Welcome to draft day! It’s finally here and we could not be more excited. Tonight we’ll finally have answers to the debates we’ve been having for months. Will Joe surprise everyone and take someone other than Zach Wilson at #2? I doubt it, but it’s going to be interesting to watch. Will we find that protection at #23 or elect for a corner? Can we move down to secure more picks to fill some holes?
Today’s newsletter is going to be a little different, instead of the usual draft notes, I’m going to be putting together a 7 round mock draft. This isn’t what I believe the Jets will do, this is what I’d do if I were the Jets. I’m not going to include any trades in this scenario. I’ve used the Draft Network’s simulator to try and ensure I’m only picking players that may fall.
I’m going to apologise ahead of time, this mock is over 3,500 words long. Enjoy…
Round 1: #2 Pick - Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
I’m perfectly comfortable with Zach Wilson, but for me Justin Fields is the better QB right now and he has the potential to be the best QB in the entire draft, over Trevor Lawrence, over Trey Lance, over Zach Wilson and over Mac Jones.
Fields finishes his college career with 5701 passing yards, a completion percentage north of 68% and 67 touchdowns versus just 9 interceptions. He’s also rushed for 1133 yards and 19 touchdowns as well. College production has a giant tick right next to it.
For me, Justin has everything you look for in a modern day QB. He’s as smart as they come, he has a rocket for an arm, but he showcases touch when needed. He can throw on the move rolling to his right or his left, he’s deadly accurate short, intermediate and deep and his ball placement is phenomenal.
He’s shown an ability to read defenses, uncover concepts and make the right decisions. He has a deep understanding of defensive looks and Ryan Day has constantly said that he picks up play-calls quickly, showcasing understanding after just one run-through.
He held an adjusted completion percentage last year of 80.8% despite playing the likes of Clemson, Alabama, Northwestern, Michigan State and Penn State. He’s a 6’3 225lb quarterback with sub 4.4 speed. Throughout his entire career, which equals over 600 passes he had 18 “turnover worthy” plays according to PFF.
Only 86 of his throwing yards came on screens in comparison to 709 of his yards coming on plays of 20+ yards. He attacked downfield consistently without offering up chances to the opposing team. He’s already comfortably running RPO’s and zone-read concepts and has a knack for taking broken plays and creating positive yardage out of them.
He completed 74% of his play-action passes with 9 touchdowns to just one interception, the Jets will be running a lot of play-action, so it’s good to know the QB is already comfortable operating with his back to the defense.
Was known as a leader at Ohio State with former coach Urban Meyer saying Fields had come in and “taken over the locker room” instantly. His toughness is unquestionable after taking a huge shot against Clemson and coming back to out-duel #1 pick Trevor Lawrence.
When facing top-25 competition at Ohio State, Fields completed 63.5% of his passes for 2,793 yards for 27 passing touchdowns and 9 interceptions, while also rushing for 414 yards and 3 touchdowns. He’s been tested against the best of the best.
I know we’re not likely to draft Justin Fields, but if I were a GM, he’s who I’d feel most comfortably staking my career on.
Round 1: #23 Pick - Teven Jenkins, OL, Oklahoma St
Over three years at Oklahoma State, Teven Jenkins has constantly opened up gaps for the running backs while giving up just 2 sacks, 3 hits and 27 hurries. This is based on 1,207 true pass-blocking snaps, I don’t think we need to highlight how elite those numbers are.
Jenkins plays with grown man strength and simply overpowers defenders, he has pop in his hands and the strength to keep defenders out of his body. He plays with good leverage rarely losing his balance.
Despite playing the majority of his career at right tackle or left tackle, I see him inside at the next level, a position which will highlight his strengths and hide his weaknesses.
He put up a great performance at his pro-day recording the following results:
36 reps on the bench (98th percentile)
5.03 forty yard dash (85th percentile)
33” vertical jump (90th percentile)
106” broad jump (60th percentile)
His arms came in a little shorter than you’d want for tackle at 33.50” (30th percentile), which strengthens the case for moving him inside to dominate at guard. When you find a player with his strength and his athleticism who also fills a need, it makes too much sense to turn down.
I’d plug him in as the LG next to Becton and watch us run wild.
Round 2: #34 Pick - Terrace Marshall Jr. WR LSU
I don’t believe that WR is the biggest need on this team, with the addition of Mims last year and Corey Davis through free agency, I think we have plenty of talent for the new QB. However, this selection represents excellent value and I see too much Justin Jefferson here to turn this down.
“What separates me from everybody is that versatility on the field,” Marshall said. “Versatility to be able to play inside and out and be able to produce the same amount of numbers and score the same amount of touchdowns. You’re just going to be getting a great teammate overall, you’re going to be able to get a hard worker. If not the hardest [worker] in the room, one of the hardest workers in the receiver room. You’re just going to get that dog, someone who takes advantage of the opportunities you’re given and don’t take it for granted. Overall, a great person, great leadership, I’m going to make everyone around me better.”
Marshall played 529 snaps from the slot and 804 snaps out wide over the last three years. After Jefferson left for the NFL and Chase eleted to sit out the 2020 season, it was largely up to Marshall to take over the wide receiver room and he finished the year with 10 touchdowns and 731 yards in 7 games. Elite numbers when you consider he also ran a 4.38 time on the forty at his pro day.
Terrace has the potential to be a true WR1 at the next level. He’s 6’2. 205lb’s with elite speed and a wide catch radius. He came down with 82% of his contested catches in 2020, playing in the SEC against some of the best corners in college football.
He’s had a few issues with drops, being credited with 7 in 2020 alone. However, the overall package flashes so much potential that I wouldn’t let the drops alter my thinking here. He has a little bit of elusiveness to him, he has excellent acceleration in and out of breaks. 7 of his 13 TD’s in 2019 came against top 25 competition, so he wasn’t just stat padding against lesser opposition.
15 of his TD’s have come in the red-zone, so he is lethal when you get close and would offer his rookie QB a little margin for error with the catch radius.
Mims, Crowder, Davis and Marshall Jr. as a receiving core for a rookie QB, yeah I like the sound of that.
Round 3: Pick #66 - Kendrick Green, OL, Illinois
Elite explosion and movement skills are the name of the game when it comes to Illinoi guard Kendrick Green. He makes so much sense for the Jets, I find it hard to believe that he’s not a player they will be aggressively targeting come draft day.
Green has seen his draft stock climb, moving up as far as the late 2nd round pick. Here we get him right at the start of the third round and for me it would complete the build on the offensive line.
I firmly believe that Green is a plug-and-play guy in year one, meaning within the structure of this draft the Jets would be heading into the 2021 season with a line that consisted of Becton, Jenkins, McGovern, Green and Fant. That’s giving your young QB the best chance to succeed straight out the gate.
Green has played predominantly at left guard, but he’s also spent some time at centre as well, he looked comfortable at both positions but I’m projecting him to guard here. In 2020 he allowed 0 sacks, 2 hits and just 4 hurries over 238 pass-blocking snaps. He graded out at a 93.6 in zone blocking which will be the system the Jets run next year.
Kendrick is athletically one of the best guards in this draft, and if there is something we know this system loves, it’s athletic guards. Just look at the guards they had in San Francisco and Atlanta.
Here are some of Kendricks metrics from his pro-day:
4.85 forty yard dash (99th percentile)
1.69 ten yard split time (97th percentile)
36” vertical jump (99th percentile)
119” broad jump (100th percentile)
Green is the ideal guard to play an outside-zone scheme, lets put 1 and 1 together and make 2.
Round 3: Pick #86 - Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
I haven’t addressed the cornerback position yet for two reasons.
1) The system that we will likely play doesn’t ask as much out of corners as a lot of other systems, and while you can always do with an injection of talent, it’s not as big a priority as protecting and providing a young QB with the weapons needed to succeed.
2) I still firmly believe that with the likes of Richard Sherman, Steven Nelson and Brian Poole available, the Jets will dip back into the market once the draft has concluded, as long as one of the top corners doesn’t fall
Paulson Adebo is a tall, long, athletic corner that is perfectly suited to a defenses that is going to run a lot of zone coverage. His ball skills are elite, having come down with 8 interceptions and 24 pass break-ups over two years with Stanford.
Adebo decided to opt-out of the 2020 season and as such his draft stock is probably a lot lower than had he played. Towards the end of 2019 and throughout the entirety of the 2018 season, he looked to be taking his game to another level with many penciling him into the 1st round, and solid play this year could have put to bed the concerns from evaluators.
The two main concerns with Paulson are that he is liable to give up a big play now and again and his tackling is far from polished. However if you want a press-zone corner who has + read and react skills and the best ball skills in the class, then Adebo is for you.
His plus ball skills probably come from the fact he was a defensive back and receiver in high school, and he actually went to Stanford open to playing either position. The Stanford staff saw his future at CB and the rest is history as they say.
I like the idea of having Paulson to Saleh and Ulbrich and seeing what they can get from him. He’s got all the raw tools, he just needs a little polishing.
Round 4: Pick #107 - Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State
Trey Sermon is one of the most underrated players in the entire 2021 draft. I firmly believe he’ll end up being one of the best RB’s to come out this year.
Before joining Ohio State, Sermon played his football at Oklahoma and people have selective memory when it comes to his time with the Sooners. In 2018 he rushed for 947 yards and 13 touchdowns.
He was one of the more elusive runners during his time with Oklahoma and he maintained that with Ohio in 2019. He doesn’t have the elite long speed that a lot of teams covet, but he has elite acceleration and start/stop ability. It’s those kinds of players who do well at the next level.
During his pro-day he was in the 87th percentile in the 3-cone drill, 87th percentile in the broad jump and 77th percentile in the vertical jump.
In 2020 he had 16 carries of 20+ yards and had 517 yards after contact, which shows his balance and ability to break tackles gain every yards. Ohio ran a zone-blocking scheme which Sermon excelled in and if you want to see some top-tape then switch on the Northwestern game.
For me, Trey Sermon has the best vision of any running back in this class. His ability to read the line of scrimmage and accelerate through the right gap is a key selling point for any team that is running a zone-based scheme, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see any team that runs a zone scheme placing a high grade for him.
Round 5: Pick #146 - Rashad Weaver, Edge, Pittsburgh
You can never have too many edge players in a Robert Saleh system. It’s a system that requires pressure to be generated from the front four, and as such you need good depth on the line.
The Jets have done a really good job improving that area of the team. Carl Lawson was my #1 edge prospect heading into free agency and the Jets landed him, along with veteran Vinny Curry too.
Weaver is a player who offers tremendous upside in the 5th round of the draft. He’s coming off a 2020 season where he recorded 10 sacks, 6 hits and 32 hurries, elite numbers for 9 games played.
He’s a 6’4, 260lb edge defender who spent the majority of his career rushing the passer from outside tackle, so he’d fit perfectly in a Saleh system that tends to line their defenders up wide, generating better angles to attack the QB and the pocket.
He lost his 2019 season to an ACL tear, but the fact he came back and put up the production he did is impressive. He uses his length well to ensure lineman can’t engage into his body and his technique is already quite polished for a college player.
The issue for Weaver is he doesn’t have elite get-off, he’s not going to strike fear into tackles with his explosion, and tackles who are more powerful at the NFL level will be able to control him a little better.
Saying that, Weaver is a superb run defender as well as pass rusher and as such you can feel confident about rotation him into the line-up on any down. I’m a huge fan of Weaver and I’d be surprised if he lasted this long, but in this mock scenario he did and once you get past the second round in the draft, it’s hard to project where players will go.
Round 5: Pick #154, Jacoby Stevens, LB/S, LSU
I originally had Georgia TE Tre’ McKitty in this spot, but after thinking about value and how confident I am about projecting them to the next level, I’ve decided to go with LSU’s LB/S hybrid Jacoby Stevens.
Stevens was a 5* recruit when he landed in Louisianna, and for most of his career, he looked every bit a 5* player. Under the tutelage of Dave Aranda in 2019, Stevens put up 92 tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks, 3 interceptions and 6 pass defenses. In 2020 he played deep and at the line in Bo Pelini’s scheme and put up another good year.
His position at the next level is the big question mark. Is he a big safety or a small linebacker? He needs the right scheme to fulfil his potential, does anyone doubt that Saleh could use him in a variety of ways? During his pro-day workouts he was asked to do both linebacker and safety drills and he looked very comfortable doing both.
He also put to bed some concerns around his speed. He ran a 4.50 forty which isn’t lightning, but it’s far from being slow. He showed his explosion in both the vertical and the broad jump testing in the 90+ percentile in both and his arms came in at 32.25” which is the 74th percentile.
So he’s a 6’1, 212lb long defender who has the speed and the explosion to cover a lot of ground. He’s shown signs of being a good run defender and has rushed the passer to good effect. I think after his pro-day he may have jumped up some boards, but teams are wary of where to fit him according to most people.
Give Saleh the raw tools and I’m confident he’ll get the best out of a guy like Jacoby Stevens.
Round 6: Pick #186, Justin Hillard, LB, Ohio State
I remember the clamour for the signature of Justin Hilliard, he was a 5* ranked prospect by pretty much every outlet, he had over 35 schools looking to sign him and he was projected as the next big linebacker in college football.
Unfortunately for Hilliard, it never quite worked out that way. He had a number of injury issues, including a torn bicep, his injury issues mean he’s been in Columbus for 6 seasons from his freshman campaign in 2015, to 2020.
However it wasn’t until 2020 that we saw the potential of the 5* recruit. Hilliard finished the season with 33 total tackles, 5 for a loss with 1 forced fumble and 3 passes defended. He finishes his career at Ohio without having recorded a single sack.
Hilliard is a 6th round pick because he doesn’t have a ton of speed (13th percentile) or length (32nd percentile) and he’s quite small for the position (6’1 and 229), but there’s something about him that I like.
He plays a real physical style of football, despite his injury history. His straight line speed may not be great, but he shows good acceleration and has a nose for the football. His coverage looked solid and he used his hands well to shed blockers and work to the ball carrier.
He’s a SAM linebacker in a base 4-3 at the next level, and despite the size not matching up, I think that’s where his strength is going to place him. He’s not a plug and play player, as even after 6 seasons he’s still learning the position having not had the snaps due to injury history.
Hilliard does look like a good leader and with his style of play he could come in straight away and play special teams and excel, and then within a year or two he could start producing in your base defense. Well worth a 6th round pick.
Round 6: Pick #224, Austin Watkins, WR, UAB
I’m always in favour of double-dipping at the wide receiver position. I personally think Watkins is going to be long gone by this point, but I ran 3 different simulations and he was here every single time, so I’m taking the opportunity to select him.
Watkins doesn’t have that elite burst or speed that the top receivers in the class have, but he does have a lot of traits that teams will find attractive. After spending two years at JUCO he enrolled at UAB in 2018, but it wasn’t until 2019 where he really broke out.
In 2019 he had 57 receptions, 1092 yards and 6 touchdowns for a 19.2 yard per reception average. He couldn’t repeat those figures in 2020, but he still put up respectable numbers with 468 yards and 3 touchdowns in 7 games.
Watkins has excellent hands, having dropped just one pass on 100 catchable passes in college (per PFF). He’s got a strong 6’1, 210lb frame and high points the ball, using his leverage to come down with over 70% of his contested catches. He’s a very smart receiver who can come in straight away and offer a good possession option.
Potential UDFA’s of interest
I asked Matthew Merrett to come up with some potential UDFA’s that should and could interest the Jets. If you don’t follow Matthew already, here over to his Twitter to follow him HERE.
- Ryan McCollum, OG/C, Texas A&M
Love the ability to play across the interior of the line. Great with his hands. Needs to work on ability to recover.
- Will Fries, OT, Penn State
Another prospect with versatility (college starts at LT, LG, RG, RT). Finishes blocks well and looks great in space.
- Jordyn Peters, S, Auburn,
A new member of the Boyer’s special teams crew. 4 career blocked punts and a hard-nosed tackler.
- Tuf Borland, LB, Ohio State
Linebacker depth and an instinctive, powerful run stopper. Does he have the ability to cover at the next level?
- Kawaan Baker, WR, South Alabama
Speed and size project nicely. Needs to tighten up his routes and cut out the drops.