Operation Tank Season is in full effect—whether the Jets coaching staff accepts it or not—and it’s time to start evaluating players for the upcoming 2020 NFL draft. In this week’s “Joe Jet 5,” I list some players the Jets should target in their pursuit to get the team back on course.
1) Andrew Thomas (OT, Georgia)I don’t want to be appear hyperbolic or scare any fans, but I am concerned about Sam Darnold. Again, I don’t want to alarm anybody, but I couldn’t get the name Rick Ankiel out of my head while watching Sam recently. In short, Ankiel was a dominant young pitcher who, for whatever reason, developed “the yips” and lost his stuff. Let me explain.
Up until recently, one of Sam’s best traits was his feel for pressure. He appeared to have eyes in the back of his head and his ability to step up in the pocket, scramble, or get rid of the ball at the most opportune time was remarkable. Sam has always had some trouble with his footwork. Still, it never seemed to impact his accuracy, and he routinely put the ball in the right spot despite his mechanics. Unfortunately, the past couple of games, Sam seems to have regressed. He’s seeing things that aren’t there, and his pocket awareness isn’t up to par with what we are accustomed to from him.
Clearly, the current state of the offensive line is to blame. I couldn’t imagine any QB in the league being successful with the type of protection Sam is working with. Douglas—who comes from a culture that emphasizes building the offensive line—needs to address this, or the Jets are on the cusp of ruining their franchise QB.
Andrew Thomas, arguably the best tackle in the NFL Draft, would be a nice addition. Thomas has the prototypical size (6’5” 320 lbs.), high character, and “doesn’t make mistakes.” He possesses the long arms scouts covet, and his technique is as sound as it comes. The Jets need to protect Sam’s blindside, and it’s time for stopgap LT, Kelvin Beachum, to be replaced. Although I am concerned with some ankle issues Thomas experienced early in his career, he’s been healthy throughout the season, and it seems the injury bug is behind him.2) Chase Young (Edge, Ohio State)
The Jets have been looking for John Abraham’s replacement since he was traded almost 15 years ago, and it’s crazy—to say the least—that it’s been that long. Every time I think about Young in a Jets uniform, it brings me back to my childhood, and I can’t help but picture Balki Bartokomous in full “dance of joy” mode.
Young was born to chase down QBs; the first time I saw him make a sack, he hit the signal-caller so hard snot actually came out of my nose. Young maintains the zeal and athletic ability to dominate the edge for years to come. From the limited tape I’ve studied, Young holds the “5 tools of pass-rushing” in abundance: burst, arm length, bend, power, and technique.
While I was a big proponent of trading back or selecting Josh Allen this past NFL draft, Chase Young would be a grand consolation prize and pairing him with Quinnen Williams could be a lethal combination.Josh Allen College Stats:
Chase Young College Stats:
3) Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama)
At the beginning of the season, I never thought Gang Green would have a realistic shot at landing Jerry Jeudy, but things have changed, and the Jets may pick in the top ten for the fourth year in a row.
The NFL draft hasn’t seen an elite wide receiver such as Jeudy since the likes of Julio Jones—another Alabama stud. His elite ball skills and route running remain unrivaled at the college level, and he appears to be unguardable. While the Jets should focus on building the OL, Jeudy’s caliber of play would give me pause come draft day. Can the Jets afford to pass on a talent like this?
The Jets arguably have the worst offense in the NFL, and Jeudy would be an immediate upgrade to a team desperate for playmakers. While Sam needs protection—in the form of offensive linemen—Jeudy can serve as a security blanket in the passing game and will be a plug and play number one receiver from the moment he steps on the field.
4) Jeffrey Okudah (CB, Ohio State)
Okudah island has a nice ring to it, but if you’re a receiver, it’s definitely not a place you’ll want to visit. Okudah is my favorite corner in the 2020 NFL draft: his elite cover skills, smooth hips, patience, and closing speed all stand out. He’s demonstrated the ability to take out the opposing teams’ number one receiver and has the potential to be a true ‘shutdown corner’ in the NFL.
5) If Joe Douglas intends to trade the Jets’ top selection to acquire more picks, below are some solid trade back prospects.
Trevon Diggs (CB, Alabama): Trevon is the younger brother of Minnesota WR Stefon Diggs. Trevon didn’t start playing cornerback full-time until 2018 and remains a bit raw at the position. Regardless, Trevon is quickly becoming one of the best corners in college football. He excels in man coverage and is a lock to be picked in the first round.
Tristan Wirfs (OT, Iowa): Wirfs, a superior athlete, plays with power and strength. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wirfs ends up being selected in the top 10, but as of right now, I have him going in the 11-20 range and is a good trade down prospect for a struggling OL.
Walker Little (OT, Stanford): Walker has been a rising star and potential top ten pick. Some teams may still take a chance on him in that range, but a recent knee injury caused his draft stock to depreciate. If Walker falls—as I anticipate he will—he’s a player I’d strongly consider in the second-half of the draft.