Things went pretty well in the 2021 NFL Draft for the New York Jets. Analysts across the country threw rose petals at their feet and praised them not only for their picks but also for the overall value.
Although things almost went completely differently.
On the Flight Deck podcast hosted by Jets beat reporter Rich Cimini, he shared details on the direction the team almost went in the second round with the No. 34 overall pick:
“I do know this, going into the second round the Jets were leaning towards Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore but I also know that the Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was in the conversation. At the time the green and white were really thinking about it.”
N ‘if’ L: How Would That Have Changed Things?
If the Jets would’ve selected the versatile Notre Dame defender instead of Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore, it would’ve completely changed the direction of the 2021 NFL draft.
First off, it would’ve prevented the green and white from making history (by selecting four straight offensive players to start a class), they would’ve instead went defense in the second round.
Also, it would’ve changed their draft strategy on day three in Cleveland.
Instead of taking a pair of college safeties in Jamian Sherwood out of Auburn and Hamsah Nasirildeen out of Florida State, they would’ve gone in different directions with JOK in their back pocket.
The Jets selected Sherwood with the No. 146 overall pick in the fifth round, here are three players that were available they could’ve selected:
- Brevin Jordan, tight end, Miami
- Shaun Wade, cornerback, Ohio State
- Ben Mason, fullback, Michigan
Gang Green also selected Nasirildeen with the No. 186 overall pick in the sixth round, here are three players that were available that they could’ve selected instead:
- Deonte Brown, guard, Alabama
- Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami
- Trey Smith, guard, Tennessee
Owusu-Koramoah is basically the souped-up version of what Sherwood/Nasirildeen are as prospects. JOK is a versatile swiss army knife type of athlete that can line up all over the field. In college, he was listed as a linebacker.
While on the other side of the coin, both Sherwood and Nasirileen were defensive backs during their collegiate careers. When the Jets selected both of them on day three they immediately revealed they would be shifting both players to linebacker at the next level.
So Why Didn’t the Jets Draft Owusu-Koramoah?
There are two major reasons why the Jets ultimately didn’t select the former Fighting Irish stud in the second round.
The primary reason was a late medical red flag from the NFL combine re-check. Adam Schefter of ESPN said it was “a concern for most teams” and contributed to him falling on draft day. After the draft, JOK shot down the heart concerns.
The secondary reason was the value of Elijah Moore was simply too good to pass up.
Gang Green considered trading down to recoup some picks from their initial trade up in round one and they considered JOK heavily, but they had Moore rated as a “top-25 player on their board”, per Jets general manager Joe Douglas.
So instead of taking the quality approach with a guy like JOK (No. 34 overall and a consensus top-20 overall player on the board), the Jets opted for a quantity approach by double-dipping at the linebacker spot.
It’ll be fascinating to re-look at the Jets’ decision five years from now to see if they made the right choice. Head coach Robert Saleh truly believes in the athletic traits of Nasirildeen and Sherwood. If he can mold them into capable starters or role players, the team clearly got more bang for their buck by waiting on the linebacker position in the draft.