This is the fun part - the real mock draft. The mock draft where you know exactly who is on the board and how the draft is shaping up. The 2016 draft was defined by a ton of trades and a ton of surprises - with opinions on talent varying wildly. The only caveats here are that I am assuming the player the Jets actually took would also have been gone by their next pick - so I can't act like Mekhi Becton would have fallen to the third round and say I would have taken him there. I am also assuming the Jets make the same trades and that I cannot know how far someone will fall - so I can't pass on Bryce Hall at pick 129 because I know he falls to us at 158. Without further ado, here is where I wanted to go on draft night and still would have gone now with some time to think about it.
- #11 - Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
- #59 - Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
- #68 - Josh Jones, OT, Houston
- #79 - Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina
- #120 - Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
- #125 - Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
- #129 - L'Jarius Sneed, S, Louisiana Tech
- #158 - Netane Muti, G, Fresno State
- #191 - Derrek Tuszka, EDGE, North Dakota State
Round 1 - #11 overall - Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
The Kirk Ferentz era at Iowa (1999-Present) has produced NFL lineman like Marshal Yanda, Riley Reiff, Brandon Scherff, Bryan Bulaga, and more. In this 20 year run, no true freshman has ever started at OT for coach Kirk Ferentz, except for Tristan Wirfs. Wirfs is an athletic marvel, a former standout wrestler and discus thrower in HS, Wirfs shows rare and an almost generational combination of size and athleticism for the position. Wirfs set the hang clean record at Iowa (4 x 450 lbs), the forty-yard dash combine record for 320+ lbs (4.85 s), the combine OL vertical jump record (36.5"), and tied the combine OL broad jump record (121"). With Andrew Thomas and Jedrick Wills off the board, the only discussion here is Wirfs or Becton. I give the nod to Wirfs due to his clearly superior performance over the years on the field. While Becton's "potential" due to his sheer height, weight, and arm length may be superior, Wirfs' floor is significantly higher and at #11 overall I prefer a high floor with elite traits to higher ceiling with similarly elite traits.
My backup selection: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville - A monster in the running game and a project in the passing game. Mekhi is unlike any other OT prospect in recent memory, and while his traits are elite his production in the most critical aspect of an OT - pass blocking - leaves much to be desired. With all of that said, he's an electric OT prospect that any team confident in their coaching staff to develop him should take a gamble on if the top 3 OTs are gone.
Round 2 - #59 overall - Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
This one was difficult only because Josh Jones was also still on the board, however after going OT at 11, Mims is the better choice. Similar to Wirfs, Mims has elite level explosion and speed paired with an ideal size for the position. Strictly in terms of traits, Mims is a top-3 WR in this class, however what really excites me about Mims more than any other player was his 3-cone. Mims ran a 6.66 second 3-cone at the combine, an absurdly quick number - more than a quarter second faster than any other WR at the combine this year. Even more impressive was that he accomplished this number at 6'3" and 207 lbs. Traits aside, Mims was expected to go in the first round and likely fell due to running a limited route-tree at Baylor and committing several drops at Baylor. I think teams can't get the bad taste of Corey Coleman out of their mouths, so when they see Mims who is a similar level of elite athleticism as Coleman with similar red flags, they run away. Their loss will be the Jets gain here, Mims is taller, smoother, and has better hands than Coleman and if Mims' performance at the combine was any indication - the Jets may have gotten a WR1 in round 2. At the very least they got a better version of Chris Conley.
My backup selection: Josh Jones, OT, Houston - Although the Jets went OT at 11, I would have double dipped in round 2 had Denzel Mims not fallen as well. I had Jones as OT4 on my board, barely ahead of Becton, so getting him at 59 is a steal. The Jets need help at every OL spot so I would have no hesitation going BPA since there is still a clear path for Jones to see the field in this scenario.
Round 3 - #68 overall - Josh Jones, OT, Houston
My backup selection at pick 59 falls another 9 spots and is available for the Jets - a dream scenario that I couldn't have fathomed in my wildest mock drafts. Jones and Wirfs give the OL an incredibly needed boost of talent, athleticism, and skill that could pay dividends for a decade to come.
My backup selection: Zack Baun, EDGE, Wisconsin - Julian Okwara was the player I most commonly targeted in the 3rd round in my mock drafts, however in almost all of those mocks Zack Baun was already off the board. With Okwara off the board, Baun is the best pass rushing EDGE available and arguably a first round talent overall with the highest floor in terms of run-defense and instincts.
Round 3 - #79 Overall - Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina
Edwards had a "dominator rating" of nearly 50% this past season in the SEC (meaning he account for nearly 50% of his team's receptions, receiving yards, and receiving TDs). Edwards has a "breakout age" of 17.8 (the age he was when he had a season of >20% dominator rating). He has 4 years of consistent production in the SEC, great size, and he's still only 21. He lacks elite traits and production, which is why he wasn't taken earlier, but he's a great pick here and would enable the Jets to double dip at their two biggest needs in the first 79 picks of the draft.
My backup selection: Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State - The Jets last obvious need is CB, and Dantzler has great ball skills and was one of my favorite third round targets in my mock drafts. If Dantzler hadn't overly focused on adding weight to get up to the mid 180s at the combine he probably runs in the mid 4.4s. Instead, he ate everything he could get his weight up and ran a 4.6. With weight/nutrition programs, Dantzler could get his weight up in the NFL while maintaining his athleticism and his great technique and traits. He may be a risk, but at this point he's worth it.
Round 4 - #120 Overall - Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
The only reason I can see why Hall is falling past the third round is due to his injury - one that many recover from with no lingering issues. He's a great value in the fourth, especially in a draft where the Jets have yet to take a CB off the board.
My backup selection: Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia - The Jets need to improve in the QB room, going into the season with David Fales as the backup feels like a high risk (unless you want to tank for Trevor in the case where Darnold goes down with injury). Fromm is a great value in the fourth round and too valuable to pass on if no player at CB/EDGE who could start right away is available.
Round 4 - #125 Overall - Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
In his true sophomore season and up until the South Carolina game, Fromm was playing lights out. He may not have been a gunslinger in that time but he was ruthlessly efficient operating a run-first pro-style offense with total control. His accuracy, timing, and leadership were all on point. After the South Carolina game something clearly happened, his accuracy began to fall off in in a way that it hadn't even in high school. Whether it was an injury or yips, that carried over to the combine, where his athletic testing and a few errant balls have tanked his draft stock. Fromm should have returned for his senior season, but the Jets would have been fortunate to have him drafted here. He projects at least as a competent backup QB with high character, great work ethic, and great leadership ability. I'll take that at #125 all day if it means I've found my backup QB for the next 5 years.
My backup selection: L'Jarius Sneed, S, Louisiana Tech - I was torn between the teammates of Sneed and Robertson here. Robertson reminds me A LOT of Cre'von Leblanc who was one of my favorite sleepers back in the 2016 draft. Robertson has some better tape but is even smaller than Leblanc is. Sneed meanwhile is a safety who projects as a slot CB and can play multiple positions in the secondary. Sneed's size, athletic testing, and versatility give him the edge here over Robertson.
Round 4 - #129 Overall - L'Jarius Sneed, S, Louisiana Tech
At this point in the draft I have made 6 selections, 5 on offense and only 1 on defense. I think this EDGE class is one of the worst I've seen in recent memory and with the Jets roster being set at ILB, DT, and NT this is a clear fit of need/board here in the secondary. Sneed brings versatility as a safety, slot CB, or even reps at outside CB. His athletic testing and size along with good reps on tape make him a good value here. See above for why I chose him over his teammate Amik Robertson
My backup selection: Netane Muti, G, Fresno State - I love Netate Muti when healthy. I completely forgot Muti on the board here for a few picks because of all of the other needs on the defensive side of the ball and because I hadn't even looked at OL since selecting Josh Jones at 68. Muti has fantastic value at any point in the 4th round or beyond, even with injury concerns. If he stays healthy in the NFL he will likely be the best G in this draft class.
Round 5 - #158 Overall - Netane Muti, G, Fresno State
All of my backup picks keep falling to my next selection and no, I did not do that on purpose. I LOVE Muti at this value, as I said above if he stays healthy he could very well be the best G in this draft. With all of the draft capital JD added via trades in this draft you can take shots on a few guys that are either projects or injury concerns. I go with the guy whose only flags are medical and hope that we can get him back to full health. If not, he's the 158th overall pick, hardly a major loss.
My backup selection: Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State - Again, I don't love the EDGE class this year, however Weaver has been one of the most productive players in this draft class and has legit technique and pass rushing moves. His issue in our scheme is athleticism and positional fit. At 158 though, I would be happy to take a chance on him.
Round 6 - #191 Overall - Derrek Tuszka, EDGE, North Dakota State
I'm not sure how many times I am going to have to say this, but I don't like this year's EDGE class. However Derrek Tuszka is intriguing. He's a productive small school prospect who could immediately contribute on special teams and potentially challenge for an OLB position. Tuszka ran a 6.86 s 3-cone at over 250 pounds and had 13.5 sacks last year. I didn't want to leave this draft without an EDGE talent and we land one here at 191.
My backup selection: Braden Mann, P, Texas A&M - I like Mann's tape a lot and I think he could have himself a productive 10 year career with the Jets. Do I like taking a punter in the 6th round? Of course not, but in all fairness Mann is one of the best punting prospects to come out in recent years.
My final thoughts:
Coming into this draft the Jets were set at ILB, S, DT, and QB for at least the next 2 years. Meanwhile WR, OL, EDGE, and CB remain massive holes on this roster and the Jets desperately need to infuse this roster with talent at those positions in this draft. This draft couldn't ave worked out better for the Jets this year, the talent and the board worked out perfectly for the Jets biggest needs at OL and WR. WR and OT were top-heavy in this draft while CB was also good this year and very deep. Meanwhile the TE, EDGE, and DT classes this year were underwhelming and as such I did not reach on any of these positions. The board fell according to depth and strength and I took BPA in almost all cases. As a result the Jets double-dipped at 2 starting caliber OTs as well as 2 complementary WRs with great upside, all in the first 79 picks.
JD did a fantastic job in this draft trading down to gain more draft capital while still getting talent at positions of need. Where JD and I differ in strategy is the emphasis they are putting on traits and coaching guys to reach upside they haven't yet reached in college (Becton, Zuniga) whereas I went with BPA with guys who showed elite level production already in college and maybe don't have quite the same 'ceiling' as the guys JD and comapny went with.