New York Jets NFL Draft Picks & Grades 2021

The New York Jets have enjoyed just two winning seasons since 2010. After trading the flailing Sam Darnold and bringing in a new head coach, the horizon seems to be brighter than ever. They hold the second overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, but one pick won’t right the ship on its own. What grades did the Jets 2021 NFL Draft selections earn?

Jets draft picks in 2021

  • 2nd Overall Selection (R1-P2): Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
  • 14th Overall Selection (R1-P14, from Minnesota): Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT/OG, USC
  • 34th Overall Selection (R2-P2): Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
  • 107th Overall Selection (R4-P2): Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina
  • 146th Overall Selection (R5-P2): Jamien Sherwood, S, Auburn
  • 154th Overall Selection (R5-P10, from New York Giants): Michael Carter II, S, Duke
  • 175th Overall Selection (R5-P31): Jason Pinnock, CB, Pitt
  • 186th Overall Selection (R6-P2): Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State
  • 200th Overall Selection (R6-P16, from Las Vegas): Brandin Echols, CB, Kentucky
  • 207th Overall Selection (R6-P23, from Pittsburgh through Kansas City): Jonathan Marshall, DT, Arkansas

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Who did the Jets draft on Day 1?

With the second overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jets selected Brigham Young quarterback Zach Wilson.

New York Jets grades for 2021 NFL Draft

To no surprise, the Jets take Wilson with their first pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Zach Wilson, QB, Brigham Young

Wilson’s arm is ridiculous. He makes “wow” throws left and right. His ball placement gets more ridiculous the tighter the throwing window gets. He’s great out of structure and prefers the role of playmaker rather than facilitator.

He needs to improve on a down-to-down basis keying defenses and pulling the trigger when operating spread concepts and playing in confined spaces like the red zone. However, many criticized Patrick Mahomes for the same style of freestyling, and look how that turned out. He’s not the same level of physical talent, but he’s a great passer that should elevate the talent around him.

Grade: A

Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT/OG, Southern California

Alijah Vera-Tucker is an outstanding talent who I pegged to go to the Vikings with the 14th pick. It’s only right then that he still goes 14th overall to a team that trades up for him.

He has the ability to play anywhere on the offensive line. I would have loved to see the physical presence of Teven Jenkins opposite of Mekhi Becton, but Vera-Tucker is an unbelievable technician. 

The most important thing you can do is protect your young quarterback. Vera-Tucker is a technically proficient blocker who lacks the anatomical length of most tackles but can survive off athleticism and high-end technique. The only thing that hurts is having to trade up to get him. 

Grade: A

Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss

With the 34th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jets select their slot receiver of the future. Elijah Moore is a ridiculously productive slot receiver who immediately projects as a difference-maker. It’ll be interesting to see if they immediately move on from Jamison Crowder or keep him around for now. Getting a weapon for Wilson to grow with is a great offensive move for the Jets. Would have loved to see Teven Jenkins here as well.

Grade: B+

Michael Carter, RB, UNC

Michael Carter is a perfect scheme fit for the Jets’ new wide zone rushing attack. He possesses sweet feet to make defenders miss and great vision as well. 

Grade: A

Jamien Sherwood, S, Auburn

Jamien Sherwood is a well-built safety prospect who brings physicality in the box. He’s a physical tackler and possesses the smarts and length to fire into passing lanes, but his athleticism is lacking.

Grade: C

Michael Carter II, S, Duke

Michael Carter II will be relegated to the slot at the NFL level. He lacks the functional strength to be a factor against the run. He’s undersized and is more smooth as a mover than he is a true explosive athlete. This feels like a reach.

Grade: C-

Jason Pinnock, CB, Pittsburgh

Jason Pinnock is a great athlete that has good ball production while at Pittsburgh. He’s a player with great highs and incredibly low lows but should be a special teams contributor and developmental piece at the back of the depth chart. The physical tools are there for him to succeed. 

Grade: B

Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State

There are injury concerns associated with Hamsah Nasirildeen, but he has the tackle radius of a Boeing 737 and the athleticism and ability against the run to be a difference-maker. He needs to improve technically in coverage, but at pick 186 this is one of my favorite picks in the draft, especially with Robert Saleh.

Grade: A+

Brandin Echols, CB, Kentucky

Brandin Echols is a wide receiver convert who tested like an elite athlete at his pro day with a 4.35 40-yard dash, a 6.84 three-cone, a 42.5-inch vertical, and an 11’4″ broad jump. This is a home run swing on an elite athlete, and that’s what this area of the draft should be used for.

Grade: A

Jonathan Marshall, DT, Arkansas

Jonathan Marshall is one of the most explosive defensive tackles in the 2021 NFL Draft class. Marshall has the potential to be a legitimate difference-maker with some technical progress. This is another home-run swing from the Jets on an unbelievable athlete. 

Grade: A+

New York Jets Overall Grade: A+

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.

Jets team needs coming into the NFL Draft

The Jets obviously need a quarterback, but what other needs do they need?

Quarterback

We know that the Jets desperately need a quarterback after the departure of former first-round pick Sam Darnold. Wilson possesses an arm that generates velocity from a ton of different arm angles and bases. He’s also a great fit in the scheme that Mike LeFleur projects to bring.

He’ll implement a heavy dose of play-action off of a wide zone run scheme. Wilson will roll out quite a bit in this offense. There should also be a heavy dose of pre-snap motion.

Offensive Tackle

Protecting your young quarterback is incredibly important. The Jets should look to get a complement on the right side to Mekhi Becton on the left. Pass protection is obviously important, but like the 49ers, the Jets will most likely look to control the clock through an efficient rushing attack.

Cornerback

Bryce Hall, Blessuan Austin, and Javelin Guidry will not get it done at cornerback. Look for the Jets’ second pick in Round 1 to be one of these two positions. Luckily, the strength of the cornerback class from a value standpoint aligns with their draft picks. If there isn’t a surprising run of guys early, they should be set to pick one up now or in Round 2.

Running Back

It’s not a fantastic running back class, but there are a few intriguing names for the Jets if they decide to wait to choose one at pick 66, 86, or 107. Pairing a rookie runner with a top-flight quarterback prospect is a nice move. Considering the Jets are currently slated to start the season with La’Mical Perine and Tevin Coleman, they desperately need to address this position.

EDGE

The Jets need pass rush in the worst way, along with cornerback. They went out and got Carl Lawson in free agency, but they’re going to need more help to include a guy on the other side of him. They’re also in a good position at picks 23, 34, and 66 to possibly get some value at the position, with talent clumped together in those areas.

Want more 2021 NFL Draft prospect news? Want to do your own mock draft?

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Dalton Miller is the Lead NFL Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can read more of his work here and follow him @daltonbmiller on Twitter and Twitch

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