The NFL season is quickly winding down. For teams without playoff hopes the next step is to find ways to improve their squads. This is done first by self-scouting your team. You must determine which players you can grow with while also determining who must go. That process is easier said than done. There are always salary cap implications and/or the lack of viable replacements. If you have limited cap space or the lack of draft picks it makes it difficult to improve your team. Sadly this is the case with the New York Jets, as they have only two premium draft picks and are currently only $16.7 million under the 2024 salary cap with only 41 players under contract in 2024.
To make matters worse, some of the players under contract in 2024 are only under contract due to voidable years. Players like Duane Brown, Jordan Whitehead, Carl Lawson and Quinton Jefferson are being paid for the voidable years of their contracts. They won’t actually be with the team in 2024, barring extensions, but they will still be getting paid. Joe Douglas thought it was wise to spend future cap space on a team that is currently not in the playoff picture.
That means that the Jets only have 37 real players under contract for the 2024 season, with little cap space plus the lack of those premium draft picks. That “All in for the Super Bowl” mantra has consequences, even if the Jets had made the playoffs. When you fall far short, like the Jets did in 2023, it seems like a pipe dream born out of frustration and futility. It just goes to show you that there is no quick fix in the NFL. The football gods will make you pay for years and years of poor decisions.
On a personal note, I thought the romance the Jets had for Aaron Rodgers was a “Hail Mary” by Joe Douglas to hide years of bad decisions. Joe did things his way, which is what a good GM is supposed to do. Sadly, Joe got lost in his own dreams. He forgot his mantra when he became the Jets general manager to build the offensive line and “enforce their will” on opposing teams. The Miami game showed just how far the Jets have fallen short of that mantra.
Let’s say “the heck with Joe Douglas and his cronies.” YOU are now the Jets GM and can decide what to do and when to do it. For your first task you must figure out what to do in the NFL draft. I will give you some insights on the coming crop of players, but you must decide what is the best course of action. Depending on the results of the final few games the Jets will have a solid pick. They are currently at #6.
The Jets have 5 total picks, but only two picks in the first two days of the draft. They have two 4th round picks plus a 6th round selection. For once the Jets should get a few compensatory picks (as many as 3) but they will be 6th and 7th round selections if they are awarded. They are tradeable though, so they can be used in that manner as well. I would just keep them. It is going to be a deep draft, so your chances of finding gold in later rounds is much better than in previous years. That said both Brock Purdy and Isiah Pacheco were 7th round steals. If you have an eye for talent it is always available.
The 2024 NFL draft has much more highly talented players than the last couple of years. So the fact the Jets have a single pick in the first two rounds makes your task even tougher.
So what do you do?
1) Trade the pick
If the Jets traded down from #6 to about #15 you can probably get an additional 2nd round pick and maybe a 3rd next year or another 4th in 2024. It’s possible you can even get a little more if there is a run on quarterbacks.
By trading down you are giving up on the top talent in terms of quarterbacks and offensive linemen. However, you are also adding a premium pick in a draft stocked with high potential players. This route gets you more draft capital, which the Jets need desperately.
You might even see multiple trade downs. This is a loaded draft, so the more picks you can get the better chance of making the Jets contenders. There are risks with this scenario, since you could be trading down from a potential All-Pro player.
2) Draft a quarterback
You don’t know how the chips will fall in a draft or who will be available when the Jets selection comes up. Of course the Jets could trade up (which would cost a fortune), but that doesn’t always work out. You can assume that Caleb Williams and Drake Maye will be off the board before the Jets pick. Same could be true for Jayden Daniels, but Bo Nix and Michael Penix (if he comes out) may be available. If so, do you pull the trigger?
3) Draft an offensive tackle
I currently have four offensive tackles in my top 20 players, and that may be a little light since I have not come close to finishing my analysis on those players. At the Jets pick it’s hard to say who will be there. If the Jets are looking for a tackle and there is a run on quarterbacks, then the Jets would reap the rewards. Joe Alt or Olumuyiwa Fashanu could fall to them, but it’s not too likely. The Jets could take Taliese Fuaga or JC Latham, both of whom should be there at the Jets selection.
4) Draft a wide receiver
An argument could be made that the Jets could do well with additional talent at the wide receiver position. It has been said that an offense is only as good as its third best receiver. The Jets currently don’t have two quality receivers. The Allen Lazard signing has been a disaster. He has a mere 23 receptions through the first 14 games of the Jets’ 2023 season. Lazard also was supposed to be a tremendous blocker but that hasn’t been the case. His drops have been too frequent and he has only caught 48% of his targets.
The drafting of a special receiver would make Garrett Wilson even more of a threat. If you want the best out of Wilson you need to add a great WR on his opposite side. Forget about Marvin Harrison Jr. He will be long gone before the Jets select. You will likely be able to take Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze where the Jets select. A player who will fly up draft boards who is currently projected as a mid 2nd round talent is Xavier Legette. Once he gets through the NFL Combine the 6’ 3” 225lbs receiver, who will likely run sub 4.4/40, will be a 1st round player. He is exactly what the Jets need as a wide receiver; a big, fast, explosive player.
5) Draft a defensive player
This would only be an option in a trade down scenario. The Jets may lose a few defensive players off this roster, so adding a player like Laiatu Latu (edge) or Jer’Zhan Newton (3-tech) to work next to Quinnen Williams could help the defense. You have Kool-Aid McKinstry, who would give the Jets an incredible cornerback group, or Cooper DeJean who is a play-making safety.
The defense would be the last need the Jets have right now, but you never know what the team will look like after the season and free agency.
What would you do?
Let us know your thoughts below.
What should the Jets do in the draft?
This poll is closed
1) Trade the pick
2) Draft a QB
3) Draft an Offensive Tackle
4) Draft a WR
5) Draft a Defensive Player
6) I have no Idea