If you look historically, there’s been a lot of painful memories when New York Jets fans harken back to NFL Draft days of the past.
Countless busts. Endless amounts of disappointment. That has been the foundation for the last decade and is a major reason why the Jets currently hold the longest active playoff drought in the NFL.
Instead of letting that factoid drag us down, let’s look at the glass half full ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft. The Jets’ have two first-round picks in this class (No. 2, No. 23 overall) for the first time since 2013.
Top five best-case scenarios for the Jets in round one of the NFL Draft (No. 23 overall)
“#Clemson RB Travis Etienne at No. 34 would be a dream pick for the Jets, but he might not be there, which could make New York rethink its pick at No. 23.”
— Paul Andrew Esden Jr (@BoyGreen25) April 28, 2021
5. Running back
There has been a lot of smoke regarding the New York Jets taking a running back early in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Earlier this week NFL insider Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network said “don’t count” out the Jets using 23 or 34 in the backfield.
Then more recently a pair of ESPN insiders reiterated that message saying it would be a “dream” if Clemson star running back Travis Etienne is there at 34. But they also noted that he might not make it there “which could make New York rethink its’ pick at 23.”
This could simply be a smokescreen to get other teams to trade up, but usually, where there’s a lot of smoke, there’s fire.
The two players to watch are Etienne who is a perfect scheme fit for what the Jets want to do. Also keep an eye on Najee Harris of Alabama who is arguably a better prospect overall, even if he’s not a perfect scheme fit.
4. EDGE rusher
Robert Saleh LOVES edge rushers. It’s a necessary component for his 4-3 scheme. If there’s no pass rush, the defense will be picked apart.
The New York Jets did a lot of work in free agency adding guys like Carl Lawson and Vinny Curry. They also added some guys on the interior like Sheldon Rankins. If the team decided this was enough they could probably survive with this group.
Although complacency is the worst possible place to be. Is it better than what they’ve had? Sure but that’s not really saying much. The Jets need another true dominant EDGE rusher opposite of Carl Lawson.
It’s not one of the team’s top needs, but Bleacher Report NFL Draft analyst Connor Rogers said “EDGE rusher is very much in play early for the Jets” in this class.
Here are some names to watch: Kwity Paye (Michigan), Jaelan Phillips (Miami), and Azeez Ojulari (Georgia).
3. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, linebacker, Notre Dame
Reading this likely caused many New York Jets fans to collectively roll their eyes, but hear me out. This isn’t Darron Lee out of Ohio State, JOK is a unicorn prospect that will play weakside linebacker in the Jets’ 4-3 scheme.
Linebacker is the most underrated need for the green and white heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. With all of the Jets’ needs, maybe they wait on a linebacker, and there’s a chance Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah isn’t even on the board at 23 overall.
He can be the swiss army knife of this defense and during his time with the golden domers he lined up with his hand in the dirt, in the slot, outside corner, at safety, it would probably be easier to list the positions he didn’t line up at.
While Jets fans may initially be angry at this pick, ultimately they’ll be very pleased if they end up with this super versatile prospect on draft day.
There are two positions the Jets completely ignored during the free agency period, cornerback is one of them. The only player the team signed on the open market at corner is a career special teamer (Justin Hardee).
The depth chart is a mess with inexperienced players (Javelin Guidry) or players with past medical issues (Bless Austin, Bryce Hall). It’s time for the team to inject some life into their corners.
23 is a very interesting spot in the NFL Draft because there’s a chance several really good ones will be there. While also there’s a chance the Jets miss out on the corner run in round one.
They likely won’t have a chance at the consensus top-two: Jaycee Horn (South Carolina) or Patrick Surtain (Alabama). But they could have a chance at one of the riskiest players in this entire class: Caleb Farley, cornerback, Virginia Tech.
One other name to watch is Greg Newsome out of Northwestern.
1. Alijah Vera-Tucker, interior offensive lineman, USC
This is the absolute perfect dream scenario on 1 Jets Drive. How likely is it? Depends on who you ask.
The interior offensive line is a position that you can find starters in the mid-rounds of the NFL Draft. That factoid has helped push super talented players down the board in the past.
We spoke with Thor Nystrom, NBC Sports NFL Draft analyst, he said Vera-Tucker slipping is super possible, “just do the math”:
For #Jets fans who aren’t feeling good about @USC_FB IOL Alijah Vera-Tucker being on the board at 23, listen to @thorku of @NBCSEdgeCFB who suggests it’s a very real possibility here’s why: #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/jwvVIr5exv
— Paul Andrew Esden Jr (@BoyGreen25) April 5, 2021
In the annual ESPN NFL Nation mock draft earlier this week, Jets’ reporter Rich Cimini was able to select Alijah Vera-Tucker with 23rd overall.
This is the best-case scenario for the Jets. New York will take a quarterback No. 2 overall (presumed to be Zach Wilson of BYU), they need to surround him with playmakers and protection. Vera-Tucker has All-Pro potential and can be your starting guard for the next decade.