Five Edge Rushers the Jets Should Target in the First Round

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Whether it's a new quarterback, top wide receiver or stud on the offensive line, odds are the Jets will bolster their offense with the No. 2 pick of this spring's NFL draft. As for New York's second first-rounder—the 23rd overall selection—the Jets could flip to the other side of the ball.

As more mock drafts have been published throughout this offseason, it's clear that the Jets will have a slew of talented edge rushers at their disposal when they're on the clock at No. 23.

It's one of the picks the franchise acquired from the Seahawks in the Jamal Adams trade last summer, so it's only fair New York would use it to take a step in the right direction on defense, right?

Pairing a talented defensive lineman with defensive tackle Quinnen Williams—who wants to be a "Jet for life"—has the potential to be a dangerous combination in Robert Saleh's new defense. 

So, who could the Jets pick at that point in the first round? Here's five edge rushers (in no particular order) that New York should consider if they're available at No. 23.

Kwity Paye

Paye only played in four games with Michigan during his senior season, but in his junior year, the defensive lineman showcased why he's poised to be picked in the first round.

Over 12 games, Paye had 12.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He has the tools and experience, over four years in the Big Ten, to help him make the transition at the next level.

Paye may be off the board by the time the Jets pick at No. 23, but some have had Paye slipping to that exact part of the first round. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. had Paye going to the Jets in his second mock draft of the offseason and The Athletic's Dane Brugler mocked Paye 23rd overall recently as well. In Brugler's, Paye went to the 49ers, though (San Francisco traded with the Jets for Sam Darnold in this hypothetical).

Gregory Rousseau

Rousseau is another EDGE that could be picked in the middle of the first round or slip toward New York later on.

The defensive end from Miami opted out of this season, but was an absolute force in 2019. He led the ACC with 15.5 sacks to go along with 19.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles in 13 games. His total of sacks was second in the nation to only Chase Young (you know, the Ohio State star that was picked second overall a year ago). 

Rousseau went to the Jets in Sports Illustrated NFL Draft Bible's latest mock. Here's some more analysis on that pick: Jets Mock Draft: New York Builds on Offense Around Zach Wilson, Terrace Marshall Jr.

Jaelan Phillips

From one Miami defensive lineman to another.

Phillips had eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss this past season across 10 games. Adding his versatility and playmaking ability up front would be a huge win for the Jets.

Phillips, like his teammate Rousseau, may very well be off the board when New York is on the clock. There's a surplus of talent at this position, however, and other teams could pass on Phillips to target another name on this list. 

Ronnie Perkins

We've already seen Perkins ending up in green and white in a mock draft. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com had the Oklahoma product going to New York at No. 23.

Jets Land Zach Wilson, Edge Rusher in First Round of NFL.com Mock Draft

Perkins had five-plus sacks in each of his three seasons at Oklahoma. In just six games this year, he had 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks, on pace to shatter his career-high in both categories.

Azeez Ojulari

Ojulari is yet another example of a player that blossomed over multiple years in a well-respected program and put up monster numbers in 2020. At Georgia, Ojulari had 9.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss this past season.

Will Ojulari be available for the Jets? He was taken 22nd overall in a mock draft from Chad Reuter of NFL.com recently. If he's around, the Jets should certainly consider the selection.

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