The 2020 NFL Draft is a pivotal moment for the New York Jets and general manager Joe Douglas. Here’s a running list of the picks.
Providing third-year quarterback Sam Darnold with some help on the offensive side of the ball is a top priority for Douglas and the Jets. With the No. 11 pick, expect Gang Green to look for a lineman who can protect Darnold or a wide receiver who can be a dynamic weapon. Either way, New York’s first-round pick is going to be a plug-and-play type guy.
The Jets have a host of picks on day two, so they’re stocked with some ammunition to move up for their guy if they are dead set on someone. If they go with a lineman on day one, expect the team to fill the hole at wideout on day two — and vice versa.
Round 1 — No. 11 — Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Did anyone expect Joe Douglas to go with anything other than an offensive lineman here? Well, yeah, there were some elite wide receivers on the board, but Douglas is going with the high-upside lineman.
Mekhi Becton is 6-foot-7, 368 pounds and he ran a 5.10 40-yard dash at the 2020 NFL Combine. Although he’s coming into the NFL with some underdeveloped pass-blocking skills, he’s an elite run blocker and has all the physical tools to become a dominant tackle. Darnold has some protection.
Round 2 — No. 59 — Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor (via Seattle)
Many expected the Jets to take Denzel Mims at pick No. 48 and add a strong talent to a depleted receiving corps. Douglas opted to trade the pick to Seattle in exchange for the 59th and 101st picks (more on that second pick later).
Douglas was still able to land Mims, who fell deep into the second round and is going to be coming into the league with a major chip on his shoulder. “When I get to the Jets, we’re gonna get to work,” Mims told reporters on a conference call via Robby Sabo of Jets X Factor.
Round 3 — No. 68 — Ashtyn Davis, S, California
This choice was met with surprise considering the recent Jamal Adams trade rumors, but after an initial moment of shock, this pick started to make sense. Ashtyn Davis is an athletic freak who can play safety, nickel corner, and wherever you need on special teams, including the return game.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams needs weapons and Davis gives him enough versatility to get creative with three-high safety sets. Plus, Davis gives the team some insurance if Marcus Maye ends up leaving in free agency.
Round 3 — No. 79 — Jabari Zuniga, DE, Florida
Jabari Zuniga is another pass rusher from Florida but he’s not going to be Jachai Polite 2.0. The Gator is generally regarded as a good locker room guy and although he doesn’t have eye-popping numbers from his senior season—5.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks in six games—he has a knack for making plays.
Not a bad idea to take a flyer on a guy who can rush the quarterback and contain the run off the edge. Again, just give Williams weapons to work with and he’ll scheme up ways to make it work.
Round 4 — No. 120 — Lamical Perine, RB, Florida
The New York Gators are here. After finishing day two with Zuniga, Douglas begins day three with Lamical Perine out of Florida. The back is similar to Le’Veon Bell in a lot of ways so the fit seems a bit odd.
But then again, the Jets needed a second back to take some pressure off of Bell’s shoulders. Perine can do it all. He and Adams are already acquainted with one another from their days in the SEC together.
Jets new running back giving Jamal Adams a piggy back ride pic.twitter.com/ulLOTwQzFu
— Matt (@mgnss26) April 25, 2020
Round 4 — No. 125 — James Morgan, QB, FIU (via New England)
This pick is all about challenging the guys below Sam Darnold. After missing multiple games in his first two seasons, the Jets would love to have a reliable backup to step in and weather the storm should Darnold miss time with injuries.
This was the first of three picks the Jets received in exchange for pick No. 101 from the Patriots. Remember, the Jets still drafted Mims at 59 and then flipped 101 for Nos. 125 and 129 (plus a sixth-rounder in 2021). The Morgan choice is an example of Joe Douglas wheeling and dealing.
Round 4 — No. 129 — Cameron Clark, OT, Charlotte (via New England)
It can never hurt to draft offensive line depth and Cameron Clark has all the intangibles that teams want in a mid-round draft pick. He could be a leader on the offensive line across from Mekhi Becton one day.
On the other hand, the Jets could move Clark to the interior and allow him to compete for a starting job from day one. Connor McGovern and Greg Van Roten are likely starters, but that would leave one guard spot up for grabs. This is how Joe Douglas rebuilds his line.
Round 5 — No. 158 — Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
This could very well be the steal of the draft. If Bryce Hall opted to leave Virginia a year early in 2019, he would have gone in the first round for his size and athleticism. He was a team captain at Virginia and led the nation in forced incompletions in 2018.
Jets' newest CB Bryce Hall led the nation with 23 forced incompletions back in 2018.
Before teams stopped throwing his way in 2019. pic.twitter.com/YHwJ0OEnKh
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 25, 2020
Unfortunately, he broke his leg on special teams and had to end his season after six games. Without a chance to show off his rehab progress much during this pre-draft process, teams were understandably wary of drafting the corner.
The Jets, in need of an outside corner, are willing to take a chance on Hall.
Round 6 — No. 191 — Braden Mann, P, Texas A&M
The Jets let Lachlan Edwards walk during the offseason so punter was an area of need for the Jets. At this point in the draft, it’s a smart pick to try and lock down a position that is often overlooked.
Braden Mann set records with Texas A&M and is coming into the NFL with as much hype as a punter can. The fact that this is a sixth-round pick doesn’t lock the Jets into anything long-term either. This could fill an often overlooked position without using a premium pick.