When it comes to accumulating draft capital, nobody does it better than the New York Jets. In addition to their two first round picks — one of which came via the Jamal Adams trade — the Jets also have two picks to start the second round. New York owns the No. 35 pick as well as the No. 38 pick thanks to the deal that sent Sam Darnold to Carolina. Both trades look poised to pay dividends.
That will only be the case, though, if the Jets can hit on its additional selections. Building draft capital is worthless without the follow through. Every general manager can hit in the top ten, but can you find talent later on with guys who aren’t absolute slam dunks? Joe Douglas is trying to prove that he can by erasing a litany of disaster Day Two selections that have stunted the Jets growth over the last decade-plus.
Day Two picks from New York since 2010 include Vlad Ducasse, Kenrick Ellis, DeMario Davis, Stephen Hill, Geno Smith, Brian Winters, Jace Amaro, Dexter McDougle, Devin Smith, Lorenzo Mauldin, Christian Hackenberg, Jordan Jenkins, ArDarius Stewart, Nathan Shepherd, Jachai Polite and Chuma Edoga. None have made a Pro Bowl, though Davis has been snubbed on multiple occasions. Most were out of the NFL within five years. The two that remain on the Jets are very much in danger of being training camp casualties.
The jury is still out on Jabari Zuniga, Denzel Mims and Ashtyn Davis, but early returns aren’t promising. Zuniga and Mims are likely cuts and safety is still a major need alongside Jordan Whitehead, which doesn’t say much about Davis. Elijah Moore looks like he’ll break the curse, but it’s too early to make a judgment either way.
All this to say, the New York Jets don’t exactly have the greatest track record on Day Two. That has to change this time around. So how does Douglas flip the narrative? Who are the guys to look at, and what positions should Gang Green target?
Well, much of that depends on how the Jets tackle Round One. Conventional logic suggests that edge rusher and wide receiver are the two most likely selections there. If that is the case, New York has five glaring needs that figure to be the focus of the three selections they’ll make on Day Two.
After trading away Adams two years ago, the Jets lost the other piece of their safety tandem selected in the first two rounds of the 2017 draft. Jordan Whitehead walked through the door to ease the blow of losing Marcus Maye, but the Jets still need a safety alongside him if they don’t want to rely heavily on Ashtyn Davis and Lamarcus Joyner.
In Round Two, they are likely looking at four names: Lewis Cine, Jaquan Brisker, Daxton Hill and Jalen Pitre. It’s unlikely that all four will be on the board, but if they are, Cine is the most natural fit. He has the speed to play single-high in the back of New York’s defense, but can just as easily pivot and play the run, where he knows how to plug gaps and bring down ball-carriers in the backfield on stretch plays. Cine was a standout for Georgia in the National Championship game too, showcasing his ability to step into an NFL secondary and contribute right away. Brisker is a very similar prospect to Cine, albeit just a tad slower. He’s just as versatile, hits as hard as any safety in the class, and still has enough range to extend beyond the hashes on deep balls. The Jets didn’t have safeties that were impact players in the run game last year, but Cine or Brisker alongside Whitehead would turn that completely around.
Hill and Pitre are college corners who profile as safeties in the NFL. As a result, they’re both extremely adept in coverage against slot receivers, but may be dwarfed a bit by tight ends. Pitre is more of a downfield force, while Hill is center fielder with 4.38 speed. All four are certainly in play at No. 35 or No. 38. If the Jets wait until Round Three, Kerby Joseph from Illinois is the next best option. His 6-foot-8 wingspan allowed him to pick off five passes last year, and he still has a ton of room for growth.
Jets Country’s Blake Pace detailed three Day Two linebacker prospects for the Jets last week, as Chad Muma, Christian Harris and Quay Walker are all in play for New York in Round Two. If Douglas wants to wait until Round Three, though, he’ll still find rock solid options that can compete for starting spots immediately. Brian Asamoah is perhaps the most natural fit of any linebacker in the class. The Oklahoma product is a bit undersized at 6-foot, 226 pounds, but his light frame allows him to stay with tight ends, running backs and even some slot receivers in coverage. His hips and feet look like those of a corner in coverage, but he couples that with a nose for the run game, where he reads gaps and surges through lanes to stop runners in their tracks.
Given his frame, he does struggle to shed blocks if linemen are able to get two hands on him, and he does tend to be too aggressive at times and take a poor angle to the ball. Alongside CJ Mosley and Quincy Williams, though, Asamoah would be free to roam a bit more and be a mainstay in coverage.
Troy Andersen is also a likely Round Three option for New York. A linebacker and quarterback for Montana State, Andersen ran for more than 1400 yards and 21 touchdowns as a freshman before captaining the Bobcats defense as a senior. He’s still adjusting to life as a linebacker, but Andersen posted a 9.98 out of 10 Relative Athletic Score (RAS), good for fifth best out of 2188 linebackers dating back to 1987. He has all the tools to be an elite NFL linebacker, and Joe Douglas likes to bank on guys with leadership qualities and elite athleticism.
Foley Fatukasi got his money from Jacksonville, so the Jets are left without a quality nose tackle for the first time in more than a decade. If they plan on addressing the position in Round Two, Travis Jones is the guy. The 6-foot-4, 325-pound defensive lineman was a captain for UConn’s defense before showing out at the Senior Bowl in Mobile. He also posted a 9.65 RAS, one of the best in the 2022 class. Jones can rush the passer a bit better than Fatukasi, so adding him to the line along with an edge in Round One would undoubtedly take away opponents’ ability to throw doubles at Quinnen Williams.
If Jones isn’t the pick in Round Two, expect the Jets to sit tight until Day Three. Perrion Winfrey and Logan Hall are Day Two, maybe even Day One talents, but they profile as three-techs and don’t fill the void that losing Fatukasi creates.
Adding DJ Reed in free agency took a bunch of pressure off Douglas to address this position in the first round. Still, if he and Saleh aren’t confident in Bryce Hall and Brandon Echols as second and third outside corners, drafting someone on Day Two is very much on the table. Kaiir Elam — the nephew of former Jet, Abram Elam — is the best corner with a legitimate chance of slipping to the second round. He has the fluidity and length to go in the first and has flown under the radar, so if he falls to Round Two, the Jets would be getting a bargain. The same goes for Andrew Booth Jr., who would be a surefire first-rounder if not for injury concerns that have hindered his pre-draft process and caused him to slide down boards.
Other options for New York include Kyler Gordon, Tariq Woolen and Roger McCreary. Gordon was overshadowed by Trent McDuffie at Washington, but he has the physical profile and ball skills to be a CB1 in the NFL. He and Woolen — who ran a blazing 4.26 40-yard-dash at 6-foot-4 at the Combine — posted RAS scores of 9.69 and 9.70, respectively. Both require refinement, especially Woolen, who is transitioning from UTSA and will be facing a major competition boost. McCreary is incredibly sticky in man coverage, and will be a great fit in Round One for a lot of teams, but the Jets might play too much zone to justify the selection given his struggles in that department.
The prospect of a healthy Mekhi Becton and George Fant at the bookend spots is just too enticing to use a first round selection on a tackle, but Round Three is probably the sweet spot given the injury concerns and Fant’s impending free agency. Luckily, this is a deep tackle class with swing options that figure to be available at pick No. 69.
Nicholas Petit-Frere is the high-upside pick in Round Three. He has the tools to be a first-round tackle, and he played on the left and right sides at Ohio State. He’s quick out of his stance and is a force executing outside zone blocks, which Mike LaFleur’s offense demands of its linemen. If he can clean up his blemishes (see: the Michigan game), he can become an NFL starter within a year.
Tyler Smith, Sean Rhyan and Zach Tom are the other three tackles worth a look in Round Three, and all of them bring positional versatility to the table. Smith and Rhyan can play both tackle and guard, with Smith the least likely of the group to fall. Tom can play left tackle, right tackle and center, profiling as the most logical pick of the bunch for a Jets team that may need a center replacement a year from now. His run-blocking sets at tackle need work, but they look much cleaner at center, and he can pass-block with some of the best tackles in the class. Douglas is offensive line obsessed, and it’s unlikely he’ll exit Day Two without having drafted anyone at the position. Those four guys could be top options for him.
Overall, the Jets have a lot of holes to fill, which also means they have a lot of flexibility with their Day Two selections. They should come out of the second and third rounds with three players that can be instrumental for this team’s future. More than that, they’ll have to if they want to keep up with the rest of the fast-moving AFC. New York didn’t trade those picks despite lengthy discussions about doing so. Now, Douglas will need to prove that holding onto them was worth it in order to stay off the hot seat.
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