The list of draft needs for the New York Jets is about as long as it gets for an NFL franchise. The 2020 Jets started the season 0-13, with an inside track to secure the number one overall pick in the draft. However, two “unfortunate” wins in Weeks 15 and 16 locked them into the second pick in the 2021 Draft.
Be that as it may, Jets draft picks will be a hot topic in the coming weeks as they look to retool their roster under new head coach Robert Saleh.
Jets draft picks in 2021: Biggest draft needs
New York will be well equipped to add some viable starters via the NFL Draft, since they have 5 picks in the first three rounds. In addition to selecting number two overall, they also have the 23rd pick in the first round. To add to that capital, they also select at 34th overall in round two, and at 66th and 86th overall in round three. The 23rd and 86th overall selections were sent to the Jets courtesy of the Seattle Seahawks, when they acquired safety Jamal Adams.
What are some positions the Jets should focus on upgrading in this year’s draft?
A few days ago, the Jets made their future plans under center crystal clear. They traded quarterback Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers, paving the way for a fresh start at the most important position on a football team.
2021 #Jets draft picks
2022 Jets draft picks
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) April 5, 2021
While the jury is largely still out on Darnold and his ability to lead a team in the NFL, New York apparently felt that the former USC quarterback was not going to make an appreciable leap if he remained in the Big Apple.
It all but assures them of utilizing the second overall pick on a rookie signal caller.
Jets general manager Joe Douglas was even quoted as confirming that this was their more likely course of action. Most signs point to New York taking BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, but the team sits in the driver’s seat to select anyone they want not named Trevor Lawrence.
They could also consider quarterbacks like Mac Jones out of Alabama, or Justin Fields from Ohio State.
One thing is clear. Quarterback sits at the very top of the Jets draft needs list.
Not too far behind the Jets’ pressing need at quarterback, should be their priority to upgrade the talent in their backfield.
ESPN analyst Todd McShay on #Alabama RB Najee Harris: "I was so impressed with the improvement that he made this past year. … He really improved his draft stock. I think he solidified himself as a first-rounder."
— Charlie Potter (@Charlie_Potter) April 5, 2021
In the last two seasons, consecutively and respectively, New York finished 32nd and 26th in the league in yards per carry, which is not great for keeping a defense honest. The team addressed the position somewhat by signing veteran running back Tevin Coleman. He’s a solid player when healthy, but has battled durability issues throughout his career.
It’s tough to expect Coleman to stay on the field for a full season, and his addition should not stop the Jets from adding other running backs via the draft.
They could use their second pick in the first round to scoop up Alabama back Najee Harris. Javonte Williams out of North Carolina or Travis Etienne from Clemson could also be options very early on in the second round.
The Jets defense has some intriguing pieces, and with better tutelage from new head coach Robert Salah, stand to be much improved.
That includes their play at the cornerback position, whose players were not done any favors last year by preferred all out blitzes by the prior regime.
Even still, the Jets as a team ranked bottom five in the league in passing first downs allowed, passing touchdowns allowed, and passing yards allowed.
In a league that skews more towards the pass more than it ever has, having minimally respectable cornerback play is extremely important.
Look for guys like Caleb Farley out of Virginia Tech, Asante Samuel Jr. out of Florida State, or Greg Newsome II from Northwestern as cornerbacks the Jets need and would consider taking late in the first, or early in the second round.