With one season in the books, it’s time to grade the NY Jets’ 2020 NFL Draft class.
The 2020 NFL Draft was huge for the NY Jets. It was Joe Douglas’ first as the team’s general manager after taking the position from Mike Maccagnan following 2019’s. And he had one goal in mind — set this team up for success long-term.
At the time, the Jets seemed like massive winners. They got multiple pieces who can become immediate starters, or at the very least role players. Not to mention, Douglas made multiple moves on draft day to better position themselves for value in their selections.
This class would go on to have quite the eventful rookie season. It was known that the COVID-19 pandemic would play a huge role, and limit their ability to adjust to the pros. What was not known was if they would even be able to play through their first year due to the virus.
Fast forward to now, the Jets, despite one of the most embarrassing seasons in franchise history, have their 2020 draft class to look to for hope for the future.
As intended, Douglas found multiple building blocks and saw a handful in the starting lineup at some point during the season. Then again, as any draft class does, some were disappointments, having never seen the field of play.
With their rookie seasons now done, the Jets can begin to get a feel of what each player has to offer. That being said, it is time to grade each member of the 2020 NY Jets’ draft class after their NFL debut season.
Next: 1. Day 1 brings massive upside
Round 1,11th Overall: Mekhi Becton, OT, NY Jets
The Jets got a huge upgrade with their first selection, no pun intended. Leading up to the draft, there was a lot of talk about the big four at the offensive tackle position, being all could go in the top 15.
Despite two tackles being picked, the Jets still got the guy they wanted in Louisville’s Mekhi Becton 11th overall.
A massive 6-foot-7 and 363-pound mammoth of a left tackle, Becton brought a ton of potential. His astonishing athleticism and raw power at his size compelled New York to select him.
Becton was impressive out of the gate in training camp, and the Jets decided to start him right away on the left side. This, coming as a bit of a surprise, given some pegged him as a developmental prospect coming out of the draft.
Boy did he prove doubters wrong.
Dubbed “Mount Becton” early on, Becton dominated opponents, proving to be the team’s best offensive lineman right away. Players were in awe of his size, and Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll could not believe how big he is.
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) January 2, 2021
Like any rookie, Becton had his flaws, such as dealing with injuries but was able to go toe-to-toe against some of the best pass rushers in the league.
Becton finished his rookie year with a 74.3 grade from Pro Football Focus. He even went onto lead the AFC Pro Bowl fan vote for left tackles but was ultimately left off the roster.
Either way, Douglas and the Jets hit on this pick, and Becton is set up to be a cornerstone for this offense for years to come.
Next: 2. Day 2 flashes year-two leap
Round 2, 59th Overall: Denzel Mims, WR, NY Jets
Coming into the season, the Jets had high expectations for Baylor product Denzel Mims. The 6-foot-3, 207-pound receiver was the big-time addition to the room, as the team needed him and Breshad Perriman to make up for the loss of Robby Anderson in free agency.
Of course, they did not. In fact, both combined for under 900 yards receiving and three touchdowns as Anderson had a career year in Carolina. For Mims, his rookie season featured just 357 yards receiving on 23 receptions, no touchdowns.
Mims battled injuries through training camp, and it caused him to miss the start of the season. He dealt with issues all season, only playing in nine-games all year. He flashed his amazing catch radius, showing he can be a starter next season.
Round 3, 68th Overall: Ashtyn Davis, S, NY Jets
When the Jets picked the uber-athletic Ashtyn Davis, it fueled questions as to Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye’s future with the team. Little did everyone know that Adams would be dealt away just months later.
With Adams out of the picture, Davis was set up for an even bigger role his rookie season. The California safety lined up primarily in the versatile spot that Adams once employed. Davis had six starts in 10 games, with a fumble recovery, 36 tackles, and a pass deflection.
Davis found his rookie season get cut short, having been placed on injured reserve after Week 13. He showed some good flashes in the box, though surprisingly struggled in coverage.
Davis should be viewed as the starting safety in the backend alongside Maye (if re-signed) in 2021.
Round 3, 69th Overall: Jabari Zuniga, DE, NY Jets
The first true rookie disappointment of the class, Jabari Zuniga never really got going in 2020. He missed all of training camp, then most of the first half of the regular season due to injury, causing him to never really adjust to the pro game.
At 6-foot-3 and 264 pounds, Zuniga brings versatility along the defensive line and edge and should get more playtime next season.
He battled injuries in college, but when on the field showed natural pass-rushing talent, something that the Jets desperately need. In the end, he finished his rookie season with 106 total snaps, recording five tackles.
Next: 3. Day 3 has its ups and downs
Round 4, 120th Overall: La’Mical Perine, RB, NY Jets
One of the biggest issues for Jets fans this season was not seeing La’Mical Perine being featured out of the backfield. A do-it-all back coming out of Florida, the 5-foot-11, 216-pound running back does everything well, but nothing at an elite level.
Perine finished his rookie season with a 3.6 yards per carry mark, two touchdowns, and 295 total yards from scrimmage. Perine also dealt with injuries, playing in only 10 games.
The expectation going into 2020 is Perine will on-paper be a solid depth piece to the team’s backfield. Not a feature back.
Round 4, 125th Overall: James Morgan, QB, NY Jets
The biggest surprise of the entire Jets draft class was when the team selected Florida International quarterback James Morgan. He tested well leading into the draft, yet many were shocked to the project prospect taken in the fourth round.
All things considered, for a guy who never saw the field in 2020 and was primarily inactive, this pick has not aged well after one season.
Round 4, 129th Overall: Cameron Clark, OL, NY Jets
Shortly after the Morgan selection, Douglas returned to the offensive line, picking Charlotte offensive tackle Cameron Clark.
Like other draft picks, Clark dealt with injuries and never saw action this season. He brings promising versatility at 6-foot-4 and 308 pounds to play either tackle or guard.
Just the team will need to wait until 2021 to see it.
Round 5, 158th Overall: Bryce Hall, CB, NY Jets
Once the Jets released veteran Pierre Desir, it became clear a youth movement was coming to the team’s cornerback’s unit. Bryce Hall, who coming out had the talent to be a day two selection, fell to round three due to injuries at Virginia.
As a matter of fact, his rookie season started with him on the non-football injury list as he recovered from a season-ending ankle injury his senior year.
Upon his return, Hall played one game before entering the starting lineup for the final seven. He became their top corner opposite of Blessuan Austin, with 36 tackles, three deflections, and an interception. Hall was best in coverage, with work to do against the run.
Nevertheless, Hall looks like he put together a great stretch to be considered a potential starter next season.
Round 6, 191st Overall: Braden Mann, P, NY Jets
One of the least talked about parts of the Jets team this past season, rookie Braden Mann was one of the most reliable punters in the game in 2020.
He earned a 64.4 punting grade and a 74.5 kickoff grade from PFF, and even made four tackles. Come season’s end, he led the league with 82 punts and 3,598 punt yards. Mann was quietly one of the best picks in the entire class.
Next: 4. UDFA's came ready to play
Just because they may not have been picked does not mean they did not have an impact as rookies. The Jets saw multiple undrafted free agents play roles this season and put together a handful of starts too.
Here are the grades on the Jets’ top 2020 undrafted free agents.
Lawrence Cager, WR, NY Jets
One of the most promising players out of training camp, Lawrence Cager made the Jets practice squad. By Week 3, injuries to Mims and Perriman saw him get playtime.
He finished with two receptions for 35 yards, showing his 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame makes for a quality option on the outside.
An injury in Week 4 caused him to receive no more playtime on the active roster but remains with the team. When Cager was on the field though, he did impress with his size and overall ability.
Bryce Huff, OLB, NY Jets
Given the Jets pass rushing woes in recent years, Memphis product Bryce Huff got a chance to impress early. The tweener pass rusher provided a spark off the edge with his speed, finishing the year with two sacks and four tackles for loss in 14 games.
Huff should have a nice role cut out for him going forward as a situational pass rusher at the very least.
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Lamar Jackson, CB, NY Jets
Unfortunately, cornerback Lamar Jackson will be remembered for giving up the game-winning touchdown to Henry Ruggs III. The former Nebraska Cornhusker saw himself in the starting lineup as he fit former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ physical play style.
He played in 13 games, six being starts, with two deflections and 28 total tackles. Jackson was strong against the run yet made for a big in coverage more often than not.
Javelin Guidry, CB, NY Jets
One of the underappreciated rookies on the Jets roster this past season, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Javelin Guidry has a very good chance of being on the team next season.
He was an excellent special teams presence and made the most of it when he was in the lineup.
In 11 games, two being starts, Javelin Guidry had 22 tackles and an impressive 73.1 overall grade. On top of that, Guidry, in only 260 snaps, managed to lead the team with four forced fumbles.
After only one season, it is safe to say that the Jets find themselves in a good position moving forward with their 2020 draft class.