The free agency period left the New York Jets with many new acquisitions but also lots of missed chances. Today, we have in store an updated seven-round mock draft for the 2020 New York Jets.
Despite re-establishing an offensive line, the tackle position is still a liability. Meanwhile, Robby Anderson departed to Carolina on a two-year, $20 million deal. Even with the addition of Breshad Perriman, the Jets’ receiving core seems somehow not enough to provide Sam Darnold dangerous weaponry.
They’ll have the chance to fill their voids in the 2020 NFL Draft. After the league office announced yesterday that the event is going forward, Joe Douglas and his staff can finally start planning. Be sure about one thing – they definitely have a plan.
The Jets could still go after Trent Williams either by trading for him with Washington or signing him as soon as he gets cut. However, as of this very moment, it seems like it’s a fairly even battle between an offensive lineman and a wide receiver with the 11th overall pick.
The rest of the Draft could be just as important. If the Jets indeed select an OT in the first round, then they have a variety of pass-catchers to choose from with the 48th pick. Other depth needs could include cornerback, running back and defensive linemen.
Andrew Thomas, LT, Georgia
Round 1, Pick 11
As we noted, the Jets still need a tackle. There’s an obvious downside. However, doing so in the first round is the only option left for the Jets (if they pass on Trent Williams.) We recently discussed the dilemma Joe Douglas and his staff has in store. As a result, it still looks like the better option is to get a lineman. That is in spite of deep classes at both positions.
Unfortunately, at least three or four teams inside the top 10 could be interested in doing the same. Candidates include Giants (4th), Cardinals (8th), Jaguars (9th) and Browns (10th). Let’s assume at least one is not going to fit this narrative and select a receiver or someone else. The possible players that the Jets could squeeze at 11th are down to two – Louisville LT Mekhi Becton and Georgia LT Andrew Thomas.
Every team would prefer Becton if given the right of choice. He’s bigger, taller and seems like these things translate more successfully to the pro game. That’s why even he might not fall to them. That leaves it to Andrew Thomas, the 6’5, 320-pound Georgia product, to join the Jets in a sensitive place on the field.
Many evaluators still describe Thomas as a powerful blocker, which will help passer protection and the running game. Both suffered mightily throughout 2019 with the absence of a good tackle. It could turn out that, at the end of the day, his size might not prove to haunt them. They’ll have to move either Fant or Thomas if they are going to be the starters – both are naturally LT. That could be problematic.
The Draft Network considers his blocking in space as one of his worse qualities. However, he manages to amaze blocking for runs and needs very little work to become a dominant part of the Jets offensive line.
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
Round 2, Pick 48
The Jets have the task to address another problematic need on the second day of the 2020 Draft. New York lost its No. 1 target for the last three years when Robby Anderson signed with the Panthers. They responded quickly, bringing in Breshad Perriman. The essence of the receiving core still consists of Perriman, Quincy Enunwa and Jamison Crowder. Perriman is unproven in an increased workload and Enunwa has been battling injury issues for the past two seasons. They still need that spark to provide help for San Darnold, which is why they’ll select a wide receiver with the 48th overall pick.
Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs and Tee Higgins are likely all gone in the first round. Justin Jefferson, Denzel Mims and Laviska Shenault could follow them in late-first to early-second round. By the time the Jets pick for the first time on Friday, only Arizona State wideout Brandon Aiyuk will be available for the team as an answer to their receiving questions.
Aiyuk closely resembles guys like Anderson and Perriman. He’s an avid long threat in the passing game while also being beyond solid in terms of route running. He was consistent in 2019 with 1,192 yards from 65 reception – a performance believable enough to translate well to the pros.
Aiyuk has some very obvious weaknesses such as physicality and contested situations that can drag him down. He averaged more than 18 yards per catch last year with the Sun Devils. Add that to his exceptional skills with the ball in his hands and you have the perfect guy to fill in for Perriman if the former Buccaneer disappoints.
He’s definitely a risky pick. Fast receivers not always succeed against NFL secondaries. Adam Gase may not be the perfect coach to use his route-running skill to scheme matchups. Also, a player like Mims has managed to dominate when it comes to getting 50/50 throws and be even more dominant making separation while also maintaining his speed. Mims ran 4.38 in the 40-yard dash compared to 4.50 for Aiyuk. Not that it matters much in a football game.
However, with Mims probably off the board at that point, the Jets won’t be the grand losers by picking Aiyuk. Exactly the opposite – he could be the much-needed spark to the WR corps.
Ashtyn Davis, S, California
Round 3, Pick 68
Davis played five years in Berkley and showed off in his last two with the program. He’s a free safety with dynamic in-the-box skills, a good blitzer and tough to beat in pass coverage. Ashtyn Davis recorded 6 interceptions over the last two seasons in the Pac-12, including four in 2018. An All-American in track and field, his speed makes him a difficult matchup against even pacy receivers in a Cover-3 zone defensive scheme. With Gregg Williams running mostly formations similar to Cover-2 man or Cover-4 zone, he should be given the chance to thrive and dominate. Even as a second-choice safety behind Jamal Adams.
The Jets’ deal with former Rams safety Marqui Christian as a physical is currently not an option with team facilities closed. If Davis develops properly, he could cover well Christian’s strengths and even go beyond in pass coverage. Don’t get me started on his ceiling.
Derrell Taylor, DE, Tennessee
Round 3, Pick 79
Taylor was one of the SEC’s star pass-rushers. The edge rusher has sacked opposing quarterbacks 16.5 times over the past two years. This includes career-high 8.5 in 2019, which ranked him third in the conference. He’s a steal in late-third round, especially for the team that finished 23rd in the NFL in sacks.
The Jets have a terrible record selecting high-profile defensive lineman in the early rounds. Leonard Williams and Quinton Coples are some of their biggest mistakes in recent memory. However, Taylor might be in a better situation with the Jets flourishing defensively under Gregg Williams.
New York is still in negotiations to land Jadeveon Clowney. He would be a significant boost on the edge that could make the Jets contenders. Nevertheless, Darrell Taylor could still be well-utilized in a more peripheral role.
Quartney Davis, WR, Texas AM
Round 4, Pick 120
It only makes sense for the Jets to address such an abundant need more than once in this year’s Draft. The WR class is so deep you can get a high-quality target in first/second round and then target a depth pass-catcher in day 2 or even Day 3.
In the fourth round, it doesn’t get much better than Texas AM’s top receiver Quartney Davis. He’s a minimalistic, downgraded, late-round version of Denzel Mims on the basis that his strengths happen to translate to the NFL with significant success. Davis is very big but, in the meantime, very efficient in the yards-after-catch department. Add that to his skills on contented catches and 50/50 balls. In addition, it’s impressive having that kind of a player being that consistent over the past two years. Davis has recorded 45+ receptions in the last two seasons and averaged nearly 13 yards per catch last year.
He’ll be a WR4 but a great weapon for Sam Darnold in the intermediate passing game. That’s especially valuable with the long-threat uncertainty of gambling on Breshad Perriman and possibly Aiyuk.
Trajan Bandy, CB, Miami
Round 5, Pick 158
The Jets need depth at the cornerback position. The team made some strong moves, re-signing Brian Poole and adding former Colt Pierre Desir. Trajan Bandy could fill that category. Also, his versatility brings too much on the table to pass on him. Bandy is clearly the best corner that the Jets will likely see remaining in the fifth round.
When it comes to strictly pass coverage, Bandy is solid-to-good. When it comes to other components, he can turn into a sensation. With the Hurricanes in 2019, he corner-blitzed very often, racking up three sacks. However, his coverage skills are not to be dismissed after he posted 8 Passes Defended for the second year in a row. In addition, he’s a good open-field tackler and can deal with the running game when needed.
Short-term, he’s more of a utility player. In the long term, he could be an excellent slot corner at the pro level. That makes him a steal in the fifth round.
Joshua Kelley, RB, UCLA
Round 6, Pick 191
The 2020 season will be one that Leveon Bell needs to deliver throughout. The Jets’ need for a second back might be even more pressing. Josh Adams, the second choice on the depth chart, had just three carries for 12 yards in his first year in Florham Park.
Joshua Kellee, who made the Senior Bowl in 2020, could provide tremendous value for a sixth-rounder. He’s posted impressive numbers with UCLA, registering over 1,00 yards in both 2018 and 2019. He has very little to put on in the air game but a 5.1 average per carry is a good indicator of his potential.
Zach Shackelford, C, Texas
Round 6, Pick 211
Zack Shackelford projects as a bench player for the time being. He could be a perfect player to take over the next opening in the interior of the offensive line or come in for an injured lineman.
The Texas center has been the centerpiece of the Longhorns’ pocket ever since he was named a starter in 2018. Evaluators have praised him as an NFL-ready prospect. Behind a high-quality trio of starters, he could learn and be an even bigger cornerstone when his time comes.
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