NY Jets expected to prioritize defense in the 2021 NFL Draft

NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

The NY Jets are reportedly expected to prioritize defense in the 2021 NFL Draft.

The NY Jets haven’t had a capable offense in nearly half a decade at this point. During that time, the franchise’s defenses have generally ranked around middle-of-the-pack in the NFL, but the unit has certainly had its moments over the years.

In fact, just last year, the Jets’ defense peaked as a top-11 unit in terms of overall DVOA, per Football Outsiders. But in 2020, the defense has completely fallen apart.

The offense has remained abysmal, but the defense has seemingly matched their ineptitude. Using the same DVOA metric, the Jets’ defense now ranks as a bottom-five unit in the league.

It’s clear that plenty of work must be done this offseason to fix both sides of the ball. But based on a recent report from ESPN’s Rich Cimini, it seems as though one unit will receive much more attention than the other.

Cimini reported on Sunday that the Jets are expected to heavily focus on fixing their defense in the 2021 NFL Draft. He compared it to the Carolina Panthers’ draft this past offseason where every single player they drafted played defense.

Now, Cimini did say it might not be all defense, “but something close” shouldn’t be ruled out. As he put it, “after focusing on the offense last offseason, general manager Joe Douglas will shift his attention to the defense in 2021.”

The NY Jets’ offense is arguably a greater work in progress

This perhaps comes as a bit of a surprise as, although Douglas did “focus” on the offense last offseason, the unit is hardly fixed. The Jets’ offense still ranks dead-last in the NFL in pretty much every category and that can’t all fall on the coaching staff.

The offensive line is still a major work in progress, the receiving corps is a mess, and the Jets don’t really have a long-term answer at either the running back or quarterback position.

In today’s NFL, having a strong defense doesn’t matter if you don’t at least have an adequate defense. That isn’t to say the Jets should ignore the defensive side of the ball — far from it.

Aside from budding star defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, the Jets don’t really have many long-term building blocks on that side of the ball. Marcus Maye is a free agent, and he’ll serve as one of the few above-average starters if re-signed to a new deal.

Folorunso Fatukasi has developed into a superb run defender, but the nose tackle position is hardly one of the more impactful ones. The return of C.J. Mosley will hopefully provide a major boost to the defense, but it’s unclear how well he will play after missing essentially two years.

Apart from those players, the Jets still hope that players like Ashtyn Davis and Blessuan Austin could develop into quality starters. The jury is still out on them though.

This defense has holes — mainly at the cornerback and edge rusher positions. You know, just the two most important positions on defense.

The Jets are 27th in yards allowed, 31st against the pass, and 12th against the run. They’re succeeding at stopping opposing running games, but 12th is still a significant drop-off from the second-ranked rush defense the team had last season.

No one is denying that the defense needs fixing. But the offense does too, and it would be a mistake to primarily focus on the defensive — or less important — side of the ball.

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However, as far as early reports go, that appears to be the offseason plan.