This off-season, the New York Jets have taken care of a handful of their biggest team needs. They finally addressed their need for a young, talented pass rusher with Carl Lawson. New York found a top receiver in Corey Davis. They also signed high-upside players in linebacker Jarrad Davis and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins too.
Even so, the Jets have plenty of needs to fill still. The plan for general manager Joe Douglas has always been to build his team through the draft, and he is set up to do exactly that. Including the second overall pick, the Jets own five top 100 picks, in addition to five others between rounds four and six. The team has the draft capital to address their remaining needs. But which positions do the Jets need reinforcements at the most? Here are the New York Jets biggest team needs as the 2021 NFL Draft is quickly approaching…
Ranking New York Jets Team Needs Before NFL Draft
Honorable Mention: Right Tackle
It is known George Fant is not the answer at right tackle. He was solid at the start of the season before lingering injuries plagued the rest of his 2020 season. The 28-year-old tackle was expected to be a cap casualty this off-season, though he remains on the roster. Competing against him right now for the spot would be Chuma Edoga, a former Mike Maccagnan third-round pick. Edoga remained a liability in the run game in 2020 despite it being his best year yet in pass protection. It is easy to understand why the Jets would search for a starting right tackle, although with Fant and Edoga there, other positions take priority as the Jets biggest team needs.
5. Edge Rusher
For over a decade and a half, the Jets were without an elite pass rusher. Now, the hope is Carl Lawson can reach that height in head coach Robert Saleh’s defense. Except, he cannot be the only one rushing the passer. Yes, the Jets also have Quinnen Williams and Rankins, but they are both best suited along the interior of their 4-3 front. Thus, leaving the need for an edge rusher opposite of Lawson.
The Jets can settle this early in the draft. Even without a Nick Bosa or Chase Young type prospect in the class, there are multiple rushers who are candidates at 23rd overall or later. For example, Azeez Ojulari from Georgia or Miami’s Jaelan Phillips could be great fits for New York. Do not be surprised if either of them become Jets on draft night.
4. Tight End
Three seasons in and nobody knows what Chris Herndon can be. His rookie year he flashed the upside to be a difference-maker over the middle. Then, his second season was plagued by suspension and injury before being misused by Adam Gase in year three. Aside from Herndon, Ryan Griffin, Tyler Kroft, Trevon Wesco, and Connor Davis make up the team’s tight end group. In other words, the Jets could use an upgrade.
Back with the San Francisco 49ers, new Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur got to work with the likes of George Kittle and Jordan Reed. It only makes sense that the Jets will see a dramatic increase in tight end usage in the passing game this season. With most of the tight ends on the roster not being long-term answers, the Jets should look to draft one in the middle rounds. Players such as Miami’s Brevin Jordan, Tommy Tremble of Notre Dame, or Hunter Long of Boston College could be intriguing choices for New York. All may not be starters when they come for Florham Park, yet could be ready to take the starting job come 2022.
3. Offensive Line
Without a doubt, one of the most questionable decisons by the Jets in free agency was the lack of moves along the inside of the offensive line. Center Connor McGovern’s contract makes it difficult to move him, as he will be a starter in 2021. As for guards Alex Lewis and Greg Van Roten, it comes as a surprise they have not been cut. It could be because they never got their footing in terms of chemistry last season due to COVID-19. Or maybe it is so that they have more competition on the inside. After all, their main move was adding Dan Feeney, a versatile interior lineman who is not much of an upgrade over them.
Therefore, the Jets could turn to the draft, which is loaded along the interior, for a solution. Guards Wyatt Davis (Ohio State), Ben Cleveland (Georgia), Aaron Banks (Notre Dame), and Trey Smith (Tennessee) could all be day two selections. Maybe they also look to move McGovern back to guard and take center Creed Humphrey from Oklahoma at 23rd, or Landon Dickerson of Alabama on day two. Either way, things are lining up for the Jets to bulk up the interior more in the draft.
As for a position in desperate need of a starter, look no further than cornerback. The Jets have essentially been looking for a lockdown starter ever since Darelle Revis fell off in 2016 and have found no answers. On paper, Bryce Hall and Blessuan Austin are New York’s starters, which presents an issue given Austin’s inconsistent play in 2020.
In the draft, the Jets could take advantage of the plethora of corners who could be day one starters in Saleh’s defense. In the first round, Northwestern’s Greg Newsome II is the most likely to still be available at 23rd overall. As for day two, Eric Stokes of Georgia, Asante Samuel Jr. from Florida State, or Syracuse’s Ifeatu Melifonwu could all make an immediate impact opposite of Hall.
Was this ever a question? The New York Jets dealt starting quarterback Sam Darnold, who is only 23-years-old, to the Carolina Panthers because they can replace him with the second overall pick. By many accounts, it appears BYU’s Zach Wilson is the favorite for the selection. He brings a strong arm and good size to the table, with a personality made for the big apple. There is also the matter that the only quarterbacks on the roster are James Morgan and Mike White. Clearly, a starting quarterback is the biggest team need for the Jets.
The New York Jets are far from being done piecing together their roster for the 2021 season. With 10 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jets can resolve a handful of their team needs there. And when it is all said and done, the quarterback, cornerback, interior offensive lineman, tight end, and edge rusher position could see a new addition.
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