After the Jets' historic loss to the Bills in Week 18, finishing the season with a 4-13 record, New York's general manager Joe Douglas was asked about his team's 2020 draft class.
"I would say about the entire draft class, we’re in year two of their pro careers and I would say at this checkpoint in their race, probably not where it needs to be as a group," Douglas told reporters a few weeks ago. "But, at this point, there is no one giving up on these players. Look, every player develops differently, at different rates. I’m sure if you ask some of these guys, they would say they’re disappointed in their season, but at the end of the day, no one is giving up on the players.
"[Head coach Robert Saleh] certainly is not giving up on those guys, we fully expect them to come back in the offseason ready to roll and ready to improve."
The fact of the matter, however, is that New York's 2020 draft class has been more disastrous than anything else. It looks even worse for Douglas' first draft class when you compare that group to the 2021 class and how much promise they showed this past season.
That in mind, let's evaluate each pick, looking at how each player has performed thus far and what the future could hold for them in green and white...
Revisiting the New York Jets' 2020 NFL Draft Class
Round 1, No. 11 overall: Mekhi Becton, LT
After his rookie season, Mekhi Becton looked like he was a franchise player in the making. New York had secured a behemoth to protect their quarterback’s blind side for the next decade. Now, Becton’s future in green and white is unclear.
The left tackle missed all but 48 snaps this past season after sustaining a knee injury in Week 1. Initially, Becton was supposed to miss only a month or two. That timetable was delayed over and over as the season progressed.
Becton’s sophomore season was a huge step back, fueling some first-round bust discourse, but the tackle can make Jets fans forget about his lost campaign by getting into shape and staying on the field in 2022. After all, if Becton isn’t careful, New York might replace him with a new left tackle this offseason.
In other words, Becton can live up to his first-round billing with a bounce-back campaign or he can officially become a first-round miss for Douglas and his team. We’ll have to check back in on this topic after the draft and closer to the conception of the 2022 regular season.
Round 2, No. 59 overall: Denzel Mims, WR
Denzel Mims has played 20 games for the Jets. He’s been on the field for 718 offensive snaps. The former second-rounder has yet to catch a touchdown pass.
To be fair, Mims has faced quite a bit of adversity lately. An illness kept him from developing this past offseason leading up to the beginning of the year, he struggled to secure playing time and eventually landed on the COVID-19 list. But Mims has also failed to take advantage of several opportunities while other wideouts have been sidelined.
He’s dropped passes, committed costly mistakes, been relegated to the sideline even when active and at times, he's looked lost between the lines. Sure, the talent is there with Mims—he showed flashes during his rookie year—but this devastating lack of production makes the receiver another early-draft miss.
Who knows if Mims even plays for the Jets next season. Both sides might benefit from a change of scenery at this point. Then again, his value in a possible trade isn't going to be very high this offseason...
Round 3, No. 68 overall: Ashtyn Davis, S
With two seasons in the books, it’s fair to say Ashtyn Davis hasn’t developed the way the Jets hoped. The safety was poised to blossom in the secondary alongside Marcus Maye, but New York has more questions than answers at the position after an injury-ravaged season in 2021.
Davis had two interceptions this past season, tied with Brandin Echols for the most on the team. Across two campaigns with Gang Green, Davis has 98 tackles and four passes defended. New York could move on from Davis by drafting a player like Kyle Hamilton or adding a safety in free agency.
Round 3, No. 79 overall: Jabari Zuniga, DE
Jabari Zuniga is a name from this draft class that people forget due to his lack of contributions.
The Florida product has appeared in just 11 games thus far and only three contests this past season. He spent much of the 2021 campaign on the practice squad, recording his first career sack in New York’s stunning victory over the Bengals in Week 8.
Round 4, No. 120 overall: La'Mical Perine, RB
During La’Mical Perine’s rookie year, the running back played in 10 games, rushing for 232 yards on 64 carries. With a new coaching staff and an improved running back room in 2021, Perine appeared in just four games and touched the ball only eight times for 31 yards.
Even when other backs were hurt, New York seemed to look past Perine. Obviously Michael Carter was the shining star out of the backfield but even Austin Walter ended up with more carries than Perine.
Round 4, No. 125 overall: James Morgan, QB
New York moved on from James Morgan, cutting the quarterback before the 2021 season began. Mike White distinguished himself as Zach Wilson’s backup and Joe Flacco returned. Even when Morgan was re-signed during the Jets’ COVID-19 outbreak, it didn’t last long. He was released a week later and still hasn't taken an official snap in the NFL.
Can’t forget Morgan’s heroics during the preseason, though.
Round 4, No. 129 overall: Cameron Clark, OL
Cameron Clark suffered a scary neck injury during training camp and has yet to make his NFL debut.
Round 5, No. 158 overall: Bryce Hall, CB
Finally, in the fifth round, a success story from this draft class.
Bryce Hall has been a revelation. He was the only player on the Jets to start all 17 games on defense, leading the team with 16 passes defended while making 79 tackles.
Perhaps the Jets still need a No. 1 cornerback (a player they could add in the draft or free agency this offseason), but Douglas should be commended for snagging Hall in the fifth round. Plus, the willingness to give him and the other young corners on this roster so much playing time is paying off. New York could’ve addressed their secondary last year, but Hall has been able to develop and improve significantly. The future is bright for No. 37.
Round 6, No. 191 overall: Braden Mann, P
Braden Mann finished his sophomore season averaging 45.7 yards per punt. He missed time with a knee injury in 2021, allowing veteran Thomas Morstead and rookie Matt Ammendola to step in.
For what it’s worth, Morstead (a 35-year-old in his 13th season) and Ammendola (a kicker) both averaged nearly three more yards than Mann per punt.
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