Denzel Ward, Ohio State
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

In Matt Miller’s latest mock draft, the New York Jets go defense in the first round. Would that be the right decision for the green and white?

“Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, and three times is an enemy action.” I wonder what this quote would say for 10 times?

Because if the prediction that Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller makes for the New York Jets is correct, they’d go defense in the first round for the 10th consecutive year. That’d continue a puzzling streak for Gang Green, especially considering their offensive struggles over the years.

So far in the mock draft season, we’ve really seen a bunch of different names thrown the Jets’ way, but Miller’s latest is the first time I’ve seen Ohio State’s Denzel Ward mocked to the Jets.

“If Kirk Cousins doesn’t land in Denver, where does he go? I’m projecting the New York Jets open up the checkbook and land the prized free agent,” wrote Miller. “With Cousins on the roster, a quarterback is no longer a need for the Jets. That allows general manager Mike Maccagnan to go after the best player on the board…but for me, that’s safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, and there’s no way the Jets need a safety. So, on to the second-best player, which is Ohio State’s Denzel Ward. A feisty, tough cornerback with excellent speed and instincts, Ward would fill a huge need for the Jets as the front office tries to continue building a powerhouse secondary. And while pass-rusher is a bigger need, there isn’t one on the board worthy of a top-six selection.”

There are some assumptions being made here.

  • Kirk Cousins to the Jets (which of course would solve the quarterback position for Gang Green).
  • I’ve heard different perspectives on Minkah Fitzpatrick. Some say Fitzpatrick can play either position well (ESPN’s Mel Kiper, for example). Miller suggests that isn’t true.

If you’re a Jets fan, you’re painfully aware of the organization trying to draft guys out of position and convert them to something else. Look no further than arguably the biggest bust in NFL history, Vernon Gholston. Ironically, Gholston is also from Ohio State.

Gholston was a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end and the Jets got blown away by what he was able to do at the combine and thus tried to fit a square peg into a round hole. Gholston was unable to make the transition from 4-3 end to hybrid 3-4 outside linebacker. He never registered a sack and was out of the league almost as quickly as he arrived.

So obviously, drafting out of position and hoping they can make the transition is a dangerous game. Especially for a team like the Jets, who can’t afford another bust with the sixth-overall pick. They need a difference-maker, regardless of position.

Here’s a look at other top prospects who were also on the board at No. 6 in Miller’s mock.

  • Quenton Nelson, Guard, Notre Dame: Wouldn’t be a sexy pick by any means, but an effective one. I think the Jets have ‘won enough offseason’s it’s time to win the one that really matters. The Jets have a solid combo at the guard position, but they could use some star power.
  • Baker Mayfield, Quarterback, Oklahoma: The Jets likely wouldn’t draft a young passer if they landed Kirk Cousins. But I can’t say enough times that Baker Mayfield will be a stud at the next level. You heard it here first.
  • Roquan Smith, Linebacker, Georgia: Typically middle linebackers don’t go this high in the NFL Draft. That’s all based on value, but Roquan Smith is always in the right place at the right time. He doesn’t miss tackles and he’s got all the intangibles of a top quarterback.

I had to get some more insight from my lead NFL Draft Insider that I talk to every week on “Drive Time Sports” (3-6 pm ET), that’s Connor Rogers of the Stick to the Jets podcast:

“Ward’s not the tallest corner, but he makes up for it with long arms, smooth coverage ability, and ball skills. Todd Bowles defense prioritizes the cornerback position and the Jets don’t have one nearly as talented as Ward, making him a huge upgrade at the position.”

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