Heading into the 2020 NFL season, the two organizations that were mentioned when discussing the worst teams in the league were the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Washington Football Team. Well, after two weeks of play, Washington and Jacksonville have exceeded expectations, while the New York Jets have shown that they are clearly the worst team in the NFL, and should be reviewing their 2021 Draft options.
In an offseason that included trading the team’s franchise player in Jamal Adams, the worst decision they made was bringing back Adam Gase as their head coach. Gase has been abysmal since arriving in the Big Apple, and it seems that he has completely lost the Jets locker room. The smart money is betting on the Jets ending up with the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and their options will include Clemson’s superstar quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
While most would consider Lawrence as a slam-dunk selection for the Jets, there are many in the draft community and in the Jets’ front office that believes that their current signal-caller, Sam Darnold, has the tools to become an elite franchise quarterback in this league.
If we’re being honest, there’s no way for us to know if Darnold is the guy or not, as the Jets have provided him a below-average offense line and inadequate offensive weapons. If the Jets do decide to continue on the course with Darnold, rather than selecting Lawrence, who are their top draft options in 2021?
New York Jets top non-quarterback draft options in 2021
Penei Sewell, Left Tackle, Oregon (6’6″, 330 pounds, Junior)
Yes, I know that the Jets selected offensive tackle Mekhi Becton out of Louisville with the 11th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but hear me out. I know what you’re thinking: “Why would the Jets draft another offensive tackle just one year after doing so in 2020?”
While Becton has a high ceiling and has looked really good through two weeks of the NFL season, Oregon’s Penei Sewell is a transcendent prospect. Selecting Sewell would allow the Jets to kick Becton over to right tackle, where he would be a massive upgrade to George Fant.
Poor offensive line play has been a major deterrent to the success of Darnold during his time in New York. The selection of a player the caliber of Sewell would really help, as it would give the Jets an elite pair of offensive tackles protecting him on every down. This scenario has worked out well in Baltimore, as Lamar Jackson has benefited greatly from being protected by the likes of Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr.
What makes Sewell so good?
Tony Pauline confirms that the NFL is sky high on Sewell, stating: “Scouts who grade underclassmen presently list Penei Sewell as the third-best prospect in the nation. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase are the only two players ranked higher. Sewell is a fluid, strong left tackle who easily slides out in pass protections and shows a lot of ability blocking in motion. He’s fundamentally sound, strong, and has upside.”
The combination of size, strength, and quickness that Sewell brings to the table is jaw-dropping. He is exceptional in pass protection, utilizing his quick feet and power to mirror any pass-rusher that lines across from him. In the running game, he is a mauler who possesses the ability to get the second level with ease. Simply put, it is almost impossible to find flaws in Sewell’s game.
While this wouldn’t be the sexy move, selecting Sewell would be a wise football move for the Jets and would provide immense help to Darnold. For young quarterbacks, pass protection is key, as their mental clock for pocket presence isn’t fully developed. It wouldn’t take long for Sewell to develop into one of the best offensive linemen in the league.
Ja’Marr Chase, Wide Receiver, LSU (6’0″, 208 pounds, Junior)
A wide receiver room featuring the likes of Jamison Crowder, Chris Hogan, and Breshad Perriman won’t do Darnold any favors. Since being selected by the Jets in 2018, Darnold has not had much to work with, as the best receiver he has had at his disposal is Robby Anderson.
In fact, the Jets haven’t had a wide receiver eclipse the 1,000-yard mark since Brandon Marshall in 2015. There is no doubt that Ja’Marr Chase would be the first bonafide No. 1 receiver that Sam Darnold has had during his tenure in New York.
Ja’Marr Chase is coming off the heels of a historic 2019 season, where he caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards and an astonishing 20 touchdowns. Even more impressive, Chase averaged 21.2 yards per reception. We won’t see Chase play football in 2020, as he opted out of the season to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
What makes Chase so good?
I’ve discussed Chase’s strengths in the past, stating, “Chase has extraordinary hands and can pluck the ball with ease. He is a smooth operator who can consistently find soft spots in opposing defenses. He is a stunning deep ball threat, as he possesses the ability to run by defensive backs, and excels at winning the contested catch.”
If the name “Ja’Marr Chase” is on the card when the Jets turn in their pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, one person who will be extremely happy is Sam Darnold. Chase is a game-changing player who will blossom into one of the league’s best weapons.
Conclusion on Jets’ Draft options
Despite Lawrence being one of the best quarterback prospects we’ve ever seen, it will be very tough for the Jets to give up on Darnold.
Darnold, only 23 years old, has shown a lot of talent and maturity despite being a victim of poor coaching and a lack of talent surrounding him. They could easily opt to select Lawrence and start over, which would be the move I’d likely make, but it’s not set in stone.
If the Jets do decide to keep rolling with Darnold, either Penei Sewell or Ja’Marr Chase would be a wise selection, as both would immediately become the team’s best player. We have a long way to go until the 2021 Draft next April, but I imagine this conversation is only going to intensify.
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