NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
When NY Jets fans think of the 2021 NFL Draft, the No. 2 pick instantly comes to mind. But the No. 23 selection is just as intriguing.
It’s no secret that the Jets need offensive help. Sam Darnold, Denzel Mims, Jamison Crowder, and Chris Herndon are all fine pieces to an organization, but they’re not game-breakers. Instead, they are solid secondary options.
We all know that the Jets can find a franchise-changing player with the No. 2 selection, but they should be able to do the same with the No. 23 pick.
Although they selected Mekhi Becton with their first-round pick last year, this team still needs offensive line help. The 6-foot-7 offensive tackle from Louisville has the potential to be a Pro Bowler every season, but he can’t do it all.
Despite the offensive line need, the team should be able to find that later in the draft or in free agency. If you look at recent NFL Drafts, there has been a ton of talent sitting around the No. 23 pick.
- Justin Jefferson (No. 22, 2020 NFL Draft)
- Josh Jacobs (No. 24, 2019 NFL Draft)
- Calvin Ridley (No. 26, 2018 NFL Draft)
- Will Fuller (No. 21, 2016 NFL Draft)
- DeAndre Hopkins (No. 27, 2013 NFL Draft)
Who knows if any of the following prospects will turn out like the players above, but as a Jets fan, you should be incredibly excited about that possibility.
Here are four skilled offensive players that the Jets should target with the No. 23 selection.
Next: 4. Terrace Marshall Jr.
4. NY Jets draft target: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
After watching what former LSU alum Justin Jefferson did with the Minnesota Vikings last year, why not draft a player who went to the same school?
Here’s what Joe Marino of The Draft Network has to say about Marshall.
“Marshall is a versatile receiver that has proven himself both from the slot and out wide while attacking all levels of the field with consistency. He offers terrific size, physicality, hands, ball skills, run after catch ability, route-running skills, and overall technical-refinement.”
Marshall is the modern-day wide receiver. At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, he not only has speed, but has the size to catch balls over any defender.
In 28 collegiate games, Marshall had 106 catches, 23 touchdowns, and 1,594 yards from scrimmage. Even as the third-option on an LSU team that went 15-0 and won the National Championship in 2019, Marshall secured 13 touchdowns that season.
Some mock drafts have Marshall Jr. falling into the second round, but it may not be worth the risk to wait that long if you’re the Jets.
This type of receiver has the potential to be a game-changer and although you don’t expect him to replicate a rookie season like his former teammate Jefferson did last year, you should expect him to be in the NFL for a long time.
Next: 3. Mac Jones
3. NY Jets draft target: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Mock drafts across the board have Mac Jones as high as No. 4 and as late as a second-round draft pick. Who knows how draft night will unfold, but there’s still a chance that he’s available at the No. 23 selection.
This is very interesting if you’re a Jets fan. The team is clearly going to pick a quarterback with the No. 2 overall selection, right? Crazier things have happened before.
The Jets have nothing but leverage right now. If they believe Sam Darnold is their starting quarterback under Robert Saleh next year, maybe they move from No. 2 and build draft capital.
With the luxury of holding the No. 23 selection, the team may be able to secure a potential franchise quarterback if Jones is still available.
In the biggest game of his life, Jones looked outstanding leading Alabama to a National Championship. Jones outplayed Justin Fields in that contest, throwing for 464 yards and five touchdowns.
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It may just be one game, but that was a huge moment for the 22-year-old.
Although the NFL has transitioned away from pocket-passers in favor of mobile quarterbacks, that shouldn’t scare anyone from selecting Jones, whose game replicates the latter.
Being able to read a defense and dissect them pre-snap will always be an asset in this league as well.
Jones may be a beneficiary of Nick Saban and Alabama’s system, but you can’t take away his stats. While throwing for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns, and only four interceptions this season, he did so with a 77.4 completion percentage.
With a late first-round pick, Jones may be worth a look for the Jets.
Next: 2. Kadarius Toney
2. NY Jets draft target: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
There may not have been a player in the 2021 NFL Draft that benefited more from the 2020 season than Kardarius Toney.
Instead of entering the 2020 NFL Draft, Toney decided to return for his senior season. That decision paid off tremendously, as he’s now projected to be a first-round prospect.
Toney finished the 2020 season with 10 receiving touchdowns and was a key reason why the Florida Gators had such an exciting offense. Not only was Toney used as a wideout, but he was also utilized as a running back and was the primary return specialist on kicks and punts.
Although his previous 40-yard dash time of 4.69 seconds shows that he’s not the fastest player in the world, his elusiveness is his best asset. When the former high-school track star gets the ball in space, he typically does something special because of his unique ability to make defenders miss.
Scouts have compared his game to Percy Harvin, which is a big compliment.
If you forget the injury trouble that Harvin went through during his career, whenever he was on the field, he was a threat to score. Whether it was during a return, in motion, or downfield, Harvin was electric when he was healthy.
If Toney can provide what Harvin did but can stay off the sideline for a long career, any team that drafts him will be happy.
Next: 1. Najee Harris
1. NY Jets draft target: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Najee Harris holds the record for most rushing yards and rushing touchdowns by any player in Alabama history. That alone should make any Jets fan excited about the possibility of drafting him.
If you’re curious who Harris passed on his way to the record books, Derrick Henry is second in both yards and touchdowns. Henry just won the 2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award, so that’s pretty great company to be in.
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Similar to Henry, Harris presents a great combination of size and power. At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, defenders have a terrible time trying to tackle the 22-year-old, as he has a unique ability to gain yards after first contact.
Drafting a running back in the first round does have risk factors, but Harris is a rare breed.
Not only does he have the size and power as previously mentioned, but he’s exceptionally talented at catching the ball from the backfield. Harris is a defensive coordinator’s nightmare.
On one play, he can run right through your middle linebacker, then on the next, he can catch a ball for a touchdown on a 25-yard wheel route.
There are not too many sure things when it comes to the NFL Draft, but if Harris is still available with the No. 23 selection, the Jets would be crazy not to select him.