Forget the early rounds. Which positions of need should the Jets address when Day 3 of the upcoming NFL Draft arrives?
Part ways with Sam Darnold and draft a quarterback at No. 2? Keep Darnold and draft a receiver or offensive tackle? Trade the second overall pick? Acquire an edge rusher in the second round?
The general conversations regarding the Jets‘ upcoming 2021 NFL Draft performance involve what the struggling organization will do with its early-to-mid-round picks.
But the later rounds additionally carry true importance. The Jets currently possess a total of five selections through rounds 4-7 (No. 98 in round four, No. 130 and 138 in round five, No. 162 in round six, and No. 215 in round seven), and the decisions they make during that timeframe could pay off big time in 2021 and beyond.
So which positions and roles should the Jets target with those late selections?
There’s uncertainty regarding the futures of Neville Hewitt and Bryce Hager — either’s contract is expiring. And while the organization should look to bring back Hewitt and is expected to return C.J. Mosley after he opted out of the 2020 campaign, the team will still require depth at inside linebacker. Mosley is definitely prone to injury, having missed 14 games in 2019 due to a lingering groin injury.
Thanks to The Draft Network‘s prospect rankings, it seems Virginia’s Charles Snowden and West Virginia’s Tony Fields II could be available in the fifth round. The former possesses significant size at 6-foot-6, 232 pounds and can rush the passer if need be — Snowden racked up six sacks in eight games this past season.
The Cavalier standout’s 2020 efforts earned him a spot on the All-ACC second team.
You can never employ enough depth in the secondary, especially after finishing 28th in the NFL with 275.6 passing yards allowed per game.
The current contracts of Marcus Maye, Bradley McDougald, Brian Poole, and Arthur Maulet are all expiring and there’s uncertainty in regard to the on-field ability of both Lamar Jackson and Corey Ballentine. And while Maye could remain in green, the defensive backfield is still an area the Jets will need to address this offseason, potentially with their fourth-round choice (No. 98 overall).
Possible targets include Syracuse cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu and South Carolina cornerback Israel Mukuamu, the latter of whom was a second-team All-SEC selection in 2019.
If the Jets don’t select a quarterback early and instead roll the dice with Darnold, they could utilize one of their opening-round picks on a wide receiver. Nonetheless, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to use their seventh-round pick (No. 215 overall) on the same position and keep adding offensive skill players. Keep in mind: the Jets were last in total offense, scoring, and 31st in passing in 2020, so they need all the help they can get.
Trevon Grimes (6-foot-4) from Florida would add height to the receiving corps and he also brings experience playing against superb competition. This past year, the Gator faced the likes of Texas A&M, Georgia, and Alabama.
Grimes additionally carries a knack for the end zone, having recorded nine touchdown catches in 2020. This could certainly assist a Jets team that found the end zone through the air just 16 times this past season.
The offensive line could also be an area of focus in the fifth round; the Jets will likely require another reserve tackle considering Chuma Edoga is the only one currently on the roster.
Regardless of who’s under center (whether it’s Darnold, a rookie, or even possibly Deshaun Watson), you desperately need depth on the offensive line, and the Jets should snag someone who could step up if Mekhi Becton or George Fant suffers an injury.
BYU’s Brady Christensen, who was Pro Football Focus’ 2020 highest-graded offensive lineman, might be available.
BYU OT Brady Christensen: Highest-graded offensive lineman in 2020 (96.0) pic.twitter.com/qCArhQlNDy
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) December 25, 2020
Hey, why not?
Even if the Jets draft someone like Zach Wilson at No. 2 overall, they’ll probably need a reserve quarterback considering Darnold’s then-situation and Joe Flacco’s uncertain future. A seventh-round draftee may even be able to beat out James Morgan for a roster spot.
Maybe Texas’ Sam Ehlinger? He faced great competition at the collegiate level and was a second-team All-Big 12 selection amid throwing for 2,566 yards and 26 touchdowns this past season.