The NFL Draft is finally here. With everything shut down, this has to be the most analyzed draft in history and it may be the most watched.
This is a critical draft for the Jets, who desperately need general manager Joe Douglas to hit on several picks if they hope to turn things around after four straight losing seasons and nine out of the playoffs.
Here are some final thoughts before we get going after weeks of conversations about the Draft:
1. All along we have positioned the Jets’ first-round decision Thursday as – take the third- or fourth-best tackle or take the first- or second-wide receiver on the board. But what if all the tackles are gone? Is it just as easy as take the wide receiver?
With the NFL Network report on Wednesday that the Dolphins were trying to move up to No. 3 to take a tackle, the chances of all four tackles being gone before the Jets get on the clock seems possible. If the Dolphins’ interest is real that would make four teams along with the Giants, Cardinals and Browns that have all been viewed as wanting a tackle. You could throw the Chargers in there, too, because no one seems to know what they are thinking.
I don’t think Douglas would trade up for a tackle. There are just too many holes on this roster to trade picks.
I do think if the four tackles are gone, Douglas faces a decision. He could easily take the receiver. But I think the trade down scenarios come into play more now. The Jets are in the sweet spot for receivers so teams will be calling them to trade up. If they move down to 15 or 16 (Broncos or Falcons) they could still take a receiver or grab edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson or cornerback C.J. Henderson possibly.
In terms of how the Jets view these receivers, some people in the league believe the Jets prefer CeeDee Lamb. But the Jets know they cannot be picky with receivers. They need so much help at the position. This won’t be a question of whether to take a speed receiver or a big receiver. They need both. That is why waiting until Day 2 for a receiver could make the most sense for them. Fill another need on Day 1 and then grab the best available receiver in the second or third round.
2. Talk to four people and you’ll get four different rankings of the top tackles. I heard this in the last few days from someone who has talked to multiple offensive line coaches around the league: Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs is considered the fourth-best tackle by most. This is because many view him as a guard. That does not mean he will definitely be fourth off the board. Every team could have a different view on the order of these tackles. But it is why I went with Wirfs for my final prediction of who the Jets will draft.
If the Jets somehow come out of this draft without a new starting tackle, then what? They have been linked to Trent Williams, who is on the trading block in Washington. I know there was some interest there, but I don’t see that happening. I think his price tag is simply too high for the Jets. Kelvin Beachum remains a free agent and maybe the Jets revisit signing him after this draft if they come away feeling they need more help at tackle. Beachum has played well when healthy for the Jets over the past three years.
3. A lot has been made of the Giants’ connections to Alabama with Joe Judge having worked there under Nick Saban and them having assistant coaches with ties to the Crimson Tide. The Jets also have some good insight into Alabama. Adam Gase got his start in coaching under Saban at Michigan State and LSU. Senior football advisor Phil Savage spent nine years as a radio broadcaster for Alabama. He still lives there and has plenty of relationships inside the program. So, the Jets should have good intel on the Alabama players like Jedrick Wills, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs.
4. There are some players that I just get a feeling about in the draft process that make sense for the Jets. This is based more on a hunch than reporting, so take it for what it’s worth. Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don’t.
Two players that I have had my eye on since the Senior Bowl that I think make sense as Day 2 targets for the Jets are USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry. Both of them feel like the type of players that Douglas is looking for on and off the field. Keep an eye on them.
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