Heading into the second round, a running back made sense for the New York Jets.
In 2020, 37-year-old Frank Gore led the team in rushing yards. Rookie La'Mical Perine, taken in the fourth round last year, accumulated just 232 yards on the ground.
Even if New York addressed its running back room this offseason, adding Tevin Coleman in free agency (a familiar face for Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur), there was one player on the board that had the potential to be a playmaker in green and white.
That's Javonte Williams out of North Carolina, one of the best runnings backs in the nation last season.
Instead, the Jets went with Ole Miss wideout Elijah Moore at pick No. 34.
Last year at North Carolina, Williams rushed for 1,140 yards in 11 games, compiling 305 yards through the air on 25 receptions. Williams finished with the third-most touchdowns in the nation (19) along with the sixth-most yards on the ground.
It didn't take long for another team to swoop in and snag Williams. The UNC product was picked just one selection after the Jets by the Denver Broncos.
Williams was the third running back taken in the 2021 NFL draft after Najee Harris (Steelers) and Travis Etienne (Jaguars) came off the board in round one. New York got tremendous value in Moore slipping to the second round, a player general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh raved about later on Friday night, but the Jets didn't necessarily need to add a wideout.
With Corey Davis and Keelan Cole joining Gang Green in free agency, set to line up alongside Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder, rookie quarterback Zach Wilson had several playmakers already at his disposal. That's more than Sam Darnold ever had under center, that's for sure.
This pick takes that group to the next level, but are the Jets comfortable heading into this season with Coleman or Perine as their premier back? Alternatively, New York could have addressed their defense at No. 34, specifically the secondary, or traded back to recoup more picks after moving up in the first on Thursday night.
Williams looked like he could've been a good fit in Mike LaFleur's offense, a player that would use his power and ability to break tackles to make big plays. A solid running game would also open the door for Wilson and the passing game.
Bottom line, considering how pleased the Jets are to come away with Moore at No. 34, they won't feel any regrets. Taking Moore isn't a bad pick by any means, he has the potential to do some damage with Wilson in green and white. If Williams ends up a stud at the next level, though, New York might be kicking themselves a few years down the line.
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