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Did ESPN’s Mel Kiper nail it with his latest Jets and Giants mock-draft picks?

Ryan Honey

The Jets possess a multitude of options at No. 2 overall — when you own that type of pick, you tend to have a significant deal of leverage. They could draft a new franchise quarterback, go with an offensive weapon if they roll the dice with Sam Darnold again, or actually trade out of the pick.

Not many are considering the latter-most option, but ESPN’s Mel Kiper surely is in his latest mock draft.

Jets’ No. 4 overall pick (via trade with Falcons) — Florida TE Kyle Pitts

Kiper suggests the idea of the Jets swapping picks with the Falcons at No. 4 and garnering additional draft selections. A trade (in this mock) would put the Jets out of the running for BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, who many believe is going to be the second quarterback taken in the upcoming draft.

The Jets, who would then probably keep Sam Darnold for year four, would draft an offensive weapon in Florida tight end Kyle Pitts with the fourth overall pick. Pitts is a versatile player who possesses great size, athleticism, and hands. He stands at 6-foot-6, 240 pounds and didn’t notch a single drop amid 66 targets in 2020.

The Gator would be a tremendous passing-game target for Darnold and acquiring offensive weapons would be the right idea if the Jets were to go into 2021 with Sam. Nonetheless, the hypothetical trade and subsequent draft selection likely wouldn’t please Jets fans, given the impatience regarding the starting quarterback position (Darnold hasn’t efficiently developed in three seasons).

Giants’ No. 11 overall pick — Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle

Kiper has both Alabama wideout (and 2020 Heisman Trophy winner) DeVonta Smith and LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase going before No. 11 (to the Dolphins at No. 3 and Eagles at No. 6, respectively). With Pitts off the board too, the Giants would then be left with Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle, who would be the correct selection given the circumstances.

The Giants are seemingly committed to Daniel Jones despite the fact he didn’t develop too much in his second NFL season. He needs on-field assistance though. Last year, the Giants addressed that issue with the first-round selection of offensive tackle Andrew Thomas. This year, they must acquire a talented passing-game target — Golden Tate may be on his way out and neither Sterling Shepard nor Darius Slayton is a true No. 1 wideout. Tight end Evan Engram isn’t a consistent playmaker either given his drops and overall drive-killing mistakes.

Kiper writes that Waddle is “the top deep threat in this class and is electric with the ball in his hands.” This would bode well for Jones, who’s better with the deep ball than some may believe.

Jets’ No. 23 overall pick (via Jamal Adams trade to Seahawks) — Michigan DE Kwity Paye

The Jets do need defensive help, given their unit finished 24th in total defense and 26th in scoring last season. New head coach Robert Saleh is additionally a defensive-minded individual, so this pick makes sense.

However, if they’re going to roll the dice with Darnold, then the smart thing to do would be to acquire offensive weapons with each of the first-round selections they own in order to further build around Sam.

LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. is still on the board at No. 23 in Kiper’s mock and could be added to an offense that was second-to-last in passing last year, especially if the Jets don’t acquire any reliable receivers in free agency.

Continuing with Darnold means that acquiring offensive help for him is a must. The Jets need to keep that theory in mind when it comes to either of their opening-round choices.

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