Look out, NFL. The Jets might have become the big winners of Day Two of the 2020 NFL Draft, if not of the whole draft altogether. If you ever questioned what Joe Douglas was capable of, it’s time to stop.
Who would have thought that the Jets would be able to squeeze Denzel Mims? Well, they did that after trading down and gaining another two fourth-round selections. Then, with their two picks in the third, they acquired valuable assets in the secondary and the pass-rush.
No doubt, the Jets were one of the teams to watch on Friday night. With what Douglas has been able to do thus far, the draft can only get more satisfying for New York. Only good things can be put forward about the three picks, and here is each move’s grade.
Denzel Mims, Wide Receiver, Baylor
Round 2, Pick 59 (from SEA)
Getting Mims would have been an enormous win even without all the trading done. However, to get the Pick 101, subsequently turned into two fourth-rounders and still have him at 59th, that’s a work of a magician.
It’s been talked so much about how valuable Mims could be that his draft spot was a travesty. Mims could be one of the most impactful receivers in this year’s draft class. In the past three years, he’s had two 1,000-plus-yard campaigns and has recorded 55 or more catches in all three years. His workload gives credibility to his numbers, which is going to play an even more prominent role as he’ll be one of the bigger faces Sam Darnold’s receiving corps.
Furthermore, his film justifies trusting him even more. He’s a terrific route runner and a very successful pass-catcher on contested catches. His vertical work on fooling corners has been incredible, but also intermediate-game usage could provide him the opportunity to shine. That’ll be vital with the Jets looking for consistency and Breshad Perriman being a limited long-threat weapon.
What hasn’t been justified, however, was his downfall in draft value. Experts saw Justin Jefferson, Jalen Reagor, and others going higher anyway. Nevertheless, he wasn’t a part of the wide receiver frenzy. By the time the Jets were on the clock with the 48th pick, the receiving options were down to him and LSU receiver Van Jefferson. What makes Joe Douglas look like an even bigger genius for exploiting the market was that there was more than one team potentially looking for a receiver between 48th and 59th. Moreover, the market was so inefficient that Jefferson’s value increased as opposed to Mims’s.
What went right for Douglas? From one standpoint, it could have been a ripple effect of Denver’s 46th pick going to Penn State receiver K.J. Hamler. To most Jets people, the Broncos were the last threat on their path to Mims. Not to say selecting Hamler is bad in their case – Denver already has two very consistent receivers, who are both good route runners in the middle of the field and vertically. Although they lost crucial pieces at cornerback and in the defensive line, they could use a wildcard weapon down the field less regularly than their earlier pick.
That suddenly meant that the market correlations were as clear as ever – they valued speed and vertical success rather than consistency and believability of figures through repeated success. This had begun so much earlier with Jalen Reagor and Brandon Aiyuk going in the first. On the outside of the receiving battle, Seattle made a reach for Derrell Taylor, who would have been there even at 59. Why? He was projected to go in the third round. Steelers and Rams picking Chase Claypool and Van Jefferson sealed the win for Douglas.
Both Jefferson and Claypool are very flashy. The media loves them. Despite Jefferson never having 50 catches in a season. Despite Claypool being a consistent player with 66 receptions/15.7 average per reception only just this past year. The damage is more limited for Pittsburgh and Denver – both Hamler and Claypool could be what they are looking for, given the specifics of their respective cores. However, from the Hamler pick on, it was possible to predict that Mims, a consistency machine and a player who could be trusted against NFL corners, would fall even deeper.
Ashtyn Davis, Safety, California
Round 3, Pick 68 (From NYG)
A great pick in terms of on-field performance and possibilities for utilization. In terms of filling in as many holes as possible. However, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Before the draft, in Jets Round-By-Round, the likeliest Jets fits at 68 or 79 were Bryce Hall, Damon Arnette, and Darnay Holmes. Arnette was not even close – he went to Las Vegas with the 19th overall pick. However, as we enter Round 4, both Hall and Holmes are available. The Jets’ earliest pick in the fourth round is 120, and they also have 125 and 129. Even if they elect not to draft either, they could use him as a corner every once in a while. As we’ve noted, his speed as a high safety allows him to do that, among other things.
From Jets Mock Draft 1.0:
“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 six 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.”
“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.”
Jabari Zuniga, Defensive End, Florida
Round 3, Pick 79
The most important thing here is how he compares to players like Darrel Taylor and Jonathan Greenard. Meanwhile, the problems in the pass-rush have, at least, been finally addresses.
That likely won’t be enough, though. It’s a mystery as to why Douglas would choose Zuniga over Greenard and Anfernee Jennings, who both had more sacks last year than Zuniga’s career-high of 6.5 in 2018. All three pass-rushers were seniors last year.
It’s also a tough comparison with Greenard, who led not only the team but all of SEC in sacks with 10. In comparison with a player in the same defensive system, he had 6.5 sacks less.
Overall Grade: A-
The Zuniga pick is the only one that is not so perfect. Everything else, including the trading, provided terrific addition to the team. Furthermore, it even sets up Day Three.
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