Concluding the second day of the 2020 NFL Draft, the third round is the first piece of evidence of the known truth about the Jets in the draft – they need to nail their first two picks. Because the next eight bring tons of question marks. New York has many remaining holes and cannot afford to leave the work in the receiving core and offensive line for the late rounds. Picking a wide receiver, as well as other surprises, are possible, though.
Draft capital: Pick 68 (No. 4 in the third round), Pick 79 (No. 15)
The third round will be one of two rounds in the 2020 draft, in which the Jets have multiple selections. The other is Round 6, where the Jets have Picks 191 and 211. On the other hand, they have no seventh-round picks.
Damon Arnette, Cornerback, Ohio State
There were very few corners in college football as dominant as Arnette. There are also very few corners in the draft as underrated as Arnette. He might not jump out as a consensus top 5 pick at the position. Nevertheless, the team that gets him, likely in the late-second or early-third round, will get a steal.
According to NFL scouts, he’s very versatile and tough. What really catches the eye could be the way he shuts opposing receivers on press coverage. He has the opportunity to turn into a long-term star in man schemes, and a real difference-maker on any team even in his rookie year.
Arnette recorded eight passes defended with one interception and 35 total tackles during his senior 2019 season. The Jets recently brought back Brian Poole and Arthur Maulet, and also signed former Colts corner Pierre Desir. The secondary could surely use another solid player at the position to build depth and develop Arnette to his full potential.
Curtis Weaver, Defensive End, Boise State
The Jets pass-rush has been a hot mess in the past few seasons. Now, it’s looking less and less likely that Jadaveon Clowney will be heading to Florham Park. That means 1 Jets Drive needs to find its new leading man on the edge in the middle rounds of the draft.
Despite the main part of the edge-rushing class lacking depth, that certainly doesn’t apply later in the draft. The conversation here starts and ends with Boise State star Curtis Weaver – the all-time Mountain West leader in career sacks (48.0).
In 2019, Weaver posted career-high 13.5 sacks. Thanks to him, the Broncos were still able to get pressure when rushing with four, sometimes three, pass-rushers. Weaver was simply unstoppable around the edges and there are barely any concerns about him. Those don’t include his health as he never missed a single game with Boise State.
Weaver should have a big role if the Jets don’t sign Clowney. Having said that, he could be a draft target even if Clowney lands with the Jets, who finished the year with 35 sacks, ranking 23rd in the league.
Most Realistic Picks
Bryce Hall, Cornerback, Virginia
The chances of Arnette not being available at 68th are good. So the Jets will still go with a corner but will have to shift their focus to another quality prospect. Virginia defensive back Bryce Hall is more than capable of filling their holes.
Hall missed some time last year but had a huge campaign in 2018 when he posted 21 passes defended to go along with two picks. His success in one-on-one situations stems from reading plays quickly, which he does exceptionally well. If that matters for a rookie that will get only so much playing time, he also provides good value when it comes to corner blitzes. He recorded four sacks in four years with the Cavaliers and also contributed to stopping the running game.
Arnette seems like the better prospect. However, Bryce Hall isn’t much of a downgrade compared to Arnette and can become an excellent corner with a minimum amount of work.
Darrell Taylor, Defensive End, Tennessee
Taylor has recorded 16.5 sacks during the last two seasons. This included 8.5 in 2019, which ranked him third in the SEC. He’s big but, at the same time, very quickly-moving against opposing linemen.
He’s also posted 21 tackles for loss since the start of the 2018 campaign and finished his collegiate career with 118 total tackles. At that point in the draft, SEC leader Jonathan Greenard might be a better option but he could easily go higher so he’s no guarantee to be there at Pick 79.
Supposing that both Taylor and Greenard going higher than 79th is unlikely, the biggest obstacle seems to be Bryce Hall not being there at 68th. It will take a serious shift of evaluations for Arnette to go lower than Hall. Aside from those two, the class isn’t terribly deep. Troy Pride of Notre Dame could be what saves the Jets in a similar series of events.
Ashtyn Davis, Safety, California
While Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye are reliable enough as the safety duo, Davis is worth taking a look. His speed makes him a valuable asset on schemes similar to Cover 3 and defenses using both zone and man formations. He could be a great pro-level safety but the Jets might not need him at the moment.
Chase Claypool, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
Claypool was rumored to have an online conference call with Joe Douglas and the Jets’ staff scheduled. He could be viewed also as a second-round pick but many expect him to drop well into the third round. The top Fighting Irish pass-catcher had a terrific 2019, making 66 receptions for 1,037 yards in his only year with more than a thousand yards.
Darnay Holmes, Cornerback, UCLA
Holmes had eight interceptions in three years with the Bruins, including two seasons with three picks. He compares well with Hall and Arnette but might be a reach with the Jets’ first selection in the third round as he could drop even to the fourth round.
Jonathan Greenard, Defensive End, Florida
Greenard didn’t just lead the SEC in sacks during the last season. He has recorded 17 sacks in the last two years, including ten in 2019. In addition, he’s also accumulated better stats than Derrell Taylor playing one year less than the Tennessee defensive end. He’s a better option but is unlikely to still be available at Pick 79.
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