The Jets, led by Joe Douglas and his staff, did a great job during the 2021 NFL Draft. How did other news publications grade the performance?
The New York Jets came out of the draft with a new quarterback, numerous weapons/a new talented offensive lineman to assist in his development, and great depth in the defensive backfield.
It was a superb draft by general manager Joe Douglas — the selection of Zach Wilson at No. 2 overall was an obvious move but trading up to draft USC O-lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker at No. 14 overall was an aggressive one that’s expected to pay off. Snagging Ole Miss wideout Elijah Moore at No. 34 overall in the second round was also a steal — he could’ve been off the board in the first.
So it’s clear to ESNY the Jets made the right moves and we give them a draft grade of “A-.” But how are other publications grading Gang Green’s overall performance?
NBC Sports Edge (Thor Nystrom) — D
Nystrom says he wouldn’t have gone with Zach Wilson at No. 2 overall because he had one great season against an easy schedule…but then says the Jets should’ve gone with Trey Lance? Who played at North Dakota State? Against FCS competition?
I love either quarterback and feel both will undergo great careers at the next level, but that’s a contradictory argument if you ask me.
Nystrom also believes the Jets overpaid for Alijah Vera-Tucker — don’t forget, they traded up from No. 23 overall to No. 14 by providing Minnesota with their No. 23, 66, and 86 overall picks (Gang Green also received the No. 143 overall selection).
It’s a large amount they gave up, but the bottom line is the Jets need to put Zach Wilson in the best position possible in order to make a smooth transition into the pros. Fielding a guy like Vera-Tucker right next to the rising star that is left tackle Mekhi Becton will only lead to good things for the young quarterback.
NFL.com (Chad Reuter) — B
Reuter makes a ton of good points, but I don’t agree when he says:
“[Elijah] Moore could be a playmaker in 2021 and beyond, but North Carolina running back Javonte Williams would’ve been an excellent pick at No. 34.”
I’m not so sure about that one. You need a talented weapon to help Wilson develop, but you’re better off going with a wide receiver than a running back during that portion of the draft given the decline in the value of the latter position.
Reuter does make a good point though when he says the Jets “got solid value” by picking up North Carolina running back Michael Carter in the fourth round. Carter will join a running back committee that additionally includes La’Mical Perine and Tevin Coleman.
Pro Football Network (Dalton Miller) — A+
Dalton Miller writes:
“The Jets crushed the draft. They secured their quarterback with the No. 2 pick and spent considerable assets to help supplement a smooth transition for him with their next three picks. They then transitioned on Day 3 to the defensive side of the ball. They selected some serious athletes in Hamsah Nasirildeen, Brandin Echols, and my personal favorite, Jonathan Marshall.”
Miller hits the nail on the head here, but I refrain from giving teams an “A+” because I feel it’s impossible to undergo a perfect draft. There are just too many variables to say someone had a mistake-free performance during the annual event.
But I agree the Jets “crushed” it, and I loved how they utilized their first four picks on offensive help to improve a unit that was last in total yards and points last year.
Greatly adding to the secondary on Day 3 was also a phenomenal move — depth in that area of the field is very important.
Pro Football Focus — A
Pro Football Focus writes:
“Instead of reaching for a running back on Days 1 or 2, the Jets addressed the position in the proper way by waiting until Day 3 to take Michael Carter here at Pick 107. He’s an incredibly small player, but his cuts, balance and overall athleticism helped him put up monster numbers.”
Totally agree. You don’t need a star running back on the roster even if you’re developing a rookie quarterback. You just need a guy who can fill a specific role and play his part within a committee — the Jets will expect UNC’s Michael Carter to do so.
ESPN (Mel Kiper Jr.) — A-
Kiper is an individual who still believes in Sam Darnold.
However, the deed is done and Sam is now in Carolina, so Kiper decided to speak on the Jets adding multiple weapons for Wilson.
“Douglas & Co. prioritized help for Wilson with their next two picks, taking my top-ranked guard, Alijah Vera-Tucker (14), and No. 4 wide receiver Elijah Moore (34). As I noted after Day 2, that means the Jets ended up with three prospects inside my top 16 overall. That’s tremendous and is part of the reason this grade is so high, though they did have to surrender a third-round pick in the Round 1 trade-up to get Vera-Tucker. Wilson already has better weapons to throw to and a better offensive line than Darnold ever had in New York.”
The Jets couldn’t make the same mistake with Wilson that they made with Darnold and not provide any weapons for the young signal-caller. I totally agree with this grade and most of Kiper’s points.
I will admit: it would’ve been interesting to see how Darnold would’ve fared in Florham Park if the organization provided him with reliable offensive assistance.