What the Jets do in free agency will impact how they approach the draft, but with Gang Green holding the 5th spot—at the moment—I thought it was fitting to deliver my first mock draft (5 Rounds) in this week’s “Joe Jet 5.”
Round 1 (Pick 5): Andrew Thomas, OT, GeorgiaThe offensive line woes have been well documented and, clearly, rebuilding upfront should be Joe Douglas’ main priority. Luckily, for the Jets, the 2020 NFL Draft has the goods, and Andrew Thomas sits at the head of the class.
There hasn’t been a tackle drafted in the top 5 since Brandon Scherff (who converted to guard) since 2015, but Andrew Thomas has the skill set to break that streak. Thomas has everything you want from a prototypical tackle: size (6’5” 320 lbs.), long arms, consistent footwork, intelligence, and a high character. Thomas “doesn’t make mistakes,” is NFL ready, and could shore up Sam’s blindside for the next decade. Although the season hasn’t played out how many had hoped, Thomas would be a nice consolation prize for a struggling OL (ranked 28th in pass protection) and a franchise QB under constant pressure.
The Jets have virtually no shot at landing Chase Young in the fifth spot. Regardless, if Young is miraculously available, they should strongly consider trading back. Edge is a position of need—to put it mildly—but pulling the trigger on a trade could potentially result in landing one of the two big OT (Thomas or Wirfs), and adding draft capital to a team desperate to fill other needs.
Round 2 (Pick 37): Tyler Biadasz, C, WisconsinJets went to back to back AFC championships with a solid defense, top running game, and dominant offensive line. The foundation of that OL was built in the 2006 NFL draft when Mike Tannenbaum selected stalwart left tackle, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and future Hall of Famer Nick Mangold; it’s time to take a page from the past and cook up a recipe that led to unquestionable success.
Arguably, center, with all the responsibilities, is becoming the most crucial position on the offensive line, and Biadasz is the complete package. He’s a three-year starter with excellent footwork, tremendous upper body strength, and plays with passion. The perfect combination of brains and brawn: Biadasz is an intelligent player who’s already been given the responsibility of making calls prior to the snap—which is instrumental for a center in today’s NFL—and seamlessly diagnoses pressure packages, stunts, and twists.
Biadasz is one of my favorite players in the upcoming draft—cast in the same mold as Nick Mangold—and has the potential to finally secure the anchor. He’s the key component in a line which yielded one of the best rushing attacks in college football and comes from a program (Wisconsin) known for producing NFL capable offensive linemen. Hopefully, Biadasz remains on the board when it’s time for the Jets to make their pick.
Round 3 (pick 67-from Giants): Jeff Gladney, CB, TCUThe Jets’ secondary is in desperate need of playmakers, and Gladney has the necessary tools: instincts, ball skills, speed, quickness, a strong motor, and isn’t afraid to make the tackle. He’s extremely versatile and can play in both man or zone coverage.
Gladney possesses the talent to be a day one pick, but some character issues will hamper his draft stock. Gladney had a heated exchange with his head coach (Gary Patterson), during which he had to be restrained by his teammates, was ejected from a game for targeting, and recently got into a scuffle against Iowa State where, allegedly, punches were thrown.
Douglas prides himself on fielding high character players, so I question if Gladney is someone he’d even consider, but his ability is undeniable, and he’d be a steal in the third or fourth round.
Cameron Dantzler is another player I’d strongly contemplate here, but after testing, I expect he’ll be gone at this point. If he’s available, I wouldn’t complain if Douglas double dipped and took both Dantzler and Gladney with the 67th and 69th picks. You might protest at first, but in the end, you’d be Gladney and Dantzing all day.
Round 3 (pick 71): Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Are the Jets going to re-sign Robby Anderson? Can they rely on aging and oft-injured Demaryius Thomas? Outside of Crowder, many questions remain as it pertains to the Jets’ passing attack. Sam needs weapons, and the Jets would be wise to invest in the position early and often.
The 2020 NFL draft is deep at WR, and Jefferson would be a great addition in the third round. He exhibits solid instincts, quality route running, has the speed for 9 routes, and does his best work in the red zone. Jefferson is another player whose stock might rise with a solid workout, but as of now, I have him slated to go somewhere in the third round.
Other WRs I’d consider in this spot: Jalen Reagor (dynamic athlete with superior straight-line speed), DeVonta Smith (I expect he’ll be picked in the second round), Brandon Aiyuk (athletic, great in the screen game, bigtime run-after-catch threat, perfect for Gase’s system), and Tyler Johnson (top-flight hands).
Round 4: Jonathan Greenard, Edge, Florida
Edge is one of the most significant needs, but with a subpar secondary and offensive struggles, the position had to take a backseat in this initial mock draft. I’m curious to see what Joe Douglas does in free agency; Jadeveon Clowney and Yannick Ngakoue are two guys I’d keep an eye on.
Douglas doesn’t exactly have a great track record (with the Eagles) of finding edge rushers in the fourth round. Shareef Miller (4th round 2019) and Josh Sweat (4th round 2018) haven’t exactly made an impact, but they are still young and could eventually pan out. If they don’t, let’s just blame those picks on Roseman.
Greenard was a promising young pass rusher and team captain at Louisville before injuring his wrist and transferring to Florida (to reunite with his former defensive coordinator Todd Grantham). Greenard has a solid burst, is a well-rounded athlete, and maintains the capability to play on all three downs. He’s had some decent production, and I like the 6’ 3” 260-pounder in this spot.
Round 5: Netane Muti, IOL, Fresno State
Brian Winters has most likely played his last game in a Jets uniform, and his replacement is imperative. Brandon Scherff is someone I’d open up the checkbook for, if he becomes available via free agency, but the Jets shouldn’t stop there. Depth at the offensive line remains pivotal, and the Jets should continue to invest picks upfront regardless of what they do prior to the draft.
Netane Muti is one of the best prospects in the entire 2020 NFL draft. If it weren’t for his injury history (ruptured Achilles in 2018 and Lisfranc foot surgery this season), Muti would be a legitimate day two pick. Muti (6’3” 310 lbs.) is a respected team captain and can seamlessly transition from a power to zone running scheme with his unique combination of athleticism and strength. His injury history is worrisome, but his talent is worth the risk. Another team may take a chance on the injury-prone player earlier, but if available, Gang Green shouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on what I believe will be one of the steals of the 2020 NFL draft.