Mock draft season is in full swing.
Whether it be a one-round mock, three-round mock, or in this case, a ten-pick mock from Peter King, people are tuning in to analyze, agree, and/or disagree with others’ predictions.
In his latest Football Morning In America column, the NBC Sports analyst offered his opinion on what will go down between picks 1-10, two of which the Jets own (due to a lackluster 2021 season and the ridiculous 2020 trade of Jamal Adams to Seattle).
After fielding one of the worst secondaries (and overall defenses) in football last year, general manager Joe Douglas has various questions to answer on that side of the ball.
King has Gang Green solving a crucial issue with its No. 4 overall choice…
No. 4 overall — Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
King’s Take: “I hear the Jets, like many teams, are leery of the best cornerback talent in this draft, LSU’s Derek Stingley, who had a super-weird career in the SEC. Gardner’s a fascinating prospect. In 33 college games, he didn’t allow a touchdown in coverage. “I don’t plan to allow one in the NFL either,” he said at the combine. At 6-2 and 188 pounds (likely to be able to play at 195 or so), Gardner is the kind of big corner teams lust for.”
Our Take: Yeah, so this is a pretty obvious selection here.
If Sauce Gardner is available for the Jets at No. 4, Douglas would be doing all of Florham Park an absolute disservice by passing on him. This team allowed 259.4 passing yards per game last year (third-worst in the league) and Sauce is rapidly skyrocketing the draft boards.
He’s the best corner in this class (you may go back-and-forth on both he and Derek Stingley Jr., but I won’t) and the Jets would be better off selecting him than Kyle Hamilton — taking a safety with such a prestigious draft choice could be a risk.
While the Jets drafted a variety of defensive backs last year (cornerbacks Brandin Echols, Jason Pinnock, Michael Carter II) and signed others this year (cornerback D.J. Reed, safety Jordan Whitehead), you can never employ enough secondary depth.
Joe Douglas: Make this move if Gardner is available.
No. 10 overall — Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
King’s Take: “Asking around, people told me, Gotta give the Jets a receiver with one of the first-round picks. And they could go Drake London or one of the Ohio State stars here. And they could deal their picks at 35 and/or 38 overall up into the first round to get a wideout too. At some point, I think Robert Saleh might sidle up to GM Joe Douglas and tell him he can find a good wideout (or two) with those two high second-round picks. But the Jets could also strike gold with Thibodeaux, the rusher of a thousand opinions who could go as high as two overall. This is why the draft is so fun, because of arguments on guys like Thibodeaux.”
Our Take: I’ve been an outspoken critic of the idea of the Jets drafting an edge rusher in the first round. This is due to the fact they just signed defensive end Carl Lawson to a three-year deal and inked defensive end John Franklin-Myers to a four-year extension last year.
It would be a bizarre move to draft another edge rusher after signing the aforementioned individuals to contracts, especially when there are alternative roster needs present.
But if Kayvon Thibodeaux is somehow available at No. 10 overall, it would be a legitimate steal of a draft pick for Gang Green.
The size, speed, strength, and athleticism make Thibodeaux an all-world pass rusher, and just like in the secondary, you can never have too much firepower in the pass-rushing department.
If Thibodeaux isn’t on the board when the tenth pick rolls around, then I would look to draft the top receiver available. But if he’s there — the Jets shouldn’t pass on the opportunity to acquire him.
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY