The late rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft will be a chance for the New York Jets to build up the depth of their roster. This was considered among the problematic things about the team last year. Thankfully, a deep 2020 draft class can be used to fill their needs and even provide more talent capable of competing for a spot in the rotation at different positions. The fifth round of the draft is the first step in this depth-building process.
Draft Capital: Pick 158
Best Pick: Shaquille Quarterman, Linebacker, Miami
It’s not like the Jets have a real shortage in terms of middle linebackers but they’ll gladly take another piece to the rotation. Patrick Onwuasor came in from the Ravens with an impressive resume but Neville Hewitt might not be ready to take on a bigger role. Meanwhile, Avery Williamson is facing the prospect of getting cut as the Jets look to free up cap space. C.J. Mosley is the lone certain and reliable starter they have there.
Quarterman is a very versatile Mike linebacker. He plays the run very well and is a thoroughly solid tackler. He looks like a player that can be consistent every week. In addition, he could be an X factor as a blitzer – a role, in which he was frequently used during his career with the Hurricanes. He has a total of 12 sacks over four seasons. His 47 career sacks rank sixth in conference history, while he was fifth in 2019 with 16. All that from a middle linebacker. According to The Draft Network, he’d be perfect in a 3-4 scheme – the Jets just so happen to use that.
With him potentially joining the rotation, Quarterman could get some decent playing time which would help him fulfill his potential. If Joe Douglas has already addressed both the cornerback and edge-rusher needs by Round Five, strengthening the player pool at the Mike linebacker position is a very adequate move. Quarterman’s ceiling is high and could prove to be a steal at this point.
Most Realistic Pick: Trajan Bandy, Cornerback, Miami
Bandy thrived in zone coverage last year. He was good in coverage across the shallow parts of the field. Furthermore, he recovered quickly to stop short gain from turning into significant runs. He’s also quick when he needs to join the rest of his team to stop the running game or other short plays. His problems in the vertical man coverage likely keep him away from any kind of playing time against wideouts but his value as a backup in the short-term is solid.
He’s also a good blitzer, having recorded 3 sacks last year. His numbers in coverage are even more impressive – nine passes defended, 23 in his career, ranking ninth last year and 23rd in conference history over his three years. He’s ready to contribute both as a good nickel and in a versatile role in the Jets defense.
The Jets currently have four potential corners on the roster in Brian Poole, Pierre Desir, Blessuan Austin, and Arthur Maulet. Also, they’re expected to address the position earlier in the draft. However, even if that happens, another depth pick won’t be a bad thing.
The leftovers of the linebacker class with probably be very scarce in the fifth round. Besides, the cornerbacks at that point aren’t many, while Nebraska star Lamar Jackson could fall to the sixth and be an option for the Jets there with one of their two picks in Round Six. In such a prospect, they might have to shift their interest towards an interior offensive lineman. This won’t be a problem in either the fifth or the sixth round but will prevent them from getting the best possible pick.
Kyle Murphy, Offensive Lineman, Rhode Island
Murphy wasn’t very dominant in Rhode Island. He had to change positions very often but his versatility could be what makes him valuable to the Jets. Murphy isn’t very strong but he could help the running game, which is why The Draft Network projects him as a utility interior lineman in the short term and a developmental player in the long term. He has more experience as a left tackle but seems to be trending towards focusing on the inside.
Anfernee Jennings, Defensive End, Alabama
Jennings is very efficient off the edges. He broke out during the 2019 college football season with the Alabama Crimson Tide, recording 8 sacks, the fourth-best in the SEC. Meanwhile, he had 13 tackles for loss in each of the last two years, the latter of which he ranked third-best within his conference.
J.R. Reed, Safety, Georgia
Reed is probably the only safety at that point in the draft, whose ceiling includes starting at the NFL level. Problems for the Jets at safety include lack of depth and the scary prospect of having to trade Jamal Adams. His skills as a deep safety are what the Jets need with Adams one of the best blitzing safeties in the league.
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