It is never too early for a mock draft…even if it is the first day of July.
The New York Jets had a tremendous first draft, addressing needs and adding depth via developmental players. The 2021 NFL Draft, when coupled with should be a healthy amount of salary cap space to pursue Tier I free agents, could be the class that puts the Jets over the top and into playoff contention.
The good news…the Jets can add players who can fill out specific needs and provide balance. After all, general manager Joe Douglas did a good job this offseason of addressing not just starting needs but also adding much-needed depth. At the end of the day, the Jets need both to become a division contender.
The bad news…well, according to Pro Football Focus, the Jets will pick at No. 9 this year, meaning that they are going to miss the playoffs and possibly have a worse record than in 2019.
SI’s ‘Jets Country’ has a two-round mock draft…way too early but names to keep an eye on:
Round 1 (No. 9) – Alex Leatherwood:
For a second straight year, Douglas goes offensive line in the first round. Leatherwood is a multi-year starter at Alabama who actually started over Jedrick Wills at left tackle in 2019. Wills went No. 10 overall in the 2019 draft to the Cleveland Browns.
Leatherwood also has experience at guard, giving him good position versatility.
The All-SEC selection as a junior is tough, physical and has good length. He also has some solid footwork. He needs to work on his hand technique and placement but there are good tools there.
He nails down the edges for the Jets over the next decade along with Mekhi Becton, taken No. 11 in the 2020 NFL Draft. Not a bad scenario in terms of protecting a star quarterback.
Round 2 (No. 42) – Amon Ra-St. Brown:
In 2020, the Jets went offensive tackle in the first round then wide receiver in the second round. This scenario plays out here as well. The Jets take Leatherwood in the first round and now get another playmaker for Darnold.
Ra-St. Brown has had tremendous output at USC. He has relatively good size and speed. He’s a solid route runner with outstanding hands. His production is impressive.
He had 77 catches, 1,042 receiving yards and six touchdowns for USC in 2019.
For the Jets, this gives Darnold a second playmaker in as many years and adds some talent to grow and develop on the offensive side of the ball. The Jets are now able to protect Darnold, allowing him time to find his new weapons down the field in Denzel Mims and now Ra-St. Brown.