The New York Jets need to address their weak offensive line and a defense that needs more punch in the upcoming draft.
The New York Jets face several severe holes they must address heading into the 2020 season and, as any NFL organization should, addressing those needs starts in the draft. After finishing this past season with a 7-9 record, the Jets will be picking 11th.
Most of their holes can be found in their offensive line, but there’s some work to be done on defense as well. They need to protect their franchise quarterback, Sam Darnold, so the line should certainly be the priority. On defense, they need a cornerback, edge rusher, safety, and defensive lineman.
One of the best players of any of these positions who will likely still be on the board is Tristan Wirfs, an offensive tackle out of the University of Iowa.
Wirfs is one of the very best offensive tackles in this draft and is actually capable of playing on both the left and right. The 21-year-old was the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year and made First-Team All-Big Ten in 2019.
Part of what makes Wirfs so good is his size and strength. At 6-foot-5 and 322 pounds, the young tackle absolutely manhandles defenses. Of course, he does have some flaws: analysts say his arms are too short so he may have trouble with pass protection at the professional level and he isn’t exactly known for his athleticism. Nevertheless, Wirfs has the ability to be a really good tackle who can help provide Darnold with much-needed protection.
Wirfs is the better option but if he is taken before the Jets are on the board, Josh Jones is another good choice. Jones is also a tackle who hails from the University of Houston. What has made Jones stand out is the athleticism he displays even at his big size. He is 6-foot-7 and weighs a whopping 310 pounds.
Rarely do we see offensive tackles, especially ones as large as Jones, chase down defensive players as he does. Unlike Wirfs, Jones isn’t known for his strength, but his mobility is remarkable.
If the Jets are interested in giving Darnold a weapon instead of protection, the University of Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs fits the bill. He’s rated highly and considered to be a top-three wide receiver in the draft along with Alabama teammate Jerry Jeudy and University of Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb.
Ruggs may be the only one of this trio left by the time the Jets pick, but he is still a fabulous option. His speed makes him stand out. Ruggs has reached 24.3 mph during games. For comparison, Usain Bolt’s fastest speed is 27.8 mph.
Many are looking forward to seeing Ruggs at the combine more than any other player because of the belief that he may set records during the 40-yard dash. His speed will make him a nightmare for opposing defenses. The Jets need to bolster their receiving corps, especially since Robby Anderson may not be here next season.
If Jeudy and Lamb are available when the Jets pick, they are the much safer bets at wide receiver, but Ruggs appears to be the more likely option for New York.
The Jets’ offensive line is so bad that they will likely dedicate their first few picks to fixing that problem. Plus this draft is stacked with offensive lineman talent. As a result, they may hold off drafting defensive players until later rounds.
Edge rusher Kenny Willekes out of Michigan State University is a potential option for the Jets if he slips past the first round. He is effective in both the pass rush and against the run and the Jets would be wise to scoop him up if he falls into the second or third round.
It is unlikely, but the Jets can pull a quick one and take a defensive player with their first pick. One of their best bets would be to go with defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson out of Louisiana State University. Teams can always make do with another strong defensive end and Chiasson is just the man for the job. Standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing 250 pounds, Chaisson was ruthless during his three-year career at LSU.
In 24 games, he registered 92 tackles including 13.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, four pass deflections, and one forced fumble. He is praised for his explosiveness and offensive lineman have difficulty controlling him.
So much can change between now and draft day, but there is plenty of talent available that can fill New York’s needs.