The New York Jets head into the 2016 NFL Draft with multiple lingering questions and a wide range of possibilities with the 20th overall pick. Let’s see if we can cut through some of the smoke and outline what to watch for this Thursday through Saturday…
1. The Jets are currently weak on draft capital. They only have six overall picks, two of which are in the seventh round (including the last pick in the draft). Their roster is in a position where it could badly use an infusion of cheap, young talent to boost their depth. They also currently have a valuable player who they want to trade (you are kidding yourself if you think a long term deal is still on the table for Muhammad Wilkerson here). The prospect of trading Wilkerson will remain a real possibility throughout the weekend, along with the likelihood of the Jets maneuvering around the draft board to compile more draft capital. It would be nothing short of shocking if the Jets stayed put with all six of their picks and would be mildly surprising if Wilkerson was still a member of the team on Sunday.
It is being lost in the buzz of potentially trading up but the Jets could very well trade down in the first round or if they do trade up, it could involve packaging additional picks acquired from moving Wilkerson.
2. The amount of Paxton Lycnh/Jets buzz is reminiscent of the amount of Kevin White/Jetz buzz in 2015. It does not seem likely the Jets would make an aggressive move up to select him, particularly with rumors swirling that he could be a top ten pick. If Lynch is on the board at #20, most will assume the Jets will pull the trigger but that decision will be dependent on the other talent still available. If a player like Laquon Treadwell, Taylor Decker or Jack Conklin is also still there, the Jets showed last season they will go BPA regardless of position.
3. Beyond Lynch, it has been popular to pair the Jets with an offensive tackle or edge rusher in the first round. However, do not sleep on the possibility of a receiver or cornerback, particularly the previously mentioned Treadwell or Josh Doctson. At corner, Eli Apple, Vernon Hargreaves III or William Jackson III would provide strong value and be natural fits in Todd Bowles’ defense. Remember, the Jets base offense has three receivers on the field and base defense has three cornerbacks on the field.
4. A few names this blogger absolutely does not want to hear at number 20: Christian Hackenberg, Connor Cook and Reggie Ragland. Don’t reach for a mid round quarterback because the overall class is weak and it is time to move away from two down linebackers who lack sideline to sideline speed.
5. If the Jets are looking to add to their pass rush or speed for the linebacker position, Shaq Lawson or Darron Lee are quality options at #20, more so than Leonard Floyd who has too many question marks. Both Lawson and Lee could be plug and play starters on this defense while still presenting long term upside, while Floyd is likely looking at a steeper transition to the NFL. Many are projecting Noah Spence as a second round pick now but his talent level merits consideration at 20 and if the Jets could move back a few spots and still get him? That would be an ideal situation.
6. The Jets couldn’t draft another defensive lineman in the first round, could they? I don’t think it is likely, even if Wilkerson is traded but you can never say never after watching the past five years or so. Jarran Reed and Andrew Billings have been linked with the Jets in a few mock drafts but it is more likely the Jets will take advantage of the depth at defensive tackle and end in this year’s class by adding to their rotation in the middle rounds, particularly if/when they acquire more picks.
7. Remember, the Jets acquired two veterans last draft weekend: DeVier Posey and Zac Stacy…neither were exactly home runs but it is worth monitoring the veteran trade market on day two and day three. The Jets still need experience and depth at tackle, guard and tight end.
8. It may not be in the first round but if there is one position I’d rank most likely for the Jets to add at some point this weekend, it is corner. Yes, Marcus Williams has flashed plenty of potential but with Darrelle Revis getting older, Buster Skrine built for the slot and the depth behind them questionable, this regime will want some of their own homegrown talent at the position to develop.
9. The Jets still need a punter and currently have two 7th round picks…something to keep an eye on. Also despite adding Jeremy Ross and Dri Archer, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them add a player with return skills at some point this weekend.
10. With their current stock of picks, I don’t think it is likely the Jets would take a flier on Jaylon Smith if he does actually fall into the second round. If they acquire more picks via trade, it becomes more likely but would still be surprising overall.
11. An intriguing second day option at quarterback? Dak Prescott. He isn’t getting the buzz of Hackenberg or Cook as a second tier option but arguably projects better to the NFL and as of now sounds less likely to be overdrafted, making him somebody worth watching in round two or round three.
12. A refresher on the Jets first round picks by position since 2006
- 2006: OL, OL
- 2007: CB
- 2008: OLB, TE
- 2009: QB
- 2010: CB
- 2011: DE
- 2012: DE
- 2013: DE, CB
- 2014: SS
- 2015: DE
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com