NY Jets bolster the team’s biggest needs in 7-round 2020 NFL Mock Draft

NY Jets (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
NY Jets (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets are just days away from the 2020 NFL Draft. And with a number of pressing needs to fix, we did our best to address every position in this complete, seven-round mock draft.

The NY Jets are less than a week away from what could turn out to be the team’s most important draft in years. The 2020 NFL Draft will undoubtedly be like no other given circumstances, but that shouldn’t distract from what should be an eventful few days.

The anticipation is building with each passing day. Mock draft season is in full swing as everybody wants to get in their last-minute projections for how they think the draft will unfold.

We here at The Jet Press are no different.

We’ve done our fair share of mock drafts to this point. We’ve given our thoughts on everything from the top-tier, first-round targets to the late-round hidden gems.

But what’s one more mock draft to add to the growing suspense and excitement that surrounds draft season?

As per usual, we used the excellent simulator created by our friends over at The Draft Network to accurately (or at least as accurately as possible) predict how the draft board will fall.

So with that being said, if you think a player won’t be available at a certain spot in the real draft — don’t blame us! We were just following the flow of the mock simulator.

With that, let’s take a look at our Monday-of-draft-week complete, seven-round mock draft.

Next: Round 1

NY Jets (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Round 1, 11th Overall — Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama

There’s no change in the position here as the Jets will still take one of the top offensive tackles in the class. Only this time, they didn’t have a choice.

Tristan Wirfs, Mekhi Becton, and Andrew Thomas were all off the board by the time the Jets were on the clock at pick No. 11 leaving them with just Jedrick Wills as the final remaining member of the big-four.

But there will be no complaints here — Wills might be the best of the bunch.

Wills started the last two seasons at right tackle for Alabama earning All-American honors and first-team All-SEC recognition for his 2019 season. Perhaps the most NFL-ready lineman in a top-heavy tackle class, Wills has the technique and traits to be an instant-impact starter at the next level.

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He brings an impressive blend of mauling power, light-footed agility, and sound footwork that projects him as a Day 1 starter with All-Pro upside.

Some will undoubtedly be concerned that he only played right tackle in college and even dating back to high school, but Wills has the traits necessary to transition to the left side if need be. Not to mention that he was blocking for the notoriously southpaw Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama.

Besides, the right tackle position is valued just as much as its counterpart in today’s NFL. And it’s not as if the Jets have a starter locked down at either side.

Willis is the pick here and there wasn’t much of a debate given how the board fell.

Next: Round 2

NY Jets (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Round 2, 48th Overall — Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC

We’ve mocked Michael Pittman Jr. to the Jets with this pick before and will continue to do so as long as he’s available in these simulators. If Pittman is on the board when the Jets pick at No. 48, he should be the selection.

With the Jets addressing the offensive line on Day 1, Day 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft should be devoted to bolstering their wide receiver core. And what better way to do that than by drafting an NFL-ready, starting-caliber outside receiver here in the second round.

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Pittman is a superbly talented possession receiver with an outstanding catch radius made even more dangerous by his excellent hands. While he lacks top-flight speed, Pittman more than makes up for it with his physicality and ball skills.

The 22-year-old should immediately step into an NFL offense and compete for a starting role, preferably as the X receiver on the boundary. There he should be able to make use of his contested-catch ability and strong hands when working all three levels of the field.

And that’s the thing, he’s not a supremely talented route-runner, but he doesn’t have a weakness in that area. Pittman is equally effective working downfield as he is running underneath routes.

His lack of speed and RAC ability will push him to the second round, but for a Jets team looking for a Week 1 starter on the outside, Pittman is about as safe as you could get on Day 2.

If he’s on the board at this spot, the Jets need to take him.

Next: Round 3, 68th Overall

NY Jets (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

Round 3, 68th Overall — Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado

This was a surprise.

There will be plenty who will complain and say “there’s no way that Laviska Shenault Jr. will be available in the third round.” But he was. And we jumped at that opportunity.

In actuality, it makes sense that we could see Shenault slide further down the board than expected. The Colorado product has an extensive injury history that includes shoulder ailments and a core injury that sidelined him for the majority of the pre-draft process.

Given the complicated situation regarding acquiring medicals in this wonky COVID-19-filled pre-draft world, players with questionable injury concerns are expected to fall. Shenault is a prime candidate to be one of those players.

But when on the field, there are few more dynamic players in this class.

The 21-year-old is an exciting swiss-army knife who is equally as explosive as he is physical. Shenault is unstoppable after the catch as he runs with a purpose either breaking through arm tackles or using his elusiveness to evade would-be tackles.

At 6-foot-1, 227 pounds, Shenault is built like a running back but has the hands, catch radius, and vertical receiving skills of a starting outside receiver.

His production in college was limited and he never learned a full route tree playing in Colorado’s putrid offense, but the traits are all there for him to be an excellent receiver at the next level.

After taking a physically-dominant, safe receiver in the second round, the Jets take a chance on an injury-prone, dynamic wideout here in the third.

The upside is simply too much to pass on.

Next: Round 3, 79th Overall

NY Jets (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

Round 3, 79th Overall — Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State

After addressing the offense with their first three picks, the Jets finally target one of their biggest defensive needs by selecting Mississippi State cornerback Cameron Dantzler here in the third round.

Dantzler is a tall, lengthy cornerback who enters the NFL with two years of starting experience under his belt. He has quick hips that allow him to turn and run with opposing receivers, although his ball-tracking could use some work.

The 21-year-old is more accomplished in zone coverage at the moment, but his physical profile provides potential that he could become better in press-man down the line.

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Dantzler is thinly-built and wiry, but he doesn’t show a lack of effort in run support. His competitiveness is evident and he will fight to get through blocks even if he won’t always be able to.

Ultimately, he was the best cornerback available and arguably quite the steal at this spot. His physical traits should be enough to get him on the field early in his career and he could be a quality starter by his second year in the NFL.

If drafted by the Jets, he would likely be expected to compete for a starting job on the outside with the likes of Pierre Desir, Blessuan Austin, and whoever else the team brings in before training camp.

Not a perfect scheme fit, but Dantzler has the talent to justify the selection.

Next: Round 4, 120th Overall

NY Jets (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

Round 4, 120th Overall — Alex Highsmith, EDGE, Charlotte

This might be my personal favorite pick of the draft, not because of the player or the talent. But more so because his skill set is a perfect fit for what the Jets need at edge rusher.

Charlotte edge defender Alex Highsmith is an explosive, developmental pass rusher who has a quick first step and excellent bend that makes him dangerous on passing downs.

He fits best as a 3-4 stand-up outside linebacker where he could make good use of his explosive burst and agility. On top of that, he rushes with a high motor and will have no shortage of effort sacks at the next level.

And on a Jets team lacking in the pass-rush department, Highsmith would be an ideal mid-round target.

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Jordan Jenkins is a serviceable starter, but he’s underwhelming as a pass rusher. And outside of him, the likes of Tarell Basham and Harvey Langi just aren’t going to cut it. Highsmith would give the Jets their best pure, natural pass-rusher even if he needs some development.

The 22-year-old likely won’t be a starter right out of the gate. He isn’t a very stout run defender and he could use more refinement as a pass rusher, even if the physical upside is there.

But the Jets don’t need anymore safe, run-defending edge defenders. They need pass-rush potential and Highsmith gives them just that.

The Jets manage to address their two biggest defensive needs in successive selections here in the middle of the draft.

Next: Round 5, 158th Overall

NY Jets (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

Round 5, 168th Overall — Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt

This is the part of the draft where you begin to focus on depth at certain positions and arguably no position on the roster is in need of some depth additions than running back.

Le’Veon Bell was underwhelming in 2019 and even if a lot of that was a product of his poor situation, he likely isn’t long for New York. The former All-Pro running back has an out in his contract after this season and it’s looking increasingly likely that the Jets take that out.

That means finding a possible future replacement for him remains an important need. On top of that, the Jets would be wise to add a young running back who could spell Bell and serve as part of a rotation in 2020.

At this point in the draft, Vanderbilt’s Ke’Shawn Vaughn was the player who most fit that mold.

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Vaughn is a smart runner who has good vision and excellent burst in the open field. He doesn’t hang his hat on one particular trait, rather he’s an all-around quality back who should fare well as part of a rotation.

His subpar blocking and receiving abilities might push him to Day 3 of the draft, but he has enough potential as a receiver to work with. On top of that, he can serve as an ideal outside-zone complement to Bell who primarily saw inside work in 2019.

Ultimately, Vaughn could be a solid change-of-pace back for the Jets in 2020 with the potential to be more if he could become more accomplished as a receiver/blocker.

Not my favorite pick in the mock, but he’ll probably provide the most immediate value out of any other player that could have been taken at this spot.

Next: Round 6, 191st Overall

NY Jets (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images) /

Round 6, 191st Overall — Antoine Brooks, S, Maryland

With all the conversation surrounding the current status of a certain Jets safety, the team’s need for depth at the position has seemingly gone overlooked. But it’s a real need that they could address in the latter rounds of the draft.

At the moment, inexperienced veterans (Oxymoron? Yes. Accurate? Absolutely.) Bennett Jackson, Anthony Cioffi, and Matthias Farley make up the Jets’ safety depth behind Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye.

That’s an area where the team could certainly improve upon.

Maryland’s Antoine Brooks may never be a starting-caliber safety at the NFL level, but he projects as a standout special-teamer and excellent depth option — a perfect blend of skills for this part of the draft.

Brooks’ best trait is probably his tackling ability as he has no problem shedding blocks and finishing his hits. Those traits allowed him to shine as a special-teamer at Maryland which is undoubtedly a plus for NFL scouts.

He lacks the athleticism and coverage skills to be relied upon as a starting safety right now, but he shows enough underneath coverage ability to be a sub-package safety patrolling the middle of the field.

Brooks could be used in a similar fashion to how the Jets used Terrence Brooks — a core special teams player who fills in as a third safety in their dollar package.

Same name, same game.

Solid value here late in the draft with a player who could become a fixture of the special-teams unit before long.

Next: Round 6, 211th Overall

NY Jets (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Round 6, 211th Overall — Jake Hanson, IOL, Oregon

We closed out this draft by mocking the Jets another offensive lineman bookending the class with players in the trenches. This time, the team addressed the interior offensive line with experienced Oregon center Jake Hanson.

Hanson started all four years at Oregon earning Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 in each of those seasons. He isn’t an overwhelmingly powerful blocker, but he has enough functional athleticism to make him appealing for a zone-blocking team looking for agile linemen.

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And that’s exactly what makes him a target for the Jets here at the end of Round 6.

Hanson isn’t going to wow you with his strength, but he’s a high-IQ player who brings an impressive attitude to the table. What he lacks in overall strength he more than makes up for in his nastiness and sound technique.

Far from a top-tier offensive line prospect, Hanson is an appealing developmental backup option who may never be good enough to be a full-time starter, but could still be valuable as an experienced, technically-sound, and intelligent backup lineman.

There will be questions about his versatility given that he only played center while at Oregon, but I’m willing to bet on his intelligence if he was forced to play some guard in the pros.

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A late-round player worth the selection given the lack of interior offensive line depth on the roster and the evident scheme fit.