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How can the New York Jets Draft to get Back on Track?

Anyone who has been watching the NFL the past seven weeks knows that the New York Jets are the worst team in football. Their 0-8 record to start the season is a reflection of that after the 35-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

With that being said, and my spirits being crushed for the season, the only thing I can look forward to as a Jets fan is next year’s draft. At this pace, the Jets are going to earn the number one overall pick for the 2021 NFL draft, and they also gain the Seattle Seahawks’ first round pick when they dealt superstar Safety Jamal Adams in the offseason. In this article, I’m going to give my opinion of the top five prospects the Jets should be looking at with each of their first round picks, (assuming they are number one overall, and number 31 overall if the Seahawks go to the Super Bowl) as well as the first pick of the second round (number 33 overall). Although if it was possible to draft a new head coach, my options for number one overall would look very different.

Pick #1:
1) Trevor Lawrence, Quarterback, Clemson
I don’t think there has been a clearer number one pick leading up to the NFL draft since Cam Newton came out of Auburn in 2011. Lawrence is easily the best player in college football, and its not even close. Lawrence has a big arm, above average accuracy, good mobility, all paired with his 6’6” frame, he is everything NFL teams are looking for in a starting QB. In my opinion, he has to be the number one pick for any team. Last season, Lawrence posted a 65.8% completion percentage, for 3,665 yards and 36 touchdowns to eight interceptions. He also added 103 rushing attempts for 563 yards and nine touchdowns. The only question is whether or not Lawrence is going to pull a Peyton Manning and stay an extra year in college to avoid being drafted by the Jets. If that is the case, that will lead us to our next option.

2) Justin Fields, Quarterback, Ohio State
Let me start off by saying, this should solely be a backup option for if Lawrence stays an extra year. Fields can do the same to avoid the Jets, but I doubt both of the m will stay, as one of them will enter to avoid potential injury. Fields is much more of a dual-threat QB, posting a 67.2% completion percentage in his first season as a starter for 3,273 yards and 41 touchdowns to just three interceptions, and added on 137 rushing attempts for 484 yards and 10 more touchdowns. Fields is an electrifying player, and a guy that is built for today’s NFL.

3) Penei Sewell, Offensive Tackle, Oregon
Anyone besides either of the quarterback listed above goes down as a failure in my book if the Jets are drafting out of the number one spot, unless they both decide to stay for their senior years. With that being said, the next item on the Jets’ “fix list” should be the offensive line, especially if they decide to keep going with the Sam Darnold experiment. Sewell is the best offensive lineman in this draft class. He is an absolute giant with his 6’6”, 330 pound frame, which Joe Douglas will absolutely love (see Mekhi Becton). If the Jets cannot find a franchise QB this year, they can do that future QB a favor and draft him a franchise tackle this year.

4) Ja’Marr Chase, Wide Receiver, LSU
Can anyone tell me the last time the Jets had the number one overall pick and who they took? That’s right. It was 1996 when they took Keyshawn Johnson, the wideout out of USC. The Jets missed out on the opportunity to draft CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy this past year (why ☹), so they could potentially make up for that by taking the best pass catcher in the draft. Chase has good size at 6’1” and 200 pounds, and has game-changing speed a paired with impeccable yards-after-catch abilities. Last season at LSU, Chase posted 84 receptions for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns. What a season! On top of that, Chase averaged 21.2 yards-per-catch, which is just crazy to even think about. The Jets could build a nice receiving corpse for Darnold or a future QB, which headlines Chase and 2020 second round pick Denzel Mims on the outside, with Jamison Crowder handling slot duties.

5) Trey Lance, Quarterback, North Dakota State
The final option I have for the Jets’ first pick is one I had a really hard time putting down. I am not the biggest fan of QBs from smaller schools (with a few exceptions), and Lance is no different. I know, I know, he’s the next Carson Wentz, they come from the same school (but does anyone really WANT another Carson Wentz?). Lance, who stands 6’3”, 221 pounds, posted a 66.9% completion rate last season, for 2,786 yards and 28 touchdowns and no interceptions. He also added on 169 rushing attempts for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns. While I understand why Lance is ranked so high on so many big boards, the physical tools he possesses are very intriguing, I would personally rather have guys that have more of a proven track record than Lance currently has (which we will get to later). That being said, if Lawrence and Fields opt to stay for their senior seasons, the Jets could panic and buy into the hype of Lance and reach for him with the number one spot.

Now that we have the number one pick process mapped out, let’s take a look at the other end of the first round, where the Jets will pick in place for the Seattle Seahawks from the Adams trade.

Pick #31 (Via the Seattle Seahawks):
1) Jevon Holland, Safety, Oregon
The Jets traded away their stud defensive player in Adams last offseason, and they could use their first pick from the trade to try and fill the gap that is left. While the Jets did acquire Bradley McDougald in the Adams trade, he is much more of a coverage corner, who excels best in man coverage. The Jets also drafted Ashtyn Davis in the third round of last year’s draft, but he is still far away from being the one to replace Adams. Holland, who stands 6’1” 200 pounds, has the skills to be a stud Safety in the league. In 2019, Holland had 66 tackles, four interceptions, and four pass deflections. The only concern I have here is his weight, but that is something NFL coaches fix when they get rookies.

2) Samuel Cosmi, Offensive Tackle, Texas
Adding some offensive line for a franchise QB is never a bad thing. The Jets invested in their O-line last offseason, signing several players in free agency and drafting Mekhi Becton in the first round, but those players brought in haven’t had the best season protecting their QB. Cosmi, who is 6’6”, 295 pounds, is a bit of a project lineman, but has the potential to be a franchise Tackle. Getting a guy like that this late in the first round is a rarity, and the last time the Jets did it they got Nick Mangold.

3) Travis Etienne, Running Back, Clemson
I LOVE Etienne, and if the Jets can somehow snag him with the 31st overall pick, they have to do it. I know we have Le’Michel Perine, who played well on Sunday, but today’s NFL doesn’t have solo backfields, with a few exceptions, they work in committees. Etienne, who stands 5’10” 205 pounds, logged 207 rushing attempts last year for 1,614 yards and 19 rushing touchdowns, and added 37 receptions for 432 receiving yards and four more touchdowns. And how much fun would it be to bring up the Lawrence-Etienne battery that is tearing up the field at the college level?

4) Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest
I’ve seen Basham ranked as high as a top-10 pick, and as low as a mid-second round pick, so if the Jets can somehow get Basham with the 31st-overall pick, they will have to highly consider it. The Jets recently traded Steve McLendon to the Buccaneers (for very little in return I might add), who was one of the better pass-rushers on the team. In order to make up for this lost pass-rush, and to help a team that already struggles with it, the Jets can take a guy who had 11 sacks in 2019, and 57 tackles. Basha also forced three fumbles last season and added another three batted passes. Put all of that in his 6’5” 275-pound frame, and you have a guy who could tear up the league.

5) DeVonta Smith, Wide Receiver, Alabama
The last option I could see the Jets pursuing is some Wide Receiver help for their new QB. DeVonta Smith, who is 6’1 175 pounds, had a productive season last year, posting 68 receptions for 1,256 yards and 14 touchdowns. What is amazing to me was that he posted these numbers while playing as the third receiving option, as he was playing behind Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs last year. With another big year, Smith could potentially move into the middle of the first round out of the reach of the Jets here. But the idea of pairing him with Mims on the outside while Crowder handles slot duties should make any Jet fan happy in comparison to what we have right now.

Obviously with there only being one pick between their selections, they could afford to grab one of the prospects I listed above with their #33 pick, but I want to offer a few more choices for them to go with in the event that the players listed above are taken even before their #31 pick.

Pick #33:
1) Chuba Hubbard, Running Back, Oklahoma State
Hubbard has been tearing up defenses since he stepped into the lead role for the Cowboys last season. He ran 328 times and amassed 2,094 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns. On top of that, he hauled in 23 receptions for an additional 198 yards. After taking all that into consideration, his 6’0” 208-pound frame is a decent size for a running back, and he should make the adjustments to fit right in when he does join the NFL. This would only be an option if the Jets pass on or miss out on Etienne, but Hubbard is a close second on my big board. Wherever he lands, I could see Hubbard being the steal of the draft.

2) Kyle Trask, Quarterback, Florida
If the football gods decide to torture the Jets a little bit longer and they somehow mess up their draft position or Lawrence doesn’t come out, they’re still going to need to draft a QB. Trask is one of the more unknown quarterbacks in this draft, but he had a solid season with the Gators least year. Trask posted a 66.9% completion rate, for 2,941 yards and 25 touchdowns to seven interceptions. One of the biggest reasons, in my opinion, Trask’s numbers are lower than other quarterbacks in the draft, is the fact he was sacked 22 times last season. To put that in comparison, Lawrence was sacked 17 times last season. Trask is a prospect flying under the radar, and I think if he is given the opportunity somewhere, he could blossom into a starting QB for years to come.

3) Sam Ehlinger, Quarterback, Texas
The last guy I want to talk about, if the most underrated and underappreciated player coming into this draft. Ehlinger is a guy who has done nothing but improve since he became the starter at Texas his freshman year, and the numbers do not lie. If we look at his three years as a starter (two and a half actually), Ehlinger’s completion percentage has gone up from 57.5% to 64.7% to 65.2%. His yardage? 1,915 to 3,292 to 3,663. Touchdown to interception ratio? 11-7 to 25-5 to 32-10. Even if you look at just his QBR, his rating has gone from 124.1 to 146.8 to 151.8. Ehlinger is finally coming into his own, and under the right coach (which I hope changes soon), and in the right situation, Ehlinger could be end up having a story like Russell Wilson, a guy who was slept on throughout his draft process, but is now arguably the best quarterback in the league, and a Super Bowl winning one at that. Am I saying Ehlinger is the next Russ? No, I’m just saying the story can be the same if he continues this progression while in the league.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to my thoughts, hopefully I am somewhat in the same mindset as Joe Douglas, and some of my predictions actually fall though. But until the draft rolls around, I’m going to sit back, and enjoy the potential 0-16 season that is staring us right in the face. #TankForTrevor

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