Jets fandom can rest assure Joe Douglas will be active in free agency and plug several holes (especially along the OL) prior to the draft; this will give the Jets much needed flexibility come draft day. There is a good possibility Andrew Thomas, Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills, Jerry Jeudy, and CeeDee Lamb are all off the board when it’s time for the Jets to select at 11. In this week’s “Joe Jet 5”, I consider routes the Jets could potentially take if the players deemed most coveted aren’t available.
Trade back — The big question here is who will be willing to make a deal? I’m already working on an article which explores trade back scenarios, and some names have emerged as possible trade bait. QB Jordan Love, a name to watch, will inevitably become more popular as the draft approaches. The Raiders (12), Colts (13), and Buccaneers (14) could all be in play. Henry Ruggs III (my third-ranked receiver) or Laviska Shenault may attract calls. If the versatile Isaiah Simmons (S/LB) makes it out of the top ten, I’m sure there will be buyers. If so, the Jets could move back, acquire more picks and target players such as Tyler Biadasz (my favorite center in the draft), Yetur Gross-Matos (an edge rusher who projects well as a 3-4 OLB or 4-3 DE), Creed Humphrey (another dominant center), or Kristian Fulton (solid man cover corner from “DBU”).
If no trade back presents itself, I’d consider the following players at 11:
Mekhi Becton (OT, Louisville) — Becton would make a great trade back target and pick eleven—at this moment—seems high for him, but his stock will continue to rise as we get closer to the draft and I predict he’ll enter the top 15 conversation shortly.
Becton, a human wrecking ball, is an all-around great prospect at tackle who can do it all, protect Sam’s blindside and provide a much-needed punch in the run game. He’s been drawing comparisons to former Minnesota Viking Bryant McKinnie, which is considered high praise by many.
The Jets, according to PFF, haven’t had a run blocker grade out at a 70 or more since 2015 and Becton’s prowess in the rush game is intriguing. Becton is a beast, an absolute soul snatcher. I’ve seen him treat defenders like rag dolls, tossing them to the side with no effort. He’s a mountain of man and a complete bulldozer; once he gets his massive hands on an opponent, it’s lights out.
Becton has extremely long arms and uses them effectively in pass protection. He’s technically sound, extremely quick and fluid for a man his size (6’ 7” 369 pounds). Roll the tape and watch him go, he won’t disappoint.
The offensive line should be the Jets’ main focus, and if Douglas intends to build a wall to guard Sam Darnold, Becton would be an excellent start.
Henry Ruggs III (WR, Alabama) — After Lamb and Jeudy are off the board, Ruggs would be a nice consolation prize. Ruggs can lineup in the slot or the outside (Z), and he’s one of the most electrifying players in the draft with great instincts, good hands, and ridiculous speed. If you take your eyes off of Ruggs, the next time you’ll see him is in the end zone.
I’d rather the Jets target a receiver late, but Ruggs should get some consideration, especially if Robby Anderson finds himself donning another jersey in the foreseeable future. Hopefully, Douglas re-signs Robby (for the right price), and the Jets have even more flexibility on draft night. 2020 is littered with talent at WR, and the Jets have the potential to find a gem in the later rounds: Tyler Johnson, Jalen Reagor, DeVonta Smith, Brandon Aiyuk, and Justin Jefferson to name a few.
Isaiah Simmons (S/LB, Clemson) — Simmons is tailor-made for today’s NFL: he can attack from the edge, play off-ball linebacker, safety, and drop into coverage. He’s a rare talent, who can be used in tandem with Jamaal Adams.
Gregg Williams was the MVP this past season with his ability to innovate and accommodate his scheme to his personnel. Some might find this selection redundant with Adams already rostered, but I’m very intrigued by the thought of deploying both Adams and Simmons together in Williams’ defense. I’m sure he would be licking his chops at the idea of having two players of a similar skill set working in the same unit.
A.J. Epenesa (Edge, Iowa) — OK, I’ve seen some mocks that have the Jets selecting Epenesa with the 11th pick, and I can’t say I’m thrilled. Don’t get me wrong. I love Epenesa as a prospect, and while Epenesa will fill a need at the edge, he’s not exactly the player I would choose for this New York Jets team. Let me explain. Epenesa is a solid all-around edge rusher who possesses the flexibility to play defensive end in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. However, I would rather the Jets target an edge prospect like Yetur Gross-Matos, who can be utilized as an OLB in a 3-4 or a DE in a 4-3. The Jets don’t need to pick another 3-4 defensive end in the first round; we’ve seen that movie before, and we never quite liked the ending. Nonetheless, if the Jets draft Epenesa with the intention of going back to a 4-3 base defense, then I’m all for making the selection, primarily if Joe D. addresses some major needs via free agency. If that’s the case, then in the Gregg Williams I trust, and I’ll welcome the pick.
Epenesa isn’t the most athletic candidate, but he makes up for it with a relentless motor and a tenacity you’d like to see from all your players. He’s passionate about the game and uses his physicals skills to dominate in the run game. Epenesa’s a skilled pass rusher with good bend, nice hands, and a nasty nasty (I had to put two in there) bull rush. He’s clearly a top 20 prospect and will be snacking on QBs for years to come.