The year ended with a win and some momentum for the New York Jets. And despite the win, the Jets draft pick didn’t fall as far as it potentially could have, a win-win for the organization at this juncture of a tough rebuild.
The Jets finished the year with an ugly 13-6 win at the Buffalo Bills, a result that improved their record to 7-9. The second half of the year saw the Jets go on a bit of a tear, turning things around after a tough 1-7 stretch to start the year.
That 6-2 run in the season’s back half was surely a positive for a rebuilding team moving forward and provides a bit of a foundation for the organization. All the wins, however, came at a cost as the Jets went from holding a top three pick in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft for much of the year to slowly sliding down the draft order as the wins began to mount.
And now, the Jets end the season holding the No. 11 pick in the first round. Sunday’s win over the playoff-bound Bills saw the Jets tumble just a single spot based off their Week 16 order.
It could have been worse, though, as the Jets entered this weekend with the possibility of dropping down to No. 13 if they beat the Bills and other games broke a certain way. Had they lost, the Jets would have been assured of a top 10 pick and could potentially have gone as high as No. 6 next spring.
The Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 9) and the Cleveland Browns (No. 10) both hold a 6-10 record, which would have been how the Jets finished if they lost on Sunday.
The last time the Jets held a pick outside the top 10 selections was in 2016 when they selected Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee. The Jets traded Lee last offseason to the Kansas City Chiefs for a sixth round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The No. 11 pick has produced more good than bad in recent years although the verdict is out still on the most recent selection at that spot.
Last year, the Cincinnati Bengals used the No. 11 pick on Alabama guard Jonah Williams, who suffered an offseason injury and missed the entire season. In 2018, Minkah Fitzpatrick was selected at that same pick by the Miami Dolphins and has developed into one of the game’s top safeties after a midseason trade to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Marshon Lattimore was taken there as well by the New Orleans Saints in 2017 and has made the Pro Bowl twice during his first three seasons in the NFL.
One mock draft already has the Jets taking an edge rusher in Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa. The junior defensive end had 32 tackles and 11. 5 sacks including four tackles and 2.5 sacks in Iowa’s bowl win over No. 22 USC in the Holiday Bowl.