The NY Jets traded down three times during the 2020 NFL Draft, but they were reportedly close to trading down a fourth time in the third round.
NY Jets general manager Joe Douglas was no stranger to draft day trades this year. The first-year GM made a total of three trades during the 2020 NFL Draft — all three of which involved trading down.
However, the organization was reportedly close to trading down a fourth time, this one coming back in the middle of the third round.
Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News reported on Friday that the Jets had a deal in place with the Denver Broncos that would have seen the team drop four slots from No. 79 to No. 83 and pick up an additional Day 3 draft pick.
That pick would have either been the No. 178 selection at the very end of the fifth round or the No. 181 pick right at the beginning of the sixth round. Either would have been fairly reasonable compensation.
However, the trade was ultimately nixed after the Atlanta Falcons took the player the Broncos wanted one slot before the Jets were due to pick. That player was Temple center Matt Hennessy.
Hennessy, the brother of Jets long snapper Thomas Hennessy, was considered a possible mid-round target of the Jets leading up to the draft. That being said, this trade makes it clear that he was never going to be their pick at this spot — contrary to popular belief.
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If Zuniga was the Jets’ target all along, it’s very likely that he would have been there at 83 as well.
The Las Vegas Raiders selected back-to-back receivers in Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden and South Carolina’s Bryan Edwards with the next two picks and that was followed up by Dallas selecting Oklahoma defensive tackle Neville Gallimore at No. 82.
It’s highly unlikely that any of those teams would’ve taken Zuniga instead.
That would have given the Jets an additional Day 3 pick to work with on top of the five picks that they already made on Saturday. But knowing Douglas, it might have also initiated more movement as well.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this is that the Jets never had any intentions of targeting Hennessy or Cushenberry for that matter in the third round. That means that solidifying the interior offensive line may not have been as big of a priority to the team as most thought.
It would have been another excellent move for Douglas to have traded back four spots and still taken the player he planned to at 79 — similarly to what happened in the second round with Denzel Mims.
However, it just wasn’t meant to be.