It was around this time last year that Jets fans loaded themselves with hope and belief yet again. What followed was an important offseason, the first with Joe Douglas in charge and capped by a 2-14 season. When looking back and doing this Jets 2020 draft review, one begs the question, was all of this fruitful positively justified? Nothing screams “no” more loudly than the regular-season record. This marked New York’s worst achievement since 1996.
Now, almost 12 months later, seven of the Jets’ nine draft picks from the 2020 NFL draft have made their professional debuts. Rather unsurprisingly, all of them have fared in a variety of directions. Some players who were drafted high have disappointed. Meanwhile, others have confidently approached a starting job after being taken on the third day of last year’s draft weekend.
All that means is that, for another year in a row, the Jets put on a draft field that provoked mixed feelings within the organization. Now that the draft class’s first season has passed, conclusions about the seven players’ capabilities on the NFL level are much clearer. Therefore, as the team will be looking to cut players prior to April’s draft, it will be vital to analyze who has potential and who’s not worth in the Jets 2020 draft review.
Jets 2020 Draft Review: Early Round Picks
Rookie Performance: Despite all the activity during last year’s offseason, the Jets offensive line failed to live up to the expectations. New right guard Greg Van Roten and returning left guard Alex Lewis were both very inconsistent. All in all, the Jets’ O-Line allowed 43 sacks, nine fewer than last year but still the ninth-most within the NFL.
However, more similarly to Connor McGovern and George Fant, Mekhi Becton showed more positive signs than negatives during his first year in the league. Despite missing time due to injury woes, Mekhi Becton registered 13 starts and a total of 70 percent offensive snaps taken part in. However rocky his debut campaign might have been, he remained a starter at right tackle over the course of almost the whole season.
Yet, Becton didn’t have a sensational first year and isn’t the best player on the Jets 2020 draft review. Instead, it was a campaign of mixed feelings. That’s why an up-and-down rookie year would describe Becton’s accomplishments better. According to Pro Football Focus, Becton conceded seven sacks, which was tied for fifth-most among all NFL tackles. For comparison, his fellow tackle Fant allowed just three amidst a 20 percent bigger workload.
Future Potential: If his 2020 numbers are indicative of anything, they are rather worrying. Despite his strong PFF grade, nearing 75.0, Becton was on pace to perform even worse had he reached the number of snaps that, for instance, George Fant posted. This is not promising when he is fully healthy and ready to play 16 games.
Of course, there’s a mountain of components Mekhi Becton has to work on to get better results. Lack of improvement over the next one or two campaigns would spell underperformance. Moreover, it would also have a noticeable impact on the already struggling Jets’ O-Line.
Rookie Performance: Denzel Mims joined the Jets roster after falling to the 59th pick, despite his great reputation. Mims provided a big spark to the 2019 Baylor Bears in a year that saw him post 66 receptions. In addition, he recorded an average yards per reception figure of 15.5 in the Big 12. That made him a perfect candidate for a low-workload, high-efficiency weapon in the intermediate game.
However, a preseason injury turned even our projections upside down. Firstly, Mims had to wait until Week Seven to make his NFL debut. Once he got on the field, he turned into one of the team’s most-targeted receivers. With 2.6 catches per game, only Jamison Crowder had more receptions on average amongst pass-catchers with more than 30 targets.
Secondly, when discussing the Jets 2020 draft review, efficiency must be addressed, as that was the “calling card” for most of the players drafted. Denzel Mims failed to duplicate the efficiency he was known for previously in his nine-game stint in 2020. Mims only managed to catch 52.3% of the balls intended for him. Among Jets wide receivers with 30+ targets, only Breshad Perriman and Jeff Smith were less efficient.
Furthermore, Mims was unexpectedly involved in the long-threat passing game. His 15.5 yards per catch were second-most on the team. (Note: a 15.5 yards per catch in NFL is much different than 15.5 in CFB) However, even for the most-downfield-oriented weapons that were available to Sam Darnold, a catch percentage in the 50-percent range makes for a lack of productivity.
Mims and Perriman, the two biggest examples for the Jets in that department, prove that better than any other long-threat duo in the league. The team’s three main short-game receivers all had catch-percentage figures north of 66%. In the meantime, the two downfield targets were both south of 55%. The result: the third-worst team catch percentage – 58.5 percent.
In spite of the missed playing time, Dowell Loggains and Adam Gase more than strongly relied on Mims when he was playing. The numbers in his first campaign show that he didn’t justify this heavy trust.
Future Potential: Mims clearly struggled as a deep-threat pass-catcher. Moreover, a heavy workload didn’t do him any justice. However, he can dramatically benefit from a change of roles and a return to the intermediate passing unit where he will be much more efficient. That could turn him into a brand new receiver in 2021 and beyond.
Jets 2020 Draft Review: Third-Round Picks
Rookie Performance: In the third round of our Jets 2020 draft review, we look at some of the worst selections the Jets made last year. At least those are the facts based on both of the picks’ first professional campaigns. New York began with much hope and an extra pick, acquired via the Leonard Williams trade with the Giants.
Firstly, with the 68th overall pick, the Jets decided to add safety depth with Cal defensive back Ashtyn Davis. Davis ended up as the No.3 safety choice even after the Jamal Adams deal because Bradley McDougald joined in return. Still, as a fast player and an All-American in track and field, the team expected some upside in pass-coverage from Davis.
Future Potential: Davis is likely to get more time for his development so the Jets are unlikely to kick him out sooner than next offseason. However, with the Jets’ passing defense one of the worst, New York might be reluctant to put a hazardous bet with him in 2021. What makes Jets fans apprehensive is that when McDougald’s shoulder injury ended his campaign prematurely, Davis was asked to take on a much wider role, starting six games. He struggled mightily, surrendering a passer rating of 142.5 on 26 targets. This was the worst figure on the Jets secondary.
Next up, with their regular round-three pick, the Jets selected Florida pass-rusher Jabari Zuniga. We won’t take much of our Jets 2020 draft review on this pick, as there was not much to see on the field.
Rookie Performance: As the 2020 season came and went, Zuniga’s talent remained hidden. The Georgia native took part in just 9 percent of all Jets snaps on the defensive side of the ball.
Future Potential: Zuniga seems like his time to shine is bound in 2021. On the other hand, he could just not be good enough to even get through camp with a more upfront job.
Jets 2020 NFL Draft Review: Day-Three Additions
Rookie Performance: Offensive tackle Cameron Clark and QB James Morgan, both drafted in the fourth round, didn’t get to the field in 2020. Furthermore, punter Braden Mann stays in the background both due to his mixed success on the field and his insignificance as a punter. Three more wasted picks that could have been starring in this Jets 2020 draft review.
What’s left is the two points of focus. By far the more crucial pick was fifth-round Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall. Hall was initially projected to go higher. There were better prospects near that spot, however, picking him in the fifth round was a deal Joe Douglas couldn’t ignore.
Hall had previously indicated that his ceiling was decent. There was always room for development and he rightfully started as a backup corner. Yet, he was solid once he stepped foot on the field. In 52 targets across 8 games, Bryce Hall allowed a passer rating of merely 97.7, tremendous for a late-round pick.
Also, the Jets’ first selection in the fourth round was another prospect out of Gainesville. That turned out to be running back Lamical Perine. Perine produced a showing that left a lot to be desired. Splitting the ground-game workload three-to-one with Frank Gore, he only managed to average 3.6 yards per carry.
Future Potential: Perine wasn’t good enough to lock up a roster spot for himself. On the contrary, Hall turned in a very pleasant performance which raises the stakes ahead of 2021. He was the lone bright spot of the day-three picks in this Jets 2020 draft review.
Jets 2020 NFL Draft Review: Class Overview
One of the notable reasons for the Jets’ reputation as the NFL’s punching bag in recent memory was their abysmal draft performances. Now that the first campaign is over, the Jets 2020 draft review has produced some sources of positivity. Becton and Hall showed the potential to be stars.
However, the rest was largely no different from the embarrassment of the past. Players like Denzel Mims and Ashtyn Davis could continue getting more chances with the roster lacking depth.