If the Jets were to trade up from the No. 23 pick in the first round of next week's draft, it would make sense for them to go get an offensive lineman.
That's exactly what transpired in The Athletic's NFL staff two-round mock draft.
Connor Hughes, who covers the Jets for The Athletic, served as New York's general manager Joe Douglas, making a move to jump up three picks. Here's the trade, what the Jets gave up and who they picked at No. 20:
20. New York Jets: Alijah Vera-Tucker, G, USC
Trade: Chicago sent pick No. 20 to the Jets for Nos. 23 and 86
The benefit of having 21 total picks in the 2021 and 2022 drafts? The flexibility to move up to get a player you covet. The Jets overpaid a little in this trade (920 point value compared to 850), but it’s worth it. Vera-Tucker is the No. 13 prospect on The Athletic’s Dane Brugler’s big board. He’ll start Day 1 next to Mekhi Becton, last year’s first-round pick. There’s a chance Vera-Tucker might have been there at No. 23, but why risk it? Plus, even after trading No. 86, the Jets still have pick Nos. 66 and No. 107, plus four in later rounds. — Connor Hughes
Vera-Tucker is the type of prospect that could potentially fall to the Jets at No. 23—we've seen that in other mock drafts before—but odds are, he'll be off the board before that.
In fact, it's a bit surprising that the versatile lineman was still available at No. 20 here. Perhaps that's why Hughes pulled the trigger, making sure the Jets got their guy and secured a valuable asset with their second first-rounder.
New York didn't add to their offensive line in free agency over the last several months, reason to believe they'll target that position in the first few rounds of the draft.
In Sports Illustrated's Team Publisher mock draft this month, I picked Vera-Tucker with the 23rd overall pick as he continued to fall into the Jets' lap. That mock was without trades, though. Who knows what I would've done if I could make a deal, using the Jets' surplus of draft capital to hop a few teams as Hughes did.
It just so happens that Douglas addressed the possibility of trading up (or even trading back) in a presser with reporters this week.
If you're curious, Hughes snagged cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. with the No. 34 pick in the second round. The Bears, meanwhile, took wide receiver Rashod Bateman with the 23rd overall pick.
To view the rest of the mock draft, click here to head over to The Athletic.
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