NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets could follow this blueprint as they look to fix their organization.
Despite a less-than-stellar record, the NY Jets are in a fascinating position as the 2020 season draws to a close. The franchise, which was once favored to finish the season 0-16 and claim the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, was able to avoid a historically poor record.
While their name will be kept out of conversations with the 2008 Detroit Lions and the 2017 Cleveland Browns, the Jets now find their draft positioning much more up in the air.
Regardless of the team’s final standing, one thing is clear. The Jets require a major overhaul this offseason. The rebuilding franchise desperately needs an infusion of talent that will help give the team direction as they seek to create a contender.
Where does New York start in this seemingly herculean task? Here are three steps the Jets can take to jumpstart the process.
1. The NY Jets must add an experienced head coach
This will be a particularly important step should the team be in a position to land Clemson’s top prize. Trevor Lawrence’s pre-draft scouting report has drawn comparisons to historic prospect Andrew Luck.
Barring a massive collapse, he appears to be a can’t-miss option with the potential to single-handedly correct the path of an NFL franchise.
The Jets will have one chance to develop their next young talent. While there has been a recent stretch of young, successful leaders like Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, rookie head coaches have a reputation as wild cards.
They cannot squander their opportunity by employing someone who struggles to find their voice and leadership style.
Even if the Jets do “settle” for another rookie quarterback, an established coach with a track record for development would be beneficial. Names like Jim Harbaugh and Josh McDaniels come to mind immediately.
The presence of a top rookie could also make the franchise infinitely more attractive to outside options.
Next: Step 2: Draft a first-round quarterback
2. The NY Jets must draft a first-round quarterback
The Jets desperately need a new quarterback this offseason. It has become increasingly obvious that former top pick Sam Darnold is not the savior that the franchise had hoped for. At this point in the process, it seems as though the USC star will provide the most value as a trade chip.
The team would feel completely different with a top collegiate signal-caller in the fold. While the potential to land a transcendent talent in Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence took a hit with the aforementioned victory, the upcoming class is believed to have several intriguing options.
Depending on the manner in which the Jets and Jaguars finish the 2020 campaign, Lawrence suiting up in white and green could still be in the cards. However, should he be Jacksonville bound, the Jets will still have options.
Ohio State’s Justin Fields is projected to go as high as the second overall pick. BYU’s Zach Wilson has also been projected as a possible top-two selection.
The team would also be wise to do their homework on North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, particularly if he excels during the Combine and scouting process.
The draft will also feature elite-level prospects such as offensive tackle Penei Sewell, edge rusher Gregory Rousseau, linebacker Micah Parsons, and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
Any of these options would give the Jets an immediate infusion of playmaking talent. However, none have an opportunity to impact the outcome of a football game as much as the quarterback position.
Regardless of whether the Jets are able to land Lawrence or not, they must add a passer who can supercharge the rebuilding process.
Next: Step 3: Add a top-tier pass catcher
3. The NY Jets must add a top-tier pass catcher
Talent evaluation for NFL passing games is often difficult.
Is Matt Ryan a great quarterback or has he looked more skilled because he has thrown to a transcendent receiver in Julio Jones for the majority of his career?
Were players like Wes Welker and Jordy Nelson Hall of Fame talents? Or were their numbers inflated because of generational quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers throwing them the ball?
In short, are great passing games generated more by the passers or the receivers? Regardless of the answer, it is clear that both components are key. This is particularly true with a young, developing quarterback in the mix.
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The Jets have a few paths to adding this combo. In addition to a top-three pick, the team also holds a second pick in the latter portion of the first round (via the Jamal Adams trade).
Players like Tylan Wallace (Oklahoma State) and Rondale Moore (Purdue) could be ideal options in this range. Top tight end prospect Kyle Pitts (Florida) is another option should he fall to the proper spot.
Additionally, there are a handful of top-tier receivers who are slated to enter free agency in 2021. Tampa Bay’s Chris Goodwin, Chicago’s Allen Robinson, and Detroit’s Kenny Golladay are all highly rated players with a history of production.
Houston’s Will Fuller, Pittsburgh’s Juju Smith-Schuster, and the Chargers’ Hunter Henry are all secondary pass catchers who could serve as complementary options.
New York currently boasts solid options in Jamison Crowder and Denzel Mims. However, one of the biggest hurdles for incumbent quarterback Sam Darnold to overcome was his lack of a go-to talent to make his life easier.
If the Jets can acquire both a top passer and a younger receiver with game-breaking talent, the future of the offense could be in good hands for the next decade of New York football.
What steps would you add to this rebuild?