NY Jets trade for Aaron Rodgers in 7-round 2023 NFL Mock Draft
Round 4, 112th Overall, NY Jets: Jay Ward, S, LSU
Aside from quarterback, perhaps the position needs to be addressed more this offseason for the Jets than safety. Lamarcus Joyner was a disaster in 2022 while Jordan Whitehead had his fair share of gaffes as well.
I expect this to be a position the Jets prioritize in free agency, which is why I don't have them selecting a safety until the fourth round. Keep an eye on players like Jordan Poyer and Jimmie Ward in free agency.
Still, I'd like to see the Jets draft a developmental safety in the middle rounds, even if they do sign someone like Poyer or Ward. LSU's Jay Ward makes a ton of sense to me.
Ward is a former cornerback who developed into one of the leaders of LSU's defense. At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Ward was a versatile chess piece in LSU's defense, playing everywhere from single-high safety to box safety to nickel cornerback to outside cornerback.
That versatility combined with his leadership skills should have the Jets very interested. His best fit feels like a natural free safety in a Cover 2-heavy defense, which coincides with what the Jets are looking for,
Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich shifted away from their Cover 3-heavy approach as the season went on, and it seems to have had a positive impact on the defense. Ward can be someone the Jets develop as a potential free safety of the future.
His role early in his career would be as a versatile backup defensive back who also doubles as a core special-teamer, but I see a starting role in Ward's future. I like him as an early Day 3 target for the Jets.