ESPN’s Todd McShay is out with his latest mock draft. The Jets own two top ten picks this year.
With the fourth overall selection McShay believes the Jets will focus on the offensive line.
Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
Ekwonu’s size makes him tough to get around, he plays with the power to bury defenders, and he’s a mauler in the run game. In fact, some people around the NFL even like him more than Evan Neal. Ekwonu would help New York protect Zach Wilson in the passing game and spring Michael Carter in the running game. The Jets allowed 53 sacks in 2021 (fourth most), but New York’s offensive line issues aren’t as massive as they seem. I think the team is one impact player away there. Morgan Moses played well last season, but he’s a free agent due for a pay bump. Mekhi Becton, the Jets’ 2020 first-rounder, has struggled to stay healthy but still has a ton of upside.
Given some unknowns here, Ekwonu’s versatility matches what the Jets need. Coach Robert Saleh would have options with Ekwonu in the fold, including but not limited to bumping the rookie inside or sliding Becton to the right side. Alternatively, the Jets could consider Kayvon Thibodeaux to address the edge rush after generating just 33 sacks last year (tied for 28th).
After that, McShay has the Jets upgrading their cornerback group with the tenth overall pick.
10. New York Jets (via SEA)
Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
The Jets went offense with their first four picks in 2021, and we just handed them an offensive tackle (Ikem Ekwonu) at No. 4. So yeah, this is defense all the way, especially with safety Marcus Maye facing free agency. The Jets could certainly get by with Bryce Hall and Brandin Echols at corner, but Stingley could be the steal of the draft if things go this way. The big question is whether the LSU product can return to form and produce as he did in his 2019 freshman year, when he had six interceptions. A left foot injury held him out of all but three games in 2021, but if he realizes his potential, Stingley would certainly improve a defense that gave up 8.0 yards per pass attempt and hauled in just seven interceptions in 2021.
This is an interesting mix of players.
Ekwonu feels very much like an early round Joe Douglas pick. The Jets general manager loves taking athletically gifted offensive line prospects. He has done so in both of the Drafts he has run since getting the job. He very much fits the mold.
Stingley, meanwhile, would be a bit of a departure philosophically for the Jets. The defense has been built focusing resources on the defensive line and relying on the coaching staff to develop less heralded prospects at cornerback. The Jets certainly could change course going forward. Perhaps they view Stingley as a special enough prospect to depart from their typical path. It still would represent something to a change.