The New York Jets hold the key to the NFL Draft, what with the second overall pick and the ability to move back in the draft. It all makes for the Jets, in their second draft under Joe Douglas, in a place to be able to address multiple needs with starting-caliber players while continuing to accrue picks. After all, this team was lackluster up until last year in maximizing their draft picks.
This mock draft works under a couple of assumptions that even as the Jets are willing to listen to trade offers, Sam Darnold is returning of the Jets will have a veteran starter on their roster by the time of the draft. Another assumption is the needs at right tackle and wide receiver will have been settled. Finally, the focus of free agency will be on offense to get things up to par quickly but the draft will be defense heavy for head coach Robert Saleh.
Round 1 of Jets mock draft
Round 1, Pick No. 2: TRADE
The Jets are able to capitalize on the quarterback craze this offseason, sending this pick to the Eagles for four selections in the 2021 NFL Draft (No. 6, No. 38, No. 70, No. 84) and first round picks the next two drafts (2022, 2023).
For a rebuilding team, this haul is far more important than reaching in the first round to address a non-quarterback need.
The Eagles, after moving on from Carson Wentz this offseason, are able to target Zach Wilson with their newly acquired pick.
Round 1, Pick No. 6: TRADE
With Justin Fields on the board, the Jets are able to again move back and pick up some badly needed draft collateral. Teams are desperate for a quarterback in this draft and the Jets can capitalize. Enter the Broncos.
The Denver Broncos, wanting to move up ahead of the Carolina Panthers at No. 8, package three picks this year (No. 9, No. 41, No. 73) and the 2023 NFL Draft. The Jets don’t need to reach for a pick here and, given the state of their two-deep, have to acquire picks in this draft and next year.
The Broncos will take Fields with the hope he develops into their quarterback of the future.
Round 1, Pick No. 9: Rashawn Slater (G, Northwestern)
After opting out last year, Slater is a bit of a mystery but he was tremendous in 2019 at left tackle for the Wildcats. The thought here is that, given his height, he could be a better fit inside than outside.
And the Jets, needing help in the interior, would love to come out of the draft with a solid decade-long starter in the inside like Slater.
Round 1, Pick No. 23: Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)
Fans (and the media) will scream for a playmaker wide receiver or running back here or even an edge rusher. But the Jets secondary is a player like Horn away from being a solid unit. Accelerating the backend will help the enter defense.
At least that is the opinion here. This is the right pick. Solidify what you can instead of building this thing piecemeal.
Horn is a rangy, athletic cornerback who will be comfortable on an island. If he develops and rounds out his game, he will free up safety Marcus Maye to be more of a playmaker in the secondary and not have to drop into coverage duty as much.