After starting 1-6, the New York Jets are primed for yet another top-five pick, this time in the 2020 NFL Draft. Chase Young leads the pack.
The college football season is already over halfway done. The New York Jets season will be halfway done after their game against the Dolphins on Sunday. This seems an appropriate time to sort out the top prospects that make sense for the team that drapes themselves in Gotham Green.
The Jets are expected to have a top-five pick yet again. Lucky for them, this is a draft class loaded with quarterback talent, which should force elite talent down the board.
Also lucky for them is the fact that the top of 2020 draft class is filled with players who fit positions of need.
Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State
Chase Young is the hands-down best player in college football. He is the best non-QB in the 2020 draft and it’s not close.
He is an elite edge rusher in every way. His technique rivals his former teammate Nick Bosa while bringing even more athleticism.
Young has 13.5 sacks in just eight games this year, after putting up 10.5 sacks in 2018. He stands at 6-foot-5 and weighs 265 pounds, and he’ll likely run a 4.5 40-yard dash.
Young specializes in getting to the QB. It’s what will get him drafted in the top three in the 2020 draft. However, that’s not his only strength.
Young is also a stellar run defender. He has 15.5 TFL this season after having 14.5 in 2018.
The one part of the game that Young struggles with is pass coverage, but that shouldn’t be an issue in the NFL. No team who drafts Young will be asking him to drop back into coverage often.
Young would be an amazing get for the Jets. They have been starved for a pass rusher like Young since they traded John Abraham over a decade ago. Young would immediately solve that issue.
He would add a new dimension to an already good Jets defense. He could be just what the Jets need to take them to the next level on that side of the ball.
Chase Young is a surefire starting edge rusher in the NFL. If the Jets are lucky enough to have the opportunity to draft him in April 2020, they should jump up to podium without hesitation.
Andrew Thomas, LT, Georgia
Andrew Thomas is the top left tackle in the 2020 draft class.
He isn’t a prospect for everyone, though. He is not built in the old-school LT mold of giant overbearing linemen. Instead, he’s built in the more modern Joe Thomas mold.
He’s a little bit short and has shorter than average arms. That’s not a killer, but some teams dislike those traits. It’s part of the reason why Jonah Williams dropped out of the top 10 in 2019.
However, Thomas is built like a brick house at 320 pounds with tree trunks for legs. He’s built as solidly as any offensive lineman in the league. He’s also very athletic for his size similar to Joe Thomas. He has some of the quickest feet I’ve ever seen on tape.
On the field, Thomas has been a stud. He has not allowed a sack in the last year and a half. He’s also been integral to opening up running lanes for Georgia’s run-heavy offense.
He’s a complete offensive lineman in every sense of the word. He is an excellent run and pass blocker, and he has been a leader for the Bulldogs.
The Jets offensive line is on pace to be one of the worst in NFL history in 2019. Adding Andrew Thomas would go a long way to fixing that issue.
He likely won’t be an above-average player right away in the mold of Quenton Nelson. However, Thomas would be as good a building block for an offensive line as the Jets could hope for.
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Jerry Jeudy is not only the top wide receiver in this class, but he’s also the best offensive player in his class, period.
Jeudy is the most talented player in the group and the best WR prospect to come out of school since Julio Jones.
Jeudy isn’t the prototypical size-speed threat. He stands at 6-foot-1 and ran a 4.4 40-yard dash at an Alabama practice earlier this year.
Don’t let those above-average traits fool you. Jeudy is an elite receiver prospect because of three things.
The first important item of note is his route-running ability. Jeudy runs crisp routes that often leave college cornerbacks starting at the ground, wondering how they got there. His change of direction and his understanding of the route-tree are second to none.
The second important aspect is his hands. Jeudy has dropped just one pass in the last two years. If the ball hits him in the hands, he’s catching it. That makes his QBs look good.
For example, with Tua not playing against Arkansas on Oct. 26, Jeudy went off for seven receptions for 103 yards and two touchdowns.
The last of Jeudy’s special skills is his football IQ. He understands how defenses want to attack him and he knows how to counter them. Jeudy has only been held under 50 yards three times in the last two years. It happened once when Tagovailoa left the game with an injury and he was saddled with a QB making his first career passes. The second time came against the top CB in the 2019 NFL Draft, DeAndre Baker. And the first time it happened, though, was against Miss State in 2018. In that game, Jeudy still led Alabama in receptions.
Jeudy understands how to free himself and make himself available to his QB. He understands how and where to sit in a zone. He’s also able to see the coverage the defenses are running and he understands how to beat them.
He would certainly be the best receiver on the Jets, especially since it’s not known whether Robby Anderson will be back in 2020 or not.
If the Jets are looking to help Sam Darnold with a legitimate red-zone threat, Jeudy is their guy. He would be any QB’s best friend.
Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Ohio State has become corner back university. They’ve had a CB drafted in each of the last six drafts. Twenty-twenty will be no different.
Jeff Okudah is the top CB in the 2020 draft. He has prototypical size, standing at 6-foot-1 with long arms. He couples that with unbelievable speed in the high 4.3 range to become an elite press-man CB.
Okudah came into the season as the top CB in the draft. The only knock on him was his inability to force turnovers. Despite playing significant time in 2017 and 2018, Okudah did not have an interception in his career.
That changed in 2019. He has three INTs in his eight games this year. Not elite, but it’s hard to get interceptions when QBs don’t throw the ball your way; just ask Darrelle Revis.
Okudah showcases solid technique at times, but can often get beat by good route runners. He struggles to diagnose routes, which has limited his effectiveness at times. It has also led to some easily avoidable penalties.
He also has issues with his stance. His body is often turned to the QB rather than the receiver he is covering. That’s awful technique and it will get him beat in the NFL.
His superior athleticism has allowed him to get away with it in college, but it won’t work at the next level. That same technique issue is why Okudah has issues covering quick breaking routes like slants and crossing routes.
However, any play that would go beyond the stick, Okudah has covered as well as anyone in the country. He’s also very rarely beaten over the top.
Okudah excels when the game gets physical and receivers try to hand fight him on deep routes. The issue is that the NFL has shifted away from those routes for top receivers. They prefer quick passing and good route running.
Okudah has all the tools to become an elite CB in the NFL. He even has the technique for shutting down receivers in the mold of Robby Anderson down, but he has work to do if he’s going to be a viable stater for an NFL team in 2020.
The Jets are desperate for help at CB and Okudah would be an upgrade for them. He would also provide them with a CB with an incredibly high upside.
If the Jets are serious about building around their defense, Okudah could be a solid choice that solidifies the CB position for years to come. This remains true even if he comes with some growing pains in his rookie year.