The 2020 Gang Green Nation Community Mock Draft is in the books. Over four weeks dozens of intrepid fake GMs chosen from interested GGN members ran each of the 32 NFL teams in a mock draft. The 32 fake GMs traded picks, players and jibes. We managed to get through five and a half rounds and 194 picks before the clock ran out on us. You can see the full results of the 2020 GGN Community Mock Draft here.
I was the fake GM of the fake Jets in this draft. After completing a whopping 10 trades in this draft I ended up with six selections in the 2020 draft: Picks #66 and # 68 in the second round, Picks # 95 and 104 in the third round, Pick # 120 in the 4th round and Pick #190 in the 6th round.
At Pick #66 I came away with offensive lineman Robert Hunt out of Louisiana Lafayette. Hunt is a big, powerful, nasty road grader. Hunt went at pick #39 in the real NFL draft. He has experience at tackle and guard in college. He’ll probably start out inside at the pro level, but may be able to fill in at right tackle if needed. Hunt will need a year or two to refine his technique and adjust to the big jump in competition, but he projects as an eventual plus starter at guard.
At Pick #68 I took Julian Okwara, Edge, Notre Dame. Okwara was viewed in some mock drafts as a late first round talent. While I think that is a little high, I also think he is a solid 2nd round talent and I was happy he fell to the 3rd round. Okwara went at pick #67 in the real NFL draft. Okwara has prototypical size, speed, burst and bend for a pass rushing edge defender. He’ll need some coaching, and he will start as a pass rushing specialist, as he is not great at setting the edge in the run game. If all Okwara becomes is a good situational pass rusher, that’ll be a win in the third round. If he develops into a 3 down player who might even be able to drop into coverage on occasion, that’ll be a home run.
At pick #95 I took Zack Moss, Running Back, Utah. Moss brings elite balance, power and leverage, with outstanding lateral quickness for such a big dude. Moss went at pick #86 in the real NFL draft. Moss bounces off tacklers and is impossible to bring down with arm tackles. Moss also brings plus ability in the passing game, with great hands and the ability to adjust to errant throws. Moss projects as an excellent fit in the ZBS the Jets want to run.
At pick #104 I picked Antonio Gibson, Weapon, Memphis. Continuing to build the offense, I selected the uber talented, explosive Gibson, a 228 pound, sub 4.4 forty package of offensive goodness to be molded. Gibson went at pick #66 in the real NFL draft. Running back, receiver, returner, gadget player, call him whatever you want. I’ll call him a weapon, and tell Adam Gase, so you think you’re an offensive guru? Guru this.
At pick #120 I took Jonah Jackson, Guard, Ohio State. With the ability to play both guard and center, Jackson provides the versatility the Jets crave in offensive linemen. Jackson went at pick #75 in the real NFL draft. Jackson probably needs a year of development, but with great feet and excellent mobility, Jackson projects to be a good fit for the Jets ZBS.
At pick #190 I took a developmental edge rusher with some interesting physical traits who could, in a best case scenario, turn into a plus pass rusher: Alton Robinson out of Syracuse. Robinson went at pick #148 in the real NFL draft.
That haul probably feels a bit underwhelming. If so, there are reasons. I approached this draft with three major goals in mind: make the playoffs in 2020 with a wide open AFC East there for the taking; acquire young veterans with upside to help the playoff push; and above all, give Sam Darnold an offensive line and weapons to work with. Darnold is entering his crucial third year in the league, with a decision on the 5th year option looming at the end of this season. That 5th year option will be fully guaranteed this year for the first time under the new CBA; previously it was only guaranteed for injury. With that option year likely costing well over $20 million, the Jets need to see Darnold operating with a legitimate surrounding cast for the first time in his career. The priority here is finding out just what we can expect from Darnold going forward, as much as that is possible, before making any decisions on a 5th year option, and possibly a longer extension. I therefore prioritized obtaining young, starting quality veteran talent to try to build a legitimate offense for Darnold.
As an aside, the enormous number of trades consummated is of course highly unrealistic. However, you work within the confines of the rules of the game and the players in the game. This set of fake GMs proved trade happy, and I was only too happy to participate, as it allowed me to stockpile young offensive talent to surround Darnold. So let’s look at the players I acquired, the players I lost and the draft assets I ended up with.
Whoa! That’s three starters, a rotational defensive lineman and a key special teams player. Let’s go through them a bit. Bell of course had a miserable first year with the Jets. More importantly, Bell didn’t really fit in the Jets offense and his contract is prohibitively expensive. I don’t think he will be a Jet in 2021. I therefore got what I could for him now. Williamson is a good player, but the Jets are deep at inside linebacker, and Williamson fits best in a role similar to C.J. Mosley. I thought it made sense to get what I could for Williamson, as he is another good player who is not an ideal fit and will likely not be here in 2021. Winters has never lived up to his contract and is not worth the $7 million cap space he’s costing. With my Jets offensive line completely overhauled, cutting Winters was an obvious move. Shepherd played decently in his second season last year, but he is very old for a 3rd year player, and I doubt he ever becomes more than a rotational player. Using him as a trade chip made sense to me. Bellamy is no great loss; he is easily replaced.
Now let’s look at the players I acquired.
Taylor Decker provides the Jets with an immediate, giant upgrade at offensive tackle. He is an above average NFL tackle on day one, something Darnold desperately needs this year. Jonah Williams, last year’s #11 pick, does not have as high a ceiling as Mekhi Becton, but he projects to be a solid NFL tackle in his own right, and is probably better able to step in competently on day one. Together with George Fant and Chuma Edoga, the Jets should have at least one decent offensive tackle to pair with Decker for the foreseeable future. Add in interior offensive linemen Robert Hunt and Jonah Jackson from the draft, as well as Greg Van Roten, Alex Lewis, Connor McGovern and Josh Andrews, and the Jets have a young, deep, talented offensive line that should provide plus performance for years to come.
John Ross and Sammy Watkins are both disappointing former high first round picks at wide receiver, but they are also both young, fast. talented, and a significant upgrade for the Jets. Ross was breaking out last year, on pace for a 1000 yard season through eight games before an injury ended his season. Ross is a definite injury risk, but with blazing speed, and great YAC ability, he provides a good fit in an Adam Gase offense at a cheap price. If he doesn’t pan out, very little is risked. Watkins, on the other hand, is expensive, but I thought he was worth taking a risk on to give Darnold another legitimate weapon in the passing game. Watkins may never live up to his draft slot, but he is a solid NFL receiver with top end speed and good YAC ability who should thrive in the Jets offense. Add in the rookie weapon Antonio Gibson and young veteran tight end David Njoku at tight end to the mix and now the Jets have very good speed, athleticism, YAC ability, youth and depth for Darnold to work with. The revamped offensive line and offensive weapons provide the Jets and Darnold with a plus offensive cast for the first time in what seems like forever.
T.J. Yeldon is an obvious downgrade from the departed Le’Veon bell at running back, but his receiving ability gives him a useful role in a Gase offense. Add in the rookie Zack Moss, occasional carries for rookie weapon Antonio Gibson, and the newly acquired Frank Gore and the running back position should give Gase and Darnold enough to work with, though the team lacks a bell cow back.
Josh Sweat is an athletic freak as an edge rusher who has had a slow start to his career. However, Sweat began to come on for the Eagles in 2019 with 4 sacks and 15 pressures in just 35% of the Eagles’ defensive snaps last year. With a ridiculous 4.53 40 time and a 39.5 inch vertical at 251 pounds, Sweat has rare physical talent even at the NFL level. At just 23 years old Sweat may be primed for a big year rushing the passer with the Jets.
Eric Rowe brings a nice depth piece to the Jets defensive backfield, another young veteran and former starter for the Miami Dolphins.
I also managed to add a third round pick and a sixth round pick in 2021, while losing a 2021 fifth round pick.
So that about wraps things up. In the GGN Community Draft I came away with five picks who ended up going in the top 86 in the real NFL draft and another in the top 150. After massively upgrading the offensive line, including bringing in young offensive tackles Taylor Decker and Jonah Williams and guards Robert Hunt and Jonah Jackson, then adding three young veteran NFL targets for Darnold in Sammy Watkins, David Njoku and John Ross to complement Breshad Perriman, Chris Herndon and Jamison Crowder, the Jets have finally given quarterback Sam Darnold a legitimate offensive line and multiple fast, young, dynamic targets to make Adam Gase’s system work. The Jets also add some good young talent at edge rusher, bringing in Josh Sweat, Julian Okwara and Alton Robinson.
Adding Zack Moss, Antonio Gibson and T.J. Yeldon helps offset the loss of departed Le’Veon Bell in a completely revamped Jets offense in 2020. Now we’ll see what Darnold and Gase can do when they aren’t playing with JV players against varsity opponents.
I think this is a team that should compete for the AFC East title immediately, without sacrificing the youth movement. Every player I brought in is 26 years old or younger; every player I got rid of is 26 years old or older, and all but one is 28 years old or older.
What do you think? How do you like the vision for the future and the results of the 2020 GGN Community Mock Draft? Let us know in your comments.