On NFL Draft Eve, I took my final stab at projecting this best way the Jets can tackle the draft.
Pick #2, Zach Wilson QB BYU
If Zach isn’t the pick I will be utterly astonished. Zach has the edge you long for in a QB nowadays. His “Prove Them Wrong” mentality shows his hunger to be successful. If Zach can continue to play at the level he did at BYU last season then the sky is the limit. Wilson can make all the throws, handles the mental processing of the game at an elite level according to everyone around him. Wilson will also go into a system he is adamant that he will succeed in. The Jets goal now needs to be to surround him with the most talent for the rest of this draft.
Pick #23, Alijah Vera Tucker IOL USC
This came down to Azeez Ojulari or AVT, what made the difference is thinking back to Sam Darnold and the Jets Quarterbacks of the past. The Jets have to surround Zach with the most talent possible in order to give him the best chance at success. That starts with Vera Tucker. The USC product is 6 foot 4 300 pound wall. He has good athleticism, excels as a run blocker, but has Pro Bowl potential as a pass protector. He also brings versatility having played both tackle and guard in his career. He likely would be the left guard next to Becton for the next decade, and this is a move that gives Zach Wilson a left side of his line he can feel comfortable with for the future.
Pick #34, Landon Dickerson IOL Alabama
Dickerson is an absolute anchor. Only one sack allowed in his time at Alabama. He’s been a first team All American, a Rimington Trophy winner for best center and he provides versatility with experience at right guard. The Jets seem to be confident in Connor McGovern to take a turn at center next season, but if he doesn’t Dickerson could be waiting in the wings. Dickerson can also slot in immediately on the line next to Fant. With Becton, Tucker and Dickerson locked down for the future on the line, the Jets would have 3/5 positions on the line filled with very good talents for the next 5-10 years. Dickerson is coming off damage to his right knee that has persisted throughout college, but if his medicals check out he is the best choice here.
Pick #66, Asante Samuel Jr. CB Florida State
If Samuel is here the Jets need to sprint to the podium themselves. Samuel has potential both outside and inside. He has the capability to start year one and his talent is near the top of the class at the defensive back position. Coming off 30 tackles, 3 INTs, a forced fumble and two recoveries, the potential is there for Samuel to be productive at the next level. I cannot reiterate this enough, if he is there, he is the pick, you start him alongside Bryce Hall for the foreseeable future.
Pick #86, Kenneth Gainwell RB Memphis
Gainwell would be great value here at 86. Gainwell didn’t touch the field last year, but in 2019 he was a dynamic threat. With over 2,000 yards from scrimmage, 16 TDs and 13 of those rushing, Gainwell is a producer who fits the Jets scheme as well. Gainwell can play all over as well, taking reps as a slot receiver when needed. Gainwell would be a nice weapon in the backfield for the offense and the more weapons the better for Zach Wilson.
Pick #107, Cameron McGrone LB Michigan
A former five star high school prospect who showed flashes of that talent this past season. McGrone was in the same tier as Micah Parsons coming out of college, but he never stood out as much as Parsons. The production last year was not great with 26 tackles, 2.0 TFLs and .5 sacks over 5 games. However, his 2019 year featured 65 tackles, 9.0 TFLs, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 11 games. McGrone has the potential to be an insane value pick this late in the draft. A superb athlete and exceptional tackler. His coverage and leadership can improve, but the latter should grow with maturity. He is a very good developmental backer to grab this late with potential to earn starting reps quickly.
Pick #146, James Wiggins S Cincinati
Wiggins has been one of my most mocked picks to the Jets. They need depth at safety in the event Joyner, Maye or Davis go down, and they also need more special teams guys. Over 23 career games for the Bearcats Wiggins had 87 tackles, a sack, 3.0 TFLs, 5 INTs, 1 TD and 2 FF. Wiggins has the potential to be a disruptor but he needs to grow. In coverage he needs to advance, but he can work on that while playing the bulk of his reps on special teams for the first few years. Wiggins can provide another weapon for Brant Boyer and more depth overall, which has always made him a guy who’s high on my board for the Jets.
Pick #154, Shaka Toney EDGE, Penn State
Toney is not the most notable Penn State prospects but the guy has been a consistent piece and consummate professional for the Nittany Lions over the past four years. Toney could be a rotational pass rusher with some versatility. Last season over 8 games, Toney had 31 tackles, 7.5 TFLs and 5.0 sacks, along with a forced fumble. Toney needs to develop much more as a pass rusher, but the maturity and football IQ is there. If Toney can develop some more pass rush moves he could slot in nicely as a rotational body on the line.
Pick #186, Ben Mason FB, Michigan
Tony Pauline connected the team to Mason a few days ago and the versatile fullback makes sense for the team. LaFleur saw first hand the role a guy like Kyle Juszczyk can play in an offense and Mason will be tasked to play a similar one. He can be a hybrid tight end/full back at the next level and with short yardage touchdown production in the past, he can be a nice value pickup late in the draft.
UDFA: Dax Milne WR, BYU
The last pickup for the Jets will make Zach Wilson smile. Milne was Wilson’s favorite target at BYU. When watching his tape, the guy most commonly coming down with the ball is #5 Dax Milne. After catching 70 balls for 1,188 yards and 8 scores last season, it’s safe to say there is familiarity and timing already established between the two. Milne will get a shot to compete for an NFL roster spot while also providing Wilson a sense of comfort on and off the field as he transitions from Provo to the Big Apple.