Day three of the 2020 NFL Draft is ripe for late-round steals. Here are four sleepers New York Jets GM Joe Douglas should keep an eye on.
The best teams in the NFL stay on top with success in the draft. Of course, most of the impact players will be had on days one and two of the 2020 NFL Draft, but day three will be a huge test for Joe Douglas.
The general manager is looking to fill multiple holes on the roster when the New York Jets draft next weekend. Making sure third-year quarterback Sam Darnold is in the best situation possible is imperative and perhaps a late-round wide receiver or running back could emerge as an unlikely star.
With that said, special teams help and edge rushing are sorely needed as well. How Douglas and the Jets draft will say a lot about the general manager’s plan for the future.
ESNY’s New York Jets draft roundtable series continues with four day three sleepers.
Anthony McFarland Jr. — RB — Maryland
The Jets need help in the backfield. Le’Veon Bell offers a patient style of running that usually prevents run stuffs. That’s great for short yardage or early-down runs, but the lack of big-play ability hurt the offense in 2019.
Anthony McFarland would be able to step in and change that on day one. McFarland brings electric speed and big-play ability that was unmatched in 2018. An injury and ineffective offensive line play severely limited him in 2019, sending him tumbling down draft boards.
McFarland isn’t going to be a starting running back in the NFL, but he should have a role as a change-of-pace back. His game-breaking speed would add an element the Jets have lacked at running back since they had Leon Washington.
With the evolution of the NFL forcing teams to add more and more dynamic speed threats the Jets shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to add one on day 3 of the Draft. Even if that player is one dimensional.
Kenny Willekes — Edge — Michigan State
When was the last time the Jets had a dominant pass rusher on the edge? John Abraham? He played his last game in green on New Year’s Day in 2006, racking up one sack and a forced fumble.
Gang Green probably won’t snag a beast cut from the same cloth as Abraham on day 3 of the 2020 NFL Draft, but crazier things have happened. makes good use of his hands and has an array of moves to throw at would-be blockers. Although he’s not the most athletic specimen in the draft, he’s a reliable pass rusher who should become a solid contributor.
And who knows, maybe the Jets’ strength up the middle of the defense—interior line, middle linebackers, and safeties—will give Willikes enough space for a breakout rookie season.
Joe Reed — WR/KR/PR — Virginia
Enough has been written about the Jets’ desperation at wide receiver. One of their most underrated targets should be filling the lingering holes in their special teams. The post-Jason Myers kicking woes have been well documented and Lac Edwards hasn’t been brought back yet. Their return game likewise suffered, the average on kick variety dropping from third to 22nd after Andre Roberts moved to Buffalo.
While the Jets could find some competition for Brett Maher on day three (namely Georgia staple Rodrigo Blankenship), they could find a solution to both their most prevalent and underrated problems in the form of Reed, a multi-talented ACC weapon out of Charlottesville. Reed led the conference in kick return average twice (17, 19) and his all-time yardage ranks ninth in NCAA history (3,042). Reed perhaps falls to day three due to his struggles with separation and route acceleration, but he has proven himself to be a decent slot receiver.
Tyler Johnson — WR — Minnesota
The Jets desperately need to surround Sam Darnold with weapons and playmakers. Le’Veon Bell and Chris Herndon give Gang Green plenty to work with at running back and tight end, but the receiving corps is worrisome in its current state.
Jamison Crowder is a quality slot-receiver; however, when it comes to the Jets’ outside wideouts, there are plenty of question marks. As of now, Breshad Perriman is slated to be a starter, but there isn’t much else. Josh Doctson, Vyncint Smith, and Braxton Berrios are all unproven, as is Perriman to some degree.
Joe Douglas will surely address this need in this year’s receiver-rich draft. The expectation is that Gang Green will use either their 11th or 48th overall pick to select a wideout. Nonetheless, I’m hoping that the Jets double-dip and add another wide receiver on day three.
For this reason, I’m looking at Minnesota wideout Tyler Johnson as my sleeper.
At 6-foot-2’, 205 pounds, the former Golden Gopher is a physical target who is able to make contested catches and win jump-balls. Thanks to his size, physicality, and reliable hands, Johnson could come in and immediately serve as a sneaky red-zone-target for Darnold.
In the end, Johnson has his flaws and would be a bit of a project, yet I certainly see starter potential, which is enticing. The 21-year-old still needs to improve his route-running, and he isn’t the fastest or quickest.
Then again, the Jets need guys that can come in and contribute right away, and while Johnson isn’t ready to be a day-one starter, his strength and physicality could help to add a new dimension to New York’s suspect receiving corps.