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The NY Jets‘ offseason is officially upon us. The Super Bowl has come and passed, all 269 regular-season and postseason games have been played, and now is when the real fun starts for many teams.
The Jets are one of those teams.
With a multitude of options and plenty of resources to go in any direction they want, the Jets present one of the most interesting cases of any team this offseason.
What they decide to do at the quarterback position, and in turn the No. 2 overall pick, will dictate what other teams ultimately decide to do. In many ways, the Jets hold the keys to this offseason.
As the days go by, it’s looking more and more likely that the Jets opt to move on from Sam Darnold. And the likeliest outcome remains that they will search for his replacement in the 2021 NFL Draft.
That’s the scenario we’re rolling with today. However, unlike our previous mock that includes a Darnold trade, there will be no such trades today.
If the Jets draft a quarterback, they will trade Darnold. There is no scenario where they keep both. But for the sake of simplicity, we decided on no trades today leaving the Jets with nine total picks.
As always, we used The Draft Network’s Mock Machine to semi-accurately predict a realistic outcome. With that, let’s take a look at our draft haul in this post-Super Bowl 2021 NFL Mock Draft.
Next: 1. A new franchise QB
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Round 1, 2nd Overall, NY Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
If the Jets are to move on from Sam Darnold this offseason, they’ll be presented with various different options to hopefully upgrade for the future. And one player who will likely be towards the top of that list of options is BYU’s Zach Wilson.
Wilson shot up draft boards in 2020 after a breakout junior season that saw him transform from a middling collegiate starter to one of the best quarterbacks in the country. And now, he has as good a chance as any at being the second player drafted this year.
The 21-year-old has the arm talent that scouts dream of. With superb timing and anticipation, Wilson combines his arm strength with accuracy and intangibles that give him top-five potential at the next level.
Throw in his mobility and he has all the tools to become a star in the NFL. However, he’s far from a complete prospect — as is the same for every young quarterback.
Wilson comes from a predominantly one-read system and will need to work through his progressions more in the NFL. He also has a worrisome injury history and slight frame, although he was healthy in 2020.
Nonetheless, Wilson offers the perfect blend of upside, an NFL-ready skill set, and an excellent fit schematically to be the pick at No. 2.
If the Jets move on from Darnold, Wilson makes the most sense to be his long-term replacement.
Next: 2. A high-upside pass-rusher
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Round 1, 23rd Overall, NY Jets: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
After selecting a new franchise quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick, the Jets turn their attention to the defensive side of the ball and select a high-upside pass-rusher who could become a defensive cornerstone.
Miami’s Gregory Rousseau is one of the most talented pass-rushers in this class. The 20-year-old burst on to the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2019 recording 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss en route to being named a Freshman All-American.
But that lone season is all the tape scouts will have on him.
Rousseau opted-out of the 2020 season and soon after declared for the draft. While his athletic upside is unmatched by any pass-rusher in this class, his lone year of production combined with his lack of refinement makes him a risky selection.
But the traits are all there for Rousseau to become a dominant pass-rusher at the next level. And Joe Douglas has proven to be someone who values traits over refinement (see Mekhi Becton, Denzel Mims, Ashtyn Davis, etc.).
Rousseau is a former high school safety and wide receiver, but transitioned to defensive line at Miami. It goes without saying that he needs more polish, but if the Jets are patient with his development, they might just find themselves a future All-Pro edge rusher.
There are worse things to do than bet on Rousseau’s upside.
Next: 3. A flashy wide receiver
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Round 2, 34th Overall, NY Jets: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
In our last mock draft, we made sure to snag Florida playmaker Kadarius Toney with the No. 23 overall pick. This time, we were fortunate enough to have him slide 11 picks down the board.
Toney is perhaps the most exciting, dynamic offensive star in this year’s class. The actual incarnation of a human joystick, Toney is a joy to watch after the catch — unless you’re the opposing defense.
The Alabama native entered the year as little more than a gadget player but proved that he was a legitimate wide receiver prospect after a senior season that saw him finish with 70 catches for 984 yards and 10 touchdowns.
While his route tree was relatively limited at Florida, the routes he did run were crisp and explosive indicating that he has plenty of room to grow in that area.
Getting him involved in a Mike LaFleur motion-based offense that will emphasize speed and athleticism is a match made in heaven for a player like Toney.
He predominantly worked out of the slot at Florida, but Toney is a player who can make an impact in a variety of ways. Just get him on the field and he will make plays.
The Jets need speed on offense and what better way to add that speed than by drafting one of the most exciting offensive weapons we’ve seen come out in years.
Next: 4. A toolsy cornerback
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Round 3, 66th Overall, NY Jets: Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse
The Jets will also enter the draft needing help at the cornerback position. And Syracuse’s Ifeatu Melifonwu has the physical upside to be a dominant cornerback at the next level.
The brother of former second-round pick Obi Melifonwu, the younger Melifonwu stands at 6-foot-3, 213 pounds giving him exceptional size for a cornerback. He combines that size and length with enticing athleticism that gives him perhaps the most complete athletic profile in the class.
His incredible size allows him to smother opposing receivers in man coverage and his long arms give him a high ceiling in zone. It’s that very reason why he makes so much sense for the Jets.
New head coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich are known for running predominantly zone-heavy, Cover 3 defenses that require long cornerbacks with good instincts.
Melinfonwu certainly fits that bill.
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That said, he needs to become a more consistent player to truly reach his ceiling. Melifonwu has his fair share of mental lapses and can get caught flat-footed for big gains.
The tools are there as are the instincts. He just as to work out some of the kinks in his game.
Melifonwu’s large frame and high-football IQ make him an excellent fit in a Robert Saleh defense. And he would have the potential to start from day one if necessary making this an excellent pick at the beginning of Round 3.
Next: 5. A potential plug-and-play OL starter
Round 3, 86th Overall, NY Jets: Josh Myers, iOL, Ohio State
Addressing the interior of the offensive line will be a major priority for the Jets this offseason. And while we would’ve liked to address the position earlier, there’s a good chance the Jets do so in free agency.
Nonetheless, we managed to land a pretty solid interior offensive line prospect here in Ohio State’s Josh Myers. Myers is a two-year starter at center for the Buckeyes who was named first-team All-Big Ten for his play in 2020.
At 6-foot-5, 312 pounds, Myers is larger than your typical center. But that additional length allows him to extend his hands and engage with defenders rather quickly.
While he’s not the greatest athlete or the most cerebral technician, Myers is well-rounded and has no issues climbing up to the second level because of his nimble feet.
Myers might not have the ceiling of other interior offensive line prospects such as his Ohio State teammate Wyatt Davis, but he comes with an NFL-ready skill set and could feasibly start from day one.
He played center at Ohio State, but has experience playing guard as well and could be moved there if the Jets drafted him. Or, if they felt more comfortable moving Connor McGovern back to guard, they could do that as well.
Regardless, Myers would be a solid pickup here in Round 3.
Next: 6. Additional running back depth
Round 4, 106th Overall, NY Jets: Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
The Jets also need to figure out a plan for their backfield in 2021. La’Mical Perine and Ty Johnson will return and figure to play a role, but the Jets will likely look to free agency and possibly the 2021 NFL Draft to add another piece or two.
And if that’s the case, they could do a lot worse than Memphis’ Kenneth Gainwell.
Gainwell comes from a long line of Memphis running backs to find success in the NFL recently. Just in the past two years, the likes of Darrell Henderson, Tony Pollard, and Antonio Gibson have all made their way from Memphis to the NFL.
Gainwell broke out in 2019 emerging as Memphis’ top rusher when he ran for nearly 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns. However, he opted out of the 2020 season meaning he only has one year of collegiate production.
Nonetheless, Gainwell has some of the softest hands out of any running back in his class and has ample experience working from the slot. He combines that with impressive burst out of the backfield that makes him a dangerous runner as well.
His vision and acceleration make him a good fit in an outside-zone run offense like Mike LaFleur’s, but he’ll have to improve his pass protection before he can become a three-down back at the next level.
Nonetheless, his receiving traits make him an instant-impact contributor in any offense.
Next: 7. A tight end with untapped potential
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Round 5, 145th Overall, NY Jets: Tre’ McKitty, TE, Georgia
The Jets will likely look to add to their tight end room in the offseason and an intriguing mid/late-round target could be Georgia’s Tre’ McKitty. A Florida State transfer, McKitty is going to fly under the radar this draft season.
Likely because of his modest (to say the last) stat line in 2020 that resulted in just six catches for 108 yards in four games. But McKitty has the skill set to be a much more productive player in the pros than he was in college.
At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds is an explosive in-line blocker who brings excellent play strength in the running game. But he also has the tools to be a much more productive pass-catcher in the NFL.
McKitty is a very good athlete and has shown the ability to attack up the seem. His potential remains wholly untapped as a receiver making him a possible late-round steal if some team could access that part of his game.
The Jets could be that team.
Given Chris Herndon’s disaster of a 2020 season, the tight end position remains as uncertain as any position on the Jets’ roster. While it’s unlikely the Jets outright move on from Herndon and his affordable contract, they should provide some better competition.
McKitty gives the Jets a player who could contribute as a blocker immediately with the upside to contribute as a receiver down the line.
Certainly worth the pick here in Round 5.
Next: 8. An athletic specimen at wide receiver
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Round 5, 154th Overall, NY Jets: Josh Imatorbhebhe, WR, Illinois
Josh Imatorbhebhe is one of the most intriguing athletic specimens in the 2021 receiver class. Standing at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Imatorbhebhe combines his aggressive contested-catch abilities with explosive vertical speed.
The 22-year-old is relatively raw as a receiver and would need time to further flesh out his skill set in the NFL. His route-running is below-average and his lack of experience at the collegiate level will be a red flag, especially given that he’ll turn 23-years-old in April.
But Imatorbhebhe has a size/athleticism blend that is unmatched by most in this class. And for that reason, he’ll garner plenty of interest as a Day 3 flier.
His potential as a vertical downfield threat will keep teams intrigued, and the Jets might be one of those teams. He’ll need time to develop and shouldn’t be counted on as a day-one starter, but Imatorbhebhe has the physical upside that teams search for on Day 3.
Imatorbhebhe is a little similar to Denzel Mims as a prospect, but he might be even more violent at the catch point. And it’s that very skill that might allow him to have a higher floor than at first glance.
His physical traits already allow him to do things that most other receivers can only dream of. He needs work, but the foundation is there for Imatorbhebhe to become a very productive NFL receiver.
The Illinois product makes a ton of sense at this spot.
Next: 9. A developmental offensive tackle
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Round 6, 196th Overall, NY Jets: Jaylon Moore, OT, Western Michigan
Finally, the Jets opt for another high-upside, late-round flier here in Round 6 in the form of Western Michigan offensive tackle Jaylon Moore.
An experience collegiate starter, Moore played in 37 career games at Western Michigan anchoring the left side of the offensive line since the 2018 season.
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Standing at 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, Moore has the size and athleticism needed to be an ideal developmental tackle prospect. And his athletic upside makes him a perfect fit in Mike LaFleur’s offensive system.
Moore is your typical late-round tackle pick. A small-school project who has the athletic profile to be an NFL but remains wholly undeveloped. But if a team could tap into his potential, they might find themselves with a late-round steal.
Former third-round pick Chuma Edoga is on borrowed time with the team and Moore could take over as the next athletic developmental project at the position.
George Fant isn’t the long-term solution at right tackle and Moore is someone the Jets could groom to eventually take over for him if all goes according to plan.
Technically, Moore needs plenty of work. But he’s a very solid option here late on Day 3 for the Jets.