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The NY Jets are just weeks away from one of the most crucial drafts in franchise history. With 10 picks, including five inside the top-90, the Jets will have plenty of draft capital to turn the organization around.
The suspense, however, might not begin until their second pick of the draft.
It’s essentially a guarantee that the Jets will select a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick with all eyes on BYU’s Zach Wilson. Wilson is the presumptive pick, and either way, the Jets are going to draft a quarterback with that selection.
The recent trade of Sam Darnold all but assures that. The drama will then begin when the Jets are on the clock later in the night at pick No. 23.
The Jets could go in a variety of different directions with that selection, but given the moves in free agency, it seems like the two positions that make the most sense are offensive line and cornerback.
In theory, we could see the Jets abandon those plans in favor of a different prospect if someone they like falls to that spot. But it’s safe to say that their best options are to target one of those two positions with this pick.
In an ideal world, the Jets will see one of the better prospects at those respective positions fall to them at 23 without having to orchestrate a trade-up. And we’re going to be looking at ideal scenarios today.
Which players would be perfect targets for the Jets with the 23rd overall pick? We take a look at four potential options.
Next: 4. Greg Newsome II
4. NY Jets draft target: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
Greg Newsome II is a prospect who’s seen somewhat of a significant rise up draft boards over the last few months. To the point where many expect him to hear his name called on Day 1.
The Jets, eyeing an upgrade at the cornerback position, seem like an ideal landing spot for the former Northwestern star.
Newsome is well-versed in a Cover 3 defense with prototypical size and length for the scheme. He stands at 6-foot, 192 pounds, but plays even bigger with long limbs and impressive physicality.
The 20-year-old combines that size and physicality with incredible speed and athleticism. Newsome ran a blazing fast 4.38 40-yard dash at his pro day and while that figure may be a bit inflated, the speed checks out on tape.
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Newsome is an athletic specimen who pairs his natural talent with the awareness and football IQ to become a future All-Pro at the position. Unfortunately, the biggest knock on him as a prospect has nothing to do with his abilities on the field.
It has to do with his ability to stay on the field
Newsome dealt with injuries all three years of his career at Northwestern missing eight games in his freshman season and three games in both his sophomore and junior years.
None of the injuries were particularly major, but those nagging ailments added up and forced him to miss considerable time. Was it just a fluke or is this a sign of things to come?
That’s going to be the question that NFL teams have to answer.
But if the medicals check out, Newsome would be an ideal fit for the Jets at pick No. 23.
Next: 3. Teven Jenkins
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3. NY Jets draft target: Teven Jenkins, OT/OG, Oklahoma State
Another prospect who’s been climbing up draft boards over the last few months has been Oklahoma State offensive lineman Teven Jenkins.
Jenkins is one of the nastiest, most physical blockers in this year’s class with a “mean streak” unmatched by probably any other offensive line prospect coming out this year.
He’s an experienced lineman having started 35 of 44 games over four years at Oklahoma State, but that also does mean he’s a bit on the older side for a prospect (he turned 23 in March).
That said, Jenkins more than makes up for it with his raw power, impressive body control, and violent hands. Perhaps the most fun offensive lineman to watch in this class, Jenkins made a habit out of finishing his blocks in college by forcing opposing defenders off the screen.
Jenkins spent his last two years at Oklahoma State primarily playing right tackle, but he has experience playing everywhere along the offensive line with the exception of center.
However, his lack of ideal length leads many to believe that he could be best suited as a guard in the NFL. Scouts seem divided on this with some believing he could hold up at tackle while others think a move to guard would be most beneficial.
Think Tristan Wirfs in last year’s class.
The Jets could have Jenkins start day one at guard with the option to move him outside to right tackle as George Fant’s future replacement if they decide to go that route. Or, if they’re comfortable with him at guard, they could keep him there.
Either way, pairing Jenkins with Mekhi Becton would give the Jets a mean, nasty duo of young stalwart offensive linemen to build around.
Next: 2. Jaycee Horn
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2. NY Jets draft target: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
This is where we start to emphasize the “ideal” portion of this article. The Jets would absolutely love to see Jaycee Horn fall all the way to pick 23, and not too long ago, it seemed like a very realistic possibility.
As of right now, he’s expected to be selected within the top-20 picks, possibly as soon as the early teens. However, with five quarterbacks expected to be picked inside the top-15, a player like Horn could slide.
And if he does, the Jets could be the team to benefit.
Horn is one of the most exciting cornerback prospects in this year’s class. While the attention may be on Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II, Horn is probably the most physically talented cornerback entering the NFL.
At 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, Horn combines impressive size and length with outstanding athleticism. The South Carolina product ran a 4.40 40-yard dash at his pro day, but is much more than just an athlete.
Horn flashes excellent ball skills (25 passes defended in 29 starts) and has some of the best natural instincts in the class. While not as boastful as his father (Joe Horn), the 21-year-old is confident and brings an alpha mentality to the field, as told by his coaches.
He’s everything teams look for in a future No. 1 cornerback. Horn still needs to refine his game a bit and become a little more patient — and a little less grabby.
His aggressiveness worked in his favor, but also served as a determinant as he was flagged five times in seven games during his final year at South Carolina.
But if Horn manages to fall to 23, don’t expect the Jets to pass on him.
Next: 1. Alijah Vera-Tucker
1. NY Jets draft target: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG, USC
Much like Horn, there was a time where it seemed very plausible that Alijah Vera-Tucker would be on the board when the Jets pick at 23. However, now it seems like more of a pipe dream than anything.
Vera-Tucker started two years at USC transitioning from left guard to left tackle in 2020. However, most view him as an interior prospect at the next level — perhaps the best interior prospect in this year’s class.
The 21-year-old is a natural in pass protection with the patience and technique to match up with any collegiate edge rusher. He combines that with outstanding agility and nimble feet that give him tremendous mobility.
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His lack of length and overall size (6-foot-4, 308 pounds) will probably limit him to interior work in the pros, but that’s perfectly fine for most teams that see him as a Day-1 lock at guard.
Vera-Tucker was awarded the Morris Trophy in 2020 given to the Pac-12’s top offensive lineman. This was despite the fact that he was playing tackle for the first time in his collegiate career
It’s that reason that coaches have raved about his mental acumen and ability to adapt to any situation.
Vera-Tucker’s athleticism and mobility make him an excellent fit as a pulling guard in a zone-blocking scheme, similar to the one that most expect new Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur to run.
It’s far from a guarantee that Vera-Tucker is on the board when the Jets pick at 23. But if he is, expect general manager Joe Douglas to pounce at that golden opportunity.