Day 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft is over and the annual event has concluded. How did either local team fare on Saturday?
And just like that, the 2021 NFL Draft, which we all waited patiently for, has finally concluded. Three days, 259 picks, and an insurmountable number of trades have passed, and now we can praise the teams that greatly improved their rosters while criticizing the ones that didn’t fully take advantage of their valuable resources.
Day 3 was a new period though — a new timeframe to utilize multiple picks and execute steals in the later rounds.
After superb performances on Thursday and Friday, how did either local team fare during Rounds 4-7 on Saturday?
Jets bolster the defensive unit
The first two days of the draft encompassed offense, offense, and more offense for the New York Jets. General manager Joe Douglas‘ selection of wide receiver Elijah Moore in the second round followed his choosing of quarterback Zach Wilson and offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker in the first.
Day 3 mainly carried a much different story though, with the exception of the first selection of the afternoon.
With pick No. 107 in the fourth round, the Jets decided to acquire Michael Carter, the talented North Carolina running back. The 2020 first-team All-ACC selection and AP third-team All-American is expected to bring speed and power to the Jets running back room, but most importantly, will provide Zach Wilson with yet another offensive weapon.
Carter will join a running back committee that includes free-agent acquisition Tevin Coleman and soon-to-be second-year man La’Mical Perine.
This was a great pick — the Jets don’t need a star running back given the decline in the position’s true value. Utilizing a committee is definitely the move to make, and Carter was one of the more talented guys on the board in the fourth round.
However, following the selection of Carter, the Jets went full throttle with the defensive picks the rest of the way home.
Five defensive backs (including a few who could perform as hybrid linebacker-safties) along with a sixth-round defensive tackle will be heading to Florham Park.
Auburn’s Jamien Sherwood, Duke’s Michael Carter (yes, a second Michael Carter), Pitt’s Jason Pinnock, Florida State’s Hamsah Nasirildeen, and Kentucky’s Brandin Echols all became Jets draft picks Saturday.
Why so many defensive backs?
Because depth in the defensive backfield is extremely crucial; Douglas is smart enough to keep this notion in mind.
While Marcus Maye is a talented safety and one the Jets will look to keep in Florham Park for years to come, it’s unclear if any of the other defensive backfield components are reliable long-term answers.
Will corners Bryce Hall and Bless Austin still be starting on the outside down the road? Will Ashtyn Davis become a staple in this secondary? The Jets brought in Lamarcus Joyner this offseason, but he’s into his 30s and only signed a one-year contract. Is he really going to stick around for the long haul?
There are numerous unknowns, so as many bodies as possible are required for Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich’s secondary.
Then with their final selection in this draft — No. 207 overall in the sixth round — the Jets went away from the secondary and took defensive tackle Jonathan Marshall.
The Arkansas Razorback is expected to be an interior depth piece within New York’s 4-3 scheme, should he make the team. It’s not a significant hole on the roster considering the Jets employ Folorunso Fatukasi and the rising star that is Quinnen Williams, but again, depth is critical.
Giants add to defense, the running back room
While the Jets’ owned a whopping seven picks on Day 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Giants possessed just three.
With the trio of selections, Dave Gettleman, Joe Judge, and co. made some surprising moves, but considering how the Giants performed Thursday and Friday, you should shy away from questioning their decisions.
Big Blue could’ve addressed the offensive line and the linebacking corps, but instead, took an edge rusher in the fourth round (Northern Iowa’s Elerson Smith at No. 116), a running back in the sixth (Arizona’s Gary Brightwell at No. 196), and then a cornerback in the sixth (Oklahoma State’s Rodarius Williams at No. 201).
Despite one dominant season at Northern Iowa for Smith (63 total tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, five forced fumbles in 2019), this is a great pick by the Giants given his size (6-foot-6, 252 pounds — perfect for an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme).
The Giants needed to add depth to the pass rush considering the lack of true talent within that position group. Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines aren’t overly reliable and it isn’t confirmed both will make the final roster entering the 2021 regular season.
Rodarius Williams is another great player for depth and one that could find time in the nickel corner role due to his physicality. Williams recorded 58 combined tackles through 13 games during the 2019 season.
The selection of a running back was a little out of the ordinary, but the coaching staff may definitely field Brightwell on special teams a notable amount.
“My priority right now is getting the playbook, getting on special teams, and dominating,” Brightwell told the media Saturday.
“[Special teams] has been my thing since high school,” he said. “I’ve been a special teams guy…I feel like special teams starts the game and also finishes it. Special teams has all the hidden yards, you need special teams to dominate.”