AFC East

New York Jets 2020 Draft Review

Ashtyn Davis. Photo by Al Case. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Is this the best Jets’ draft in recent memory? I don’t want to say yes, but – well screw it, yes, yes it is. New general manager Joe Douglas took care of the team’s No. 1 need in the first, scooped up other needs throughout the rest of the draft and masterfully traded back multiple times to acquire more draft capital. Here’s some quick reactions to the picks, and spoiler alert, I’ve got no complaints.

Round 1, Pick 11: OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville

I’m super pumped about this Becton pick. Heading into the draft, all I wanted out of this pick was one of the top four offensive linemen, and JD went out and got one. Yes, I will admit I probably would have taken Wirfs there because he was still on the board and that I’ve previously said Becton was my fourth of the four, but I think I’ll defer to the former offensive lineman GM who owns three Super Bowl rings. I have no doubt JD knows what he’s doing, and I did say that Becton was my fourth because of the risk, but that he probably has the highest ceiling of any OT in the draft. Go watch some of his film and see him make grown men look like children. At 6-foot-7, 364 pounds and a 40-yard dash of 5.1 seconds, the Jets have a beast to protect Sam Darnold.

TRADE: Seahawks receive pick No. 48, Jets receive picks No. 59, 101

Love this trade back. I probably love it a little bit more because it worked out extremely well for the Jets in the end (as I’ll cover in a minute), but the Jets moved back 11 picks and received an extra third-rounder in the process. Great move by JD.’

Round 2, Pick 59: WR Denzel Mims, Baylor

When pick No. 48 came around, I wanted the Jets to take Mims. Then, they shipped it off and I worried a bit that the Jets wouldn’t be able to fill their need at WR. Then pick No. 59 came around, and Mims was still there and JD snatched him up. Mims should be able to come in and start on the outside for the Jets, giving Sam a legitimate threat to throw to. At 6-foot-3, 207 pounds, he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine which was the third-fastest for wide receivers and fifth-fastest overall. He is super good in contested catch situations, which is something the Jets are lacking. He also dropped in the draft, so he’s got a chip on his shoulder.

Rond 3, Pick 68: S Ashtyn Davis, Cal

With the pick the Jets got from the Giants in return for Leonard Williams right before the trade deadline, the Jets surprised many and took a safety. Why, would a team with one of the best safety duos in the league in Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, take another so high? Well, the first thing that comes to mind is all the Adams trade rumors and they’re looking for a replacement, but I do not believe that’s the case. For one, the word is that Davis profiles as much more of a free safety than a strong safety. He is more of a ball hawk than an enforcer (seven picks in last 3 years at Cal), and with Jamal playing so many snaps in the box, this looks like more Maye insurance than Adams insurance. Maye did miss 10 games due to injury in 2018, and while he was fully healthy in 2019, you can never be too careful. However, the more likely thing is with both Adams and Maye entering their fourth year in the league, they need to get paid. It’s probably not wise to invest big money into two safeties, and if you have to pick one, Adams is the easy choice. Maye is very good, but Jamal is the best safety in the league. He is in line to get PAID, so when Maye inevitable walks, the Jets have a new centerfielder in Davis. He also could potentially play cornerback in the meantime, so that’s something to keep an eye on.

Round 3, Pick 79: DE Jabari Zuniga, Florida

Okay, Jets fans, don’t have flashbacks about the Jets taking an edge rusher out of Florida in the third round who fell a bit in the draft – Jabari Zuniga is not Jachai Polite. Zuniga fell a bit due to injury concerns, not effort concerns. In his first three seasons at Florida he recorded 5.0, 4.0 (missed two games) and 6.5 sacks and got 3.0 in his senior season but a high ankle sprain shut him down for most of the season. If he’s 100% for the Jets, this could end up being one of the steals of the draft. The Jets have a clear need at EDGE rusher, and Zuniga fills that need. JD pulled off another nice pick here, and started a little bit of a trend of taking some higher-risk, higher-reward players who fell due to injury.

TRADE: Patriots receive pick No. 101, Jets receive picks No. 125, 129, 2021 sixth

Here goes JD again, trading back and making another great move. This time, he turned that extra very late third-round pick he got from the Seahawks into two early fourth-round picks and a future sixth. The Jets need a lot of help, so turning two picks into one is a big plus.

Round 4, Pick 120: RB La’Mical Perine, Florida

With their own fourth-rounder, the Jets took Le’Veon Bell back up and probably future successor La’Mical Perine. Let’s be honest, there is probably more of a chance that Bell is cut after 2020 than they keep him around, and Perine could potentially move into the starter role after a year of being the No. 2 back to Bell. He’s more of a physical back than Bell, averaging 6.2 yards per carry in 2018 and 5.1 yards per carry in 2019. He’s also a decent pass catcher, racking up 40 receptions for 262 yards and five touchdowns in his senior season. JD adds some depth to a position that seriously lacked some, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him work into double-digit touches throughout the season. Oh, and he did this to Jamal Adams in 2016 when Perine was a freshman and Adams as an NFL-bound junior.

Round 4, Pick 125: QB James Morgan, Florida International

This was the first immediate head-scratcher of the draft for me, but after sitting on it more, it makes sense. The Jets have one of the worst backup QB situations in the league. No disrespect to David Fales, but he is no more than a third-string in this league. While Morgan might start out as the third-string, the hope has to be that he grows into Darnold’s backup, and I’d bet by the end of the season he is. This isn’t a Sam Darnold replacement, the Jets just learned how valuable a backup QB is last year. In the three games Sam missed, the Jets scored a total of 23 points. Take away a muffed punt that the Jets recovered for a touchdown against the Patriots and it’s 16 total points. Take away a Jamal Adams garbage time pick-six in the same game and it’s nine total points. Nine total points that the Jets offense scored in the three weeks that Darnold was on the shelf. Realistically, we should probably take away a one-play rushing touchdown from Vyncint Smith against the Eagles that only happened because Philadelphia muffed a punt in their own endzone. All in all, the Jets only produced one legitimate offensive drive that ended in points on the board for NYJ – a field goal against Cleveland. Three legitmate offensive points in three games. If JD thinks Morgan can turn into a reliable backup capable of taking over in case Darnold goes down, I’m more than happy with this pick.

Round 4, Pick 129: G Cameron Clark, Charlotte

I didn’t expect Becton to be the only addition JD made to the offensive line this weekend and I was right. Clark played tackle for Charlotte but has the size to move inside and play guard. Like Becton, he’s big on pancaking opposing defenders, embarrassing them in front of their loved ones as they get tossed around like a ragdoll. I don’t believe he’ll be starting come week one in 2020, but I do think that the plan is to have him as the starter next to Becton on the left side of the line come 2021. If injuries occur, we could potentially see him in that role sooner rather than later. However, for now, this is a really good move to beef up the depth of the offensive line.

Round 5, Pick 158: CB Bryce Hall, Virginia

The entire draft Jets fans were clamoring for JD to take a cornerback. He quelled those demands for a bit when the Jets took Ashtyn Davis who could potentially play some corner, but they came back in full force when the Jets left Bryce Hall on the board in the fourth round and instead took Clark and Morgan. The Jets already drafted an offensive lineman and have Sam Darnold at QB, why double up on those positions when CB needs some desperate help? Well, wouldn’t ya know, when the Jets were back on the clock at No. 158, Bryce Hall was still there and JD looked like a genius. Hall was being touted as second and even maybe first-round talent before his season was ended by a dislocated ankle that long story short broke his fibula and tore multiple ligaments. As normal with prospects coming off of major injuries, they drop in the draft. It happened last year for cornerback Bless Austin, who the Jets took in the sixth round coming off his second ACL tear. Austin turned into perhaps the Jets best corner in 2019, and gang green is now hoping Hall could have a similar turnaround. Remember, there was a reason he was being looked at as maybe a first-round prospect, when healthy, Hall is legit. If healthy, Hall could be one of, if not the biggest steal of the draft.

Round 6, Pick 191: P Braden Mann, Texas A&M

Hate on it all you want, but special teams are an integral part of the game – just ask the Chargers. And Mann, well, he looks like one of the best options out there. The first punter off the board, Mann was the 2018 Ray Guy Award winner, given to the nation’s best punter. He can handle kickoffs, sporting a booming leg and he is even a plus-tackler for the position. And, hear me out, Braden Mann just sounds like a punter’s name. He should be ending drives for the Jets for years.

TRADE: Colts receiver pick No. 211, Jets receive CB Quincy Wilson

This is another trade I’m content with. Wilson, the former No. 46 pick in 2017, didn’t really live up to his draft status production-wise in three years in Indy. However, still going into his just age-24 season, there’s no reason to think defensive maestro Greg Williams won’t be able to get the best out of the former second-round pick. JD adds more depth to the cornerback group that needed a lot of help heading into the draft in a low-risk, high-reward move. And at this point, how am I going to question anything that Joe Douglas does?

Overall, I think this was a fantastic draft for the Jets. Filled a bunch of positions of need while also adding some depth where they desperately needed it. Well done, Joe Douglas, well done.

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