It’s almost 100 percent certain that the NFL is going to postpone the Draft until at least May. First with the news were Pro Football Weekly and Shawtime Illinois. Considering the rapid pace at which COVID-19 has spread in the last few weeks, it isn’t crazy to question whether things will be much better come May. That poses new questions for many teams and the Jets are no different.
It’s very intriguing how that impacts the start of the league year. NFL free agency is slated to begin Thursday, March 19, at 4:00 pm ET. If the 2011 lockout taught us anything, it’s that teams prefer to hold the Draft as early as possible. The reason: it clears up lots of questions about their strategy.
First-round picks are crucial for the direction of almost every team on the clock. For teams such as the New York Jets, things get even more uncertain. The Jets are might have their sights set on an offensive lineman but that’s only a fraction of what could happen.
Many NFL executives expect a delay in the start of the new league year. Postponement of free agency also occurred as soon as 2011 but the draft’s date remained untouched. If the league year starts as scheduled, teams will be able to leave some needs unaddressed in order to take care of them via the Draft. That way much can go wrong for teams that pick later than No. 6.
Then we have the Jets, who are avidly in many different position markets. As history has told us, “what can go wrong will go wrong” in Florham Park. And still, general manager Joe Douglas’ hiring 12 months ago established the Jets as ambitious and aggressive in their efforts of becoming relevant again.
Except for a new offensive tackle, the Jets’ search goes as far as a cornerback, a pass-rusher, even maybe a wide receiver. The challenge of bringing Robby Anderson back is also looming.
Let’s give an example. Imagine the Jets passing on Jack Conlin, heavily linked to New York, to pursue their left tackle of the future, Georgia’s Andrew Thomas. Then, say, the Browns draft Thomas just before NY hits the clock. And just like that, they remain short-handed and are unable to protect Sam Darnold again. Remember – scouts and teams value players differently, even at the same position. A particular team could love Thomas through the roof and hate, for instance, Mekhi Becton.
Things could, however, somehow get more uncomfortable. This would be in the condition of them drafting a cornerback. While the class is rich in offensive linemen and wide receivers, only three corners are projected to come close to being drafted on Thursday. One of them, Jeff Okudah, is a guarantee to go to Detroit. If Florida’s CJ Henderson isn’t available at 11th, they can pick Kendall Fulton but they’ll pass on much better prospects.
If the league year does begin on Match 19th, the Jets will need to prioritize re-signing Anderson, establishing a reliable offensive line and adding a new cornerback. Their secondary needs include giving some receiving help for Sam Darnold.
It seems like the Jets can get their guy due to how deep the offensive line and wide receiver classes are. However, as much as I value Jack Conklin, the Jets will limit themselves in the Draft if they sign him. The cornerback class is also decent in free agency. That means they’ll incur problems if they lose the battle for players like Byron Jones, Chris Harris and more.
In conclusion, Joe Douglas has established a talented team that needs very little to compete for their first AFC East title since 2002. The fact that they have more that one direction to go in the NFL Draft requires them to be wary. Because in 2020 once you fail in the Draft, you can’t cover it up with signings.
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