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NY Jets make surprising 1st-round pick in 7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft

NY Jets (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
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NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Round 3, 86th Overall, NY Jets: Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis

For frequent readers of these mocks, you might have noticed that Memphis’ Kenneth Gainwell is my favorite running back prospect in this class.

The Jets aren’t going to address the running back position early in the draft, but they could start looking to add a prospect by the time Round 3 rolls around. And Gainwell should be at the top of their list of potential targets.

The 22-year-old is a perfect fit for the type of offense the Jets are expected to run. His blend of vision, outside speed, and catching ability gives him a high upside in an outside zone run scheme that new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur is expected to deploy.

Gainwell would join the likes of Ty Johnson, Tevin Coleman, La’Mical Perine, and Josh Adams in what could be a very effective backfield. Don’t sleep on that unit, and don’t sleep on Gainwell.

Round 4, 107th Overall, NY Jets: James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati

The Jets need to bolster their interior offensive line in this year’s draft, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t start looking to the future at tackle. One mid-round developmental prospect they could target is Cincinnati’s James Hudson.

A former four-star recruit at defensive tackle, Hudson originally committed to Michigan before switching to the offensive side of the ball. He transferred to Cincinnati following the 2018 season, but was forced to sit out in 2019 due to NCAA transfer rules.

His lone season as a starter came in 2020, but he impressed enough to be named first-team All-AAC in his first season as a starter at left tackle.

Hudson has nimble feet, has a solid anchor, and powerful hands that give him the upside to develop into a pretty good starter in the near future. But he’s still a little raw having only been playing the position for a couple of years.

The Jets could allow Hudson to develop for a year before he hopefully takes over as George Fant’s replacement at right tackle. His fit in a zone-blocking scheme is the cherry on top.

Related Story. NY Jets: 4 boom-or-bust targets in the 2021 NFL Draft

Round 5, 146th Overall, NY Jets: JaCoby Stevens, S/LB, LSU

JaCoby Stevens was the No. 1 safety recruit in the 2017 class and a top-20 recruit nationally. Unfortunately, he never lived up to the hype during his time at LSU.

The Jets don’t exactly need safety help, especially after signing Lamarcus Joyner in free agency. But that’s not where I envision a guy like Stevens playing in the NFL.

Stevens is essentially a linebacker in a safety’s body with ferocity in run support to play down near the line of scrimmage on most plays. He’s a reliable tackler with experience playing in the box, in the slot, or even in a deep half.

But his best fit is definitely in a role that will allow him to play near the line of scrimmage. That’s why it makes sense for him to be used in somewhat of a hybrid linebacker/safety role in the Jets’ defense.

After striking out on Keanu Neal in free agency, Stevens could be the team’s developmental project at linebacker and someone who might be able to fill that Neal role in Robert Saleh’s defense.

Next: 4. Adding depth at WR and CB

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