Draft

NY Jets: 5 positions the team could target with the 23rd pick

Apr 9, 2021, 9:18 AM EDT
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that the NY Jets have a lot of high-quality draft capital to spend this offseason. At the same time, however, the team still has quite a few roster holes, even after the early stages of free agency.

General manager Joe Douglas added starters on both sides of the ball with wide receiver Corey Davis, defensive end Carl Lawson, linebacker Jarrad Davis, and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins.

Douglas also bolstered some positions with depth additions such as Lamarcus Joyner, Keelan Cole, and Dan Feeney. Still, there is a lot of work to be done at some very important roster spots.

Assuming the Jets take a quarterback with the second pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, a natural question then arises. What position should the Jets address with the 23rd pick?

Let’s take a look at what positions Douglas could look to upgrade with that selection.

NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

1. NY Jets could address the offensive line

To say the Jets’ offensive line struggled mightily in 2020 would be an understatement. Pro Football Focus (PFF) graded the Jets’ 2020 offensive line as one of the worst units in the league.

Even though Douglas added four new starters to the trenches last offseason, there was little year-to-year improvement in play.

PFF writer Ben Linsey notes that the line “allowed pressure in 2.5 seconds or less on 28 percent of their dropbacks — the worst rate in the NFL.”

In terms of the run game, Linsey adds “the Jets averaged just 1.1 yards per carry before contact per rushing attempt in 2020 (30th).”

Clearly, the offensive line should have been at the top of Douglas’ priority list heading into free agency. However, little has been done at the position since the start of FA a few weeks ago.

Despite there being several top-tier free-agent offensive linemen available, the only addition to the unit was backup Dan Feeney, whose PFF grades have been very poor throughout his career.

After Douglas attempted to rebuild the offensive line last offseason, it’s very likely that he spends at least one premium selection on the position, that pick potentially being at 23rd overall.

One player that would make a lot of sense for the Jets would be USC lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker. Vera-Tucker is one of the top offensive line prospects in the draft. He has thrived at tackle for the Trojans but is projected as a high-end guard in the NFL.

He’s been described as “a smart and aggressive blocker” with “natural leverage that works in his favor” combined with “a solid anchor to hold ground in the passing game.”

With lackluster play from guards Alex Lewis and Greg Van Roten as well as right tackle George Fant in 2020, Vera-Tucker’s versatility would be very valuable for Gang Green.

Whether or not AVT is the pick at 23, this is a very talented offensive line class, and the Jets have a glaring need at the position.

With all of that in mind, it is likely that Douglas drafts an offensive lineman here, and doing so would be a very wise move.

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