Make sure to keep up with other articles, Quick Shots, and podcasts coming from the Fantasy Intervention team as we get closer to the NFL Draft and follow me on Twitter @AllDayPigskin.
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