After trading Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers, the New York Jets’ decision with the No. 2 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft appears set in stone. However, what are the Jets’ other needs in this draft, and who might they be looking at with their other selections within the top 34? On the April 7 Draft Insiders show, Pro Football Network’s Chief Draft Analyst and Insider Tony Pauline and PFN’s Chief NFL Analyst Trey Wingo discussed the Jets’ options at picks 23 and 34.
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The New York Jets’ needs in the 2021 NFL Draft are mostly on offense
After an intriguing free agency for the New York Jets, they still have a few needs to address when it comes to their offense. Pauline discussed his thoughts around the Jets’ plans with the 23rd pick, including a name that he believes could be in contention at that selection.
“I think it is going to be focused on offense. Unless a top pass rusher falls to them at 23. Although, they answered that question during free agency, and I think they answered it well. I know they like Teven Jenkins, the offensive tackle from Oklahoma State. If he is there at 23, I think it is a natural fit at right tackle. It’s a big upgrade.”
The one area of their offense that the Jets did not upgrade in free agency was their offensive line. On his big board, Pauline has Jenkins ranked 21st as the fourth offensive lineman. In Jenkins’ scouting report, Pauline describes him as an “athletic, agile, and powerful” player who “blocks with proper fundamentals.”
Could other offensive linemen be in play for the Jets at pick 23?
Only one offensive lineman behind Jenkins received a sure-fire first-round grade from Pauline. That is Alijah Vera-Tucker, who ranks just behind Jenkins at 22. In his scouting report, Pauline highlights that Vera-Tucker may end up as a guard at the NFL level.
With this in mind, the Jets depth chart at guard certainly looks to be an area for potential upgrades in the upcoming draft. They currently have Greg Van Roten and Alex Lewis, both of who underwhelmed in 2020. Dan Feeney was added in the 2021 offseason, but he is not a lock to start either.
Another three offensive linemen received borderline first-round grades. They are center Creed Humphrey (31st), and tackles Jalen Mayfield (32nd) and Alex Leatherwood (35th). All three could provide upgrades to the Jets’ offensive line if selected at pick 23.
What options could the New York Jets be considering with pick 34 in the 2021 NFL Draft?
The Jets have three picks within the top 34, and therefore, have the ability to address multiple needs alongside drafting a potential franchise QB. Pauline discussed some of the names who could in play for the Jets with pick 34.
“Top of Round 2, they need a running back. If Travis Etienne is there, I think they got to look in that direction. They do need another receiver. I think at the top of Round 2, if Kadarius Toney is there, be a perfect complement to Denzel Mims. If you are going to draft Zach Wilson at two, you better put building blocks around him. People he can hand the ball off too. People he can throw the ball to, and most importantly, people who can block for him. Creed Humphrey, the center from Oklahoma, I think is also a name to remember at the top of Round 2.”
As of now, the Jets have Tevin Coleman as their lead running back for 2021. Given his injury concerns, the Jets could certainly consider adding an RB in the second round.
Despite the additions of Corey Davis and Keelan Cole in free agency, further options at WR could certainly be on the cards for the Jets. Cole and Jamison Crowder will be free agents in 2022. Drafting one now would give a rookie WR a year to develop before stepping up as a potential starter next season.
The Jets’ history of first-round selections is somewhat concerning
With three selections in and around the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jets will be hoping to change a recent trend of poor Round 1 selections. On the show, Wingo shone a light on just how unsuccessful the Jets have been with first-round picks in the recent past.
“You look at the Jets’ history in terms of first-round picks. 2018, Sam Darnold traded after the third season. 2017, Jamal Adams, the safety, traded after his third season. In 2016, linebacker Darron Lee out of Ohio State, traded after his third season. 2015, Leonard Williams, traded during his fourth season. Calvin Pryor, the safety, traded after his third season. Dee Milliner, look everybody whiffed on Dee Milliner, there is no question about it, he was waived during his fourth season out of ‘Bama. And Sheldon Richardson, who had very productive seasons but massive issues off the field as well was traded during his third season as well.”
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