It was a memorable NFL Draft for New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas. From COVID-19 to drafting a franchise left tackle and of course, it being his first draft in charge of the Jets, there was a little bit of everything for Douglas in this draft.
And now, the day after, come the grades.
All told, the Jets made 10 picks, three trades and added three or four likely contributors who all figure to start at some point as rookies. It was a good draft from Douglas, one that helped replenish the talent deficiency on the roster.
Keep in mind that a ‘C’ grade means average. There’s nothing wrong with an average pick. Not every draft pick deserves a sticker. This isn’t elementary school.
First round, No. 11 – Mekhi Becton, OT (Louisville) – A flagged drug test at the NFL Combine saw Becton drop from a likely top five pick to the Jets at No. 11. He’s raw and needs some work on his technique, but he is strong and moves well. The Jets had to make this pick.
Coming into the draft, left tackle was the most pressing need on the roster. This is a situation where talent meets a team’s need.
Second round, No. 59 – Denzel Mims, WR (Baylor) – Considered a possible late first or early second round pick, the Jets moved back from No. 48 and still landed a playmaker. After left tackle, this was one of the position groups in need of an early draft pick to address talent concerns.
Mims has good speed and size. He steps in as a Day 1 starter and contributor. This was the right pick from Douglas, who started the draft hot. He got a high-end wide receiver in the mid-point of the second round. Quality job.
Third round, No. 68 – Ashtyn Davis, S (Cal) - This was the first of two picks that would be considered a bit out there by Douglas, but the logic behind the move is sound. The Jets need backend depth and speed. Davis addresses both issues, as a standout safety and a college track star.
The issue isn’t with the player but in taking him at the midpoint of the third round. It might be a reach pick but Davis has huge upside and talent. Will give the benefit of the doubt because his skillset is so intriguing.
Third round, No. 79 – Jabari Zuniga, DE (Florida) – An ankle injury limited Zuniga to a handful of games as a senior. The Jets needed edge rush help and Zuniga brings great length and quickness off the edge.
If he had stayed healthy in 2019 and replicated his form from his junior year, Zuniga would have been a top 50 pick. A bit of a risk pick but a calculated risk and good value in the middle of the third round.
Fourth round, No. 120 – La’Mical Perine, RB (Florida) – A hard running, versatile running back who can catch the ball out of the backfield, Perine will be an understudy to Le’Veon Bell for a season or two and could develop into a feature back.
Adds some power to the backfield. A real solid depth addition to a Jets backfield that doesn’t have much after Bell. Good vision from Douglas on this one.
Fourth round, No. 125 – James Morgan, QB (FIU) – This might be the biggest question mark of the draft. Taking a backup quarterback to Sam Darnold isn’t a bad idea. But taking one at the midpoint of the fourth round with other needs on the roster is open to questioning.
The logic here is strong and Morgan is a good quarterback with a strong arm. But the Jets could have addressed interior line depth at this pick (Rashard Lawrence) or nickleback (Amik Robertson) and gone quarterback later in the draft. This grade isn’t about Morgan but about the need in the fourth round to take a backup quarterback.
Fourth round, No. 129 – Cameron Clark, G (Charlotte) – Talk about upside. Clark is raw and hasn’t put it all together. But the Charlotte left tackle has length and good, solid strength that project well to being a guard.
Needs a season or two to grow into a starting caliber guard. But he has the tools to become a starter in the NFL. He’s not ready yet, but he’s a developmental player with a strong work ethic. Nice value here.
Fifth round, No. 158 – Bryce Hall, CB (Virginia) – There are question marks about his health, coming off an ankle injury that cut his senior season in half. But Hall is a great cornerback prospect, another example of getting a player with upside albeit one that comes with some risk.
If healthy, Hall might win a starting job this year. Great length, instincts and a solid tackler. Would have been an early Day 2 selection if healthy, and the Jets got him midway through the fifth round. This grade is on ability and finding a fifth round steal.
Sixth round, No. 191 – Braden Mann, P (Texas A&M) – The Ray Guy Award winner as the nation’s top punter, Mann needs to work on consistency but he has solid length strength and is a good directional kicker.
Field position can change a game and having a boomer playing in the strong winds of the Meadowlands is a good idea. Not an exciting pick for fans but the kind of pick that can help the Jets win an extra game or two.
Sixth round, No. 211 – Trade with the Indianapolis Colts for cornerback Quincy Wilson - In Wilson, the Jets acquire a potential contributor to their backend depth. Would have been nice to see the Jets go wide receiver (Jauan Jennings or K.J. Hill) or take a gamble on an interior defensive lineman (Carlos Davis) but this is an intriguing player and not a bad idea.
Grade: B –
Overall NFL Draft Grade: B+
The Jets addressed issues on their roster (left tackle, wide receiver, edge rusher and cornerback) with contributors. They added depth and developmental pieces.
While one or two selections might be a bit curious, the execution of the draft and these selections is above reproach. Douglas had a very good first draft. There’s a lot to like here.
Even the picks that were the proverbial headscratchers were good players and the logic here was sound.
This is a draft Jets fans can be proud of. Been awhile since that’s been said about this team.