Round 1, 2nd Overall, NY Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
This pick hasn’t changed for quite some time and there’s a good chance it doesn’t change before the draft arrives.
Zach Wilson has emerged as the near-consensus QB2 among many draft analysts and at this point, it would be a surprise to see any other player taken second overall.
It seems pretty obvious that the Jets will go quarterback with this selection and Wilson is the odds-on favorite at the moment. Possessing top-tier arm talent, mobility, and accuracy, Wilson is one of the most exciting quarterbacks in this year’s class.
The BYU product broke out in 2020 putting together a fantastic junior season that saw him finish with 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions. There will be concerns about his injury history and level of competition, but Wilson has enough natural talent to make up for it.
Ohio State’s Justin Fields is still in consideration here, as is North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. But if you’re betting on any player to be the Jets’ Week 1 starting quarterback, it should be Zach Wilson.
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Round 1, 23rd Overall, NY Jets: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
This pick was always going to address one of two positions, either interior offensive line or cornerback. Ideally, we would have slotted either USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker or South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn at this spot. But both were picked in the top-16.
As such we decided to address cornerback first going with exciting Northwestern playmaker Greg Newsome II. Newsome is one of the fastest-rising players in this year’s draft class and he’s beginning to receive plenty of Round 1 buzz.
Don’t be surprised if he’s a near-lock for Day 1 by the time late April rolls around. His combination of excellent size (at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds) and elite athletic traits give him the upside to warrant the selection.
Newsome is a perfect fit in a zone-heavy, Cover-3-inspired defense, much like the one that Robert Saleh runs. His excellent length and strong instincts make him an ideal fit as a boundary corner in an off-zone scheme.
The questions around Newsome will be his injury history and limited sample size. He only played 17 games of football over three years (partially due to injury) leaving him as more of a projection than a sure-thing.
But few players fit what the Jets are looking for more than Newsome does. And if he hits, he could be an All-Pro by his third season.
Next: 2. Shoring up the offensive and defensive lines
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Round 2, 34th Overall, NY Jets: Jalen Mayfield, OT/OG, Michigan
After addressing cornerback at pick 23, the plan was always to target offensive line with this selection. And the guy we had in mind fell right into our laps at 34 in Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield.
The Jets have yet to address the starting interior of the offensive line this offseason and, at the time of writing, are still slated to start Greg Van Roten and Alex Lewis at guard. That has to and will change.
Mayfield is another player who may be drafted more on projection than production. But Joe Douglas has shown that he isn’t afraid to draft players based on traits in the past (see his first three picks from a year ago).
With just 15 starts under his belt, Mayfield flashed dominance starting at right tackle for the Wolverines. His raw power, agility, and elite athletic traits were on display as he faced some of the country’s top pass-rushers in 2019.
While he started at right tackle in college, and could even play that role in the pros, he has the chance to become an elite guard at the next level. At 6-foot-5, 325 pounds, he’s large and powerful enough to kick inside and deal with interior rushers.
The Jets need to address the interior offensive line early and Mayfield not only gives them a potential day-one starter at guard, but someone who has All-Pro upside at the next level.
Round 3, 66th Overall, NY Jets: Carlos Basham, DE, Wake Forest
With those two picks out of the way, we were given a little more flexibility with this selection. We had our eyes on North Carolina’s Javonte Williams, but he was taken one selection before ours.
In the end, we went with Wake Forest defensive end Carlos Basham to further solidify the defensive front.
The Jets added Carl Lawson in free agency and the hope is that he could provide the Jets with the pass-rusher they’ve been searching nearly two decades for. The addition of Sheldon Rankins further shores up what has the potential to be an elite defensive line.
At the moment, the player expected to start opposite Lawson at defensive end is John Franklin-Myers, but he’s more of a tweener who played well rushing from the interior last year.
That’s where someone like Basham, who’s in a similar mold to that of Franklin-Myers, could fit in.
At 6-foot-3, 281 pounds, Basham is very much like Franklin-Myers in that he could play the base 4-3 end role on early downs before shifting inside on passing downs.
He isn’t the greatest athlete, but he wins with his raw power and well-refined technique. Basham is just as stout against the run as he is against the pass, but his lack of elite athletic traits will keep him from going early.
Addressing the other edge rusher spot isn’t as desperate of a need as it seemed a week ago, but Basham provides further depth to the defensive line which should make Robert Saleh very happy.
Next: 3. More offensive line help and a perfect RB
Round 3, 86th Overall, NY Jets: Josh Myers, C/OG, Ohio State
The Jets seem content with Connor McGovern at center for the time being and the expectation is that he will perform significantly better this year than he did over the first two-thirds of last season.
But if McGovern doesn’t work out, they could cut ties after this coming season. So it could be beneficial to have a backup plan in case things don’t work out. A backup plan that could even compete for a starting job in his rookie season.
Myers was a two-year starter at center for Ohio State earning second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2019 and first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2020. He helped anchor one of the best offensive lines in the country and could be a good fit in Mike LaFleur’s outside-zone offense.
The Ohio native was actually recruited as a guard, but was moved to center in his second season following the departure of Michael Jordan. And he never looked back.
The Jets could have Myers compete with Alex Lewis for the starting left guard role with the eventual goal of either keeping him there or moving him to center if McGovern doesn’t work out.
Either way, Myers gives the Jets a potential day-one contributor who projects as a long-term starter.
Round 4, 107th Overall, NY Jets: Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
There may be no better running back fit for the Jets in this draft class than Memphis’ Kenneth Gainwell.
At 5-foot-11, 191 pounds, Gainwell is everything Mike LaFleur looks for in a running back. He’s explosive, has great vision, and is one of the best pass-catching backs in this year’s class.
Gainwell was actually a former high school quarterback who developed into one of the most dynamic playmakers in college football. On top of rushing for 1,459 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2019, he also added another 51 catches for 610 yards.
He’s a do-it-all back whose blend of speed and vision makes him a perfect fit in LaFleur’s outside-zone scheme that emphasizes finding home-run hitters at the running back position.
Gainwell’s frame is a little thin which could limit his ability to run between the tackles at the professional level, but he just does so many other things really well that it doesn’t matter.
The Jets are likely to target a running back in the middle rounds of the draft and Gainwell might be their best bet.
Next: 4. Three late-round scheme fits