(Offense) Round 1, 4th Overall, NY Jets: Ikem Ekwonu, OL, NC State
Let me start with this comment. The Jets do not NECESSARILY need to address the offensive line here. Free-agent signing Laken Tomlinson has filled a glaring hole at guard, while former 11th overall pick Mekhi Becton is due to return from a knee injury.
With those two in the mix and continued positive play from Alijah Vera-Tucker, Connor McGovern, and George Fant, the offensive line has the look of one of the NFL’s better units.
However, uncertainty around Becton’s durability and Fant’s contract situation might assure Joe Douglas victory in a "bare-knuckle fight” with Robert Saleh in determining whether the Jets draft an offensive lineman or defensive linemen with the fourth pick.
Scouting report: After a strong junior season and pre-draft process, Ekwonu can expect to hear his name called early. Ekwonu’s athleticism shines on film, and he has the versatility to play multiple positions on the offensive line. While he will have some struggles in pass protection early in his career, Ekwonu is a road-paver in the run game and will be an instant impact starter from day one.
(Defense) Round 1, 4th Overall, NY Jets: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
The consensus preseason favorite to be the first overall selection, Kayvon Thibodeaux’s draft stock has clouded some.
On tape, Thibodeaux is an elite athlete with a skill set that has led many to project the talented pass-rusher as a top-tier talent in the draft. However, concerns regarding his motor, injury history, and dedication to football have caused him to slide outside of the top-5, even top-10, in some mock drafts.
But let’s not get cute here. Thibodeaux is a premier talent that satisfies the Jets’ dire need for an outside pass-rusher. Moreover, inserting Thibodeaux into a defensive front that includes Carl Lawson, Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, and others will create plenty of one-on-one opportunities for himself and others.
If Thibodeaux can back up his self-proclamations on the field, the Jets would be grateful to come away with the draft’s best player at the fourth pick.
Scouting report: Thibodeaux has an impressive mix of speed and power that makes him a nightmare to block one on one. Given his pedigree, Thibodeaux’s talent should translate to him becoming an impact starter at the next level. However, an inconsistent motor and concerns about his dedication to football have him pinned as one of the draft’s most polarizing prospects.