The Jets face a pivotal point with a new QB who needs to develop and a team devoid of talent. Joe Douglas has put the Jets in a precarious position heading into the 2022 NFL draft. He had the worst defense in the NFL in 2021; that is not easy to fix. He also has a 2nd year QB who needs protection and some offensive talent around him.
Fortunately for Joe he has 4 selections in the first 38 picks to help rectify that situation. Unfortunately that is not enough Draft capital to make the Jets a serious contender. It helps but still falls short. So let us look at the things the Jets need to do in this Draft to make this team better, much better. The wild card in this is Mekhi Becton who played only half a game last year. I’m sure Joe knows a lot more than we do, but it’s a gamble to assume everything is okay with him and that he will be back better than ever. That would be a dream scenario, but as of now it’s only a hope.
#1) The Jets need an edge rusher
Rarely do you have a Draft where there are so many quality edge players available. Take it from me. Carl Lawson is supposed to be back, and he looks good in training videos. That said, this is the 3rd huge leg injury he has had. (He tore an ACL in 2014 with Auburn and tore another ACL in 2018 with the Bengals.) It is imperative the Jets get at least one of these edge rushers They could even draft two. Great edge rushers never come on the market, and when even a mediocre talent does he is paid like a king. You can never have too many.
#2) The Jets will need to trade down.
Having the 4th and 10th picks is great, but long term the Jets could move down and get a number of picks early in this Draft. Since the Jets are in it for the long haul they could also take a 1st round pick in 2023 as compensation. I am hoping the Jets are in talks with New Orleans with their two first round picks plus maybe a 2nd in 2023 for the #4 pick. If New Orleans believes in Pickett or Willis they will want to jump ahead of the other QB needy teams to secure the top guy on their board. They would wait until Draft day to do that so the behind the scenes work is pivotal. I hope the Jets trade down a couple of times. Additional choices could pay huge dividends.
#3) The Jets will need to draft at least one if not two safeties.
This Draft may be short on superior talent, but there are numerous positions with players who have tantalizing upside. One of those is the safety position.Lamarcus Joyner is a good veteran, but he is a bridge player. Jordan Whitehead signed a two year deal, but a replacement would be nice in this Draft. That replacement could be a special teams player as well as a subpackage guy as he learns the defense for a couple of years. Lewis Cine, Daxton Hill, Nick Cross or even T.J. Woods would make excellent choices in various rounds.
#4) The Jets need a linebacker or two.
The Jets linebacker situation is poor with an overpaid C.J. Mosley being the standard bearer. While I would like to see Mosley traded, the Jets are very thin at the LB position. There are some excellent choices available in the Draft with Quay Walker undervalued and possessing huge upside. Devin Lloyd is the top prospect, but if the Jets want a couple of LBs they could select a combination of Walker, Tindall, Chenal, or Hansford. All these players are uber athletic but may need a year to learn the Saleh system. They are all intriguing.
#5) What about cornerback?
I truly have no idea how the Jets view their cornerback position. Do they believe in what they have, or do they need an upgrade? I am going with the latter so I believe the Jets need at least one cornerback with upside in this Draft. They will probably spend less Draft capital on the position than others so they could look to players like Zyon McCollum, Damarion Williams, or Alontae Taylor as possible upgrades in the middle rounds. This is where smart trading back work could net 4th or 5th round add-ons that turn into future starters with good scouting.
#6) Don’t forget the defensive line.
Again I have no idea how the Jets brass feel about the defensive line. Last year was a horror show so there has to be some consternation about the position. I think the Jets could use a run stuffer who has the ability to press the pocket. I don’t think they will prioritize the position so a selection of John Ridgeway or Eyioma Uwazurike are a possibility. Even a player like Damion Daniels as a UDFA is a thought.
#7) The Jets need to draft at least two wide receivers.
The Jets need an upgrade at the wide receiver position which is news to no one. The Jets are in need of an outside threat as well as a slot player. Where do you put your priorities when it comes to the WR position? There are a number of ways to go. First you need to understand the type of players you need. I have stated before that vertical threats are becoming dinosaurs with the use of two deep safeties. So players with tremendous speed and abilities to work all three zones of the defense are needed. A player like a Garrett Wilson (#1 receiver on my board) is a possibility at #10 if the Jets stay there.
If they chose another position to prioritize then an Alec Pierce is a nice player in the late 2nd round to choose. He is vastly underrated and will be an excellent receiver for a decade without being a huge star. Other choices could be Romeo Doubs, Danny Gray, George Pickens, or even a Velus Jones. Of course these players would be later in the Draft. In the slot (which is a huge position of need) there are less choices, but the player the Jets need is Calvin Austin who profiles as an excellent fit. He has near world class speed and would be a game changer.
#8) Offensive line needs depth.
You can see now the reason to trade down. The need is so acute in so many areas that the Jets could draft 12 players who could all be major contributors next year if they had the choices. You and I have no idea what the Mekhi Becton situation is all about. He played half a game last year so anything is possible. The Jets need a backup tackle who can be an above average starter in he near future and a possible center who can take over next year. I kind of like Tyler Smith out of Tulsa as a right tackle prospect. He is salty and likes to dominate his opponents. As for the interior line I love Luke Fortner, a center prospect from Kentucky, who could be a swing interior lineman next year and a starter at center in 2023.
#9) Here is a tight end prospect worth considering.
The Jets have received almost nothing from the tight end position in the last decade. They need a viable receiver with size to keep the defense honest. I really believe in Daniel Bellinger from San Diego State who is a terrific blocker at the point of attack. He is also fast with very good hands with the ability to run the seam. He was underused in a run first offense but he has great traits as a receiver. Plus he is a great blocker at the point of attack. I realize the Jets have signed two tight ends in free agency so the need is not as acute, but that will also allow Bellinger to develop over time. He is already a better blocker than the two free agents plus the Jets can probably get him as a steal in the 4th or 5th round.
#10) The Jets need to find a partner for Michael Carter.
This is again a situation where trading down to add Draft capital makes sense since there are many good backs in the later rounds who could be taken. The Jets can’t just rely on Michael Carter to carry the load, he had 147 carries last year, and I think (at his size) that should be about his limit. Tevin Coleman has had a grand total of 112 carries the last two years combined with less that 3.7 yards a carry so he isn’t a great option to count on. Ty Johnson (115 carries the last two years) and Austin Walter (26 carries last year) are not the type of players you want making a high percentange of your carries. If you can find a durable back with speed who can be in a RBBC situation it would behoove the Jets to do so. I have mentioned Pierre Strong before, a speedster (4.37/40) with decent size and tremendous production. He is an FCS player so he can be had in the later rounds.
#11) Look to UDFAs for special teams.
While I don’t think our special teams are all that special, the needs iare more pressing in other areas. We will have to see if Greg Zuerlein works out. The Jets also spent a pick a few years ago on Braden Mann. The UDFA market will have to do. You’re not going to find a Matt Araiza there, but I don’t want to spend a 4th round pick on a punter with all our needs.
So there you have It. :et me know what I missed, or how you feel differently. The Draft is coming; I hope it’s a great one...We need it.